James Hetfield got a tattoo of the ace of spades using ink mixed with Lemmy’s actual ashes

“Now he is still able to fly the bird at the world,” the Metallica frontman says of his new middle finger tattoo.

James Hetfield Performing

Image: Michael Hickey / Getty Images

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At 60 years old, James Hetfield has had a fair few decades to amass an impressive collection of ink. But his latest tattoo might just be his most intriguing yet.

Accompanying his already-prominent finger tattoos which read, fittingly, “RIFF LIFE”, the Metallica frontman has just added a new piece to his right-hand middle finger: an ace of spades inside an iron cross, a symbol he’s used on his guitars and other tattoos in the past.

Anyone familiar with Hetfield’s own influences will immediately clock that the ace of spades is a tribute to the great Lemmy Kilmister, frontman of Motörhead. But the tat is particularly cool for another reason. And that’s that it was applied using ink mixed with a pinch of Lemmy’s actual ashes. Yep, this might be the most metal thing to ever happen in history.

“With the steady hand of friend and tattoo artist Corey Miller, this tattoo [is] a salute to my friend and inspiration Mr. Lemmy Kilmister,” Hetfield writes in a new Instagram post. “Without him, there would be NO Metallica.

He adds: “Black ink mixed with a pinch of his cremation ashes that were so graciously given to me. So now, he is still able to fly the bird at the world.”

Lemmy Kilmister died in 2015, and James Hetfield has been vocal about his friendship with the late musician ever since.

Speaking to Kerrang! in 2016, he said [via the BBC]: “My vision of him was as a statue of a man that was immortal. When he passed it scared me, like, ‘Where’s our captain now?’ He’s been a godfather to us.

“There’s no doubt that without him there wouldn’t be a Metallica. When he was around, it just felt like things were going to be okay.”

He continued: “It made us really want to live and enjoy everything we have and soak up every scream from a fan, every sweat bead that flies off us. All the stuff we get to do, for the 35 years we’ve been doing it, it makes us feel super-blessed to still be doing it.”


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