“Another Hetfield crash n’ Burn”
Demolish Metal Fanzine has a News section, which is where this should go, but I am going to post all the Worldwide Metal News and the hundreds of press releases that I have received over the years last. So this is a personal “Metal Story” of mine that I would like to share with the masses.
Before we get into my heavy metal history (and to put this headline into perspective), let’s rewind the tape a bit if-you-will to 1983. This is, of course the year that the mighty début of METALLICA‘s excellent “Kill Em’ All” (Megaforce) album surfaced from the underground and this is still one of my favorite METALLICA albums.
I remember when I first heard the name METALLICA. It just had that “ring” to it. To me it best represented their crunchy “metallic” guitar sound. Which was something I had never heard before. It was so damn heavy!
Of course, history tells us that other bands such as EXODUS, TROUBLE, RAVEN, MERCYFUL FATE and maybe ANTHRAX had a similar “crunchy” tone. Let’s not get ahead and “Jump In Fire” yet, but let it be known that out of all of Metallica’s albums, this is the one that blew open the doors and when the doors were open, I soon discovered all the above mentioned bands. This album was my “gateway” drug (to make a Metal analogy).
I immediately took to the Metallica art and logo as well. I am a sucker for all things minimal. Great job James for the design of this logo!
So what was going on in the Metal scene in the “lovely” 80’s? Well, to put things into better perspective, at that time I was listening to the standard Heavy Metal albums by Heavy Metal bands like: Motley Crue‘s “Shout at The Devil”, DEF LEPPARD‘s “Pyromania”, ACCEPT‘s “Balls to the Wall” and DIO‘s “Holy Diver” (probably my favorite) and last but not least, IRON MAIDEN‘s killer “Piece of Mind”.
Things were looking up for Heavy Metal Music and it seemed as though I was seeking heavier and more aggressive Metal releases to devour -only I just didn’t know it yet. I mean, when you jump from the oh-so-radio-friendly chorus in “Photograph” and the cheeky “Ten Seconds to Love”, and then on to more energetic songs like “Stand Up and Shout” from Ronnie James DIO and the boys and “Die with Your Boots On” from Bruce and the MAIDEN crew, your blood starts pumping and your fists are clenching VS the sing-along “pop Metal-ish” melodies with a somewhat “heavy” (Metal) guitar.
Let me also just toss in the fact that MTV was alive and trying to figure out what to do, and so we were starting to see a Heavy Metal Video here and there. The other new metal video show was on USA NETWORK called “Night Flight”.
Looking back, I realize now that there were a whole slew of great Heavy Metal albums out there by bands that I had not yet heard of in 83′. There were so many amazing bands releasing great albums, such as MERCYFUL FATE (“Melissa”), RAVEN (“All for One”) and SAVATAGE (“Sirens”) for an example.
While we are on the subject of 1982, let me spotlight some other rather notable releases that were still on heavy vinyl rotation at the house. IRON MAIDEN released arguable their BEST LP with “Number of the Beast”, MOTORHEAD contributed “Iron Fist” and the SCORPIONS put out the smokin’ “Blackout” LP and classic artwork (who could forget the crazy dude with forks in his eyes)…good stuff.
*I once drew this amazing cover artwork in a High School Art Class. Freaked out the teacher I think but I got a good grade on it and it was better than drawing some boring “still-life” crappola.
Unbeknownst to me was the new wave of underground molten Metal releases that were steadily bubbling towards the top by the likes of: VENOM (“Black Metal”), another RAVEN (“Wiped Out”), TANK (“Filth Hounds of Hades”) and MANOWAR, who made their “strong-arm” METAL début with “Battle Hymns”.
Wow, looking back – that was some rather choice “new” music just waiting to be had. What a time for Hard Rock and Metal!
