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James Hetfield enters rehab, Metallica postpones tour

Kirk Hammett (L) and James Hetfield of Metallica perform during the S&M2 concerts at the opening night at Chase Center on Sept. 6, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif.
Kirk Hammett (L) and James Hetfield of Metallica perform during the S&M2 concerts at the opening night at Chase Center on Sept. 6, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

James Hetfield, longtime frontman and co-founder of Metallica, has gone to rehab.

The news was confirmed by the 56-year-old’s longtime bandmates Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo in an official statement issued on Friday.

“As most of you probably know, our brother James has been struggling with addiction on and off for many years,” the statement read. “He has now, unfortunately, had to re-enter a treatment program to work on his recovery again.”

As a result, Metallica was forced to postpone its upcoming tour across New Zealand and Australia. The band was set to headline an eight-date trek starting next month, with Slipknot serving as a special opening act.

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A Note from Lars, Kirk, and Rob ・・・ We are truly sorry to inform our fans and friends that we must postpone our upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand. ・・・ As most of you probably know, our brother James has been struggling with addiction on and off for many years. He has now, unfortunately, had to re-enter a treatment program to work on his recovery again. ・・・ We fully intend to make our way to your part of the world as soon as health and schedule permit. We’ll let you know as soon as we can. Once again, we are devastated that we have inconvenienced so many of you, especially our most loyal fans who often travel great distances to experience our shows. We appreciate your understanding and support for James and, as always, thank you for being a part of our Metallica family. ・・・ All tickets purchased to the shows in Australia and New Zealand, including Enhanced Experiences and Black Tickets, will be fully refunded.  Links to more details on how to obtain your refund are posted on Metallica.com.

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Metallica’s statement concluded: “We appreciate your understanding and support for James and, as always, thank you for being a part of our Metallica family. We fully intend to make our way to your part of the world as soon as health and schedule permit.”

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The revelation came as a shock to many, as Hetfield said he was “reborn straight edge” in 2010 during an intimate interview for So What!, Metallica’s fan club magazine, according to Metal Injection.

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The Master of Puppets headbanger has dealt with a number of substance abuse issues in the past.

In 2001, during the filming of Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster (2004) documentary, Hetfield’s battle with addiction was documented heavily. He was admitted into a rehabilitation program for six months to help treat issues with “alcoholism and other addictions.”

His recovery put a hold on the writing and recording process of the band’s then-upcoming album, St. Anger (2003), which ended up being their first album in nearly six years.

Metallica’s James Hetfield performing live at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 16, 2017.
Metallica’s James Hetfield performing live at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 16, 2017. Mike Fowler / Corus Entertainment

In the wake of the announcement, Ulrich, 55, and Hammett, 56, took to their personal social media accounts to share pictures of themselves with Hetfield, adding their best wishes.

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“Thinking about my brother,” wrote Ulrich on Instagram. “Sending love.”

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Thinking about my brother. ….sending love.

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Hammett shared a picture of himself and his bandmates standing arm in arm on stage.

“Sending thanks to all of you out there sending your support to us,” he tweeted.

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Even Metallica’s original bass guitarist, Ron McGovney, shared his best wishes to Hetfield in a heartfelt tweet.

“James Hetfield has been a friend of mine long before Metallica,” he wrote. “I always looked up to him as a musician even when we were in high school.”

“If he needs anything, he has my number. I have been sober for two years. It’s not easy. I’m with you, big guy,” McGovney, 56, added.

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While Metallica has no planned Canadian concert dates, the band’s 2020 WorldWired tour is still scheduled as planned, including performances in San Francisco, Calif., South America and at the Global Goal Live charity concert next September.

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As of this writing, Metallica has not yet rescheduled its postponed tour dates across New Zealand and Australia.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca