James Hetfield

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James Hetfield
JamesHetfield2012.jpg
Hetfield performing with Metallica in Paris, France in 2012
Background information
Birth nameJames Alan Hetfield
Born (1963-08-03) August 3, 1963 (age 55)
Downey, California, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • producer
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1978–present
Labels
Associated acts
Website metallica.com

James Alan Hetfield (born August 3, 1963) is an American musician, singer, and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica. Hetfield is mainly known for his intricate rhythm playing, but occasionally performs lead guitar duties and solos, both live and in the studio. Hetfield co-founded Metallica in October 1981 after answering a classified advertisement by drummer Lars Ulrich in the Los Angeles newspaper The Recycler. Metallica has won nine Grammy Awards and released ten studio albums, three live albums, four extended plays and 24 singles.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Lars Ulrich Danish musician

Lars Ulrich is a Danish musician, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Metallica. The son of tennis player Torben Ulrich and grandson of tennis player Einer Ulrich, he also played tennis in his youth and moved to Los Angeles at age 16 to train professionally. However, rather than playing tennis, Ulrich began playing the drums. After publishing an advertisement in The Recycler, Ulrich met vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and formed Metallica.

Contents

In 2009, Hetfield was ranked at no. 8 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists, [1] and ranked at no. 24 by Hit Parader on their list of the 100 Greatest Metal Vocalists of All Time. In Guitar World's poll, Hetfield was placed as the 19th greatest guitarist of all time, as well as being placed second (along with Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett) in The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists poll of the same magazine. Rolling Stone placed Hetfield as the 87th greatest guitarist of all time.

Joel McIver British writer

Joel McIver is a British author. The best-known of his books is the best-selling Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica, first published in 2004 and appearing in nine languages since then. McIver's other works include biographies of Black Sabbath, Slayer, Thunder, Ice Cube and Queens Of The Stone Age. His writing appears in newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and Classic Rock, and he is an occasional guest on BBC and commercial radio and television.

Hit Parader was an American music magazine that operated between 1942 and 2008. A monthly publication, it was a general popular music title until the 1980s, when its focus turned to the genres of hard rock and heavy metal. The magazine reached its peak during the 1980s as heavy metal music achieved high levels of popularity and commercial success.

<i>Guitar World</i> magazine

Guitar World is a monthly music magazine devoted to guitarists, published since July 1980. It contains original interviews, album and gear reviews, and guitar and bass tablature of approximately five songs each month. The magazine is published 13 times per year. Formerly owned by Harris Publications, Future US bought the magazine in 2003. In 2012, NewBay Media bought the Music division of Future US. The latter company also published a spin-off title, Guitar Legends, each issue of which typically combined past articles from Guitar World under a specific theme. The first Guitar Legends was on Eddie Van Halen. In 2018, Future acquired NewBay Media, returning Guitar World to Future US.

Early life

Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963 [2] in Downey, California, the son of Cynthia Bassett (née Nourse), a light opera singer, and Virgil Lee Hetfield, a truck driver. [3] He is of English, German, Irish, and Scottish descent.[ citation needed ] He has two older half-brothers from his mother's first marriage and one younger sister. His parents divorced in 1976 when Hetfield was 13. They were very strict Christian Scientists, and in accordance with their beliefs, they strongly disapproved of medicine or any other medical treatment and remained loyal to their faith, even as Cynthia was dying from cancer. This upbringing became the inspiration for many of Hetfield's lyrics during his career with Metallica, most notably in the songs "Dyers Eve" and "The God That Failed" from their fourth and fifth albums, respectively. Cynthia died of cancer in 1979 when Hetfield was 16 years old. After the death of his mother, Hetfield went to live with his older half-brother David. Virgil died in late 1996, during Metallica's Load tour. [4] Hetfield attended Downey High School for his freshman and sophomore years [5] and graduated from Brea-Olinda High School in 1981.

Downey, California City in California

Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 13 mi (21 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities. The city is the birthplace of the Apollo space program. It is also the home of the oldest still operational McDonald's restaurant in the world. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 111,779.