OK, let’s get back to the topic at hand…METALLICA‘s “Kill Em’ All”
After plopping the record on the platter, I was instantly blown-away with what I heard come rushing out of my Pioneer, Technics & Teac stereo system. By the time “Hit the Lights”, “The Four Horseman” and “Motorbreath” were over, it felt like a locomotive just blasted through the house and ran over me! By the time “Jump in the Fire” rolled around, I was in need of a break from the shock and the current puzzled, but excited state I was in.
So I was thinking to myself, man how were they able to play that fast for so long and there is no way they will continue this madness for the rest of the entire LP. And then the (now classic) “Anesthesia/Pulling Teeth” instrumental came on from straight out of left-field. What the hell is that? A guitar, no way, it’s a bass guitar loaded up with some nasty efx with killer solo/instrumental material by the great Cliff Burton (R.I.P). Lars jumps in later and adds what could only be described as “heavy metal/thrash funk” but with METAL bass and not some funky plucking ala’ Funk music.
And then, wait, what’s that sound I hear, oh boy, it’s the sound of that freight train coming around the tracks to run us over again, only this time with a speed metal masterpiece they simple call “Whiplash”. That’s it, with my eyes bugged outta’ my head, I got up and put the needle back into the groove for a re-start and proceeded to play “Whiplash” a second time, you know, just to confirm what my ears just heard! Wow…
So now what’s a 16-year old pimply faced kid to do? Of course, put that record back in its sleeve and case and head on over to your buddies house and let them witness firsthand what you just had the aural pleasure to experience. So, of course my friends basically freaked out when I played it over at their house. Especially since they were coming from a more hard rock/rock background and they probably had just finished listening to AC/DC‘s “Flick of the Switch” album before I stormed the gates with my newly found gem.
After a good 2-3 more spins of Side A (I am not kidding), we finally braved side B. and were greeted with four more thrashin’ Metal tracks — my favorite being “Seek and Destroy”. At this point, METALLICA managed to slide their way to the very top of my personal favorite Metal band list, knocking out the number one spot, which was held by none other than KISS for the longest (well, at least until I progressed into all things Heavy Metal that is).
*I proceeded to make cassette tapes of this album for all of my friends and I would say about 90% were “converted” and ran out and bought their own copy on vinyl within the first few months of its release.
So there you have it, my first METALLICA experience, perfectly encapsulated in Metal history on this blog for your reading pleasure.
For the sake of space and this long-winded post, let’s fast-forward “the tape” to the following year: 1984.
METALLICA is back with yet another slice of sonic mayhem, this time with “Ride the Lightning”. So with expectations running high from my favorite band, I fell in love with their latest “metallic” effort pretty much instantly and it was at this time I think that their guitar “crunch” was definitely considered “metallic” by most Metal folks.
They start with a somewhat (classically inspired) guitar intro and then right into “Fight Fire With Fire”, holy crap! Just when you thought “Whiplash” will be their all-time fastest and or heaviest, these guys are back faster and on-point with a better production (albeit drenched in reverb), much heavier guitar sound and boy am I happy! Next up is the title track “Ride the Lightning”, which displays a much more mature band and it shows their song writing skills have grown and that they are not all about speed or how fast they can play.
This is also evident with the great solo Mr. Kirk Hammett plays on this one. It starts off very melodic and majestic and then moves on to what will later be called “anthem-like” and then out of nowhere, right when you think it’s ending, he comes back and rips your head off! As a matter of fact the entire bands kicks it down at this point for the rest of the track, along with noteworthy double-bass beats from Lars. Then, they loop back around to the first part of the song. Love it! I could listen to that main riff on repeat and never tire. So this release moves them a step closer to their upcoming worldwide dominance.
I am not going to do a track-by-track rundown of this masterpiece as we all know (or you should by now) that every damn song is great. As a matter of fact, this album was able to knock out my favorite #1 album (i.e. “Kill Em’ All”) with relative ease.
