Jeff AD is currently researching the connection between Pantera listening and spinal meningitis at University of West Virginia. His book, Pantera, Whiskey and The New South, is scheduled to be released in October. He is currently a contributing writer at Tyranny of Tradition. He has a pancreas.
Actor comedian Jerry Dillon, best known for his long-running character Phil Anselmo, tells The Tyranny of Tradition that he is retiring his hard-rocking alter ego at the end of November. The decision coincides with the Housecore Horror Film Festival, ostensibly hosted by Anselmo, that will be held this weekend in Austin, Texas.
“It was a tough decision,” stated Dillon of his beloved character, “but after 27 years of portraying Phil, I feel like it had run its course. It’s still funny, and people enjoy it, but I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself.”
The versatile performer has portrayed several other characters on shows like Saturday Night Live and Chappelle’s Show, but it was the Anselmo persona that took Dillon to fame and fortune, albeit one that blurred the line between identities.
“Part of what made Phil a challenge is that I’d sometimes lose myself in there,” said the actor, “and I’d start to really think I was a brain-damaged redneck metal singer. And I always had to be ‘on’, whether it meant saying something totally stupid or doing an absurd live performance with one of the bands I created for Phil.”
The most popular “band” was Pantera, a heavy metal parody act co-created by David Wallace, who also portrayed guitarist Dimebag Darrel and participated in many skits and performances with Dillon. The two started collaborating in 1986 and proved to be a formidable comedy duo until they parted ways in 2003, which was punctuated by a staged break-up and feud. Neither actor broke character or discussed the genuine reasons for the split, though Dillon admits he was somewhat bothered by the way Wallace retired his character.
“That was pretty over the top,” he laughed. “Killing off the character on stage seemed kind of tacky at the time, because it upset a lot of our fans. Dave knew what he was doing, though. These days, the Dimebag character is more popular than ever.”
Indeed, merchandise for Pantera, Dimebag Darrel, and Phil Anselmo continues to rake in sales, and Dillon is satisfied with his legacy. But apparently the Emmy-winning actor is ready to move on.
“I’m looking forward to writing new material, acting with different people, and maybe coming up with some new alter ego to inhabit. I’ll always love being Phil, though. It was a blast to play him.”
Actor Jeffrey Wielandt, who often appears with Dillon and portrays the popular Zakk Wylde character, could not be reached for comment.