PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS performed the PANTERA song "We'll Grind That Axe For A Long Time" live for the first time during their January 30 concert at Osaka, Japan's Umeda Club Quattro. The track, which is taken from PANTERA's final studio album, 1999's "Reinventing The Steel", had never been played live by the iconic Texan metal band.
Former PANTERA singer Philip Anselmo introduced the song to the Osaka crowd by saying: "These songs always, always, always are a tribute and love to Vinnie Paul and Dime," referring to PANTERA's late drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott and guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. "PANTERA never played this song that we're about to play — we never played it live. This is the first time we're performing it live ever."
"Hey, this is special," he added. "This is one for the hardcore PANTERA fans."
Last summer, Anselmo spoke to Revolver about his decision to play a number of PANTERA songs during the current tour with his solo band, PHILIP H. ANSELMO & THE ILLEGALS.
"We were about a month out from touring [the second ILLEGALS album, 'Choosing Mental Illness As A Virtue'] when Vince Paul passed away and that was horrific and so unexpected," he said. "It was something that stopped me dead in my tracks. I was in my kitchen and I just dropped to the floor and just had to breathe for a little while. That's when the big plea for us to do more PANTERA songs became irresistible. The tribute had to be then. It had to be right. And I never thought it would be THE ILLEGALS. Clearly the mission for us was to be a sweaty hole-in-the wall death-metal band. I've got to say huge props to them for learning the PANTERA material. They didn't even flinch, man, and just went for it.
"The vibe from most of the shows have been so fucking great, man," he continued. "And what really tickles me is seeing the young bloods out in the audience, freaking out on the PANTERA stuff. And you know it's their parents who got them into PANTERA."
On the topic of whether his PANTERA tribute will continue into the future, or if it's something he is doing right now, Anselmo said: "I'd like it to be just for now. For me, PANTERA was PANTERA and there's no substitute. So playing those songs, I didn't mind doing it for a one-off thing here and there with a group of guys — we used to do it in 'Metal Masters', [with] Kerry King and the ANTHRAX guys. But I wasn't going to learn a set of PANTERA with another band. I didn't feel entitled to do that. It's not like I feel entitled now. I feel now it's necessary."
Up until his death in June 2018, Vinnie remained on non-speaking terms with Anselmo, whom the drummer indirectly blamed for the death of Dimebag, who was his brother.
Vinnie Paul and Dimebag co-founded PANTERA. When PANTERA broke up in 2003, they formed DAMAGEPLAN. On December 8, 2004, while performing with DAMAGEPLAN at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio, Dimebag was shot and killed onstage by a troubled schizophrenic who believed that the members of PANTERA were stealing his thoughts.
Vinnie Paul died of dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, as well as severe coronary artery disease. His death was the result of chronic weakening of the heart muscle — basically meaning his heart couldn't pump blood as well as a healthy heart.
Vinnie was buried on June 30, 2018 next to his brother and their mother, Carolyn, at Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Texas.