Classic Rock

10 Of Metallica’s Biggest Scandals In Their Career

todayMarch 22, 2024 1

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Metallica, a band that defied the odds with their thrash metal sound, has had a rollercoaster ride in the music industry. While they’ve achieved remarkable success, their journey has been marred by controversies that have left fans scratching their heads. Let’s dive into 10 of the biggest scandals that have rocked Metallica’s career.

Metallica vs. Ticket Scalping

In 2017, Metallica found itself in a ticket scalping scandal when it was revealed that Live Nation, with the band’s alleged knowledge and participation, had facilitated ticket sales on scalping sites at inflated prices. Metallica denied any involvement but faced backlash for the incident. The controversy raised questions about ethics in the music industry, especially in light of the band’s efforts to combat ticket resale. Metallica has since implemented measures to prevent scalping, but the incident remains a stain on their reputation.

Metallica vs. Dave Mustaine

In 1983, Metallica dismissed guitarist Dave Mustaine due to his struggles with alcohol abuse, paving the way for Kirk Hammett’s entry. Mustaine went on to form the band Megadeth, becoming a successful musician in his right. Despite occasional tensions between Mustaine and Metallica, the band recognized his contributions to thrash metal, inviting him to perform with them during their 30th-anniversary celebration.

Metallica vs. a Cover Band

In 2016, Metallica sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Canadian cover band named Sandman, demanding that they change their name. This sparked outrage among fans and inspired a public petition that garnered thousands of signatures. Metallica later retracted their action and expressed support for the cover band. The incident highlighted the complexities of copyright enforcement in the music industry, especially in the context of tribute acts that honor and pay homage to artists.


Metallica vs. Excel’s Tapping Into the Emotional Void

In the ’90s, Californian thrash band Excel noticed similarities between Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and their own track “Tapping into the Emotional Void.” While Excel chose not to pursue legal action, Metallica faced allegations of plagiarism and questions about artistic integrity. The incident raised broader issues about the influence of music and how artists can draw inspiration from one another while maintaining originality.

Jason Newsted Leaving Metallica


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Bassist Jason Newsted joined Metallica following the tragic death of Cliff Burton. Newsted’s tenure was marked by creative differences and injuries that led to his departure in 2001. His exit strained relations within the band, with some fans blaming Metallica for his mistreatment. However, the band has since reconciled with Newsted, with members inviting him to Metallica’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2009.

Metallica vs. Critics’ Reviews

In 2008, Metallica courted controversy with their handling of early reviews for “Death Magnetic.” After journalists published opinions on an early mix of the album, Metallica demanded their removal, citing differences from the final version. The incident highlighted the challenges of managing pre-release publicity in the digital age, especially in an era where music leaks and online opinion can influence fan reception.


Metallica’s Music As A Torture For Convicts

In 2008, the band found itself unwittingly associated with controversial interrogation tactics when their music was used to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. Despite jests from frontman James Hetfield, the band requested the military to cease using their music for such purposes, highlighting the unintended consequences of artistic expression and the impact that music can have on individuals and society.

The Appeal For A Remix Of Death Magnetic

Despite commercial success, “Death Magnetic” faced criticism for its sound quality, with fans claiming that the album was over-compressed and distorted. This prompted thousands of fans to petition for a remix. Metallica defended their production choices, attributing the backlash to the proliferation of online opinions and the limitations of modern music production. The incident highlighted the challenges of meeting fan expectations in the digital age, especially in an era where music production and consumption are shaped by new technologies.

Olympic Stadium Riot

In 1992, a concert at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium turned chaotic when Metallica frontman James Hetfield suffered severe burns from a pyrotechnic accident. The ensuing chaos, exacerbated by Guns N’ Roses’ abbreviated performance, led to a riot among fans. The incident remains a dark chapter in Metallica’s touring history and underscored the dangers of live performance, especially in the context of safety and security precautions.


Metallica vs. Shawn Fanning’s Napster

One of the defining moments in Metallica’s career was their battle against Napster, the infamous file-sharing service that facilitated music piracy. Drummer Lars Ulrich led the charge, confronting Napster with a list of over 335,000 users sharing Metallica’s music. Despite criticism from fans and peers, Metallica stood firm, arguing that file-sharing threatened the livelihood of musicians. This led to a landmark settlement in 2001 that transformed the music industry and set the stage for new debates on the role of technology in music distribution and intellectual property. Ulrich acknowledged the notoriety this incident brought, stating it would likely define their legacy and their stance on protecting artists’ rights.


Written by: Best Classic Bands Staff

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