Moving forward to the beginning of 1986 (March 3rd to be exact) and we have the highly, highly anticipated third release from the boys: “Master of Puppets”. So I slap the record on and we’re off to the races with yet another “trademark” METALLICA acoustic guitar intro. This time it’s a bit more Spanish-influenced. Then without much pause, the more technical riffage and drumbeat of “Battery” is upon us! Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwe P-E-R-F-E-C-T. Well worth the wait and I am delighted to hear what I will just call “state-of-the-art thrash metal” for now from the title track “Master of Puppets”, as the middle break just oozes with class and musicianship. This is by far the most accomplished METALLICA recording and or track from this era. Totally original (well there is a hint of an EXODUS-ish riff running throughout the track), but if you check the credits for this song Kirk Hammett’s name is listed and all well-studied Heavy Metal Kiddos know that Kirk was in fact an early member of that GREAT band as well.
This time around Jame’s vocals have also improved and are sounding more authoritative than ever!
Up next is the slow-grinder “The Thing That Should Not Be” complete with its low-slung grinding as it just chugs along like a METALLICA “death-train”. I think this is one their best/simple arrangements and for such a “catchy” metal song this is just simply HEAVY as hades! Cool drum parts by Lars too and this is one of my favorite METALLICA songs to bang out on thy drums. Oh yeah, Kirk incorporates a unique “whammy-bar” solo as well that fits like a glove.
“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” (with its obvious “Fade to Black” nod) is pure epic METALLICA class. It’s songs like this that made all the Metal bands at the time crap their pants. Yes, folks -it’s that good. It was also at this time that they were influencing an entire generation of kids to play guitars, bass and drums just like their new-found Metal idols! And they did this with sheer talent, drive and best of all no commercial radio airplay, flashy MTV video (or even dolls like KISS eventually resorted too). This album also single-handedly raised the bar several notches higher in terms of over-all quality and playing in the genre of all things Metal.
So with such a killer album and a near perfect Metal track-record, for their three releases thus far, what’s next on the horizon for METALLICA? Well, thanks to one OZZY OSBOURNE it was time to take this beast out on the road and straight to the Metal masses that’s what. METALLICA did embark on some tour dates earlier but nothing like the exposure and number of dates that a major concert of this size could bring.
In 1986 on “The Ultimate Sin” album/tour Sharon, Ozzy and Metallica headed out to rock their many fans in the U.S. Included in Ozzy’s camp was guitarist Jake E. Lee, drummer Randy Castillo (R.I.P.), bassist Phil Soussan and ex-Uriah Heep keyboardist John Sinclair.
1986 turned out to be a pain-in-the-butt year for Osbourne, as he was the target in the first of a series of U.S. lawsuits brought against him about lyrics in the song “Suicide Solution”.
You can probably guess that I was stoked that I was finally going to get to see my favorite band in the world and when I learned they were coming to my hometown (at the time) Evansville, Indiana—I was ecstatic! So I got my ticket, started to count down the days and began my plot as to how I was going to get to maybe meet the guys before or after the show.
The place where they were booked to play was called Mesker, which is an outdoor amphitheater that holds around 8,500 screaming fans.
You might not be able to tell from the pic, but you can get pretty close to the stage compared to most venues. Better yet, the bands have to load in their equipment to the left of the stage and to get there they have to drive in right at the front gates and then they have to proceed down a hill to get to stage left. So the “plan” was to do some partying with my fellow Metalhead com padre’s and then head on over to the venue earlier in the day and catch them during their load-in and or sound check.
METALLICA was pretty young in these days so I figured they would get bored rather quickly while having to stomach Ozzy’s road crew and having to wait for them to set up in the hot, hot July sun in the middle of the day. And there is nothing to do around that venue, so the way I looked at it was that we had them “trapped” if-you-will.
If you have a look at the ticket above you will see that show time was 8PM, so we thought they would start their set up between like 10am – 4pm probably. By the way, did you see how much the show cost us? Yes, that’s right only $14.50 in-advance for OZZY and METALLICA. Amazing how thing’s change!
