JAMES HETFIELD Recalls Turning Down LARS ULRICH First Time He Saw Him Play Drums: ‘He Was Terrible’

James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich

During a recent conversation with Terry L. Karges at the opening of his “Reclaimed Rust” car exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, CA, METALLICA frontman James Hetfield looked back on meeting bandmate Lars Ulrich for the first time and starting the band in 1981.

“It was in high-school. I was with a friend of mine Hugh Tanner, we played guitar together, and we were the next ‘guitar duo, dude.’ And we were looking for a drummer, and Lars answered,” James said.

“I guess it was an ad in a paper; you would just go straight look for an ‘H’ and ‘Heavy Metal.’ ‘Okay, there’s us again… Oh, there’s another guy, Lars. Who’s this guy?’.

“So I called him up, we got an audition, and he was terrible. [Laughs] But his spirit and his motivation were spectacular,” he continued. “We said, ‘You’re not what we’re looking for,’ but then about six months later, that’s when he called me, saying, ‘Hey remember me?’

“‘Yeah, you’re the guy with that multi-colored drum kit and the cymbal kit falling over,’ [Laughs] ‘Well, I got a place on a record now.’ This guy [Metal Blade CEO and founder Brian] Slagel was putting together Metal Blade Records.

James added: “Metal Blade Records has really been an amazing service for every metal band on this planet, and he was starting this label, it was a compilation [called Metal Massacre] of all the different bands in LA.

“And Lars didn’t have a band, but he had a spot on there because he had such vigor and such knowledge of music and metal. So he said, ‘I got a spot,’ and we said, ‘Okay, come on over, let’s make this work.’ The song was ‘Hit the Lights,’ and it was okay.”

Tickets for METALLICA‘s 2020 tour dates can be found here.