Happy Birthday, Phil Anselmo: The Trendkiller's Top 5 Side Projects

On June 30, ex-Pantera and current Down frontman Philip H. Anselmo turns 44 years old. For a while there, it didn't look like he was going to make it this long. The metal titan suffers from chronic back pain caused by degenerative disc disease in his spine, and beginning in the mid-'90s, Phil self-medicated to a fairly epic degree.

By his own admission, the singer numbed himself as much as possible with alcohol, pills and heroin. In 1996, he spent a few minutes dead at the Starplex in Dallas after overdosing. More than a few fans figured it was only a matter of time before he hit the dirt for good.

Displaying strength beyond strength, Anselmo managed to kick his habit and had back surgery to lessen his pain. Good thing, too, because Phil stays too busy to spend his time floating through life on narcotic painkillers. Guitarist Dimebag Darrell's murder at the hands of a psychotic fan in 2004 ended any hope of a Pantera reunion, but Anselmo has found continued success recording and touring with two onetime side projects, Down and Superjoint Ritual.

Those two bands are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Phil's musical experiments, though. As the frontman for Pantera, he was the face (and dynamic voice) of Texas' most influential mainstream metal band, but the New Orleans native has always been compelled to explore far harsher, underground sounds, as well.

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Nathan Smith
Contact: Nathan Smith