Saturday morning rolls around and my buddy and I (Troy was that you?) head on over to Mesker Park to try to “stumble-upon (har’ har’)” our metal idols and when we get there the usual concert set up was in-progress. Semi trucks pulling in and out. Several tour buses were parked stage left and of course, it was July so it was hotter than hell outside. All sorts of banging, hammering and stage building was going on but what was odd was the fact that all we could see was Ozzy’s band equipment. No METALLICA amps, no METALLICA road crew running around and what puzzled us the most was no drum-riser for Lars and no drum rig in site?… hmmmn.
Perhaps we were too early? So we hung out for a while, left and then got some breakfast (i.e. “brunch” for metal heads, as we stay up all night and sleep most of the day ya’ know) and then came back to an fully set up Ultimate Sin stage. This time the METALLICA M.O.P. crosses were onstage (thanks Brad -ed) as well as Lar’s “chrome” kit and the usual back line of amps were sitting around waiting to be pounded into Metal oblivion later. What we did hear was Randy Castillo (or someone on his kit) banging the bass drum beat to the intro from “The Ultimate Sin”, you know the boom, boom, boom…boom/boom/boom beat!
Knowing that it was starting to get late in the day, we decided to head on back home to get ready for the show and besides, we had to meet up with some other fellow Metalheads that were going with us for what (in our minds) was going to be the BEST damn show we’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing!
So it’s finally time to head on out to the show, with expectations high and butterflies in our stomach (well at least mine) as the countdown to METALLICA‘s set was starting to “tick”. When we arrived the place was the usual madhouse with people hanging out in the parking lots, kid’s running across the main street and lines starting to form around the ticket booth/entrance, however I detected a weird aura that was in the air. I could not explain it, but something was up and not quite “right”.
*When we finally made our way up to the gate and got our tickets ready, we were hearing “rumors” that James Hetfield was skating down the large hill beside the stage and broke his arm or wrist earlier and that METALLICA was NOT going to play tonight!!
Arrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhh! WHAT? Your kidding me? All sorts of emotions danced all over me, but the only thing that we could do was to stay in line and keep moving forward. So we made it inside and I immediately ran down to the front of the stage (like I always do) to stake my claim of prime front-row real estate.
After what seemed like ages, Lars and Cliff finally came out and they announced that METALLICA were in fact not going to be able to play but OZZY was going to play and extra long set to make up for it. Well, guess what…of course no one told OZZY that or he didn’t care and they didn’t play any more than their regular set.
Yikes, I guess my worst nightmare is now playing out right before my very eyes.
Some fans were starting to get rowdy and there were definitely A LOT of upset fans. I would say probably 70% or more were there to see Hetfield and Co. Lots of Metallica fans didn’t even stick around for OZZY’s set.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, OZZY took the stage and they jammed and their performance was great -esp. Jake E. Lee as that guy can shred on guitar!
I kinda’ felt sorry for OZZY for a bit as it was not their fault but I do recall a lot of “M-ETALLICA”, “ME-TALL-ICA” chants earlier and during their set. I guess the “Oz” was finally able to calm (and or “cool” I should say) everyone down by throwing buckets of cold water on the packed crowd on this “almost-perfect” hot summer night in Evansville, Indiana.
Looking back after all of these years, I am not quite sure why METALLICA just didn’t suck it up and play with Kirk on guitar and James just singing? I am not exact on the time-frame of the events leading up to this since I am sure he went to a local hospital (only about 10 minutes away from the venue). Of course he was probably in some pain, but come on, it was not life-threatening by any means (and I am sure they gave him some strong pain-killers). We’re talkin’ a broken wrist folks! Maybe James or Lars were too pig-headed and or wouldn’t allow the show to go on if one of them was not at the top of their game and or perhaps their ego’s would not allow it at this stage in their careers? Who knows…maybe someone close to the band will eventually read this blog post (and maybe even a member of METALLICA themselves — I’m dreaming now) and share their comments!
