METALLICA: THROUGH THE NEVER
JAMES HETFIELD (Vocals, Guitar, Writer, Executive Producer) co-founded Metallica in 1981 and has been the band's main songwriter since the beginning. Co-creating the framework of most "Metalli-material," he remains a driving force behind the group's continuing success.
Ironically, Hetfield, the voice of Metallica and a defining voice of his rock 'n' roll generation, very nearly didn't sing at all. In Metallica's early days, Hetfield didn't see himself as a lead vocalist and the band tried several configurations of vocals and guitar. One option was to ask John Bush from Armored Saint to sing for Metallica while Dave Mustaine, then the band's lead guitar player, played the only guitar. Fortunately, Hetfield decided to establish himself as Metallica's frontman.
The roots of Hetfield's unbending determination trace back to a childhood that was often tough but laid a foundation that remains a bedrock of the band. He was born to a truck driver and an opera singer on August 3, 1963, in Los Angeles. His family's religious beliefs (Christian Science) played a large part in his early life and would form the basis for some of Metallica's lyrics.
Hetfield was 9 years old when he first took piano lessons. He then tried out his brother David's drums and finally picked up a guitar as a pre-teen. After moving to Brea, California, Hetfield attended Brea Olinda High School and met up with drummer Jim Mulligan. The two jammed at lunchtime, scaring fellow musicians with their loud and heavy sound. After seeing Hugh Tanner at school with part of a flying V guitar, Hetfield and friends formed Phantom Lord.
After graduation, Hetfield moved into a house in Downey, California, that was slated for demolition for a freeway expansion. It was the perfect place for musicians to crash, rehearse and jam. Forming the new band Leather Charm, Hetfield focused on singing in this short-lived hard-rock combo. After recording a demo and performing at a few parties, Leather Charm began to fall apart. However, a member of the band introduced Hetfield to Lars Ulrich, a catalyst that changed the course of Hetfield's life and truly set him on the path to achieving his childhood ambitions. The rest is a long, illustrious, occasionally curious and still-evolving history.
Hetfield has previously lent his vocal talent to Adult Swim's Metalocalypse and performed voiceover work for various sports documentaries. When not writing, singing or playing guitar, Hetfield enjoys outdoor activities such as custom auto restoration, welding, and collecting classic guitars. Other interests include watching his beloved Oakland Raiders and going to hot-rod shows.
Among all his pursuits, Hetfield is happiest spending time with his wife Francesca and three children, Cali, Castor and Marcella.
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