Kirk Hammett Recalls Seeking A Replacement For Lars Ulrich

Download Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary. So, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett recalled their 2004 performance that almost didn’t happen as they had to find a replacement for Lars Ulrich, who couldn’t make the show. Here’s what Hammett shared with The Guardian about that day:

“When stuff like this happens, I don’t know why but the responsibility seems to land on me [laughs]. I couldn’t do anything for the next three hours except talk to drummers. I remember seeing Dimebag [Darrell] wave at me from a distance backstage; I looked at him and mouthed: ‘We are completely f*cked.’ He came over laughing and just said: ‘You guys have got this.'”

When Lars had to go to the hospital and couldn’t make it to the festival, the band went on a hunt for a drummer. It turns out Slipknot’s Joey Jordison had played in a Metallica covers band when he was younger, so he took on the challenge. Kirk reminisced about that day on stage:

“Joey [Jordison] could play all sorts of things; I remember saying to him: ‘Bro, you’re gonna have to play a bunch of these tunes tonight …’ He was beside himself; he was so happy. At the end of the set, I turned to Joey onstage, and I asked him if he could play ‘Enter Sandman.’ And I saw through his mask [Jordison was still in his Slipknot stage attire] that he had tears in both of his eyes. He was crying because it meant so much for him to be playing ‘Sandman’ with us at Download. I’ll never forget that.”

Years later, Jordison shared his thoughts about the performance at the Download Festival with Metallica and said:

“As cool as it was playing that show, what was cooler was playing in Metallica’s practice room. It was just me and those three guys, just warming up. What a dream come true, man. I’ll have dreams about it every once in a while. It was one of the best gigs of my life.”

It seems that the performance was also a significant memory for Metallica; when the Slipknot drummer unexpectedly died in his sleep in the summer of 2021, the band took to Instagram to post about the time he replaced Lars during the festival.

You can read The Guardian article here.