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4 Rock bands James Hetfield watched live when he was a teenager

James Hetfield


4 Rock bands James Hetfield watched live when he was a teenager

The guitarist, singer and songwriter James Hetfield was born in 1963, in Downey, California. By the mid-70s when Rock and Roll music had evolved and had many different sub-genres already, he already was a teenager.


So he had the opportunity to see many famous 70s groups at a young age, even though not all of them became a huge influence to what he would create with Metallica a few years later. Rock and Roll Garage selected the 4 Rock and Roll bands that James Hetfield had the opportunity to watch live in concert when he was a teenager and also his connection with some of them.

The 4 Rock bands James Hetfield watched live when he was a teenager

Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep

“My first concert, ironically was Jethro Tull with Uriah Heep opening, (maybe in 1978)” Hetfield said in an interview with Marc Maron in 2017 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). At the time, both groups were some of the biggest Progressive Rock bands in the world and had already released many of their successful albums.

The reason why he said that is ironic that his first concert was headlined by the British Progressive Rock group Jethro Tull, is because Metallica lost the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1989 to them.

That year, everybody expected that Metallica would be the big winner for their album “…And Justice For All”. But it was the Prog Rock band that won. It became one of the biggest jokes of the history of the Grammy. The Tull members didn’t even showed up, because they were nominated on the wrong category. So it was Alice Cooper who received the prize for them that night.

Metallica’s Lars Ulrich even joked during his speech in 1992 when the band won for their self-titled “Black” album. He thanked Jethro Tull for not relasing an album that year, and letting them win that time.

AC/DC and Aerosmith

Even though, Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep were not big inspirations for James musically, he had the opportunity later on to see AC/DC and Aerosmith on the same night. He was huge fan of both groups and they were crucial for his career as he told Marc Maron in 2017 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). The show happened at the Long Beach Arena in California.

“I wanted to be the guys which I had the poster on my wall. There was a particular poster of Steven Tyler and Joe Perry together on a microphone. I didn’t know who I wanted to be. They were both so cool. So I kind of ended up being both, singing and playing.”

“(Their first album) is so raw and dirty. That’s what I like about them. Soon after that (Tull and Heep) it was Aerosmith and AC/DC. So I saw Bon Scott and I even really realized until later. (Angus) is awesome (on guitar).”

James Hetfield continued:

“You know, when people talk about us and our longevity, they are always saying ‘How long you gonna go. Be in a wheelchair and blah, blah, blah. Be like the Rolling Stones’. I get the referrence to the Rolling Stones. But for us, we are a little more athletic. (We have) fast songs, really intense.”

“So I say, ‘look at Angus, alright. If that guy is up there, I don’t know how old he is now, a few hundred years old. But he is unbelievable’. We did some shows with them and they are unbelievable, they were frickin’ powerful and you think: ‘Ok, this is the best song, this is my favorite song of theirs. Then the next one comes and (you say) ‘Oh my God, I forgot that!’ And the whole crowd is singing every word. What a great, great live band,” James Hetfield said.

The two groups at that time

At the time of those shows, both bands were reaching the end of an era. AC/DC was on their prime with Bon Scott on vocals, just about to record “Highway To Hell”, his final album and one of their most famous ones. And Aerosmith also on the edge of a big change, since not long after that show the guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford left, returning a few years later.

Curiously, both groups cameback stronger and even bigger. After Bon Scott’s tragic death in 1980, AC/DC recruited Brian Johnson and they recorded the band’s best-selling album “Back In Black”. That album sold an estimated amount of more than 50 million copies worldwide.

As for the American group, Perry and Whitford returned in 1984. After that they mixed their Hard Rock sound with a more commercial kind of music, that made them superstars. Aerosmith released very successful albums packed with hits that were overplayed on MTV in the 80s and 90s.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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