Top 10 James Hetfield Guest Appearances
One of the factors that led to Jason Newsted’s departure from Metallica in January 2001 was frontman James Hetfield’s reluctance to allow his bass player to indulge in side projects during the band’s downtime.
While it’s true that the Metallica frontman has never officially joined any other band (Spastik Children notwithstanding), Papa Het has done his share of guest appearances over the years, usually either helping out a friend or paying tribute to a fallen hero. Though rare they may be, we managed to pull together 10 of them, including live and studio cuts, in this convenient playlist.
As for Hetfield’s main band, head here for our ranking of the 100 greatest Metallica songs of all time.
“Stone Cold Crazy”
Queen with James Hetfield, Tony Iommi
In 1992, an all-star cast of musicians gathered at London’s Wembley Arena for the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness. Two years earlier, Metallica had covered the Queen classic “Stone Cold Crazy” for the Rubáiyát: Elektra’s 40th Anniversary compilation, so James Hetfield seemed the perfect fit to join the surviving members of Queen—not to mention Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi—for the Sheer Heart Attack cut.
“Man or Ash”
Corrosion of Conformity
James Hetfield may not be credited for his backing-vocal performance on Corrosion of Conformity’s 1996 album Wiseblood, but there’s no mistaking his signature growl on the album cut “Man or Ash.” CoC frontman Pepper Keenan would later repay the favor, singing a verse on Metallica’s cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” on their 1998 covers compilation, Garage, Inc. Thanks, Pep!
Alice In Chains featuring James Hetfield
There’s an infamous incident (that can be found on YouTube) featuring the members of Metallica mocking Layne Staley’s heroin addiction after Alice In Chains was forced to pull out of a planned tour with the band. By the time 2006 rolled around, all that seemed to be water under the bridge, and Hetfield joined the remaining members of AIC at Rock Am Ring for a rendition of the Dirt classic, “Would?”
There was no shortage of guest musicians and producers on Primus’ highly regarded 2001 album, Antipop. Hetfield signed on to contribute guitars to a track called “Eclectic Electric,” which also included Faith No More’s Big Jim Martin. Eclectic indeed! Look for another Primus connection further down.
“Hell Isn’t Good”
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
The South Park movie, Bigger, Longer and Uncut, came out in 1999, but it was more than a year after the film’s release that James came clean about contributing vocals to an original “song” called “Hell Isn’t Good.” That said, as soon as the vocals kicked in as Kenny plummeted toward the underworld, no one was fooled for a second that it could be anyone else.
James Hetfield and Les Claypool guest on this Gov’t Mule cut that was featured on the compilation album, Crank It Up with NASCAR. Fun fact: Les Claypool was among the many famous bassists who auditioned to take over bass duties in Metallica after the death of Cliff Burton.
“Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out Of Hand?”
Waylon Jennings cover
If you’ve heard “Mama Said” or the aforementioned cover of Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone,” you know Hetfield has an outlaw country side to him. At the Outlaws Concert in 2004, Hetfield performed alongside the likes of Hank Williams Jr., Cowboy Troy, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and Kid Rock, covering a tune by his recently deceased friend Waylon Jennings. Later in the evening, Hetfield would be joined by Jennings’ widow Jesse Colter for a rendition of “Mama Said.”
“Twist of Cain,” “Possession”
Metallica have shown their love for the Misfits with covers of “Green Hell,” “Last Caress” and “Die, Die My Darling” over the years, so it’s no surprise that Hetfield appears on not one, but two tracks on Glenn Danzig’s 1988 solo debut. Due to contractual issues, Hetfield (like the CoC appearance) was uncredited on the album. Fun fact: Both tracks were originally written as songs for Danzig’s previous band, Samhain.
“You Really Got Me”
Ray Davies featuring Metallica
When it was announced that Kinks frontman Ray Davies was recruiting a whole slew of guest musicians for a compilation album a few years back, the name that immediately jumped out to almost everyone was Metallica.
The metal heavyweights had previously joined Davies for live takes on “You Really Got Me” and “All Day and All of the Night” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary concert, as well inviting him to appear on stage with them in 2009 at Madison Square Garden. While it raised a few eyebrows, I think we can all safely say that Ray Davies wasn’t Metallica’s most questioned collaboration in 2011.