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The 2 Elton John songs that James Hetfield chose as favorites

James Hetfield and Elton John
Photos by Jeff Yager - Elton John photo by @bengibsonphoto


The 2 Elton John songs that James Hetfield chose as favorites

The singer and guitarist James Hetfield formed Metallica in 1981 alongside the drummer Lars Ulrich and within a few years they already were one of the most important bands that helped to create Thrash Metal. During the last five decades they became one of the most influential Metal groups of all time and also one of best-selling Heavy Metal bands in history with an estimated amount of more than 125 million records worldwide.


Although they make really heavy and aggressive music, their songwriting also had space for a few ballads, which shows the variety of influences that Hetfield had, since he is the band’s main songwriter. One of his favorite artists is the British singer and pianist Elton John and he already mentioned two of his songs among his favorite tracks of all time.

The 2 Elton John songs that James Hetfield chose as favorites

“Candle In The Wind”

In 1963, when James Hetfield was born, Elton John was already working as a musician and six years later released his debut album. So Hetfield was still a teenager when he had the chance to hear Elton’s music for the first time. As he told in an interview with Rolling Stone back in 2004, “Candle In The Wind” and “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting” were some of his favorite songs. The Metallica frontman mentioned the two tracks when asked by the magazine to list his favorite songs of all time.

“‘Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting’ was more my style, but few songs can top this melody (from ‘Candle In The Wind’),” James Hetfield said. Written in 1973 to pay tribute to the famous actress Marilyn Monroe, who passed away a few days earlier, “Candle In The Wind” was released in 1974.

The track was featured on Elton’s best-selling album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, which had many other hits. That album is considered one of the best of all time and has sold an estimated amount of more than 20 million copies worldwide.

“Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”

The second song mentioned by Hetfield was “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting”, which also was from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. That track curiously is not really centered on Elton’s piano playing. It’s more connected to the incredible guitar riff played by his longtime guitarist Davey Johnstone.

It’s not only James Hetfield who admires Elton, the British musician also loves Metallica. He even said once that “Nothing Else Matters” is one of the greatest songs of all time. He said that in an interview with Howard Stern which also had Metallica. Elton had covered the track with Miley Cyrus as part of the “Metallica’s Blacklist”, which was a covers album to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their best-selling album “Metallica” (1991).

“(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) This is one of the best songs ever written to me. I mean, it’s a song that never gets old. I’m playing on this track, I just couldn’t wait, because the chord structure, the melodies, the time changes. It’s got drama written all over it. I just thought it was a great idea to start with piano.”

He continued:

“I have to say, it was no-brainer playing on this song. Metallica are probably the creme-de-la-creme of those kind of bands. You can’t really define them, not a Heavy Metal band. They are a musical band. Their songs are not just Heavy Metal, they are beautiful songs. This is such a melodic song, it’s f*cking great, actually,” Elton John said.

James Hetfield was moved to tears after hearing Elton John saying that. One year later he praised John in an interview with The Project in 2023 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage). “Elton John, he is quite an entity, he is quite a musical force. He has written some amazing melodies, some classic songs that live in my heart.”

“For him to say that ‘Nothing Else Matters’ is one of the best songs written. It brought me to tears, really. For him to say something like that it nursed my soul right there,” James Hetfield said.

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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