Phil Anselmo got paid for legendary guest spot with signed Mike Tyson boxing gloves

Phil Anselmo
Photo of Phil by Assen Tonev (via Wikipedia) and Mike Tyson by Glenn Francis (via Wikipedia)
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It’s hard to imagine now, but it was a really big deal in the late 90’s when Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo appeared on now-legendary hardcore band Vision of Disorder’s sophomore album, Imprint.

Despite being on the mighty Roadrunner Records, Vision of Disorder had really only recently graduated up from the few hundred capacity American punk & hardcore staple clubs like CBGB’s & Wetlands. Pantera, on the other hand, were full on megastars selling out arenas around the globe. And Phil very rarely guested on other band’s records.

So when it was revealed that Phil Anselmo sang on Imprint cut, “By The River”, there was instant hype and curiosity surrounding the track and the band. Streaming didn’t exist and the internet wasn’t really quite mainstream yet, so most metal fans learned about the collab either from seeing an ad in a magazine or from the promo sticker on the actual CD In stores.

Because the song was/is a ripper (listen below if you aren’t yet familiar) and pretty much became an instant classic in a time where the internet wasn’t omnipresent, there’s been long-standing curiosity about the behind-the-scenes details of how the collab came to be.

Thankfully, the amazing podcast Meep Meep recently sat down with Vision of Disorder’s Matt Baumbach and Mike Fleischmann to dissect the making of Imprint and its lasting legacy. As part of that conversation, the guys revealed to Meep Meep host Ryan Rainbro that they didn’t pay Phil really any money at all, surprising given how huge Pantera was at the time and how well-financed Roadrunner Records was:

“We had to pay him (Phil) $1. There had to be an official exchange of money. Maybe it was $100, but some small, arbitrary amount had to be paid in order to make it an official deal.”

But when pressed further about the folklore that Phil technically did receive “payment” for his vocal contribution in the form of boxing gloves autographed by boxing legend Mike Tyson, Matt and Mike from the band confirmed it as fact:

“One of our best Ozzfest moments was on Phil’s bus watching the Tyson/Holyfield fight when Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear off. We were actually in Vegas that day for Ozzfest, the day of the fight… Pantera paid for the pay-per-view of the fight on the bus and we saw how infatuated Phil was with boxing.

So we thought, it’s cooler to give him a gift like that of something that he actually likes instead of just like here’s five thousand dollars or something. And it was the sickest time for us, and I can say for Phil, too, actually it was the funniest thing, watching Phil Anselmo reacting to the fight after Tyson bites Holyfield’s ears.

Scott Ian from Anthrax was there, too, and everyone was like what the fuck is going on? It was the weirdest moment in sports history, watching a guy bite another guy’s ear off. What a weird day.

And from what I remember, seeing him (Phil) years afterwards, he said I’ve still got those gloves, brother. It was always something he remembered.”

Pretty cool historical heavy music fun fact. Check out the full Meep Meep podcast interview with the VOD guys below.

And if you aren’t familiar with the insanity of the Mike Tyson fight referenced above, you can see for yourself what the madness was like here:

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Words by The Pit staff.