As Metallica are rolling out a tour to celebrate nearly 30 years of history as one of ‘The Big Four’ it seemed fitting to release a biography. The Big Four refers to the four largest selling 80s ‘Metal’ bands: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax. In his book Enter Night: Metallica – The Biography, Mick Wall denotes several instances when members of these competing groups temporarily joined or were attempted to be recuited into rival bands. Of course it’s well known that Dave Mustaine, original member of Metallica, was fired from the legendary group early in their career.
What if Dave Mustaine stayed in Metallica?
The above article by David Konow does a good job encapsulating this history. Lesser known perhaps is the struggles James Hetfield had with being the frontman. Since their early beginnings, the members sought out a singer to lead them. Mustaine did his best to steal the spotlight and work the crowd in light of Hetfield’s shyness. Undoubtably this early power struggle, not to mention over indulgence in life’s pain killers, lead to his early yet inevitable dismissal. Metallica tried to shanghai singer John Bush (Armored Saint) for lead singer duties around 1982. Ironically Bush joins rival band Anthrax ten years later after Armored Saint is disbanded. Seemingly due to a lack of a suitable candidates, Hetfield embraced the singing role. Wall implies that Hetfield prefered not to relinquish the innate power that comes with being the frontman, despite his admission of his less than strong singing skills.
Writing of a time before the death of bassist Cliff Burton, Wall recounts when drummer and founder Lars Ulrich status within the band was in doubt. In a power play similar to the ousting of bassist Ron McGovney years before, Ulrich was viewed as the musical weak link. Slayer’s drummer Dave Lombardo was among the short list of candidates considered to replace Ulrich. However once beloved member Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident these thoughts were abandoned. Burton was replaced by Jason Newsted, who was raised locally in Niles, Michigan.
Wall does an admirable job relating events over the group’s long and sorted history, warts and all. In 2007, Wall wrote W.A.R. – The Unauthorized Biography of W. Axl Rose, another musician with local ties, being a Lafayette, Indiana native.
Enter Night can be purchased locally from better booksellers including Barnes and Noble located at 6501 N. Grape Rd. in Mishawaka. Copies are also available to check out at the St. Joseph County Public Library or the Mishawaka Penn – Harris library.