Here’s Who Metallica Originally Wanted As Their Vocalist, According to James Hetfield

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It’s hard to imagine anyone fronting Metallica other than James Hetfield. Papa Het has become such an iconic figure behind the mic that the idea of him taking backseat to another singer is just ridiculous. But in a recent interview, James himself revealed that Metallica had another vocalist in mind — and it might not be who you think.

Speaking to Sirius XM’s Mandatory Metallica station, James revealed that Metallica were good friends with a chivalrous early thrash act in LA, whose singer went on to have a storied career — but not before Metallica tried to nab him.

“A lot of those early memories were celebrated with a band called Armored Saint, who were a fellow L.A. band back in the early ’80s,” says James. “When we were getting started, obviously John Bush was a singer we got to know really well. [We] really, really tried to get him into the band as a singer, it didn’t work out. He was dedicated and very in love with what he was doing with his brothers in Armored Saint. And we absolutely respect that. But we did get to hear them and love them, every single night.”

Bush, of course, would go on to front Metallica’s friends Anthrax from 1992 to 2005. That he was nearly Metallica’s vocalist speaks to how in-demand he was as a singer — but the dude was dedicated to the knight’s life. Armored Saint wasn’t just a clever name, as the band would often play in armor and stage mock battles mid-show.

James goes on to say, “The Armored Saint guys were always there to have some fun. They were up for anything all the time. We did make for of them a little because of their outfits — they had little wardrobe malfunctions onstage…”

Check out the segment below:

So there you have it — every time you listen to James Hetfield belting out “Fight Fire With Fire” or “Motorbreath,” know that we were at one point or another very close to hearing someone else front those classic songs.


Words by Chris Krovatin