METALLICA hailed as one of the most influential and successful metal bands in history, has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the music world. However, the band’s remarkable journey has been punctuated by conflicts and challenges, with the relationship between co-founders James Hetfield, the singer/guitarist, and Lars Ulrich, the drummer, occasionally marred by turbulence. Creative disagreements, personal issues, and even physical altercations have all played a role in their tumultuous history.
One of the most infamous incidents transpired in 1982, when Hetfield, during a dispute over the choice of an encore song, delivered a punch to Ulrich’s stomach. The disagreement stemmed from Hetfield’s dissatisfaction with Ulrich’s decision to commence the encore with a song featuring a drum intro.
Ulrich later recounted this episode during an appearance on the Howard Stern Show in 2021, offering his perspective: “We were performing at the Troubadour. It was the first show where we ever, in our minds, got an encore – we were six, nine months into our career. We were standing offstage discussing what song to play, and let’s just say there were differences of opinion. I suggested a song that started with drums, James suggested something else. We went back up onstage, and I started the song that began with drums. So, when we came off, I received a slight punch in the stomach. I didn’t stand up for the rest of the night.”
To provide a more balanced perspective, Lars added, “However, I think for balance, I will say, throughout the rest of the ’80s, James helped me in many situations when I had a little bit of a big mouth. There were a couple of times when the beer was flowing, and I’d say the wrong things to the wrong people, but they were still really funny, [and] James was always there as my big brother. I would usually run, but James would clear it up for me.”