James Hetfield

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“He was obsessed with death and he ended up dying.”
~ James Hetfield on mortality

James Hetfield, pictured in 2011.

James "I think he's had a few jars already, in fairness" Hetfield is the rhythm guitarist, singer, co-founder and table for the American heavy metal band Metallica. Hetfield, who is of a rural decent, is a prime figure in metal. In fact, Hetfield is clearly some form of Superior Being, and sings like a demon, with no hint of digital fiddling at all.

Hetfield is praised as a unique rhythm guitarist. While most rhythm guitarists play in the background to a much more technical and skilled lead guitarist, Hetfield is a notable reversal to this rule when playing with guitarist Kirk Hammet, as he is a much better lead guitarist than the latter.

Early life

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Young James

James Hetfield before he discovered alcohol.

Hetfield was born in 1963 in California, to a man and a woman. Hetfield went to high school and through his friends went on to discover great bands like Black Sabbath and Van Halen. Wanting to be in a band, he read his local paper and saw an advert that read "Amazingly talented and skilled drummer looking to jam with guitarist to Black Sabbath and Van Halen". Hetfield showed up at the address, wanting to meet this awesome-sounding drummer. The door was answered by a small Dane who was not that good with his English. Hetfield hoped that this was the catch, and that this odd foreigner would indeed be an amazing drummer, the advert not being a stretch of the truth at all. He was wrong.

This drummer was none other than a certain Lars Ulrich. The two started a band but had to decide on a name. Ulrich insisted on "Extreme Elimination Challenge Thrash Metal Supergroup for Worshipping Satan as Well as Extensively Masturbating Over Dead children". Hetfield, trying to mask how uncomfortable he was around this odd fellow, casually suggested "Metallica", a reference to the classic Beavis and Butt-Head episode that aired 12 years later where the two start a band called Metallica (AC/DC in fact took their name from this same show). Lars Ulrich liked the name Metallica, as it had a nice ring to it - he was completely unaware that Hetfield was actually saying "Metallic", but being James Hetfield involuntarily kept adding "-AH" to the end of the word. This name stuck.

Early Metallica

James and Lars felt that Metallica could do with the help of another band member and soon hosted auditions for other members. Their first audition entered the room, plugged in his guitar and single-handedly invented thrash metal on that day when he shredded the greatest guitar solo ever heard. James and Lars didn't even need to audition anyone else after this. They discovered that this fellow was actually a bassist called Cliff Burton. Amazed, they begged him to be in Metallica. "Metallica?" he replied, "oh shit! I'm at the wrong place". Disappointingly, Burton was supposed to be auditioning for another band. He returned to San Francisco to shred in some other band, and so the Metallica crew hired a bassist called Ron McGovney, who was simply an ordinary fellow with nothing special about him. They still needed a lead guitarist, and so auditioned again. A local resident named Dave Mustaine auditioned, and proceeded to shred what he believed to be the greatest solo in metal. Compared to Burton's bass solo, this paled, but it was still good enough for him to get in.

Dave Mustaine would, however, turn out to be a massive knobjockey, and not in a sexual way, but personality wise. Mustaine, who was never seen sober, trashed McGovney's car, and when the other two complained, he beat the shit out of them. Mustaine angrily yelled "you can't fire me, I quit!" and left the building. He returned the next and asked "Can I be back in the band?". "Sure" was the answer.

After Mustaine was forgiven and granted his second chance, he poured beer all over Ron McGovney's bass. Then, he hooked twelve car batteries to the wet bass and hid behind a wardrobe to watch his hilarious prank unfold. McGovney picked up the bass, was electrocuted and received second-degree burns which sent him to the hospital. "Ha ha, that's funny" said Mustaine. As McGovney was taken away on a stretcher, he told James that he left as he was not taking Mustaine's shit any longer. James and Lars headed out to a gig in San Francisco, and heard an amazing guitar player. Wanting to kick Mustaine out for being a total dick, they went to find this lead guitarist, only to spot their old pal Cliff Burton onstage with his bass. They convinced him to join Metallica, to which he agreed.

After playing several gigs with Burton, they were dismayed to find out Mustardstain was still a problem. Now all they needed was to replace him. They flew a plane all the way to New York City on the other side of the country. Then they fired Mustaine. They told him that he viciously assaulted the other band members and screwed up his second chance by drinking. "No second chance?" replied Mustaine. He was put on a bus and taken back to Cali. On his way there, he met a guitarist who was on his way to New York in order to audition for a band. He was told by this guitarist that "some unlucky bastard just got kicked out of a band and I'm taking his place". Mustaine laughed at this bizarre coincidence and wished him good luck on replacing that unlucky sod. This guitarist was Kirk Hammet as Dave would later find out. Now, Metallica's line up was complete.

