James Hetfield’s ‘Heroic’ Survival From Pyro Accident Saved Metallica According To Jason Newsted
In his recent interview with So What!, the former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted recalled when the band’s frontman James Hetfield had a serious accident that caused him much pain. The bassist highlighted that the accident actually helped them reconnect with each other.
Guns N’ Roses and Metallica started their Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour in Washington, D.C., on July 17, 1992, and played their last show on October 6, 1992, in Seattle. It was considered Metallica’s second disastrous tour after Damage, Inc. Tour in which their bassist Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident. James Hetfield had a terrible accident during their performance at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, on August 8, 1992, as a part of their co-headlining tour.
Metallica was using pyrotechnics during their live shows, and Hetfield was confused about his position on the stage while they were playing ‘Fade to Black.’ However, the pyrotechnician didn’t see him, so the frontman walked into a 12-foot flame which turned the whole concert into a disaster for both band members and the audience. He was immediately taken to the hospital because of second and third-degree burns on his arms and the left side of his body, caused by 3200-degree heat.
The tour dates had to be rescheduled due to the accident, and Metallica went back to the stage 17 days later. Guitar technician and Metal Church member John Marshall replaced Hetfield on the guitar, but the frontman continued to sing. During his conversation, Jason Newsted opened up about the accident, saying that they were ‘distraught,’ but Hetfield was so heroic that he was asking about their return despite his severe pain.
Thankfully their tour manager Tony Smith was there to keep things under control in the middle of this crisis. The bassist defined the incident as a great opportunity for going back to their ‘bubble world’ in which they were able to realize how much they valued each other. Metallica found a time to live in their own world far from everyone and everything that saved the band while supporting their longtime friend and bandmate, James Hetfield.
Newsted said in his interview that:
“They think about that and kind of review it a little bit. That accident brought us together to a place that I don’t think could have ever happened unless something like that, an incident like that. James was a heroic dude, straight up. Do you know how much just one little scratch or one little burn on the teapot hurts? Come on! So he comes in, and it was like three days late or five days later. Tony Smith comes back. I’m going to go back a little bit because it’s such a moment that somehow saved and refueled our band.
We went into our own bubble world, the microcosm, because we were back in our place to protect our boy, try to be whole again. That’s all that matters. That’s not the thing is he going to be okay? I don’t know if it’s the first or third gig; it was a new place. We were four floors down the sub-basement. All the way down… We were distraught. Kirk and I were tripping. Lars was in the dressing room, just with a towel on his head. Kirk and I were trying to still be upright, and we were just wandering. We go back to the dressing room. It’s four hours since the incident.
Tony Smith has been at the hospital; it’s a french-speaking hospital, so Tony says, ‘You need to put this guy furthest back room that you got this place because, in half an hour, 5000 people will be on here.’ He puts him way in the back and got some translators. Tony comes back four hours and said ‘He’s gonna be fine, okay and tough as f*ck, and the only thing he wanted to know was when we’re playing again. We’re like ‘That’s what we are asking.'”
You can check out the interview below.