English people Nation and ethnic group native to England

The English people are a nation and an ethnic group native to England who speak the English language. The English identity is of early medieval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Angelcynn. Their ethnonym is derived from the Angles, one of the Germanic peoples who migrated to Great Britain around the 5th century AD. England is one of the countries of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living there are British citizens.

Germans citizens or native-born people of Germany; or people of descent to the ethnic and ethnolinguistic group associated with the German language

Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe, who share a common German ancestry, culture and history. German is the shared mother tongue of a substantial majority of ethnic Germans.

Hetfield was nine years old when he first began piano lessons, after which he took on his half-brother David's drums and finally, at the age of 14, he began to play guitar with Robert Okner. [6] He was also in a few bands as a teenager – one being Leather Charm and another, Obsession. Hetfield identifies Aerosmith as having been his main musical influence as a child, [7] and has said they were the reason he wanted to play guitar. He has also cited Queen, Genesis, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Misfits, AC/DC, Cheap Trick, Rush, The Yardbirds, Cream, Van Halen, Blue Öyster Cult, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Yes, The Rolling Stones, Ramones, The Damned, The Stooges, UFO, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, Motörhead, Sex Pistols, Venom, Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, ZZ Top, Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Clash, Ted Nugent, MC5, Rainbow, and Deep Purple as influences.[ citation needed ]

Leather Charm was a short-lived American hard rock band from Downey, California, noteworthy as a forerunner to Metallica. The group rehearsed new wave of British heavy metal covers and original material for a period of months in 1981.

Aerosmith American rock band

Aerosmith is an American rock band, sometimes referred to as "the Bad Boys from Boston" and "America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band". Their style, which is rooted in blues-based hard rock, has come to also incorporate elements of pop rock, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues, and has inspired many subsequent rock artists. They were formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970. Guitarist Joe Perry and bassist Tom Hamilton, originally in a band together called the Jam Band, met up with vocalist Steven Tyler, drummer Joey Kramer, and guitarist Ray Tabano, and formed Aerosmith. In 1971, Tabano was replaced by Brad Whitford, and the band began developing a following in Boston.

Queen (band) British rock band

Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1970. Their classic line-up was Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon. Their earliest works were influenced by progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal, but the band gradually ventured into more conventional and radio-friendly works by incorporating further styles, such as arena rock and pop rock.

Career

In the early days of the band, Metallica experimented with a few different vocals and guitar combinations, essentially creating a setup similar to that of British metal band Diamond Head, another major influence on Hetfield. Some of the options considered included adding another guitar player, having John Roads play lead guitar, as well as asking John Bush from Armored Saint (who later joined Anthrax) to sing for the band. The finalized line-up of the band became Hetfield (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), Dave Mustaine (lead guitar), and Ron McGovney (bass) who was soon replaced by Cliff Burton. Hetfield referred to their early sound as power metal. The term "thrash metal" was first used when Kerrang journalist Malcolm Dome described the Anthrax song "Metal Thrashing Mad" in an issue of Kerrang in February 1984. [8]

Diamond Head (band) British metal band

Diamond Head are an English heavy metal band formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England. The band is recognised as one of the leading members of the new wave of British heavy metal movement and is acknowledged by thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as an important early influence.

Armored Saint American heavy metal band

Armored Saint is an American heavy metal band, formed in 1982 in Los Angeles, California. Since 1990, the band has consisted of John Bush on lead vocals, Joey Vera on bass, Jeff Duncan on rhythm guitar and the Sandoval brothers, Gonzo and Phil on drums and lead guitar, respectively. Of the current lineup, Bush and Vera are the two constant members. To date, they have released seven studio albums, one EP, two live albums and one compilation album.

Anthrax (American band) American heavy metal band

Anthrax is an American heavy metal band from New York City, formed in 1981 by rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Dan Lilker. The group is considered one of the leaders of the thrash metal scene from the 1980s and is one of the "Big Four" thrash metal bands with Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer; Anthrax is the only one of the four from the East Coast, and often credited as one of the early thrash metal bands to emerge from there, along with Overkill and Nuclear Assault. As of April 2017, the band has released 11 studio albums, several other albums, and 26 singles, including collaborating on a single with American hip hop group Public Enemy. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Anthrax sold 2.5 million records in the United States from 1991 to 2004, with worldwide sales of 10 million.

