Kirk Hammett Details How Metallica Got Big Like AC/DC And Bon Jovi


Metallica’s James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett spoke to Guitar World about their legendary 1991 album ‘Metallica,’ also known as ‘The Black Album.’ In the interview, Hammett stated that they became as big as AC/DC and Bon Jovi because they played in small cities and were open to extending their tours.

Undeniably, ‘The Black Album’ is one of the most influential albums in hard rock and metal history. Initially released ten years after the foundation of Metallica in 1991, the album gave a different perspective to the music industry and achieved commercial success. Needless to say, the band received significant attention when they released the remastered version in 2021.

The switch in the band’s sound differentiated ‘The Black Album’ from Metallica’s other records. It was revolutionary for them and showed the band’s range. However, the album’s success wasn’t only because of its sound but also the band’s touring strategy. The lead guitarist of the band, Kirk Hammett, stated that they were very flexible during their tour.

They said yes to every city and every extension, making it possible for everyone to come to their shows. He stated that they would even perform in smaller stages to be more accessible, and people loved that. A similar tactic was followed by bands such as Def Leppard, AC/DC, and Bon Jovi. Thus, when Metallica applied the same technique following their big album, they got as big as them.

Here is how Hammett stated the touring strategy that got them big:

“The overall theme on that tour was, ‘Okay, we have the opportunity to do more shows. Wanna make the tour longer? Sure.’ ‘Okay, we have the opportunity to go into B markets and C markets. Wanna make the tour longer? Sure.’ We were into going to every place that we possibly could.

We even played in places that we couldn’t fit the stage into. We went to fucking Delaware. We played at a theater in New Hampshire. We played every single state. And it was a huge undertaking. We had a multi-level stage that had three front rows. We had the ‘snake pit.’ It was like one big playground, but instead of monkey bars, we had stairs. It was insane.

And you know, everywhere we went, we were selling out, which was crazy because before us there were only a few bands that were doing those types of numbers. Def Leppard had sold like 12 million copies of ‘Hysteria,’ and they were playing multiple nights in multiple cities. Bon Jovi was doing the same thing. AC/DC too. We observed that. We wanted that. And we realized that to get there we needed a really big album. We had the big album, and so the stage was set for us to do it.”

It was an incredible time for the band as they sold out almost every show and gave direction to the industry with their new album. Metallica worked with Bob Rock for their 1991 album, who also was Mötley Crüe’s producer. The process was painful and filled with tensions because Rock pushed them out of their comfort zone to create something unique and different.