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The Black Album Era (1991 - 1994)

In 1990 Metallica entered the One on One studios in North Hollywood, California, to record the self-titled album “Metallica”, more commonly known by fans as “The Black Album” with producer Bob Rock. Because the album was remixed three times, it released was stalled for a year, finally hitting the streets on June 16, 1991. In the meantime, Metallica finally won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance, for “One”. While on stage receiving the award, the band gives Jethro Tull a big thank you for not releasing anything this year, as Tull won the Grammy Metallica had expected the previous year. In March of 1991, Metallica won a second Grammy for Best Metal Performance for “Stone Cold Crazy”.

The release of “Metallica” catapulted Metallica’s popularity to stratospheric heights. It went straight to number one all over the world, stayed there for several weeks and ended up selling in excess of 15 million copies worldwide, spawned several singles as well as earning the band several awards. In February 1992, the band’s third Grammy for Best Heavy Metal Performance for “Metallica”. In September 1992, Metallica won Best Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Video at MTV Video Music Awards for "Enter Sandman." And in January 1993, Metallica won the American Music Award in the category of Favorite Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Artist. The tours to follow the release of “Metallica” was one of the band’s longest touring stint yet, lasting nearly three years from 1991-93 with the band playing more than 300 shows in 37 countries.


Wherever Metallica went to play for the next years to come, people came to see them. They sold out everywhere. In August 1991, they began the “Wherever I May Roam” tour for which the band built a special stage. It was diamond-shaped, with no backdrops, placed in the middle of the arena, and with an opening in the middle called the “snake pit”. At each concert some hundred fans or "special guests", received a "snake pit pass" and were put in the middle of the triangular stage where they could interact with the band for the entire show. The majority of the making of the “Metallica” album and the following “Wherever I May Roam” tour was documented in two home videos “A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica Parts I and II”.

The three years that the band toured after the release of “Metallica” was comprised of several tours and included several special appearances. On September 28, 1991, as part of the Monsters of Rock tour, Metallica performed a free concert in Moscow at the Tushino Airfield, before a crowd estimated between 150,000 and 500,000 people. Legend has it that the Russian prime minister Mikhail Gorbachev personally invited the band to play at the concert. On April 20, 1992, Metallica played three songs at the Freddie Mercury tribute at the Wembley Stadium in London. James also sings "Stone Cold Crazy" with Queen and Tony Iommi on rhythm guitar. All proceeds from this gig are donated to Freddie Mercury's AIDS fund. In January 22, 1993 the “Nowhere Else to Roam” tour began. It took the band for the first time to countries like Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and The Philippines.

On November 23, 1993 the “Live Shit: Binge & Purge” box set was released in the United States. The band's first official live album came packaged in a mini road case. The case contained three live CDs, three live videos, a "scary guy" stencil, a snake pit pass and book filled with old riders and letters.

Top   The Black Album

The Load and ReLoad Era (1995 - 1997)

Although James and Lars began work on the next album in October of 1994, it was not until February 1995 that Metallica and Bob Rock entered The Plant in Sausalito, California to begin recording “Load”. They come up with enough material to fill a double album and debate on what to do, they decide to release “Load” as a 70 minute long CD and wait a year to release the other CD called "ReLoad". “Load” was released on January 4, 1996 in Japan only; and to the rest of the world on March 6, 1996; "ReLoad" was released in November 1997. According to several music journalists these albums represented a significant musical change for Metallica. These journalists state that the band's breakneck metal tempos and layered guitar compositions had largely been replaced by bluesy guitar tones and slide guitar. Several songs include the use of new instruments including the use of the hurdy-gurdy and violin in "Low Man's Lyric". Many of the changes on "Load" and "ReLoad" had been anticipated by earlier experiments (especially on "The Black Album"). Sales of these albums were lower than sales of the previous three albums. Nevertheless, a generation of young fans raised on Nirvana and Pearl Jam responding favorably to the release.  Thus "Load" proved to be a phenomenal success in its own right.

The “Load” tour was spectacular, encompassing cutting-edge technology, stuntmen, two-stages and an epic two-plus hours of performance. During the tour Kirk tests on stage durability of his guitars; some of them survive, some don't... Kirk threw his guitar on yellow tape marks on the stage. He then picked up a hand gun and pointed it with a down arm motion. Then a loud flash hit exploded from under the guitar.


On November 14, 1996 Metallica performed at the MTV Europe Video Music Awards, but lost the Best Rock Video award to the Smashing Pumpkins. Scheduled to play "King Nothing," the band change their minds at the last minute and broke into "Last Caress" and "So What?" On January 24, 1997 Metallica played "King Nothing" on the American Music Awards and won for best metal/hard rock album. The night before Lars married his long time girlfriend, Skyler Satinstein. During the music awards, Lars during his acceptance speech said, "I would like to thank this man, James Hetfield, for putting on his best suit and being my best man at my wedding last night." James followed suit and was married on August 17, 1997 to Francesca Tomasi. And on January 31, 1998 Kirk married Lani Gruttadauro in Hawaii. They were both barefoot and married Hawaiian style with a Kahu (Reverend) overlooking the ceremony.

