Kirk Hammett Recalls When Joey Jordison Literally Saved a Metallica Performance

Kreepin Deth, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons Stuart Sevastos, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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One of modern metal’s pivotal moments was the time Slipknot’s Joey Jordison and Slayer’s Dave Lombardo filled in for Lars Ulrich during Metallica’s set at Download festival in 2004.

Unable to appear due to a health emergency brought on by exhaustion, Ulrich’s no-show left the band’s set in doubt. Fortunately for everyone, two of the best drummers in the world were present and eager to help.

As part of a newly published oral history of Download festival, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett reflected on the events of the evening. Speaking to the Guardian of Jordison’s performance, he said: “Joey could play all sorts of things. I remember saying to him, ‘Bro, you’re gonna have to play a bunch of these tunes tonight.’

He was beside himself, he was so happy. At the end of the set, I turned to Joey onstage, and I asked him if he could play ‘Enter Sandman’. And I saw through his mask [which he wore during the Metallica set] that he had tears in both of his eyes. He was crying because it meant so much for him to be playing ‘Sandman’ with us at Download. I’ll never forget that.”

The Slipknot drummer played eight of the 11-song set, with Dave Lombardo and Ulrich’s drum tech Flemming Larsen lending a hand on the remaining songs. Reflecting on the moment several years later, Jordison said:  “As cool as it was playing that show, what was cooler was playing in Metallica’s practice room.

It was just me and those three guys, just warming up. What a dream come true, man. I’ll have dreams about it every once in a while. It was one of the best gigs of my life.”

During a conversation with’s Ryan J. Downey, Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor said of the performance: “We were back there with him, watching it… It was so surreal to watch Joey playing [with Metallica], because we all grew up listening to them.

And Joey was shitting bricks. I mean, he had his mask on, but every time he’d come back and he would pull his mask off, he would just be, like, ‘How am I doing? How am I doing?’ I’m, like, ‘you’re fucking killing it.’ Me, Paul, Clown, we were all standing there fucking cheering him on.

And they ended up throwing different songs at him that they hadn’t rehearsed. They threw all the Misfits shit at him, and he fucking knew it. They would have probably kept him up there all night if they could have. He played the majority of the set.

“That, to me, was such a fucking amazing moment for him that it was cool to be back there sharing that with him. It was a special little fucking — almost like that’s the moment you know you’ve made it. You’re seeing this reflection of respect from arguably your biggest influence, your biggest peer. Them signing off on you like that had to have been fucking massive for him. And I remember him telling me it was such a blur that he didn’t really remember anything until he watched the video back. And he’s right — that shit can go by [very quickly] because you’re so fucking into it…

“I don’t know if they expected it, but he fucking went in there and he showed not only the band but all of their fans — not only the level of respect that we have for them and the music but that we can hold our own. And I think that was a big moment. It was a big part of that.”

In December of 2013, Slipknot announced that Jordison was no longer in the band but did not elaborate on why. This prompted the drummer to issue a statement saying that he did not quit the band. Jordison died of unspecified causes in July of 2021.