Metallica Era


James Hetfield back in the day, before he wound up looking like the Cowardly Lion.

Metallica's first album was Kill 'Em All, a hearty metal album which served as a fuck-you to all the glam rock bands that were around at the time. The title came from bassist Cliff Burton, who based it on Dave Mustaine's title Killing Is My Business. Unlike later Metallica albums like "And Justice For All" or "Death Magnetic", these songs didn't last 9 minutes or even get boring after the first three. Kill 'Em All featured such hits as "Four Horsemen", originally written by former guitarist Dave Mustaine as "Mechanix"; "Whiplash", originally written by former guitarist Dave Mustaine as "Rattlehead"; and "Phantom Lord", originally written by former guitarist Dave Mustaine as "Looking Down On the Cross". The songs in between, such as "No Remorse", were all written by former guitarist Dave Mustaine.

The rest of the band denies this, insisting that Mustaine received credit where it was due, and only helped with four songs, but Mustaine insists that this accusation is false. Mustaine went on to say the rest of the band are, quote, "filthy liars, I wrote that whole album. Clearly they don't hold a candle to me, I mean just listen to Kill 'Em All, it's all slow and poser. They can't write thrash for shit. My band is way better".

Their second release was 1984's Ride the Lightning. For this album, they let Burton write most of the songs and then the rest of the band contributed to this. The only person who had no contributions was Mustaine, because the band wanted to be as original as possible. Mustaine bought a copy, and listened to it so he could figure out how to 1-up Metallica for his second album. To his dismay, the song "Ride the Lightning" so happened to contain a single riff which had two notes in common with a riff Mustaine once improvised several years earlier while attempting to play a different song. This angered Mustaine, who demanded to share credit with the rest of the band for this. While looking at this song list, he also noticed one of the songs was called "Call of Ktulu". Mustaine had read the book "Call of Cthulhu" that one time when he was in the band, and he borrowed it from Burton, who actually wrote the song. Mustaine also demanded a writing credit for this song, which is the last song credited to him. Unfortunately for Metallica, Mustaine's fans would read it as "J Hetfield, L Ulrich, C Burton, DAVE MUSTAINE". This tragically upset the band, causing Ulrich to weep in his room for several weeks - Hetfield wrote the song "Fade to Black" about how depressed he was after Mustaine was falsely attributed the whole Kill 'Em All album, even Cliff Burton's solo "Anaesthesia".

The crew had revenge on Mustaine in the form of their third album, Master of Puppets, released in 1986. The title track is a reference to Mustaine's fans being led to believe that he was Metallica's only member, and has a double meaning in which the "master" is cocaine and the puppet is the addict. Of course, Mustaine was too strung out on cocaine to notice this, or even to notice that Metallica had released a new album with new songs he could take credit for. When he did sober up, he tried convincing people that he wrote "Leper Messiah", but it was too late, and Metallica finally had an album where Mustaine had no credit whatsoever. All was going good for the band, until a tragedy struck them that they would never forget - Megadeth released Peace Sells that year. This album, full of cult rituals and black magic, scared Metallica, and almost made them ditch thrash. Mustaine was glad he had achieved his life goal by releasing the heaviest album ever, and felt like he could finally put his all his anxieties away, but Slayer (another rival of Megadeth) had other ideas and made an even heavier album that year. Upon finding out, Mustaine screamed "FUCKING SLAAAYER!", but his anger went unnoticed as this is exactly how devoted Slayer fans refer to the band.

Death of Metallica

Master of Puppets catapulted Metallica to fame. All this success meant that they went on a worldwide tour to support Master. Cliff Burton was planning on taking Metallica's music in a whole different direction, and the rest of the band let him do so. Using his bass as an orchestra, Burton wrote two masterpieces - a classical composition called "To Live is to Die", and a poem where Burton wishes he was dead. While performing in Europe, the band's tour bus had uncomfortable and unsatisfactory beds. There was one bed which was comfortable, and Kirk Hammet bagsied it. The rest of the crew had to figure out which bed was whose, so they drew cards to who would have which bed. Burton went to draw the cards first, and being Jesus Christ, used his divine powers to draw the Ace of Spades. This meant he could have any bed he wanted - "I want your bunk!" he told Kirk Hammet. Kirk reluctantly decided rules are rules, so he went to sleep upfront. Cliff went to sleep in the bunk next to the highly fragile window that was the only window in the bus that didn't have safety glass.

At 7AM the next morning, in some road in Sweden, the bus skidded on black ice and began violently shaking. The rest of the band were thrown around as they screamed and panicked. The bus crashed and Burton was thrown out of the window, before he was crushed under the weight of the bus. Cliff Burton died here, and in a shocking coincidence, so did Metallica.

