Metallica’s James Hetfield Gets Emotional On Stage, Says He’s “Insecure” About Playing

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Metallica’s James Hetfield recently got emotional on stage during a show in Belo Horizonte Brazil, on Thursday (May 12), saying he feels “insecure” about his musicianship.

Talking to the crowd of some 60,000 in Belo Horizonte, Hetfield said he worries about looking like “an old guy” on stage and that he was fearful that he couldn’t play guitar anymore.

Hetfield and his band are some of the most accomplished principles in music over the past 50 years. Yet, like so many professionals and amateurs, Hetfield said he felt “a little insecure.”

Hetfield addressed the crowd after playing the song “One” from the band’s album, …And Justice For All. That’s when he said he worried that he couldn’t “play anymore,” noting that the internal criticism was some “bullshit that I tell myself in my head.”

To combat these insecurities, Hetfield said that he’s leaned on the help of his bandmates—guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Rob Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich.

Said the Metallica rhythm guitarist, “I talked to these guys, and they helped me – simple as that,” he said. “They gave me a hug and said, ‘Hey, if you’re struggling on stage, we’ve got your back.’ And I tell you it means the world to me.”

After he spoke to the Brazil crowd, all of Hetfield’s bandmates left their positions on stage and gave him a big group hug, leaving Hetfield visibly emotional.

Hetfield concluded his admission, by saying, “And seeing you out there, I am not alone. I am not alone, and neither are you.”

The 58-year-old Metallica frontman has been vocal in the past about important issues in his life. In 2019, the band cancelled a tour of Australia and New Zealand so he could attend rehab for alcoholism.

He also talked with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe in October about feeling the pressure to succeed.

“There was such an expectation already on myself to not let the team down and be the best possible,” he told Lowe then. “But then you add 60,000 people out there… You need to be what they need you to be, because this is what you’ve evolved to be.”

“I’m no good without these guys,” Hetfield continued to Lowe in October, referring to his Metallica bandmates. “Off tour, it’s like, ‘Who am I?’ Like any first responder or football player or even a soldier, you take your uniform off and you’re a civilian again. [And you begin asking yourself], ‘Who am I? I don’t know who I am.’ There was a lot of fear in that.”

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