The death of Smashing Pumpkins sideman Jonathan Melvoin has given additional weight to the music industry's campaign to curb drug abuse among its members. But the recent announcement by Pantera singer Phil Anselmo that his band's tour would not be disrupted by his near-fatal heroin overdose seemed like a slap in the face to those leading the anti-drug campaign.
"It shows how much work we have to do to get the message out there," says Michael Greene, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
The procedure recommended by Greene and others leading the campaign is that when a musician experiences drug problems on tour, concerts be postponed and treatment begun.
Sources close to the Pantera tour (which played the Forum on July 19) say that such steps would be an overreaction. Anselmo is not a drug addict, they say, though in his statement the singer unapologetically admitted that he is an intravenous drug user. Pantera manager Walter O'Brien was not available for comment, but the band's booking agent John Ditmar said that Anselmo was fully recovered from the overdose and that he had no ongoing problem that would call for a tour cancellation.
Meanwhile, Anselmo's admission came at a particularly awkward time for the Del Taco fast-food chain, which touted Pantera's avowed affection for its food in a promotional campaign. The company sent out a press release noting that the band had requested 6,000 packets of its hot sauce to take on the road. Particularly problematic, given Anselmo's overdose, was a quote from guitarist Dimebag Darrell that "sometimes we just crack open a packet [of the sauce] and shoot it straight."
A Del Taco spokeswoman, who had not been aware of Anselmo's situation, stressed that there was no official tie between the company and the band and that the promotion was merely a "publicity stunt."