Undoubtedly one of metal’s most thrilling and enduring properties are the mighty Metallica. Their seminal album ‘Master Of Puppets’ is 30 years old today! (March 3) – but how many of these facts did you know about Lars and co?
Born in Denmark, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich was a tennis prodigy in his youth. It kinda runs in the family: both his dad and his grandad played the sport professionally. Before moving to Los Angeles at age 16, the keen Oasis fanstruck up a childhood friendship with Neneh Cherry. Sadly, none of his hard-rockin’ ways rubbed off on the notably more mellow Neneh.
In August 1992, during a co-headline stadium tour alongside Guns N’ Roses, James Hetfield walked into a 12 foot flame after misjudging a pyrotechnics display. He suffered third-degree burns. Then-bassist Jason Newsted recalls Hetfield’s skin was “bubbling like on The Toxic Avenger.”
Metallica’s 2003 album ‘St Anger’ was so depised by some fans that at least one CD-burning party was held in America. These days the band rarely play any songs from it live – or indeed many songs from their previous albums ‘Load’ (1996) and ‘Reload’ (1997).
Bassist Robert Trujillo was given a £1 million advance when he joined Metallica in 2003. Prior to joining he played in Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne’s band and a funk-metal side project called Infectious Grooves.
James Hetfield was admitted to rehab in July 2001 for alcohol and “other addictions”, one of which was later revealed to be chocolate, accounting for the Metallica frontman’s chunkier appearance around that time.
Metallica’s second album, 1984’s ‘Ride The Lightning’, contains the track ‘The Call Of Ktulu’. On early pressings this was mis-printed as ‘The Cat Of Ktulu’. Copies of the album with this mis-spelling now fetch huge sums on Ebay.
Kirk Hammett, pictured here outside San Quentin prison, where Metallica were filming the video for ‘St Anger’, has admitted to struggles with drug addiction: “I had a bad coke problem on the ‘…And Justice For All’ tour (1988-9). You hang out with other musicians, and next thing you know, you have five guys crammed into a bathroom stall.”
Bassist Jason Newsted (top left) joined the band as a replacement for Cliff Burton, who died in 1986. He never quite fitted in. Indeed, his bass parts for 1988 album ‘…And Justice For All’ were practically erased by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, resulting in the record’s famously tinny sound.
In 2006 Metallica followed in the footsteps of Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2 and REM by appearing in an episode of ‘The Simpsons’. Entitled ‘The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and her Homer”, it involved Fat Tony leading Homer and co on a mob crime spree.
Metallica in 1982, featuring bassist Cliff Burton (far left) and guitarist Dave Mustaine (second left). Burton died in 1986 when the band’s tourbus crashed, but the precise cause of his death has still not been resolved. He may still have been living when the coach was lifted off him, only to die when the crane snapped and the vehicle fell back.
The spectacular shots that adorn the sleeve of Metallica’s 1996 ‘Load’ album were taken by the renowned Anton Corbijn, photographer for U2 and Joy Division.
Kirk Hammett (left) replaced original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, who was fired in 1983 and went on to form Megadeth. Mustaine retained a lasting sense of grievance, insisting that he wrote many of the riffs and leads that Hammett later made famous. In one interview he said that Hammett “stole my job, but at least I got to bang his girlfriend before he took my job.”
Drummer Lars Ulrich (second right) is a man of eclectic, and unusual, tastes. A big Status Quo fan (he once wrote the introduction to their 40th anniversary book), he’s also a keen scuba diver, and has even been seen perusing diving magazines during the bass/guitar solo sections of Metallica’s live shows.
In a world first, Metallica’s ninth studio album, ‘Death Magnetic’, was made playable on the game ‘Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock’ on the same day as its physical release as a CD.
Lead guitarist Kirk Hammett (left, pictured at the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee, June 13, 2008) started losing his hair in the mid-1990s, but has admitted in several interviews to using Rogaine in a bid to combat baldness. He said: “Take it from me, it fucking works.”
James Hetfield appears on the soundtrack to the 1999 film ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut’, singing lead vocals on the track ‘Hell Isn’t Good’ – although Paramount Pictures initially claimed it was SP creator Trey Parker impersonating Hetfield.
Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield (pictured here at a benefit concert for The Silverlake Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, May 14, 2008) are the only original members of Metallica. Initially Hetfield had no interest in singing: the job of vocalist was offered to John Bush (who later joined Anthrax), but he declined.
Metallica frontman James Hetfield (pictured here at Download Festival 2006) is known for his emotionally turbulent lyrics, which stem from his strict Christian Scientist upbringing. As a child, if he cut himself his parents would refuse to give him a sticking plaster. God was expected to do the healing.
It took Metallica many years to attain stadium-filling status. Drummer Lars Ulrich (pictured here at Download Festival in 2006) explained to the US Supreme Court during the 2000 Napster case that Metallica were still living beneath the poverty line as late as the release of ‘Master Of Puppets’ in 1986, five years after the band formed.
Metallica’s world tour in support of 1991’s ‘Black Album’ lasted nearly 3 years. To stop themselves going insane, the band insisted on sticking to US time, avoiding the need to faff about with local time zones. NB: These facts were written by Joel McIver, whose 2004 book ‘Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica’ is available on Amazon, along with his later book, ‘The Bloody Reign Of Slayer’.