James Hetfield is recognized globally for the work he has done as a Metal musician. Metallica, the band for which he is the lead vocalist, is considered as one of the big four that set the tempo of what is today known as thrash metal music. Alongside his band, he has recorded massive success landing 9 Grammy Awards, as well as embarking on several successful music tours around the world.
When the greats in the music industry, especially guitarists are named, Hetfield is sure to be mentioned as in the course of his life, he has achieved several milestones in his music career. However, it is known that his roots in music can be traced down to his childhood years.
James Hetfield Was Introduced To Music As A Child
James Hetfield was born on the 3rd of August 1963 in Downey, California. His father, Virgil Hetfield, provided for his family by driving trucks while his mother, Cynthia Bassett, was an opera singer who specialized in light opera. Bassett’s work in music was James’ first introduction to the musical arts, and by the time he was 9, he started to take piano lessons.
Later on, in his teenage years, he transitioned to playing the drums, finally arriving at the guitar when he was 14, and this became his trademark instrument in the course of his career. He also went ahead to join smaller bands like the Leather Charm and Obsession before his career took off as a member of the Metallica band.
Becoming a Member of Metallica & His Success With the Band
In 1981, Lars Ulrich, a member of Metallica put out an ad in a newspaper, calling for people who play Metal music. Although his original intention was not to form a band, after recording some songs together, they formed Metallica in October 1981. Irrespective of the fact that the band has gone through many changes in terms of personnel, Hetfield has remained with the group through all the years. As both a member and co-founder of the band, he has aided in the creation of 8 live albums, 10 video albums, and studio albums.
He also contributed greatly to the band’s self-titled 1991 album ‘Metallica,’ which ranks as their most successful album in terms of sales, with more than 16 million copies sold worldwide. More so, it is known that the album sold more than 650,000 copies in the first week it was released and maintained its number 1 position on the Billboard charts for 4 consecutive weeks. It eventually had a great influence on the metal music scene, which gave rise to what is considered to be a modern Metal rock.
James Hetfield’s mainstream fame and success also come from his numerous contributions to the band, which is not just limited to singing as he also pulls his weight when it comes to writing the band’s songs. The guitar solos he plays are mostly written by him, as well as the vocal melodies. His bandmate, Ulrich, is usually in charge of arranging the songs, but Hetfield also contributes to this.
He contributed immensely towards the release of the band’s debut album ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ but Hetfield’s most successful work can be found on the 1991 Metallica album, where he wrote the songs, ‘Nothing Else Matters,’ ‘The Unforgiven,’ and ‘Enter Sandman.’ He has also appeared in a lot of stage performances with the band over the years, and in recent times, they still embark on tours to promote their music. His dedication and contributions to the music industry have also been recognized and rewarded.
James Hetfield was listed at the 8th spot among The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists in 2009 as compiled in Joel McIver’s book. On the list compiled by Hit Parader of The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists, he was ranked at no. 24. Hetfield has been recognized as the 19th greatest guitarist of all time, according to Guitar World’s Poll, as well as the 2nd greatest guitarist on their list of The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists. On Rolling Stone‘s list of greatest guitarists released in 2015, the Metallica guitarist was placed in the 87th position.
Why James Hetfield’s Music Style Is Laudable
The most endearing part of Hetfield’s music for his fans is how fundamental it is to the genre of thrash metal. As one of the four bands upon which this genre was founded, Metallica was revolutionary when it hit the music scene in the early 1980s. The compositions of their song feature elements from punk, rock, and metal, but this was just for their first album. In their subsequent albums, there were musical innovations, going as far as including the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in their 1999 live album S&M.
This willingness to experiment with different genres is what has defined their style and made them a favorite among fans. The style of his music has also appealed to some anti-religious folks. According to records, the Metallica musician grew up in a religious home with parents who were Christain Scientists. Their faith forbids medication of any sort, and as a staunch adherent to the religion, his mother refused to take medicine when she was diagnosed with cancer.
The song, ‘The God That Failed,’ was written based on this experience. However, despite the anti-religious undertones of his music, Hetfield still maintains that he is practicing a faith influenced by Christianity. More so, the live performances of Metallica feature a lot of fire and the use of pyrotechnics; this has been very exciting for fans who are thrilled by the display they put up on stage. That notwithstanding, it has also come with its consequences as it has resulted in Hetfield having a lot of onstage accidents.
There was an incident in 1992 where a pyrotechnic charge reacted, Hetfield was closest to it when it happened, and the left side of his hand, eyebrows, face, and hair all burnt. It took him 4 weeks to recover, and during that time, he still went with the band on tours, which made fans admire him more for his passion for music.
The Metal Musician Has Recorded Massive Financial Success
The sale of millions of records is only one part of how James Hetfield has amassed his current net worth of $300 million as the talented singer cum guitarist has found several ways to make more money as an entertainer. To add to his many traits is his acting stint, which has also gained him some amount of fame and wealth over the years.
The multi-faceted entertainer has worked as a voice artist on shows like Dave the Barbarian, The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Skylanders Academy, in which he voiced Wolfgang. James was also seen playing Officer Bob Hayward in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, which was released in 2019. He has also been featured in several documentaries, as well as the video game, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD.
James Hetfield Met His Wife During A Music Tour In 1992
In 1991, Metallica released their eponymous album, also known as the ‘Black Album,’ which resulted in them embarking on a tour to promote it. As fate may have it, during the tour, Hetfield met Francesca Tomasi, who was working in the wardrobe department. Both of them have described their love as one that happened at first sight. However, the pair had to wait to officially start a relationship when the tour ended.
They maintained a steady relationship for a couple of years before getting hitched in August 1997. The couple welcomed their first child, Cali Tee, in 1998, and two years later, their second, Castor Virgil, was born. Their third child, Marcella Francesca, was born in 2002. The family resides in Colorado, where James relocated to because of its natural environment, coupled with the fact that it was where Francesca spent her childhood after moving from Argentina.
The influence that Francesca has had on Hetfield’s life is one that he has often commented on. Before the start of their relationship, Hetfield struggled with anger issues, but after meeting her, he learned to process those feelings properly. He credits her with helping him to mature. More so, she is very supportive of his career as she has in the past worked as a costume designer for the Metallica, but no details are available about her career pursuits since she got married. She may be manning the home front as her husband is busy with his career pursuits.