In an interview with Jan Grandvall in Sweden, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich spoke about the first time he met guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield.
Read what he said:
“[My family] moved to Los Angeles, to Newport Beach, a suburb in the south, and I was going to play tennis on the local school team. There was an Australian tennis player named Roy Emerson who was close to my father, and he had a son named Anthony Emerson, and he was the high school tennis player.”
In Denmark at the time I was sort of ranked among the top 10 in the country and blah blah blah, and I was going to Newport Beach to play with Anthony Emerson on this tennis team, except that the problem was that when I played on the varsity, I he was not one of the seven best players in the school. And I was not even one of the seven best players on the street where I lived.
Then, literally, in a day, the whole dream of tennis fell – fell and burned hard – and the music was waiting to take care. There was a 7-Eleven, and 7-Eleven had a local newspaper for classified ads called Recycler, […] and there was a short section about musicians looking for bands and bands looking for musicians. So I put up an ad saying: ‘Drummer looking for other heavy metal fans,’ or whatever, ‘to start a band.
Influences: Diamond Head, Angel Witch, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Venom ‘or something. And I got all those calls from these guys saying, ‘I like heavy metal. I like Styx and I like Kansas and I like Van Halen ‘or whatever. And ‘Who is Diamon Head?’ […] And so I went and tried to play music with a lot of people and nothing worked.
And then one day there was a phone call from a guy named Hugh Tanner, who said he could bring a friend, and we met and played music for an afternoon. And the guy he brought was James Hetfield. [James was] very shy, super introverted, could hardly look into his eyes, barely having a conversation. But there was some connection with it while we were playing.
And even though nothing happened that day, I ended up getting a bit frustrated with the whole thing. And now it was June 1981, so I came back and spent the summer in Europe and spent some time in England with Diamond Head and Motörhead. But when I returned to the United States in October of that year, I called that James Hetfield guy again, because there was only a vibration, a connection. And I said if he wanted to get together and see if there was a possibility of something, and we connected. And 37 years later, I’m sitting here.
He was back then … I came from a cultured European education, was an only child, very close to my parents – my parents were my best friends at the time. And he was just the opposite – the rebellious American classic, like ‘Fuck my parents, fuck society, fuck man’ – this whole thing … […]
I know he was very disconnected from his father and he was raised by his mother who then had cancer when he was 14 or 15. And because of the particular Christianity they believed, they were not allowed to seek medical help.
So basically, I think over the course of a year and a half he watched his mother languish in front of his eyes. So obviously this had a significant impact on him. I knew him, I think, about a year after that – maybe he was 17 or 18. [He was] painfully shy and awkward. But we connected to the music and we sat in my room in Newport Beach and heard, like I said, Tyger Of Pan Tang, Girlschool, Saxon and Angel Witch, and all those things, and he loved all those things.
He grew up [listening] more Americans [artists like] Aerosmith and Ted Nugent and that sort of thing. But we find a common language and a thing in common with which we can feel connected and identifying ourselves.
And we started playing music together. Most of the songs we started were covers of New Wave Of British Heavy Metal that were very off the radar because we wanted to start playing the shows immediately. So we figured if we’d learn a set …
Lots of bands in bars and clubs back then were playing songs from Kiss and Judas Priest, or whatever, so we thought we would play some covers, but not songs that people knew. And then we took our time and started writing our own songs later. ”
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I am a Brazilian journalist, a Classic Rock and Heavy Metal lover. Music has always been part of my life, helped me through tough moments and was with me to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After college I did a postgraduate degree in digital communication. This has helped me to make the website better and bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG