Metallica has done a solid for an Oregon tribute band called Blistered Earth.
For a struggling garage band, or a band just starting out, or a band that just plays gigs on the weekends, can there be any worse feeling than having your gear stolen? You slowly put together your setup, from pedals and guitars to microphones to drums, it’s a process that never ends. And then the unthinkable happens. You return to your gig space, or your van where you had all of the gear stored, and it’s gone. Stolen. Ripped off, and you’re probably never going to see it again.
This is what happened to the Metallica tribute band, Blistered Earth. An estimated $20,000 worth of gear was stolen from a gig they had played in Portland, Oregon, at the Chestnut Tree Inn. Blistered Earth’s gear was stored in a trailer. The band stated that they’ve had gear stolen before, so they had installed a heavy duty lock. Unfortunately, instead of breaking the lock, the thieves stole the entire trailer.
Blistered Earth spoke out about the theft on their Facebook page, and it wasn’t long before the theft was overheard by the mighty Metallica. Lars Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer, contacted Blistered Earth to offer help. The Metallica drummer requested a list of all the gear that was stolen, which took the tribute band some time to compile. When they were finished, Metallica assured the band that they would replace everything that had been stolen.
Blistered Earth band member, Jared Kiess, told CBS station KOIN about Metallica’s generosity.
“…we are beyond thrilled, and pleasantly surprised by the fact that they even heard the story, much less that they made such an offer… It is incredibly humbling and gives us even greater respect for the band we pay tribute to every night.”
Why would Metallica extend such a generous offer? Perhaps it’s because they haven’t forgotten about an incident from their early years, when they were just a young, hungry band on the rise, and they had their own gear stolen.
It was 1984. Metallica had released their debut record, Kill ’em All, the year before on Megaforce records and it was time for the followup. Shortly before leaving for Denmark to record Ride the Lightning, Metallica was set to play a gig at The Channel in Boston. The night before the gig, on January 24th, someone broke into Metallica’s van and stole Lars Ulrich’s drum kit, and both James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett’s Marshall heads and speakers. Flying amp-less and drum-less to Denmark, their new producer, Flemming Rasmussen, rounded up some gear for Metallica to actually record their sophomore record on.
Of course, in 1984, Metallica was a much different band then they are today… literally. When they had their gear stolen in Boston, Cliff Burton, the bass virtuoso Hetfield and Ulrich had acquired from the Los Angeles band Trauma, was one of the pillars of the band. Losing Burton to a tragic bus accident in 1986 threw Metallica into an alcohol-infused emotional tailspin for the better part of the next two decades. The next bass player, Jason Newsted, took the brunt of a lot of Metallica’s anger at losing Burton. By the time Jason left Metallica and Robert Trujillo joined, Metallica had changed considerably from when they’d been dubbed ‘Alcoholica’ in the 1980’s. Family struggles for James Hetfield culminated with a stint in rehab and an ongoing dedication to “working the program.”
Hetfield’s need to re-examine his own life made the other longtime members, Ulrich and Hammett, examine their own relationship to the band. Changes were made in Metallica’s touring schedule, to what Ulrich referred to as “age appropriate touring;” that means being on the road for no more than two weeks at a time, and then returning to their families for two weeks before heading back out.
The mighty Metallica has come a long way in the last 30-plus years, but in the simple task of buying a burgeoning tribute band some new gear, Metallica has proven that they haven’t forgotten where they came from.
[Featured Image by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images]