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James Hetfield says what “Fade To Black” means to him after all these years

Metallica in the 80's

Classic Rock

James Hetfield says what “Fade To Black” means to him after all these years

Metallica’s vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield talked about the first ballad the band ever recorded, “Fade To Black”, from the classic album “Ride The Lightning”.


Read what he said:

“Absolutely. Songs like ‘Fade to Black’ or ‘The Unforgiven’ – those are songs that morph. They constantly morph for me.

“When ‘Fade to Black’ was originally written, this was real. Like, ‘I fucking hate life. Our gear just got stolen, we can’t live our dream, we’re not gonna make it to Europe,’ all these things.

Metallica with Cliff Burton

“And then, obviously, when Cliff [Burton] or somebody important in our lives passes, that song pops up. Or like Chris Cornell, Dio… Someone’s passing gives that song new life for me.

“When I look at the crowd [while we’re playing ‘Fade to Black’]… I saw somebody just sobbing. This was a younger girl, had long dark hair, she was in tears.

Metallica in the 80's

“I was attached to the acoustic but I wanted to go over there and, I don’t know, mentally give her a hug or something. You know, just give her a wink or like, ‘It’s gonna be okay.'”

“That song was a big step for us. It was pretty much our first ballad, so we knew it would freak people out…

“Recording that song, I learned how frustrating acoustic guitar can be. You could hear every squeak, so I had to be careful.

Metallica releases unpublished 1986 version for For Whom The Bell Tolls

“I wrote the song at a friend’s house in New Jersey. I was pretty depressed at the time because our gear had just been stolen, and we had been thrown out of our manager’s house for breaking shit and drinking his liquor cabinet dry.

“It’s a suicide song, and we got a lot of flak for it, as if kids were killing themselves because of the song. But we also got hundreds of letters from kids telling us how they related to the song and that it made them feel better.”

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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