I once walked into the dressing room of a very huge metal band — well, they were not quite as huge then as they are now, oh what the hell, they are probably the biggest band in the world — Metallica (and they didn’t get that way without airing their own dirty laundry very publicly from revealing in various cover stories tales of the drummer being fellated under the stage nightly during the bass solo to the somewhat drippier venereal complications).
Anyway, they were somewhere in the middle of the bill on one of those late 1980s “Monsters of Rock” concerts at RFK Stadium in Washington, I think it was. There was a lot of waiting around in the days they were all lumped together without their own private jets or drivers and everyone seemed to be in a grumpy mood, particularly James Hetfield, who was sitting next to two fairly unattractive girls who could have been models — only for one of those “BEFORE” acne-medication ads.
Instead of his usual warm greeting, James barely grunted at me that he was doing an “interview.” Which was a little strange, given that he was not really even having a conversation with the skinnier one of the two girls, who was not equipped with any of the usual tools of the trade, like a tape recorder or pencil or piece of paper, only a flimsy little sun-dress which was only remarkable in its cheapness and that it was fairly inappropriate for the weather but did reveal all of her other lack of equipment in every other department.
James suddenly got up, jerking her by the wrist, and disappeared toward the bathroom where other members of the crew and band were, eager to try out the brand new little video cameras (they had just come on the market) they had been playing with. Kirk Hammett also grabbed what I called my Helen Keller camera — one of those point and shoot 35 mm things (this was in the pre-digital era) that even she could have operated.
There was a great deal of commotion when James discovered that Kirk was holding them both over the top of the bathroom stall — where — well, several months later, when I had forgotten all about it and the prints came back from the developer, I was shocked to discover, right in the middle of some happy family vacation, exactly what he was doing with this young lady crouched on the toilet and could not believe that I had not been arrested for pornography. Then again, maybe that only happens if it involves pictures of children and it was VERY clear in vivid living color that James was NO child.
It was almost the end of Metallica as we knew it, when James suddenly roared out of the bathroom, grabbing Kirk by the throat with one hand and the video camera, from which he ripped the film, with the other, before stomping on it and practically smashing the guitarist’s head against the wall as he begged for mercy.
How my camera was handed off to me in all of the commotion I have no idea, but the drummer from Dokken swaggered into the bathroom just as the girl was coming out. Before she had a chance to make it to the sink, he grabbed her (they seemed to have been previously introduced) in a most amorous embrace, practically sweeping her off her feet– you might have thought it was one of those old fashioned romantic movies if only they’d had better costumes– as he shoved his tongue down her throat.
“Congratulations, ” I said, “You just blew James Hetfield!”
Legendary rock music critic Deborah Frost is the leader of the Brain Surgeons.