James Hetfield Biography (1963-)

JAMES HETFIELDMusician. Born James Alan Hetfield on August 3, 1963 in Downey, California. The son of strict Christian Scientists, was an outsider in high school, which was only exacerbated after his mother’s death from cancer. He turned to music, playing with several garage bands throughout his teens.

Hetfield found a kindred heavy metal spirit in drummer Lars Ulrich, who had placed an ad in the newspaper looking for someone to jam with. Along with bassist Cliff Burton and guitarist Dave Mustaine (who was later replaced by Kirk Hammett), the two formed the straightforward heavy metal band in 1982.

Though Hetfield didn’t originally plan on being the frontman for Metallica, the role he won by default now defines the band. In 1983, after relocating to San Francisco, Metallica released its debut album, Kill ‘Em All. After Burton’s tragic death in 1986, Jason Newsted took his place, and the band achieved its greatest commercial success with 1998’s And Justice for All and 1991’s Metallica. Thanks in large part to Hetfield’s loud, angst-ridden vocals and on-stage pyrotechnics, Metallica gained a huge following on tour, becoming one of the most renowned thrash/heavy metal bands of all time.

Metallica released St. Anger in 2003, about the same time Hetfield entered rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. The following year, Some Kind of Monster, a documentary film about the making of the album and the relationships among the bandmembers, was released.

James Hetfield married his wife Francesca in 1997. They have three children and live in Belvedere, California

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