“Whiskey in the Jar” is one of the most famous Irish folk songs, with a long history and many versions. It tells the story of a highwayman who is betrayed by his lover after robbing a rich official. The song has been recorded by various artists, including THE DUBLINERS, THE HIGHWAYMEN, and Bryan Adams. But perhaps the most well-known and controversial rendition of the song is by the Irish rock band THIN LIZZY, who released it as a single in 1973 and made it a hit across the UK and Ireland.
In 1998, METALLICA covered “Whiskey in the Jar” and won a Grammy for their performance. METALLICA‘s version was heavily influenced by THIN LIZZY‘s, and they even invited band’s co-founder Eric Bell to join them on stage when they played the song live in Dublin in 1999. However, Bell did not enjoy the experience, and he recently revealed why in an interview with Guitar World.
Bell said: “I didn’t know anything about METALLICA. Not a thing. I’m not into that type of music. So when someone told me they’d recorded ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ I was like, ‘Oh, who are they?'”
“And then they asked me to do the gig, which was chaos. I don’t know why they called me. I think the impression they had was that I knew who they were. I didn’t. They thought I was in awe of them – not true.”
“One of the roadies drove me to their hotel, and I stood in the hall waiting,” he continued.” And one by one, they came down, shook my hand, and they expected me to be impressed. But I didn’t know who they were, I’d never heard their music, and I wasn’t bothered. That took them by surprise.”
Asked about the experience of sharing the stage with METALLICA, the guitarist responded: “It wasn’t enjoyable. There was no chemistry. They tuned a whole step down, which is typical for them. I, however, didn’t. So now I’m hearing ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ in F, which was very odd. From that point forward, my brain wasn’t into it. I just played it my way, and we went our separate ways.”