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James Hetfield reflects on Metallica originally wanting a different vocalist: "It didn't work out"

Papa Het remembers how Metallica "really tried" to get Armored Saint's John Bush to join the band as their vocalist to no avail.

James Hetfield reflects on Metallica originally wanting a different vocalist: "It didn't work out"
Words:
Emily Carter
Photo:
Tom Barnes

As they celebrate their 40th anniversary this year, Metallica frontman James Hetfield has reflected on the band's very early days and how they tried to recruit a totally different singer – which, of course, could have lead them down a much different path…

Ahead of the release of 1983 debut Kill ’Em All, Papa Het had struggled with feeling confident as a vocalist, looking to others to replace him so he could be left to just play guitar. But their desired option, Armored Saint's John Bush, was committed to his own band and therefore turned down the offer (he has since stated that he doesn't regret that choice).

Looking back at that time during the Road Dog Brothers segment on SiriusXM's Mandatory Metallica channel, James says, "A lot of [Metallica’s] early memories were celebrated with a band called Armored Saint, who were a fellow LA band back in the early ’80s when we were getting started.

"Obviously John Bush was a singer we got to know really well, and really, really tried to get him into the band as a singer.”

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The frontman recalls that John said no because "he was dedicated and very in love with what he was doing with his brothers in Armored Saint, and we absolutely respect that".

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In an interview in our Kerrang! archives, James stated of his job of being the band's vocalist, "Being the singer, you don’t do more than three hours in a row or you get sick. Your throat goes. I have to take care of my voice here and there which is a hassle… Having mics all over the place is much more fun than being stuck in one spot.”

He also said of Metallica's band dynamic, "It’s all down to personalities. Not everyone is the same and that’s probably the thing that’s made us last. Nobody really cares about being the lead dog in the pack, and everybody pulls their weight."

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