Click on thumbnails above for a larger view
After this date on the OZZY tour, I think they were forced to cancel a handful of dates and they later recruited their guitar tech John Marshall (METAL CHURCH). I am not 100% but I heard that he was asked to play on the SIDE of the stage on most of the dates he filled in for. I guess after he passed the “Live METALLICA test” then he was allowed to actually roam the main stage a bit (albeit in the background with Jame’s white Gibson guitar). I am sure it did not take that long as Marshall is a really good guitar player and later joined METAL CHURCH -a great Power-Metal band in their own right. As a matter of fact, they were signed to Metallica‘s label at the time Elektra for several releases.
I would love to hear any comments from readers on this interesting topic at hand. Type your comments below.
METALLICA hanging out one month prior to the (in)famous skateboarding accident in Indiana. Listen to what they say they like to do in their “spare time”. Hilarious!
*And a few months earlier on the “The Ultimate Sin” tour with OZZY.
*interesting excerpt from: (ilike that)
July 26, 1986
James breaks his wrist skateboarding down a hill in Evansville, Indiana, before a gig, but continues the tour singing. The band’s guitar tech, John Marshall, fills in. (Marshall later becomes a member of Metal Church).
James: “We told the management, ‘Hey, look we’re thinking about taking boards out on tour’…I thought he was going to go, ‘Oh shit, no way, you can’t.’ He just said, ‘Well, you break something, you still play.'”
Kirk: “Yeah, he said, ‘You break a leg on your skateboard, you play on stage with a broken leg.'”—Thrasher Magazine, 1986
“John Marshall has been our savior quite a few times. It pays if you’re a roadie to learn the bands songs, you could end up on stage.”—James, VH1 Behind the Music
“James would run around the stage, just singing, with guitar parts mysteriously coming from nowhere. So after the first two songs, James would announce: ‘Obviously, I’m not playing; we’ve got this guy down here who’s playing guitar.’ I’d walk out and wave, then go back to my little hidden corner. [One night] Cliff would look over at me and go, ‘Get the fuck out here! Come out and play!’ Four gigs into the tour I was basically on the stage.”—John Marshall, Metallica Unbound
“The hard part was trying to match the vibe and intensity of James’s guitar playing. I knew how to play the riffs and song arrangements OK, but getting the feel right was difficult. It was also hard because the rest of the band follows his voice and guitar onstage. I think I was more worried about what the rest of the band thought, than what the audience thought.”— ~John Marshall, Justice For All. The Truth About Metallica
James with a broken wrist (source: Ilikethat).
Metallica 1986 “Damage-Inc.” Tour Dates
Date City, State Venue
27/03/86 Wichita, Kansas Kansas Coliseum
29/03/86 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Fairgrounds Arena
01/04/86 Kansas City, Missouri Kemper Arena
02/04/86 St. Louis, Missouri Keil Auditorium
04/04/86 Detroit, Michigan Joe Louis Arena
05/04/86 Chicago, Illinois Chicago Pavilion
06/04/86 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mecca Arena
08/04/86 Indianapolis, Indiana Market Square Arena
09/04/86 Cleveland, Ohio Richfield Coliseum
10/04/86 Erie, Pennsylvania Civic Center
12/04/86 Johnstown, Pennsylvania War Memorial
13/04/86 Syracuse, New York War Memorial
14/04/86 Rochester, New York War Memorial
