The Wake-Up Call That Saved James Hetfield’s Life
Substance addiction might harm memory, and it undoubtedly took its toll on Liam Gallagher. The former Oasis frontman couldn’t recall much due to his excessive drug consumption, and he would always be surprised when his much sober brother, Noel, reminded him of anything or, at least, any details from the night before.
The only person who had trouble with their memory wasn’t Liam. Kirk Hammett also battled alcohol addiction, and it was difficult for him to remember much more than the previous night. The guitarist couldn’t recall an entire tour; however, he knew they would start drinking early in the day.
“We would drink day in and day out and hardly come up for air,” pointed out Hammett as he recalled the period. “People would be dropping like flies all around us, but we had the tolerance built up. Our reputation started to precede us. I can’t remember the Kill ’Em All tour; we used to start drinking at three or four in the afternoon.”
As Kirk had problems with memory due to alcohol consumption, James Hetfield also had an issue to deal with. We might not know for sure if James had memory-related issues, but the frontman’s situation was much worse than forgetting an entire tour. You see, James would thrash and ruin everything he could find around him after a bottle of liquor.
So, while Metallica chatted with Playboy in 2o01, Hetfield recalled how the band was out of control due to their excessive use of alcohol and drugs, which wasn’t going well for any of them. And, after a particularly troubling night, their then-promoter, Bill Graham, called James into his room to talk.
“Smashing dressing rooms were all alcohol-related,” said Hetfield about Metallica’s reputation as thrashers before recalling an awful night during a festival in 1985. “A friend and I completely got ripped on Jagermeister and got it into our heads that the deli tray and the fruit had to go through a little vent,” and they decided to create an appropriate hole, making a huge mess in the trailer.
After this slightly amusing story, Papa Het continued by remembering how Graham’s words led him to wake up and face the problem he had. The singer recalled, “Bill Graham was the promoter, and I was summoned to his office. He said, ‘This attitude you have… Well, I’ve had the same conversation with Sid Vicious and Keith Moon.’”
However, being compared to the Sex Pistols and the Who legends wasn’t as complimentary as James had initially thought. The frontman added, “I was like, ‘Cool! Oh, wait—they’re dead. Not so cool. Maybe I should get my sh*t together,’ I realized at that point there was more to being in a band than pissing people off and smashing stuff up.”
So, if James Hetfield hadn’t stopped using alcohol, he probably would have taken his place on the long list of rockers who lost their battles with addiction. However, he was lucky enough to have a word with the promoter Bill Graham, who tried his best to give the rocker a wake-up call. Bearing in mind Metallica’s following success and ongoing career, there is no doubt that it was a much-needed one.