WATCH: When James Hetfield Sang ‘Would?’ With Alice In Chains

James Hetfield Photo by George De Sota (ID 5073478)/Redferns)
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James Hetfield has been in a musically monogamous relationship with Metallica for four decades now.

For better (or sometimes worse), the guy gets all his creative kicks from Metallica. He almost never strays outside the comfort of the Four Horsemen nest, rarely doing guest spots and frankly scoffing at the very idea of a side project, once telling WRIF:

“Metallica’s pretty much my side project. I get to do whatever I want in Metallica. There’s not really a need for it [side projects]. I write things that make me feel good, and if they end up in Metallica, then that’s even better. Sometimes they don’t. But, no, there’s really no need for that. Or time — there’s no time for that either.”

Watch: Metallica Crowd Boos St. Anger, but Hetfield has Great Sense of Humor About It

So what’s the point? Glad you asked. The point here is that when Hetfield feels compelled to collaborate musically with anyone outside of Metallica, on record or in a live setting, it’s a special event worth highlighting.

Back in 2006, James decided to lend his vocal and guitar talents live to Alice In Chains at the Rock am Ring festival. It was a pretty personal collaboration, too, with Hetfield’s fandom for Alice In Chains being well-documented over the years, including his friendship with Jerry Cantrell. Speaking with Revolver Magazine a few years back, Hetfield summarized his affinity for Alice In Chains :

“I wasn’t really close with Layne [Staley], but I remember going to see Alice In Chains many times. I remember when we were down in L.A. [in 1991, making ‘The Black Album’], I left the studio early to see them play…  I was driving like a madman in this rented van, going on the median and scaring the shit out of my friend — ‘We gotta get there!’ And we get there, and they’d just got off.

I was like, ‘Aw, man!’I hung with them a little bit, always just loved their music, and I’d say that Jerry [Cantrell] and I share some life experiences, like getting a second chance at life and realizing how cool things can be.

So we’ve got kind of a kinship that way. And seeing them play — I just love hearing those songs. Those songs are awesome and should be heard, you know? They were so unique, so ahead of their time.”

Layne Staley’s vocals on ‘Would?’ are obviously iconic and leave some pretty tough shoes to fill. How’d Hetfield fare? Watch and decide for yourself below.

James Hetfield Has Regrets About the Load and Reload Era of Metallica

Watch James Hetfield Sing ‘Would?’ With Alice In Chains: