He is without a doubt one of the best rhythm guitar players in the world,
He stated that as long as he is physically and mentally fit he will be in "Metallica",
He is the living and breathing spirit behind "Metallica" and its main writer,
And he is celebrating his birthday today !!!
So, in honor of the metal legend James Hetfield, let's tell you some interesting facts about him:
1. Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963, and was raised and educated in a devout Christian family with two half-brothers and a younger sister. Because of their faith his stepfather and mother did not take him nor his brothers and sister to the doctor, they relied on spiritual healing powers.
2. Due to the devout Christian education, he felt like an outsider at school. His parents did not agree that he will participate in health classes and did not allow him to learn about the human body or diseases. When he wanted to be accepted to a football team he had to get permission from a doctor and he could not do so.
3. Even when his mother fell ill with cancer she did not agree to receive medical treatment, she relied on God to heal her. She eventually died when Hetfield was sixteen. He wrote the song "The God That Failed" from "The Black Album" about it.
4. The songs "Dyers Eve" from the album "... And Justice For All" and "Unforgiven" from "The Black Album" were also inspired by the way Hetfield grew up as a devout Christian.
5. The first instrument he learned to play at the age of 9, was the piano. He later switched to drums and only at the age of 14 moved on to playing guitar.
6. He mentioned "Aerosmith" as a great influence on him as a child. He said they were the reason he wanted to play the guitar. Later on, he stated that the most influential guitar players which impacted his playing style were Tommy Iommi and Johnny Ramone.
7. The first band he played in as a teenager was "Leather Charm".
8. He was a janitor before founding "Metallica".
9. "Metallica" was founded when James responded to an ad in the newspaper posted by Lars Ulrich.
10. Metallica's first song to be released on any album was "Hit the Lights" from the album "Kill 'Em All" which appeared in 1982 on the album "Metal Massacre" of the record company "Metal Blade". In the same recording, Dave Mustaine and Lloyd Grant played lead guitar and Hetfield took on the role of bass and rhythm guitar. The song also entered the second release of "Metal Massacre" in a slightly different lineup without Lloyd Grant and with Ron McGovney on bass.
11. He wrote the song "Nothing Else Matters" in his room during a tour while being depressed from the fact that he was away from home. He thought it was the last song anyone would ever want to hear, a song that least represents "Metallica", with the least chance of being played on stage. Hetfield plays all the guitar roles in the song, including the solo.
12. Although Kirk Hammett is the band's lead guitarist, Hetfield also plays solos on other songs, such as "Master of Puppets", "My Friend of Misery", "To Live Is to Die", "The Day That Never Comes" and more.
(Photo: Fin Costello)
13. The song "Enter Sandman" was written about Hetfield's fears and nightmares as a child.
14. On the band performance held on August 8, 1992, during Kirk's solo in "Fade To Black", Hetfield suffered severe grades 2 and 3 burns from a pyrotechnic effect. He returned to perform after 17 days, but the one who performed his guitar roles for Another month was guitarist John Marshall from "Metal Church".
15. Hetfield also experienced a number of fractures in his hands as a result of skateboard accidents.
The fractures prevented him from playing guitar on stage. Eventually, the band management was forced to include a special clause in his contract, according to which he was banned from skating during the band's tours.
16. Hetfield decided to take vocal classes late in his career following an incident in 1991 in which he lost his voice while performing the song "So What?" Of the "Anti-Nowhere League" band.
(Photo: Scott Linnett)
17. Moreover, before recording the album "Ride The Lightning" he was not sure that his voice was good enough. He also wanted to focus on playing, so the singing role was offered to singer John Bush from the band "Armored Saint", who refused the offer because his band was more successful at the time.
18. He is the one who created the "Metallica" logo with the large and sharp "M" and "A" letters.
19. Hetfield noted that it was his wife who saved him from himself by helping him overcome his outbursts of rage and addictions. He suffered from severe alcohol addiction and while working on the album "St. Anger" he entered a rehab facility for seven months and returned to the band four months later.
20. Among all the punk, hard rock, and metal legends, Hetfield also cited Australian singer and songwriter Nick Cave as one of his influences.
21. Hetfield is a well-trained hunter and even a member of the Rifle Association of the United States.
22. He is an avid fan of cars and has a large collection of rare collectible cars.
23. The vehicle that Hetfield drove in the music video for the song "I Disappear" from the movie "Mission Impossible 2", was later given to him as a gift. He sold it 3 years later on "eBay" for much more than its value.
24. Hetfield tattooed the names of all his children on his chest.
25. Hetfield and Lars contributed their voices to the Disney cartoon series "Dave the Barbarian". In the episode "Here There Be Dragons" they spoke in the voice of two dragons.
26. He also contributed his voice along with Kirk to the adult cartoon series "Metalocalypse".
27. He played guitar in the song "Eclectic Electric" from the "Antipop" album of "Primus".
(Photo: Ross Halfin)
28. In 2006, as part of the "Rock Am Ring" festival, he performed together with "Alice In Chains". They played the song "Would?" And Hetfield sang the vocal roles of Layne Staley.
29. He was a guest on the song "Beautiful Broken" by "Heart", taken from an album of the same name from 2016.
30. The first single he ever bought was "Sweet Home Alabama" by "Lynyrd Skynyrd". During the bridge on 3:26 minute of the song "The Four Horsemen" from Metallica's debut album, you can find a rhythm reminiscent of that of "Lynyrd Skynyrd's" on that song. This was Jame's tribute.
31. In 2019, Metallica had to cancel the rest of their tour following James' return to alcohol, this happened after 15 years in which he was sober. James was forced to return to a rehab center in order to wean off and recover from the severe addiction that accompanied him years before.
32. During "Metallica's" May 2022 performance in Brazil, an unusual event in the band's history occurred. Just before performing the song "Sad But True" James shared with the audience a moment that looked like an anxiety attack he had before going on stage. He told the audience that before he went on stage he did not feel so good, he felt insecure, he felt that he was old and that he could not play properly.
He shared his feelings with the other members of the band and they in turn supported him and assured him that if he felt unable on stage they would support him and back him up.
33. In March 2022, James' son, Castor Hetfield, together with his band "Bastardane" released their debut album "Is This Rage?".
34. He was ranked 8th in Joel McIver's book list of 100 Greatest Guitarists in Metal.
35. He was ranked 24th on the "Hit Parader" list of the greatest singers in metal.
36. In a poll conducted by "Guitar World" magazine, he was ranked 19th on the list of the greatest guitarists of all time.
37. He was also ranked second on the list of the 100 greatest guitarists in metal by the same magazine.
38. Rolling Stone magazine placed Hetfield in 87th place among the greatest guitarists of all time.
39. In April 2009 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with "Metallica".
40. In April 2023 "Metallica" released their 11th album. In our personal opinion, James owns the whole album both in terms of the lyrics, vocals, and riffs. This is undoubtedly one of the albums where he stands out significantly from the rest of the band.