“I don’t hate this guitar because of what happened”: James Hetfield reflects on the ESP Double-Neck he played during notorious pyro incident
“Out of all the stuff that I’ve gone through, breaking wrists, breaking arms, and then this, I’m pretty grateful that we’ve had people to stand in and play guitar.”
Image: John Storey / Getty
Following the gig at Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Hetfield was left unable to play guitar for a short while whilst he recovered. The guitar he had in hand at the time partially shielded him from the flames, and still remains scorched.
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In an extract from his forthcoming book, Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield, he has discussed why he doesn’t “hate” the guitar, despite the bad memory attached to it.
“The Double-Neck Montreal makes me think of the smell of your own burning flesh,” he says (as shared by Guitar World). “I did not have a double-neck Explorer at that time, which I eventually did get and nicknamed the ‘Coffee Table’ because it’s so friggin’ giant and heavy. But for the 12-string sound on Fade to Black, ESP lent me whatever they had, and this was it – the ’89 Horizon, the double-neck I played Fade to Black on every night up to Montreal. It was retired after that.”
He continues, “If you look at the photos, you can see I had my hand around the neck where it’s all white, and you can then see where the rest is charred. It was so hot the strings popped. I don’t hate this guitar because of what happened, that’s for sure. I don’t hate the pyro guy, anyone, or anything, really. Things happen for a reason, and for some reason I was meant to stop playing guitar for a little while.
“Out of all the stuff that I’ve gone through, breaking wrists, breaking arms, and then this, I’m pretty grateful that we’ve had people to stand in and play guitar,” he states. “And it’s a good thing that, I don’t want to say I can sing, but it’s a good thing I have another job in the band. Job security!”
Messengers: The Guitars Of James Hetfield is available to pre-order now.