That time I asked Metallica’s 23-year-old James Hetfield who his fave metal bands were


By Steve Newton

Back in 1986 I met James Hetfield in his hotel room in Vancouver, and we talked for a bit about heavy metal, the death of Cliff Burton, new bassist Jason Newsted, and Metallica’s latest album, Master of Puppets.

I’m not sure which day in ’86 the interview happened, but it was sometime between the September 27 death of Burton and the December 19 Metallica show at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum.

I remember Hetfield’s room was a shambles, and he kicked pillows and assorted junk out of the way before using the length of his arm to clear clutter at the table when we sat down.

He was wearing a t-shirt that read: BEWARE THE MERCILESS ONSLAUGHT.

At one point I asked Hetfield which category of metal he thought Metallica fell into, and what his fave metal bands were.

Have a listen:


To hear my full 1986 interview with James Hetfield, subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can also hear my interviews with such metal and hard-rock greats as Slash of Guns N’ Roses (1994), Jake E. Lee of Badlands (1992), Joe Perry of Aerosmith (1987), Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult (1997), Michael Schenker (1992), Vinnie Paul of Pantera (1992), Steve Harris of Iron Maiden (1988), Rob Halford of Judas Priest (1984), Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe (1985), Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot (1983), Tommy Aldridge (2001), Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead (2002), Dave Murray of Iron Maiden (1984), Graham Bonnet of Alcatraz (1984), Doc Neeson of Angel City (1985), Rik Emmett of Triumph (1985), Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden (1983), Uli Jon Roth (2016), Robert Plant (1993), Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC (1983), Steve Clark of Def Leppard (1988), Gary Moore (1984), Ronnie Montrose (1994), Alex Lifeson of Rush (1992), Yngwie Malmsteen (2014), Ronnie James Dio (1985), and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath (1984)

…with hundreds more to come


2 thoughts on “That time I asked Metallica’s 23-year-old James Hetfield who his fave metal bands were

  1. Well, at that time Priest had just released “Turbo”, which had a hair metal-alike sound. So yeah, I could understand why he said that. Anyway, I think that doesn’t mean he wasn’t a Priest fan up to that point. In fact, Metallica were.
    Or maybe in that moment he was more into hardcore punk and underground extreme metal, so he just wasn’t too interested in bands like Priest or Maiden anymore.

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