James Hetfield’s Mic Mishap Explained: Metallica Frontman ‘Livid’ After Grammys

James Hetfield didn’t hide his anger after technical difficulties marred Metallica’s highly anticipated duet with Lady Gaga earlier this week at the 59th Grammy Awards, but now it’s confirmed that he was even angrier than fans realized.

First, James Hetfield’s band wasn’t introduced by Laverne Cox, who announced only Lady Gaga’s name ahead of the band’s performance of their song “Moth Into Flame.” Cox later apologized to Hetfield and the band for the oversight.

But in addition to the intro snub, James Hetfield’s microphone wasn’t working for the first part of the performance, so he was forced to share a mic with Gaga as they sang the Metallica tune. After the performance, the rock star had kicked his microphone stand and threw his guitar at a tech as he headed backstage. You can see James Hetfield’s mini temper tantrum after the Grammys performance in the video below.


In an interview with the Associated Press, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said Hetfield’s microphone had been working just fine a few minutes before the live TV performance.

“A minute before we started playing, when people were checking it, it worked,” Ulrich told the AP. “Somewhere in between there and when we began to sing, it stopped functioning.”

While Ulrich marveled at how “awesome it was that Gaga and James were in each other’s face” as they screamed into the same microphone, he admitted it was a rough ride for the Metallica frontman.

“Obviously James did not have an easy couple of minutes, but in some way, I guess his anger and frustration translated to television,” he said.

According to TMZ, James Hetfield’s microphone was accidently unplugged by a stagehand right before the performance. While someone’s head could surely roll for that one, Hetfield’s bandmate Lars Ulrich told late night host James Corden he hasn’t seen James in such a state in two decades.

“I haven’t seen him like that in 20 years,” Ulrich said of Hetfield.

“He was livid. I mean, he’s aged really well and he’s a pretty chill guy, but the first five or 10 minutes in that dressing room [after the performance] was not a lot of fun.”

Ulrich said that in lieu of stopping the performance, a la Adele, James Hetfield decided to power through it. The drummer told Entertainment Weekly that the whole thing was a “clusterf**k.”

“In the heat of that moment, it’s very difficult when you’re aware of the fact that something’s not functioning, [but] you don’t know where in the chain of possible mishaps [it could be],” he said. “You don’t know where that’s going on, so you really don’t have a choice other than to just keep battling on. It’s live television.”

James Hetfield has not spoken out about the Grammys mic mishap, but Metallica fans hit social media in droves to complain about the disrespect the iconic hard rock band received with the faulty mic and initial assumption that they were a “backup band” for lady gaga.

Despite the multiple mishaps with the Grammys collaboration, James Hetfield may swap vocals with Gaga again sometime in the future. Lars told Rolling Stone the Mother Monster is like a fifth band member to Metallica.

“We already started fast-forwarding to the next chapter when we can do more of this,” he revealed. “We’re just getting started.”

James Hetfield and Metallica recently announced a North American “WorldWired” tour, which will kick off May 10 in Baltimore and end August 16 in Edmonton, Canada.

Take a look at the video below to see James Hetfield’s performance with Lady Gaga at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.


[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

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