Posts Tagged ‘Lars Ulrich’

36. METALLICA Part ‘ONE’ – ‘Fans’

November 18, 2010

Well, we may as well go straight in with this … not for the faint-hearted …

In 1993 I completed my first major project – a Box Set – for the legend that is METALLICA.

There’s a satisfying coincidence that I’ve just finished another Box Set for them as I begin a series of blogs about arguably the most successful rock band on the planet.

The stories over the next few weeks have never been published so be prepared for fun, insights and a very personal account of events spanning nearly twenty years.

Where do I begin? My admiration and respect for the band is constantly renewed by their adventurous, often anarchic, attitude to who they are and what they do. At the heart of my respect for them is their unswerving loyalty and dedication to their Fans – so let’s start with Victor

Victor was seventeen and worked on reception at the gym I infrequented in Chelsea Harbour. Mostly I used it as a hi-tech bathroom/sauna/swimming pool conveniently situated between my Chelsea flat and the studio. I often chatted to Victor – a serious Metallica fan – and when he discovered I was involved in their artwork and knew the band personally, he hinted every now and again that maybe if I had a spare ticket to a gig …

I’ve been amazingly privileged over the years to be given tickets to major events and concerts and one thing I have always done when I go to one – is to find random fans to take along and maybe provide an opportunity for them to meet their heroes and heroines. Metallica were playing Wembley Arena in London and I asked Victor to join us for the gig. In those days it made economic and practical sense – if there were 8 or 10 of us – to hire a stretch limo. The car was allowed to drop its occupants right outside the ticket collection office and to pick us up immediately after the gig right outside the main entrance into the venue – avoiding what is often a nightmare journey to and from the Arena which was such a bummer, especially after a night out at a brilliant concert and your spirit was elated. (Also of course we could get wasted on the way there and back!). I’d asked Victor to meet us in Chelsea to head off to the gig and his face when he saw the white stretch Cadillac waiting for him was an indication of how overwhelmed he would be later as the evening developed.

We arrived, tumbled out of the limo, collected our tickets and our ‘Go Anywhere You Fucking Want‘ passes …

A couple of us headed straight for the band’s dressing room with Victor. He was already nervous and his mood rapidly alternated between that of a soldier about to meet his generals after a victorious battle and that of a shy 17-year old terrified he would make a fool of himself in front of his heroes. We met Gio – more of him later –  and he escorted us to the dressing room through the labyrinthine corridors beneath the Arena. I knocked on the door. ‘In,’ shouted James Hetfield. Victor froze, his right hand glued to the dressing room door-frame, his feet establishing roots into the concrete floor. Eventually we managed to drag the ashen-faced, open-mouthed, wide-eyed Victor into the room. The band were having their pre-gig dinner. Lars jumped up. ‘Andie, Ricky – great to see you guys. Hey – who’s this?

And that’s the thing …

… Bands and artists of quality recognise how important fans are – you’d be amazed how many don’t – and Metallica are particularly brilliant at diffusing any embarrassment or awkwardness fans feel when they meet the band. I introduced Lars to Victor. Lars was in fine form. ‘Hey VIctor – how ya doin’? Cool jacket man – want us to sign it?‘ Victor’s mouth opened and closed several times but words refused to vocalise and his head moved around in a weird circular movement which kind of looked like he was nodding and shaking his head at the same time. ‘James,‘ Lars shouted, ‘grab that thick marker pen and we can all sign Victor’s jacket.

The jacket in question was a silver bomber-jacket. It looked brand new and I remember thinking at that point that maybe Victor had bought it specially for the gig. The band gathered round him for the Signing Ceremony. A flurry of flambuoyant marker strokes later and a storm of graffitti, autographs and dedications covered the entire back of the jacket. Victor of course couldn’t see what Lars, James, Kirk and Jason had done. We chatted for a while, left the band to their dinner and headed off to the Arena and our seats. Still not a word had escaped Victor’s lips and he was looking worryingly pale. ‘Look at your jacket,‘ I said. ‘It’s brilliant.‘ Victor stopped, closed his eyes, took off the jacket and opened them again. He stood there – motionless – just staring at it. Finally he managed to get words to connect both to his brain and his mouth at the same time. The reason for his endearing but acutely strange behaviour was suddenly clear. It wasn’t only Metallica that had caused him to be so excrutiatingly shy and freaked out in the dressing room – there was something completely different to add to his alarm and agitation …  ‘It’s my older brother’s best jacket,‘ he croaked. ‘He doesn’t know I’ve borrowed it! He’s going to kill me. He’ll fuckin’ kill me.

Victor was, thankfully, still alive when I headed to the gym a couple of days after the gig. His brother had burst out laughing when Victor confessed to his hideous crime, enjoying every second of his younger brothers’ deep embarrassment, fear and trepidation. He gave him the jacket obviously. However, when Victor showed his MetalliMates his well-earned prize-jacket, not one of them believed the signatures were real – let alone spontaneously produced for him personally in the band’s dressing room before a gig.

If, by any chance, any of you see a guy wearing a silver bomber-jacket with all the band’s signatures on it, ask him if his name’s Victor. If it is just tell him you know how the jacket was signed and where. It’ll probably blow his head off.

METALLICA blogs will become pretty random over the next few weeks as I’m off to India. Be prepared for the odd Indian experience to infiltrate the METALLICA EXPERIENCE!

.. and in case you thought established bands went out on the road just to regurgitate tired old hits from the past … not this ONE. Check it out. Here’s a track from S&M, performed in 1999, ten years after the song’s original release (featured as their first ever video at the beginning of this blog). THAT’S why METALLICA are brilliant – hardly the same is it? – but without losing the songs sentiment and power in any way.

STAY TUNED … &ie

COMING UP IN METALLICA BLOGS …

… a competition to win an original piece of METALLICA artwork … Berlin … Lollapalooza and Lemmy … dinner with Lars and Marianne Faithful … a trip round Barcelona … mothers and fathers … the Viper Room … Some Kinda Monster … Anton Corbjin … and creating artwork for LOAD, RE-LOAD, GARAGE INC, S&M and much more.

Don’t forget to enter the COMPETITION below to WIN a HENDRIX EDITION PRINT

.

Advertisements