Pantera and Down frontman Phil Anselmo has all but revealed that Slayer guitarist Kerry King nearly joined Pantera in the late eighties.
In a new interview with Talking Metal, Anselmo recalled meeting King and other Slayer members in a Dallas club in 1988: “Slayer were playing down the street. My boxing coach used to be a radio DJ and called my house and said, ‘I got Tom Araya in here. Do you want to meet him?’”
He added: “Sure enough, he brought Tom, Kerry and Jeff Hanneman to the show. They got on stage and did a couple of songs with us.”
In the months following the performance, Anselmo began to develop a close relationship with King: “Kerry and I hit it off and we exchanged phone numbers. He kept in touch quite a bit – it was awesome, especially for a kid like I was at the time. Slayer was the be-all and end-all for me.”
As well as establishing a friendship, King began jamming with Pantera and helped Anselmo to convince the band to turn in a more heavy direction: “Dimebag and Kerry sitting down with each other opened up Dimebag’s eyes, and eventually the rest of the guys’ eyes, to the power of thrash. The magic of it really influenced us to push our own music over the edge.”
Anselmo continued, stopping just short of confirming King was hoping for a closer collaboration with Pantera: “He loved it, and it was a nice departure for him to jam with us, but… I could say more but I won’t.”
Dimebag’s brother Vinnie Paul last year revealed the guitarist was once invited to join Megadeth around the same time – but refused Dave Mustaine’s offer. Paul said: “Dime straight-up told Dave, ‘If you want me to play for you, my brother’s got to come with me. That’s the deal.’ Dave’s like, ‘Man, we’ve already got a drummer.’ Dime was like, ‘Well, sorry, dude. I’m not playing for your band.’ And he stuck with Pantera, and everything worked out.”
Pantera and Down were recently featured in NOLA, a TV series exploring the origins of heavy blues music. Check out all 7 episodes here.
Check out King jamming with Pantera back in 1989 below.