Metallica cancel festival dates to support James Hetfield’s recovery

They'll be replaced by some big names at the events

Metallica have cancelled two festival headline performances due to take place later this year in order to support frontman James Hetfield’s recovery.

The singer entered rehab in September 2019 to deal with his “struggles with addiction”. Hetfield’s addiction and alcoholism issues were previously detailed in the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster.

Metallica will now no longer be headlining Columbus’ Sonic Temple festival in May or Louisville’s Louder Than Life in September. At the former event, they will be replaced by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool.


Other appearances at events including Epicenter, Welcome To Rockville, and Aftershock will still go ahead as planned.

Metallica James Hetfield
Metallica’s James Hetfield CREDIT: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

In a letter to fans, Hetfield explained why the band were pulling out of the festivals. “As part of my continuing effort to get and stay healthy, I have critical recovery events on those weekends that cannot be moved,” he wrote.

“I apologise to all of our fans who have bought tickets for these festivals. We are working with the festival promoters to provide for refunds or exchanges. My intent with this statement is saying ‘I apologise’ to each one of you. The reality is that I have not prioritised my health in the past year of touring and I now know that my mental health comes first. That might sound like a no-brainer for most of you but I didn’t want to let the Metallica team/family down and, I alone, completely compromised myself.”

The frontman added an update on his journey so far, saying his therapy was “going well” and he is “optimistic about the blessings I have been given and what the future brings”.


“Like the moth into the flame, being human in this career has its huge challenges and can be difficult,” he concluded. “Your understanding helps the healing.

Last week (February 20), Hetfield gave his first public performance since entering rehab. The musician appeared at a tribute for late star Eddie Money, who died in September 2019.