The Tragic Story Of Anthrax Bassist Frank Bello's Brother's Murder

They may not have become mainstream successes like Metallica or even Megadeth, and their music is neither as brutal nor as controversial as that of Slayer. But Anthrax has still found different ways to carve its niche as one of the "Big Four" bands of thrash metal. For one, they were one of the first few bands to blend heavy metal with rap (via Ultimate Classic Rock) with the "I'm the Man" EP and its playful title track. They also proudly wore their New York hardcore influences on their sleeves, setting themselves apart from their fellow Big Four bands who were mostly influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Unlike their aforementioned contemporaries, who somehow remained relevant amid the continued prominence of alternative rock in the mid-1990s, Anthrax's decline was far more pronounced due to a number of factors, as pointed out by Village Voice. Sadly, that was the least of bassist Frank Bello's problems in 1996, when his younger brother, Anthony Bello, was murdered at just 23 years old. The story of Anthony's murder, which remains unsolved to this day, was one of the many topics his big brother covered in his new autobiography, "Fathers, Brothers, and Sons: Surviving Anguish, Abandonment, and Anthrax." And in a recent podcast appearance to promote the memoir, Frank Bello opened up about Anthony's tragic death, revealing several details about the case that he hadn't previously discussed in depth.

Anthony Bello was shot by someone he had an altercation with at a coffee shop

On the June 18, 2021, episode of Machine Head vocalist Robb Flynn's "No F***in' Regrets" podcast (via Ultimate Guitar), Frank Bello went into great detail about the murder of his brother Anthony on March 25, 1996. That day, the Anthrax bassist was staying at his friend's house, and he was working on new music for his band when he heard someone frantically banging on the door. It was his uncle and bandmate, drummer Charlie Benante, and after Benante told his nephew that Anthony had been shot, the two men drove down to the scene of the crime. 

As Bello recalled, it didn't take long for him to confirm that the shooting victim was his younger brother. "I only knew it was my brother because I saw the sheet didn't cover his shoes, and I knew his shoes," he explained. "So I knew it was him, and that was my validation of what was going on, and reality check was right there."

Although Bello declined to name anyone in specific who might have shot Anthony, he told Flynn that his brother was killed by someone he previously had an altercation with. "Long story short, it hurt this guy, he knew he was gonna be there — I can't mention names — they had some words again, and he took out a gun, put three bullets in him on the street," he revealed. "There were no witnesses, it was outside a coffee shop in the Bronx, as simple as that sounds, yeah."

Bello considered taking revenge on his brother's killer

As Anthrax was not on tour at the time of Anthony Bello's murder, Frank Bello "kind of snapped" and started entertaining thoughts about possibly taking revenge on the person who shot his brother. As further quoted by Ultimate Guitar, the bassist wasn't aware that he had such a "dark side" in him. And with all the downtime he had, he discreetly tried to hunt down Anthony's killer, keeping his activities secret from his friends and loved ones, including his then-girlfriend, who would later become his wife. 

Bello went on to admit that he spent a lot of time "patrolling" the places where his brother's alleged killer would normally be spotted. He also recalled that he tried to acquire a gun from some people he "shouldn't have talked to" – at that point, he had "never touched" a firearm in his life. However, after a few weeks, he realized that it wouldn't be worth the trouble to exact his planned revenge. "I said, 'Look, if I do this, I'm gonna lose my wife and my mother's gonna lose another son,'" he said. "Either way, either I'm dead or I go to jail, I don't want to do that, and something came back, a realization, 'I can't do this.'"

Despite how he eventually came to his senses, it understandably wasn't easy for Bello to cope with his brother's murder; he told Flynn that he underwent "a lot of therapy" to help him deal with the grief. He also expressed regret that he was so busy with Anthrax that he wasn't able to serve as a father figure of sorts to Anthony.

Frank Bello's brother was a big Anthrax fan with a bright future

While looking back on the aftermath of his brother's murder, Frank Bello suggested to Flynn that some "mob-guy wannabes" might have been involved in the crime. However, he also stressed that Anthony was a good kid who just so happened to have some less than savory friends and acquaintances, per Ultimate Guitar. "That's what happens in life, it just so happens he got caught up with the wrong guy, unfortunately," the musician continued. "As far as my brother [was concerned], he was a better person than me, that's for sure."

Bello also highlighted how Anthony was a huge fan of his band, a regular at Anthrax shows who was proud of the fact that his big brother played bass for one of America's top thrash metal acts. He was, in addition, a young man with a seemingly bright future; at the time of his murder, Anthony Bello was "just getting his life together" and was well-liked by the people he interacted with.

Two years after Anthony's death, Anthrax paid tribute to him on the song "Pieces," a track off their 1998 album "Volume 8: The Threat is Real." The song was written by Frank Bello himself (via Genius), and he also provided lead vocals on the track, whose chorus features the heartbreaking lines "Anthony, I know you're home / Right beside me, all alone."