The guitarist and singer James Hetfield formed Metallica back in 1981 at the age of 18, alongside the drummer Lars Ulrich and the band became over the decades one of the most successful groups of all time.
Influenced especially by the British Heavy Metal bands and Punk Rock, the band added more heaviness and speed to their sound. They became the biggest band that appeared on the so called Thrash Metal scene and have sold an estimated amount of more than 125 million records worldwide.
Without Black Sabbath, the band that created Heavy Metal music with the release of their debut album in 1970, Metallica probably wouldn’t have been the same and they were one of Hetfield’s main inspirations. Over the decades the frontman praised the band many times and even revealed which is one of his favorites songs from them.
The Black Sabbath song that James Hetfield said is one of his favorites
When Black Sabbath released their debut album in February, 1970, James Hetfield was only a 6 year-old kid and had no idea that he would a few decades later become the frontman of one of the most famous bands in the history of music. As almost all Heavy Metal musicians, Hetfield is also a huge fan of the band and even revealed in an interview with San Jose Sharks back in 2015 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) that their are his favorite band of all time “(All time favorite) band is hard because there is so many. Led Zeppelin is in there, Motörhead, boy… they all offer (something) a little bit different. But if I was stuck for one: Black Sabbath,” James Hetfield said.
The band’s self-titled debut album is considered the birth of Heavy Metal music and the title-track of that record is one of Hetfield’s favorite Sabbath songs. “This song scared the shit out of me. It’s beyond heavy,” James Hetfield said. He revealed that when he listed the track among some of his favorite songs of all time in an interview with Rolling Stone back in 2004.
How James Hetfield reacted the first time he heard Black Sabbath
Anyone who loves music will never forget that moment when they first heard the band that would become their all-time favorite. James Hetfield remembers exactly the first time he heard the album “Black Sabbath” (1970). It happened when he was still a kid and had the chance to hear some records from his brother’s collection. Curiously, he recalled that when he had the chance, alongside Lars Ulrich, to induct Black Sabbath into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2006.
“Black Sabbath is mammoth riffs with menacing lyrics that made me oh so happy. That was gonna be my speech. That was it. But Springsteen kind of upped the ante the last year. I’ll go a little deeper. Picture a nine-year-old boy. Quiet, well-behaved on the outside. But on the inside boiling and dying for a life to burst open with some sort of stimulation. The discovery of music was what was to burst it wide open.”
“But not just any music. This was more than just music. A powerful, loud, heavy sound that moved his soul. You see, this timid nine-year-old constantly raided his roommate-slash-older brother’s record collection. And going against his older brother’s wishes, played those off-limit records on the forbidden record player. Out of all the records he could have worn out, there was no other choice. The very moment he saw their earliest album cover, he knew they were going to offer him a different kind of ride. He was drawn to them like a magnet to metal.”
James Hetfield continued:
“That’s pretty lame, yes. OK, I’ll try again. More like a shy boy to his own loud voice. Those monstrous riffs lived inside him and spoke the feelings he could never put into words. Sending chills of inspiration through him, from those gloomy lyrics and outlaw chords and all. They helped crack the shell he was stuck in. Also, scaring his mom and sister was an extra bonus. Now, as the former nine-year-old speaks to you here, as an adult musician.”
“I know those two words really don’t go together. I realize that without their defining sound, as my friend Lars has said, there would be no Metallica, especially with one James Hetfield. Never have I known a more timeless and influential band. They have spread their wonderful disease through generations of musicians.”
“They are always listed as an influence by heavy bands to this day. They are loved and highly respected as the fathers of heavy music. It truly is a dream come true and an extreme honor for me and the nine-year-old still inside of me to induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame such a significant group of musicians. And in the words of our fearless leader Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Let’s go fucking crazy!'” James Hetfield said.
During that ceremony James and Lars were joined by their bandmates Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo to perform a couple of Sabbath tracks on stage. They played “Hole In The Sky”, “Iron Man”,
Three years later, in 2009, Metallica had the opportunity to perform “Iron Man” and “Paranoid” with Ozzy Osbourne. It happened at Madison Square Garden as part of the 25th-anniversary celebration of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Tony Iommi was a huge inspiration for Hetfield
Without the guitarist Tony Iommi, nicknamed the “Riffmaster”, Black Sabbath certainly wouldn’t sound the same. He is the only member of the band that was part of all the albums released over more than 50 years. The British guitar player is one of the biggest influences that Hetfield had and he revealed that in an interview with in an interview with Guitar Center back in 2014 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage).
“Obviously Tony Iommi is a big influence on most metal guitar players. And obviously the riffs, the single note riffs and they sounded fat. When you analyze the sound it’s not really fat sounding. It’s got an edge to it that cuts,” James Hetfield said.
Metallica not only performed Sabbath songs live, but they also recorded their own version of the tracks. They covered “Sabbra Cadabra” and “National Acrobat” that were featured on their 1998 covers album “Garage Inc.”
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