From 1982 to 1983, Mustaine's overly aggressive behavior and drinking problems led to mounting tensions between himself and Hetfield. [9] Mustaine also once poured beer onto McGovney's bass [9] nearly causing serious damage. On April 1, 1983, the band recruited lead guitarist Kirk Hammett from the band Exodus, and 10 days later, Hetfield and Ulrich officially fired Mustaine from the band due to his erratic indifference. [9] [10] Mustaine was sent home on a 4-day bus journey, and went on to form the heavy metal band Megadeth.

Alcohol abuse substance abuse that involves the recurring use of alcoholic beverages despite negative consequences

Alcohol abuse encompasses a spectrum of unhealthy alcohol drinking behaviors, ranging from risky drinking to alcohol abuse to alcohol dependence. This includes binge drinking and alcohol dependence. It is a psychiatric diagnosis as classified by DSM-5 (DSM-5).

Kirk Hammett American musician

Kirk Lee Hammett is an American musician who has been lead guitarist and a contributing songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus. In 2003, Hammett was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2009, Hammett was ranked number 15 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.

Megadeth American heavy metal band

Megadeth is an American thrash metal band from Los Angeles, California. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson formed the band in 1983 shortly after Mustaine's dismissal from Metallica. Along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, Megadeth is one of the "Big Four" of American thrash metal, responsible for its development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, and lyrical themes of death, war, politics, and religion.

Until the mid-1990s, Hetfield recorded all rhythm tracks and most harmony tracks.[ citation needed ] Since the recording of Load , Hammett has been recording rhythm guitars as well. Hetfield occasionally plays guitar solos on songs such as "Nothing Else Matters", "My Friend of Misery", "Just a Bullet Away", the outro solo on "The Outlaw Torn", the second solo on "To Live Is to Die", the first solo on "Suicide and Redemption", the first interlude solo on "Master of Puppets", the harmonized solo on "Orion" and the introduction for "The Day That Never Comes". He also writes the majority of the guitar harmonies, as well as writing the lyrics, vocal melodies, and co-arranging the songs with Ulrich.

Hetfield playing in Mexico in 2010 James3.jpg
Hetfield playing in Mexico in 2010

Hetfield has been involved in a number of onstage accidents, most notable for being an incident with pyrotechnics at Olympic Stadium in Montreal during the Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour on August 8, 1992. Hetfield was the victim of a pyrotechnics accident during the song "Fade to Black", in which a pyrotechnic charge reacted. Hetfield's guitar protected him from the full force of the blast; however, the reaction struck his left side, burning his hand, arm, eyebrows, face and hair. He suffered second and third-degree burns, but was back on stage 17 days later, although his guitar duties were delegated to former guitar tech and Metal Church guitarist John Marshall for four weeks while he made a full recovery. [11]

Hetfield also suffered a broken arm a number of times while skateboarding, which prevented him from playing guitar on stage, and subsequently caused Hetfield's management company, Q Prime, to put a clause in Hetfield's contract, forbidding him to ride a skateboard while Metallica was touring. [12] During a live performance on tour for Metallica, Hetfield experienced complications with his vocals after performing a cover of the Anti-Nowhere League song "So What?", forcing him to take vocal lessons for the first time. He did basic warm-up exercises to piano keys with his vocal coach, who also gave him a cassette tape of the piano warm-up for future use. Hetfield still uses the same cassette he was given in the early 1990's to this day before any live performance or any recording Metallica does. Hetfield talks about his vocal training endeavors in the Metallica documentary film, Some Kind of Monster produced and directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. [13]

James Hetfield live in London 24 October 2017 James Hetfield live in London 24 October 2017.jpg
James Hetfield live in London 24 October 2017

During the recording of the band's eighth studio album St. Anger in 2001, Hetfield went into rehab to address his alcohol usage. He rejoined the band after seven months in rehab and four months recovering with his family. He is now clean and sober, and is determined to remain so, all of which is featured in Some Kind of Monster. [13] Some Kind of Monster also shows the making of the St. Anger album, and documents the various conflicts and issues the band were facing at the time including the departure of Jason Newsted, alcoholism, family commitments, and the future of the band with many in the rock press questioning whether the band would even still be together to see the completion of the St. Anger album.

Hetfield and Metallica addressed their need for a new bassist by recruiting Robert Trujillo, who formerly served under the wing of Ozzy Osbourne. It was more of a swap since Ozzy Osbourne surprisingly recruited Jason Newsted shortly after Trujillo's transfer. The new line-up has continued to make music and tour worldwide. Metallica's ninth studio album, Death Magnetic , was released on September 12, 2008. Like St. Anger and every album of original material released by Metallica since 1991's Metallica, Death Magnetic went to #1 on the Billboard charts in over 30 countries during its first week of release. [14]

On April 4, 2009, Hetfield, along with remaining Metallica members Ulrich, Hammett, Trujillo, as well as former bassist Newsted, and the deceased Cliff Burton (who was represented by his father), were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [15] In an interview after their nomination, Hetfield commented that everyone who had appeared on an album with the band would be inducted. This excluded original guitarist Dave Mustaine and original bassist Ron McGovney, as both had appeared only on the band's early demo tapes. Hetfield and the rest of Metallica, including Newsted, performed "Master of Puppets" and "Enter Sandman" to end the ceremony.

Personal life

Hetfield backstage at the Big Day Out 2004 James Hetfield 2004.jpg
Hetfield backstage at the Big Day Out 2004

Hetfield married Francesca Tomasi on August 17, 1997. [16] He currently resides in Vail, Colorado, citing a "multitude of reasons" for moving there, including it being his wife's childhood hometown, the natural beauty, and the quiet environment. [17] During an interview on NPR's Fresh Air , Hetfield stated that his wife had helped him to mature and learn to deal with his anger issues more constructively, explaining that after they met, his destructive tendencies embarrassed both of them. [18] He is also sober and has been undergoing a rehab program since 2002 (documented in the film Some Kind of Monster ), maintaining total abstinence from alcohol. In a 2010 interview with So What! , the official magazine of Metallica's fan club, Hetfield stated that he is a "reborn straight edge". [19]

Hetfield enjoys a variety of activities, most notably hunting; farming and beekeeping; customizing cars and motorcycles in his garage; watching the Oakland Raiders, the San Francisco Giants, and the San Jose Sharks; and going to hot rod shows. [16] He put his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro up for sale on eBay, with the proceeds going to a Music for Schools program. [20] The car was used in the video for "I Disappear" and was given to him as a gift upon the video's completion. Years later, Hetfield donated the car to the Hard Rock Cafe which is featured in the movie Hard Rock Treasures . "Slowburn", his 1936 Auburn boat tail speedster, won the 2010 Goodguys West Coast Custom of the Year.

Hetfield performing live with Metallica at San Antonio, Texas in 2017 James Hetfield 2017.jpg
Hetfield performing live with Metallica at San Antonio, Texas in 2017

Hetfield has a number of tattoos, including one which shows flames encasing four playing cards – ace (1), 9, 6, and 3 – representing the year of his birth, and the words "Carpe Diem" ("seize the day"). The flames on the tattoo are in reference to the pyrotechnic accident which he suffered in 1992 during a concert in Montreal. [21] He has tattooed an "M" on his right hand for "Metallica", and an "F" on his left hand for "Francesca". He also has some Christian tattoos, including crosses and one of Jesus on his right arm. He has a tattoo of two razors forming the straight edge X symbol on his left wrist. [19]

The first single Hetfield ever bought was "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. [22] He was featured in a documentary, called Absent, directed by Justin Hunt, which takes a look at the effects of absent fathers on their children and the "father wound" that they leave behind. [23] [24] [25]

Hetfield has expressed his disdain for politics and celebrities who "soapbox their opinions", stating that "for us, people are people – you should all have your own opinion". [26] In 2007, Metallica performed at London's Live Earth concert. When Hetfield was asked for his thoughts on climate change, he responded by saying:

