Rex Robert Brown really, really does not like Vincent Paul Abbot.
I have now given you roughly 25% of this book. No, seriously, so much of it is spent calling Vinnie Paul names and calling Vinnie Paul out that there’s barely room for Rex to do the occasional halo polishing or tell any stories of rock n roll debauchery 1
Let me back up here. Official Truth 101 Proof is the autobiography of Rex Robert Brown 2 bass player for 90s metal titans Pantera. It spends a few chapters giving us Rex’s background (born to an upper middle class family which saw its class dropped down multiple steps with the early death of Rex’s father, Rex became that kid, eventually finding the joined at the hip professions of music and low level drug dealing until his band got big) most of the book centers around the rise and fall of Pantera.
The problem here is, I’ve read The Dirt and I’ve read The Heroin Diaries and this is neither one of those books. If you’re looking for crazy road stories with groupies and drugs and the like. This is not the book for you. This is odd given that the guys in Pantera who weren’t junkies were full blown alcoholics. 3
It’s not like they were saints, mind you. It’s just that they seemed to be dedicated to destroying hotel rooms and wasting money on the most ridiculous things in the world (like overnighting hundreds of cases of lemon pepper to Europe because citrus pepper isn’t the same thing 4). Had Pantera managed to stay together, they would have ended up on VH-1’s behind the music using the MC Hammer template of band goes out on tour, loses money due to own stupidity, repeats.
That being said, maybe that’s the problem, the story has been told so many times that it’s not that interesting anymore. Or, perhaps, it’s because Rex isn’t telling the whole story. So, what I’m going to do here is give my rating, then after the jump I’m going to point out the giant, “wait, how did this not get discussed?” moment of the book. This will use NSFW language, including the word that White people must never call Black people. It will be, as the kids say, real talk.
Rex Brown’s autobiography is well written (you can hear the Texas drawl coming off the page) and mostly interesting. But there’s just too much left on the table for it to be essential reading for all but Pantera fans. Still, if you’re looking for a book, you could do worse.
Garbage Recommended Essential
For real, past this point there are swearing and racial and sexual slurs. You have been warned.
Early on in the book Rex talks about how they had a maid whom his mother called “Nigger Georgia.” 5 At some point in his life Rex realized that this was a truly jacked up thing to call someone. I’ll just let him tell it:
…That’s the name I alwas heard being called in the house. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? No wonder I’ve had provlems with that word ever since. I grew to resent it because I didn’t feel that it was proper. I didn’t realize this as a kid though – it wasn’t until much later in life that I came to know what that word truly meant, but that’s just what my mother said – she made it sound like a term of endearment: “Nigger Georgia this, Nigger Georgia that.” Nowadays I will never use the words “nigger” or “faggot,” nor will I allow them to be used in my house. In my eyes, they are the foulest words imaginable.
Well, that’s pretty cut and dried. In fact, it seems like a neat bit of foreshadowing. 6
So, yeah, while touring to support the Far Beyond Driven album, at a show in Montreal Phil went on a bit of a tirade during which he basically said that rap music was advocating the killing of White people, said “nigger” a couple of times and basically came off as a complete, racist douche bag. This incident got a lot of attention from the press, the mainstream press even. At that point Pantera felt (not entirely without merit) that the media was playing “let’s prove Phil is a racist,” and began video taping all of their interviews so that they could counter any negative spin.
What I’m saying is that this was a major change in band policy.
While touring with White Zombie in support of The Great Southern Trendkill 7 Pantera stopped at The Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in the suburbs of my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. 8 There were five Black people at that show. How do I know there were five black people at that show? Because there were five Black people at that show.
In the middle of their set, Phil gets up and addresses the racial controversy surrounding the band by saying, “yeah, we’re from the south 9, we see things a bit differently.” To which the crowd erupted in cheers. Now, I’m a guy who can get wound pretty tight, so I make it a habit to try to let most things slide off my back, because if I don’t I’ll spend my entire life in a hate ball and that’s not good for me. So, my demeanor is pretty laid back. You know what changes that? Having a White guy on stage go, “racism is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!” and having thousands of White people around me go, “hellz yeah it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I could tell most of the other Black people in the audience were having this exact same reaction. How could I tell this? Because, there were five Black people in the audience.
So, yeah, there’s this whole thing now about how Phil is a real mensch and he’s off the drugs and he’s really a nice guy and all, but, for real:
Fuck that guy.10
So, yeah, that whole thing was a pretty major period in the band’s history. The allegations of racism, the doubling down on paranoia, the videotaping. Surely a guy who hates racial slurs would have an issue being in a band with a guy who would get up on stage and use them.
Maybe I got the abridged version of the book, but this didn’t make the cut in the copy I have. That’s disappointing, because I was interested in how that whole thing played out in the band. Also, if such a major piece of band history didn’t make the final edit, what else didn’t make the final edit? I have a feeling that a much more interesting book is on somebody’s hard drive, but it’s not on mine.
- Except for stories of how Vinnie Paul couldn’t get laid. ↩
- AKA Rex Rocker ↩
- There may have also been cocaine involved. ↩
- Citrus pepper is exactly the same thing ↩
- As far as I know, she, Rex, Tom and Huck never went on any adventures down the Mississippi ↩
- Or a total red herring. ↩
- Texas isn’t southern, it’s the northern half of Mexico stolen from its rightful inhabitants. ↩
- The same suburb that sued the US government over the Civil Rights act of 1964 and paved the way for southern states to, literally, almost immediately start disenfranchising Black voters. Fellow southerners, really? It’s hard to claim it’s all a stereotype and that it’s not 1963 anymore when you pull this shit. ↩
- Well, you are and the guys from opening act, eyehategod, are but the rest of Pantera is from North Mexico ↩
- No, for real; fuck. that. guy. ↩