16/04/86 Landover, Maryland Capital Theater
17/04/86 Binghamton, New York Broome County Arena
18/04/86 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Stabler Arena
20/04/86 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The Spectrum
21/04/86 East Rutherford, New Jersey Brendan Byrne Arena
23/04/86 Providence, Rhode Island Civic Center
24/04/86 New Haven, Connecticut Coliseum
25/04/86 Worcester, Massachusetts Centrum
27/04/86 Glenns Falls, New York Civic Center
28/04/86 Uniondale, New York Nassau Coliseum
02/05/86 Charlotte, North Carolina Coliseum
03/05/86 Johnson City, Tennessee Freedom Hall
04/05/86 Memphis, Tennessee Mid South Coliseum
06/05/86 New Orleans, Louisiana Lakefront Arena
08/05/86 Austin, Texas Erwin Events Center
09/05/86 Houston, Texas The Summit
10/05/86 Fort Worth, Texas Tarrant County Coliseum
12/05/86 El Paso, Texas Coliseum
13/05/86 Albuquerque, New Mexico Tingley Coliseum
15/05/86 Denver, Colorado McNichols Arena
17/05/86 Salt Lake City, Utah Salt Palace Arena
19/05/86 Tucson, Arizona Community Center Arena
20/05/86 Phoenix, Arizona Coliseum
23/05/86 Tulsa, Oklahoma Cain’s Ballroom
24/05/86 Cape Girardeau, Missouri Arena Building
25/05/86 Chicago, Illinois Aragon Ballroom
26/05/86 Des Moines, Iowa Iowa State Fair
28/05/86 Minneapolis, Minnesota Orpheum Theatre
29/05/86 Eau Clair, Wisconsin Old Mill Expo
30/05/86 Davenport, Iowa Coliseum Ballroom
31/05/86 Decatur, Illinois Civic Arena
01/06/86 Omaha, Nebraska Peony Park
03/06/86 Dallas, Texas Bronco Bowl
04/06/86 Corpus Christi, Texas Coliseum
05/06/86 McAllen, Texas Villa Real
06/06/86 San Antonio, Texas Majestic Theatre
07/06/86 Odessa, Texas Ector County Coliseum
10/06/86 San Diego, California Sports Arena
11/06/86 Las Vegas, Nevada Thomas & Mack Arena
12/06/86 San Francisco, California Spastic Children
13/06/86 Long Beach, California Long Beach Arena
14/06/86 Long Beach, California Long Beach Arena
15/06/86 Long Beach, California Long Beach Arena
16/06/86 San Francisco, California Cow Palace
17/06/86 San Francisco, California Cow Palace
18/06/86 Sacramento, California Californian Expo Amphitheatre
21/06/86 San Francisco, California Ruthie’s (Spastic Children)
22/06/86 Seattle, Washington Coliseum
05/07/86 Pihtipudas, Finland Saapasjalkarock festival
06/07/86 Roskilde, Denmark Roskilde Festival
11/07/86 Green Bay, Wisconsin Brown County Arena
12/07/86 East Troy, Wisconsin Alpine Valley
13/07/86 Hoffmann Estates, Illinois Poplar Creek
15/07/86 Peoria, Illinois Civic Center
16/07/86 Fort Wayne, Indiana Fort Wayne Coliseum
17/07/86 Columbus, Ohio Ohio Center
19/07/86 Battlecreek, Michigan Wendler Arena
20/07/86 Saginaw, Michigan Wendler Arena
21/07/86 Clarkston, Michigan Pineknob Music Theatre
24/07/86 Cincinnati, Ohio Riverbend
25/07/86 Louisville, Kentucky Kentucky Fairgrounds Stadium
*26/07/86 Evansville, Indiana Mesker Theatre
(James breaks arm before the show skateboarding. The show is cancelled!)
27/07/86 Nashville, Tennessee Municiple Auditorium
29/07/86 Chattanoga, Tennessee UTC Arena
30/07/86 Knoxville, Tennessee Civic Coliseum
01/08/86 Charleston, West Virginia Civic Center
02/08/86 Columbia, Maryland Merriweather Post Pavilion
03/08/86 Hampton, Virginia Coliseum
29/08/86 San Francisco, California The Rock (Spastic Children)
John Marshall Rehearses with METALLICA
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*in order to transport you directly back to 1988 we will continue to keep the language in the posts “present tense” even though this is 2010.