In 2008, he made comments which were perceived as endorsing the use of his music at Guantánamo Bay to torture prisoners. [28] [29] British band Chumbawamba subsequently released a song called "Torturing James Hetfield", as a direct response. [30]

Equipment

ESP Iron Cross Snow White James Hetfield Signature ESP Iron Cross James Hetfield 2014 Electric Guitar w case (1).JPG
ESP Iron Cross Snow White James Hetfield Signature

Guitars

Hetfield has been a major endorser of ESP Guitars since the 1980s, and is best known for playing custom-made Explorer-style guitars with an EMG 81/EMG 60 set for pickups. Hetfield's main guitar from the early days was a Flying V copy made in Japan by Electra, which was modified with a Seymour Duncan Invader (SH-8) pickup and used almost exclusively until 1984 when he switched to the Gibson Explorer model.

During the mid-1990s, ESP produced the first of his signature model guitars. To date, Hetfield has had six signature guitars with the company. However, Hetfield often uses guitars from Gibson and other companies instead of ESP despite his endorsement.

Some of Hetfield's current tour guitars are:

Other guitars owned/previously used by Hetfield include:

(This list is not exhaustive – he has a large collection of guitars, not all of which are listed.)

Amplifiers and cabinets

Hetfield in 2009 James Hetfield Rotterdam 2009.jpg
Hetfield in 2009

Throughout Metallica's career, Hetfield has used a wide range of different amplifiers. For the first two albums, he used Marshall heads and cabinets, with occasional effects. The specific Marshall that he used for Kill 'Em All was stolen after a concert prior to the recording of Ride the Lightning; Hetfield was extremely upset by the theft, as his mother had helped him purchase the amplifier before her death. In 1985, for the recording of Master of Puppets , he and Kirk Hammett each bought a Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+ amplifier (the preamp sections of which were connected to Marshall power amplifiers), and since then he has mostly used Mesa/Boogies, including the Triaxis and Rectifier models. Around the time of St. Anger , Hetfield began using the Diezel VH4 head. The majority of his clean tones come from a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus Guitar Amplifier, although many different amplifiers have been used over the years.

In December 2011, it was announced by Fortin Amps that they would team up with Randall Amplifiers to start a new line of tube amplifiers based on the Fortin Meathead amplifier. Kirk Hammett currently has two prototypes, and Hetfield will eventually be receiving one.

The amplifiers currently used on tour by Hetfield are:

Effects

To avoid problems with pedals being damaged during live performances, Hetfield keeps his effect pedals in a rack along with his amplifiers and his guitar technician controls them through a pedalboard sidestage. The pedal controller allows him to change between different effect pedals and amplifiers.

Hetfield's live rig in 2008 included:

In 2010, a Line 6 effects unit was added to the list, along with the TC Electronic unit, perhaps indicating that this had replaced his stompboxes.

Accessories

In addition, Hetfield uses Shure Super 55 microphones for vocals.

Discography

Metallica

Filmography

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
2004 Some Kind of Monster HimselfDocumentary film
2006 The Darwin Awards HimselfFeature film
2013 Metallica: Through the Never HimselfConcert film
2019 Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile Bob Hayward [31] Feature film
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1996 Space Ghost Coast to Coast Himself"Jacksonville" (season 3, episode 11)
2004 Dave the Barbarian Dragon 1Voice; "Here There Be Dragons" (season 1, episode 10a)
2006 Metalocalypse Various charactersVoice; four episodes (season 1)
2006 The Simpsons HimselfVoice; "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer" (season 18, episode 1)
2009 Time Warp Himself"Heavy Metal, Motorcross and Chain Saws" (season 2, episode 4)
2014The HuntNarratorAll episodes (season 1)
2016 American Dad! Water polo coachVoice; "The Life Aquatic with Steve Smith" (season 13, episode 2)
2016 Billions Himself"Short Squeeze" (season 1, episode 4)
2016–present Skylanders Academy WolfgangVoice; recurring role

Guest appearances

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