Metal Blade founder and CEO Brian Slagel – the first man ever to sign Metallica – talked about the very early days of the metal giants, saying on Let There Be Talk:
“I missed the very first show they played, but the second show was [with Saxon] – Hetfield was just singing.
“I think they did maybe one more gig after that with him doing that. Then he put on a guitar, and they had dueling guitars.
“The funny thing is, he was insanely shy back then.
“Mustaine was doing all the talking at all those early gigs, Hetfield didn’t really say anything.
“He obviously played guitar and wrote all the songs and everything, so it was kinda weird that he did that.
“I can’t remember what their reasoning was, but it wasn’t long until he was like, ‘Give me a guitar while I’m doing this.’
“He only sang because they didn’t have a singer. When they did the demo, it’s like, Lars played the drums and James did everything else, so he de facto became the singer.
“The famous story is how the only band they kind of jived with in LA was Armoured Saint. They did gigs together and hung out with them.
“And they were always on [singer] John Bush, ‘Hey, come on, join our band!’ And he was like, ‘No, I’m gonna stay with my buddies.’
“It still is crazy to me when you sit and think about it for two seconds.
“Lars and I had a moment at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame when they got inducted – he looked at me and went, ‘How the hell did this whole thing happen?’
“It’s so bizarre, because we were friends before, just two 16-18-year-old kids back in the day. Who would have ever thought both of us would have long careers in the music industry?It’s pretty mind-boggling when you think about it.
“It didn’t really register to me that this was something real until they opened for Ozzy.
“Consistently destroying Ozzy every single night. Like ‘Wow, this is something really big now.’ That was when I was like, ‘This is officially the change of the guard, this band is gonna be massive after that tour.’
“The record was just so good. It’s really bizarre. And they did it without radio play, without MTV play, they just did it as being a super heavy band at that point.”