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James Alan Hetfield


1981- Metallica - guitars, vocals (as James Hetfield)  

Live musician

2006 Alice In Chains - guitars, vocals (as James Hetfield)  

Guest musician

1988 Danzig - backing vocals (as James Hetfield)  
1996 Corrosion Of Conformity - backing vocals (as James Hetfield)  
1997 Jim Martin - backing vocals (as James Hetfield)  
1999 Primus - guitars (as James Hetfield)  

Personal information

Born on: 03.08.1963

Early life
Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963, in Downey, Los Angeles County, California. His father, Virgil Hetfield (a truck driver) and mother, Cynthia (a light opera singer) were devout and strict adherents to Christian Science, and accordingly, much of his young life revolved around religion. In accordance with their beliefs, Hetfield's parents strongly disapproved of medicine or any medical help and remained vigilant in their faith even as his mother began to die of cancer. Her death, and his subsequently turbulent relationship with religion, are both recurring subjects which have been the focal point of some of Metallica's lyrics (the songs "Mama Said," and "The God That Failed," are about Hetfield's mother and father, and "Until It Sleeps" is about cancer, of which both of his parents died).

Hetfield was nine years old when he took his first piano lessons, before taking on his brother David's drums and finally picking up a guitar at the age of fourteen. His main influence was Aerosmith and said that they were the reason why he wanted to play guitar. Other bands such as Black Sabbath, The Beatles, Queen, Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy also had a major influence on him. Hetfield formed his first band, Obsession, in his early teens. Composed of the Veloz brothers on bass and drums, Jim Arnold on guitar, and Hetfield providing lead vocals, the band spent plenty of time in the Veloz brothers' garage jamming, with Ron McGovney and Dave Marrs acting as roadies. Marrs and McGovney subsequently joined the band itself when the Veloz brothers quit.

After moving to Brea, California due to the death of his mother, James attended Brea Olinda High School and met up with drummer Jim Mulligan. The two jammed at lunch time, scaring fellow guitarists with their loud and heavy sounds, before another student named Hugh Tanner was seen carrying around part of a flying V guitar at school. Hetfield's next band Phantom Lord was born with Tanner on guitar, Mulligan on drums, and Hetfield singing while also playing guitar. The group went through a few bass players until graduation, when Hetfield moved back to Downey.

Once back in Downey, Hetfield moved into a house owned by McGovney's parents that was slated for demolition due to an expressway expansion. Hetfield talked McGovney into taking up bass, Phantom Lord disbanded, and then the third band under Hetfield's leadership, Leather Charm, was born. Hetfield no longer played guitar and McGovney played bass guitar, while Tanner and Mulligan retained their former Phantom Lord positions. Leather Charm was largely a hard rock combo, playing a few originals and in addition to covers, such as Iron Maiden's "Remember Tomorrow". The band performed at a few parties and recorded a demo, but then began to fall apart.

Tanner left the band, to be replaced by Troy James. Then Mulligan left for a more progressive, Rush-like band. Without a drummer, the rest of the band decided to call it quits. Although it was Mulligan's departure that led to Hetfield searching for a new drummer, it was Hugh Tanner who introduced him to Lars Ulrich, which led to the creation of Metallica.

In the early days, Hetfield did not have an interest in being a lead vocalist, and Metallica experimented with a few different vocal/guitar configurations. Some of the options considered included adding another guitar player, having then-lead guitar player Dave Mustaine play the sole guitar, as well as asking John Bush from Armored Saint (who later joined Anthrax) to sing for the band.

From 1981 to 1983, Mustaine's famous rock and roll lifestyle sparked heated altercations between the two. One particular event that brought the conflict to the foreground involved Hetfield kicking Mustaines's dog and Mustaine hit Hetfield in response, as well as flipping Ron McGovney on the ground and breaking things. Eventually, Hetfield and Ulrich fired Mustaine due to his alcoholic tendencies and recruited lead guitarist Kirk Hammett from the band Exodus the same day. Mustaine was sent home on a 4-day bus journey, and went on to form the speed metal band Megadeth.

Until the mid-1990s, he recorded all rhythm tracks, most harmony tracks, and the occasional solo (the first solos heard in "Master of Puppets" and "Orion", "To Live is to Die", and "Nothing Else Matters"), as well as writing the lyrics, vocal melodies, and co-arranging the songs with Ulrich. Hetfield has been involved in many accidents onstage, the most well-known being an incident with pyrotechnics while on the Guns N' Roses / Metallica tour in 1992: he suffered severe second and third degree burns to his left arm during the opening of "Fade to Black" and was unable to play guitar for four weeks (former Metallica roadie and Metal Church guitarist John Marshall filled in while Hetfield continued to sing). He has tattooed his left arm with a picture of flames encasing four cards, - 1, 9, 6, 3 -representing the year of his birth. He also broke his arm several times while skateboarding in empty cement pools, which prevented him from playing guitar onstage.

During the recording of the St. Anger album, Hetfield went into rehab for alcoholism and other obsessive-compulsive behaviours arising from his depression. Alcohol had long been a problem for Hetfield; the band's alcoholic antics earned them the nickname "Alcoholica" by the music press. Just before this, Metallica's bassist Jason Newsted announced he was exiting the band, after Hetfield forbade him to work on any side projects. Hetfield rejoined the band after two months in rehab and seven months with his family. He then continued with the album. He is now sober and clean and is determined to remain so, despite the many temptations dogging rock stars. The movie Some Kind of Monster documents the making of the St. Anger album and shows the various conflicts and issues the band is faced with including alcoholism and family commitments and the future of the band.

Personal life
When he is not writing, singing or playing, Hetfield enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including hunting, skateboarding, snowboarding, water and jet-skiing, sketching, working in his garage customizing cars and motorbikes, watching his favorite football team the Oakland Raiders, and going to hot-rod shows. He also collects vintage guitars - particularly those from 1963 - and enjoys working on classic automobiles. Among his favorites are a '55 Chevy Bel Air, which he helped restore, and "The Beast", an all-terrain four wheel drive Blazer. Aside from these pursuits, Hetfield says he is often happiest spending time with his wife Francesca and three children: Cali, Castor, and Marcella. He put his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro up for sale on eBay, with the proceeds going to a Music for Schools program. The car was used in the video for "I Disappear" and was given to him as a gift upon the video's completion.

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