US metal singer in racism row pulls out of Europe tour
A US metal singer who gave a Nazi salute at a concert has pulled out of a European tour even after a French festival came under fire for standing by him.
A regional government in western France had cut off subsidies to Hellfest due to the festival's refusal to scrap a performance by Down, a New Orleans-based metal band led by Phil Anselmo.
The singer has apologized after giving a Nazi salute and shouting "White Power!" at a charity concert in Los Angeles in January that was packed with musical celebrities.
Anselmo, best known as the former singer of the band Pantera, profusely thanked Hellfest's director Ben Barbaud in an open letter but said it was not the right time to tour.
"My AWFUL mistake has taken a toll on my reputation, and justly so!" he wrote, crediting Barbaud with "know(ing) me better than this drunken incident could ever describe."
"I BEG YOU, give me this time to get my brain clear, and to come back (if you will have me back) next year, my brother, I implore you!" he wrote.
Anselmo said he was also suffering from a recurring knee injury and needed rehabilitation.
A member of Down's management on Monday confirmed the letter's authenticity and said the band would not tour Europe, but declined further comment.
Besides Hellfest, the band was scheduled to play at the Download festival's editions in both England and the Paris region, as well as metal events in Belgium and Italy.
The only upcoming date remaining on the band's schedule is in Las Vegas.
Barbaud had criticized Anselmo's actions at the Los Angeles show but said the singer had performed seven times at Hellfest without incident.
"I know him and he has a provocative personality which has nothing at all to do with anti-Semitism," Barbaud told AFP at the time.
The government of the Pays de la Loire region cut funding to Hellfest over Down's inclusion, although it had contributed only 20,000 euros ($22,000) to the annual festival's 16-million-euro ($17.8 million) budget.
"It is out of the question for the regional council uncritically to accept that incitement to racial or religious hatred take place on the stages it finances," said Laurence Garnier, head of the region's cultural commission.
Anselmo has long faced allegations of racism and Pantera has incorporated the Confederate flag into band artwork.
He had initially played down his "White Power" remark, saying he had been making an inside joke about band members drinking white wine.
© 2016 AFP