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James Hetfield is the lead guitarist and vocalist for heavy metal band Metallica, known for hits like "Enter Sandman" and "The Memory Remains."
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Guitarist and singer James Hetfield, born on August 3, 1963, in Downey, California, formed the heavy metal group Metallica with drummer Lars Ulrich. The band with underground roots became a multi-platinum act known for albums like Ride the Lightning, Metallica, Load and St. Anger as well as singles like "Fuel" and "Turn the Page." By 2013, Hetfield and the band had won eight Grammy Awards.
Musician James Alan Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963, in Downey, California. The son of strict Christian scientists, James Hetfield was an outsider in high school, which was only exacerbated after his mother's death from cancer. He turned to music, playing with several garage bands throughout his teens.
Hetfield found a kindred heavy metal spirit in drummer Lars Ulrich, who had placed an ad in the newspaper looking for someone to jam with. Along with bassist Cliff Burton and guitarist Dave Mustaine, the two formed the straightforward heavy metal band Metallica in 1982.
Though Hetfield didn't originally plan on being the frontman for Metallica, the role he won by default now defines the band. After relocating to San Francisco and replacing the unpredictable Mustaine with Kirk Hammett, Metallica began work on their debut album. The heavy metal group was rejected by various record labels for their aggressive sound, which led to their managers launching their own label specifically for the release of Metallica's album. Although it was a risky decision, the release of Metallica's debut album, 'Kill Em All, in 1983 proved to be successful.
As the band's popularity continued to grow, they began touring in 1986 to promote their third album, Master of Puppets. While travelling on the tour bus, tragedy struck as the bus hit a patch of black ice, leading to bassist Burton was thrown from the bus, which subsequently flipped over onto him, and died. All of the members were deeply affected by the loss of Burton, but none more so than Hetfield. After the accident, Hetfield reportedly threatened to kill the bus driver and ran through the streets loooking for the black ice that caused the band members death.
The following day, Metallica went back to San Francisco. Fans of the band, in addition to the members of Metallica themselves, wondered if there was anything more that the band could do with Burton dead. It was Ulrich who convinced the band that Burton would've wanted them to carry on. And with that, they added Flotsam and Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted to the band and continued touring and prepping for what would be their biggest album.
Two years after Metallica reformed to make up for the death of their bandmate, Hetfield and Ulrich wanted to take the band in a new, more mainstream, direction, even if it meant going against their hardcore rebellious image. With the release of their fourth album ...and Justice for All, the band released their first music video for the second single off of the album, "One."
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