Marriage, or the prospect there of, did not slow the band down nor hamper its success. On December 8, 1997 Metallica won the Billboard Music Award: Rock and Roll Artist of the Year. During the awards show they performed "The Unforgiven II", being the only performance of that song thus far.


In 1996, Metallica started what would become a tradition of releasing Fan Cans. Fan Cans are customized paint cans stuffed with a CD, video, T-shirt and various Metallica “swag”. Fan Cans are released by the official fan club and sold to members only, this makes the early versions practically hard to find.

“Fan Can 1” was a collection of studio outtakes and miscellaneous jams from when the band was in the studio recording "Load". During one of the Load sessions, Metallica recorded (what became the “Fan Can 1” CD) in one take without stopping the tape between songs, capturing discussions between the band and Bob Rock about what to play and such. The tracks are untitled but include versions and snippets of songs by AC/DC, Mercyful Fate, The Beatles and one of Lars favorites at that time, Oasis. These covers are often short or cut in half as they haven't played them before. The video is excellent, containing footage not available anywhere else.

In 1997 “Fan Can 2” was released. “Fan Can 2” contained a live recording of a fanclub member only show at Slim's Club in San Francisco on June 10, 1996. The video contained various clips from various shows in 1995 and 1996. The Video and CD cover art for both Fan Can 1 and 2 were created by James Hetfield.

Load   ReLoad

The Garage Inc. Era (1998 - 1999)

In September 1998 Metallica returned to the studio to record the double CD set “Garage Inc”. The first CD contained newly recorded covers ranging from The Misfits, Thin Lizzy, Mercyful Fate, and Black Sabbath to more unexpected choices like Nick Cave and Bob Seger (the band's cover of Seger's "Turn the Page" garnered extensive radio airplay). The second CD gathered together previously released covers, including the original “The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited”, which had become a scarce collector's item. The CD also included B-side covers going as far back as 1984. Electric, exciting and raw, the double-disc “Garage Inc.” was great reminder that for all the success, Metallica's heart still lay in the music.

Evidence of the bands continued successes came in the form of more awards, recognition and honors. On February 24, 1999: Metallica wins their fourth Grammy at the 41st annual Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance of "Better than You". On March 16, 1999 The Recording Industry Association of America gave Diamond awards to AC/DC, The Eagles, and Metallica. The Diamond award goes to single titles that sell 10 million or more copies, which Metallica received  for “The Black Album”.  The awards were presented at a special ceremony in New York City's Roseland Ballroom with 46 recording artists representing 62 titles. Until this day, the RIAA has only presented record sales awards for Gold (500,000 units), Platinum (1 million units) and Muti-Platinum (2 million or more units). The Diamond Award was bestowed for the first time by the RIAA to the biggest names in the music industry. James Hetfield thanked producer Bob Rock "for making the big noises extra big."

On April 7, 1999 Metallica received their own bronze plaque on the BAMMIES (Bay Area Music Awards) Walk of Fame on Grove Street in San Francisco, joining artists like Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane, John Lee Hooker, Journey, Janis Joplin, and the legendary concert promoter, Bill Graham. Mayor Willie Brown honored the band by proclaiming it Metallica Day. Lastly, on December 8, 1999, Metallica won the Billboard Music Award as Catalog Artist of the Year and for Metallica as Catalog Album of The Year. Metallica performed "Until It Sleeps" with a 38-piece orchestra arranged in a circle around them. Originally they were planning to broadcast their performance from the roof of the 40-story high Rio Hotel (Las Vegas), but very strong winds during the dress rehearsal forced them to change their plans and move their performance inside the hotel.
In 1998 “Fan Can 3” was released.  The “Fan Can 3” CD was truly a rare and unique item which included many demos from "Load" and "Re-load". Some of these have been on various singles before, others are new. The track titles are working titles, some songs were spelled differently or named differently altogether. A good collection; it is always fun to hear the familiar Metallica songs with different lyrics, or as Metallica says "write in progress versions". The video was from a show in Germany which was aired live on German TV in 1997. Both the CD and video cover art were created by James Hetfield.

Top  Garage Inc.

The S&M and Summer Sanitarium Era (1999)

The next epic milestone in Metallica’s history was then to be set on April 21 & 22, 1999, when Metallica played together with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, directed by Michael Kamen. It was not been the first time that Rock and Classic would meet, but it was definitely the best! Kamen and his staff composed additional orchestral material for a number of Metallica songs and the concerts featured broad selection of songs dating as far back as “Ride the Lightning”. Metallica also wrote two brand new Kamen-scored songs for the event, "No Leaf Clover" and "− Human." The show was later released as a double CD and a video. A must-see experience! Metallica wrapped up 1999 with the “Garage Remains the Same” tour through South America and Europe including two more live S&M shows, one in Berlin, Germany on November 19, 1999 and returning to the United States to perform one at Madison Square Garden in New York on November 23, 1999.


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