James Hetfield is “really underrated as a rhythm player”, according to Joe Bonamassa

“His right hand is serious,” the bluesman says.

With his laser-precise right hand and relentless downpicking chops, James Hetfield is regularly cited as one of the greatest rhythm guitarists of all time, at least in the realm of heavy metal. But it’s Joe Bonamassa‘s opinion that the Metallica frontman still doesn’t get the praise he deserves.

In a new interview with Classic Rock, the bluesman says he believes Metallica have “aged well” over the course of their 40-year career, and lauds Hetfield as “really underrated as a rhythm player”, adding, “his right hand is serious”.

It’s revealed elsewhere in the interview that Hammett lives next door to Bonamassa’s parents and he bought them dinner for their 48th wedding anniversary. “Kirk’s a sweet guy,” he remarks. “He’s just a geek like the rest of us.”

Elsewhere in the feature, Bonamassa speaks about how fan expectations factor into his choice of musical direction.

“You start looking at it, like: ‘Well maybe I’ll never do that folk record, or whatever. Because we’ve developed an audience. They want the fire and the fury. No matter how good it could be, they’d be like: ‘Just play the fucking guitar, man. I know that.”

When he’s met with the suggestion that his fans could get on board with a folk album if he made one, simply because they like him, he adds: “Maybe. Some of them, the true fans. But you know… what really makes my day is, by the end, they’re all standing.

“You see the looks on people’s faces, they’re seeing guitars they’ve seen in books, the Matrix character they’ve seen in magazines. And you’re going, ‘You know what? As campy as this shit gets sometimes, somebody likes it! The joy it brings people, that’s all I need.”


The destination for all things guitar.

© 2023 Guitar.com is part of NME Networks.