James Hetfield the American Dream
James is probably the driving creative force. – Kirk Hammett
Hetfield brings the pride. He stands a very tall and strong guy over all of, not just the music, but all of what is Metallica, he’s been through a lot of shi* but still pushed to get where he is today.?
– Jason Newstead
Although the Americans dream, weather new or old to this country is to succeed financially, to some it is to become well known to your fellow man. The idea of crawling out of the gutter with nothing but your pride and earning respect from everyone who had doubted you before. Since the birth of this equal opportunity nation, people from all aspects of cultures and countries have strived through thick and thin to surpass their fellow man and better themselves in the eyes of society.
The American dream does not just occur with citizens new to our country but to generations upon generations of people whose family tree had begun anew when their ancestors first arrived to this land. This theory proves itself valid with a number of successful people who have never had the opportunity of experiencing ?old wealth?. They are ridiculed for their dreams and made fun of for their ideas, but in the end these prospects of society made it to the top with the occasional supporter and
Hetfield was born to a truck driver and light opera singer on August 3rd, 1963, in Los Angeles. His family’s Christian Science religious beliefs are often mentioned as the root of James’ tortured soul lyrics. Musically, he began at age 9 with piano lessons, then banging away on his brother David’s drums and finally to guitar.
With his guitar in hand, James aspired to become a rock star in his first band, Obsession. After seeing AC/DC perform in Los Angeles on august 14th 1977The band was made up of the Veloz brothers on bass and drums and Jim Arnold on guitar. A pair of friends, Ron McGovney and Dave Marrs, acted as the band’s roadies. This meant sitting in the loft of the Veloz garage running a control panel for makeshift lighting effects. After Obsession broke up, the Marrs-Hetfield-McGovney trio continued jamming together.
Phantom Lord was James Hetfield’s second band. After moving to La Brea, James attended Brea Olinda High School and met up with drummer Jim Mulligan. The two would jam at lunchtime with another guitar player, but eventually scared him away with their loud and heavy sounds. Hugh Tanner was discovered carrying around part of a flying V guitar at school. And shortly thereafter, Phantom Lord was born. With Hugh on guitar and Mulligan on drums, James sang and played guitar. The group went through a few bass players until graduation when James moved back to Downey.
In Downey, James moved into a house owned by Ron McGovney’s parents that was slated for demolition due to an expressway expansion. This house was the perfect place for James and Ron to crash and hold rehearsal and practice jams. James talked Ron into taking up bass, and promised to teach him…
And as Ron joined the group, Phantom Lord was no more. They were now Leather Charm.
James Hetfield’s third band overall, Leather Charm was formed from the members of Phantom Lord, except that James performed sole singing duties (no guitar) and Ron was added to play bass guitar. Completing the line-up were Phantom Lord carry-overs Hugh Tanner and Jim Mulligan.
Leather Charm was more of a glammy attempt at music. The band played originals and covers like Quiet Riot’s Slick Black Cadillac, Iron Maiden’s Remember Tommorrow and a few others. The band managed to perform at a few parties and recorded a demo, but then began to fall apart.
*Picture*First Tanner left the band and was replaced by Troy James. Then Mulligan left for a more progressive, Rush-like band. With no drummer, the band was forced to call it quits. Although it was Mulligan’s departure that led to James searching for a new drummer, it was Hugh Tanner that introduced James to Lars Ulrich.
Ultimately it was Leather Charm’s break up, through Jim Mulligan’s quitting, that led James and Lars to meet… and to form Metallica.
From the very start, James has been the main songwriter in Metallica, from the riffs to the lyrics. When he’s not writing, singing or playing, James indulges in hunting and various sports. He’s recently taken up snowboarding, as he has hung up his skateboard after a series of mishaps.
Guitars are a major part of his life and he has started collecting older guitars… particularly those manufactured in 1963, the year he was born. He can be found in his garage working on a new passion: hot rods. He currently has a Chevy BelAir that he built himself.
James is married and has one daughter.