Kirk Hammett Recalls How James Hetfield Passed Out Due To Cliff Burton

During a recent appearance on Metal Mayhem ROC, Kirk Hammett of Metallica reflected on James Hetfield fainting from Cliff Burton’s joint.

The guitarist asked the two interviewers:

“Do you remember that time we were all down in the kitchen, and Cliff was smoking a joint, and he passed it around to everyone? We all took a little bit, including James [Hetfield], and then James passed out on the kitchen floor, and we couldn’t get him to move into the bedroom.”

Piling Chairs And Armchair Pillow Incident

He added, revealing the rest of the story:

“We piled chairs on top of them, and then later on, I remember he woke up the next day, and he had this mark on his face. I said, ‘What happened, man?’ He goes, ‘Oh, I was using one of the armchairs as a pillow.’ I was like, ‘What!?'”

Playful Band Traditions

Then, one of the interviewers described a playful tradition where if someone fell asleep or passed out in their group, they would pile chairs on them. The speaker recalled when Lars Ulrich passed out, and they put chairs on him. They also put a tomato slice on his ear, which briefly woke him up enough to react, and then he fell back asleep. The speaker is unsure what happened to the tomato slice afterward. Hammett continued from where he left:

“But it was a thing we used to do a lot back then. Whenever someone passes up, we pile chairs on top of them because they wake up and then try to sit up; they sit up into a pile of chairs. The funniest thing. Oh my God. We would just wait for that person to wake up, and it was always hilarious.”

Hammett’s Perspective On James Hetfield As A Bandmate

Although Kirk recalls humorous moments from their journey together, he also reflected on what makes Hetfield a challenging bandmate in an August interview with Rick Beato. Hammett said he and James have similar musical tastes and similar guitar-playing styles. Despite their shared interests and skills, Hammett finds working with Hetfield sometimes challenging, as he explained:

“James… I love him. I love him as a musician. I love him as a brother, but it’s hard to be in a band with him. Because sometimes, he shows up, and he’ll play something like, ‘Where did that come from? I’ve never heard anyone play something like that.’ And it’s still coming.”

Hammett then expressed admiration for Hetfield’s natural guitar-playing ability. He noted that Hetfield can effortlessly play complex guitar parts without much effort, as if he could just wake up and immediately produce impressive music.

You can watch the rest of Kirk’s interview below.