“The whole bus was violently shaking; I felt like we were going over a Cliff!”
~ Kirk Hammet on the fatal bus accident

Sadly, with Burton gone, Metallica had to retire not only the band, but also their plans to fire Lars Ulrich, seeing as the guy was really annoying and couldn't drum to save his life. This is according to metal guitarist Scott Ian, who is also quoted as saying "those chickenshits wouldn't have fired him anyway". After a night of drinking and grieving, the crew decided to carry on without Burton by making their own completely new band. Hetfield, Hammet and Ulrich recruited bassist Jason Newstead - the only bassist who turned up to audition - and founded their own band, Metallic-ah. This new band would be much more low-pitched and heavier than their last band.


Wah pedal

In 1996 the band underwent a change of style and cut their hair. Pictured here is guitarist Kirk Hammet in all his musical glory.

For Metallic-ah's debut album (and Hetfield's fourth), And Justice For All, the band decided to challenge their listeners by introducing the album with a kick-ass riff - "Blackened". Then, after five minutes, decided to keep playing the same riff over, and over, and over, and over, until the listeners couldn't bare it. The next song, the title track, is twice as long at a staggering 18 minutes, while the song itself only contains three riffs. This is followed by more of the same thing for half the album. Those who managed to make it all the way through are treated to the album's actual greats - "Frayed Ends of Sanity", a song about a football game, where the audience are heard chanting; "To Live is to Die", Burton's final song combined with his poetry written before his death where he wishes to die; and "Dyer's Eve". The latter is usually used as an example of Lars Ulrich not being a bad drummer. Rumour has it that Lars Ulrich was on speed when it was recorded. For And Justice, Metallic-ah's bassist Jason Newstead had his bass parts turned down to the point where it can't be heard. Various explanations have come about for this - James Hetfield insists that Newstead's basslines were so similar to the guitar it can't be heard, while others cite problems with the frequency. The truth is, James and Lars did this just to be dicks, because they wanted a good laugh.

Metallic-ah's finest album was an album called Metallica (1991), a touching tribute to California thrash metal Metallica, of which Hetfield, Ulrich and Hammet were members. The band poured their blood, sweat and tears into this album, and wrote the slow tempos as a tribute to their old bandmates their former band (that is, Cliff Burton). This poignant album was a best-seller and was lauded by critics and fans alike for its amazing musicianship. However, the album's debut at number 1 on the charts royally angered their old rival Dave Mustaine. Mustaine was tormented by this, and his drug abuse worsened. He decided to copy Metallic-ah by doing the exact same thing in Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction. Ulrich insisted that Mustaine was unaware that Metallic-ah was a completely different band to Metallica. Mustaine pointed out that as Cliff was the only member he actually liked (at least since Burton died and it was not cool to diss him), he didn't care.

Their follow-up albums, Load (1996) and Reload (1998), were accepted by hardcore yet loyal and devoted fans, who praised Metallic-ah's change in style, saying that, although the musicianship in the Burton-era albums were great, they deeply respected the experimental elements of the albums and said that this quality placed them over the thrash metal albums of their past. While they did receive moderate success, Metallic-ah were reluctant to keep this style, as they would rather release another Kill 'Em All or Ride the Lightning than continue like this. However, this marked the end of Metallic-ah, as Jason Newstead, fed up of the disrespect he was getting, decided to leave. Metallic-ah parted ways. Hetfield, Ulrich and Hammet decided to create another completely different band, called Metallic-AAH.

Personal life

Modeling career


Some Kind of Sea Monster?

During early 2008 Hetfield started his own range swimwear, which he has been selling out the back of the tour bus after shows around the country. He has already earned $4,000,000 gross this year, but spent it all on tea with which to "improve" his singing.


On September 15 2008 Swedish broadsheet Göteborgs-Posten revealed that through extensive investigative journalism they had discovered that James Hetfield's beard was not real. For a number of years the people behind the iconic face gear of Hetfield were the research and development department of Swedish company IKEA. The story has been covered on the Internet by the only news site worth reading, Uncyclopedia's very own UnNews.

Identity as a Table

In the time of the recording of Lulu, James was growing increasingly tired of Lou Reed constantly "rapping" over the original recordings and decided, after much deliberation, that the only reasonable response to show his distaste was to become a table. He was quoted as having said on his decision "I have to say, becoming a piece of furniture has been my best decision in a while. It took a while for Kirk to stop putting his coffee mugs on me - I mean those rings are a bitch to get out". The other members of the band have shown rather strong apathy to his new status as a table, as the lack of a mouth, arms, and mobility in general make it hard for him to perform, which could lead to Lou rapping even more.

See also

Preceded by:
God of Metal
1985 - 1984
Succeeded by:
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