James Hetfield

James Hetfield, born August 3, 1963, first started playing music when he was still a child, beginning his journey in rock a few years later by forming and joining bands. One of the bands he founded was Metallica — and it ended up transforming him from just one of the many, many aspiring musicians in the country, to one of the most famous artists in the history of rock and metal. His band’s music has been listened to around the world, and it has earned him a great deal of praise and famous songs and albums. Now, we’re helping you celebrate this metal legend’s special day.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

James Alan Hetfield

Nickname:

Het, Jaymz, The Het, Papa Het, Mighty Het

Birth date:

August 3, 1963

Age:

59

Zodiac Sign:

Leo

Height:

6' 1"

Relationship Status:

Married

Net Worth:

$300 million

Background

James Hetfield has been one of the most remarkable musicians for a long time now. He is one of the most prominent figures in the thrash metal music scene, and his band’s music has reached the ears of millions. Hetfield was born on August 3, 1963, in Downey, California. His zodiac sign is Leo and his ethnicity is English, German, Irish, and Scottish. He is the son of Cynthia Bassett and Virgil Lee Hetfield, and he has two older half-brothers and a younger sister. He became interested in music at nine years old when he began piano lessons. Later on, he also began playing drums and guitar, after being inspired to do so by the band Aerosmith and started to play music with bands.

Hetfield formed Metallica in 1981 with drummer Lars Ulrich, after answering an advertisement that Ulrich had put out seeking metal musicians. They later recruited Dave Mustaine to play lead guitar and Ron McGovney to play bass, soon replaced by Cliff Burton, and so the band had its initial lineup, though Mustaine was later replaced by Kirk Hammett. Hetfield is the main writer of guitar harmonies, song lyrics, and vocal melodies, as well as co-arranging the band’s songs with Ulrich. The band released their debut studio album, “Kill ‘Em All,” in July 1983, which wasn’t very successful but earned the band a loyal fan following. The following year, they released their second studio album, “Ride the Lightning,” which peaked at number 100 on the Billboard 200.

After signing to Elektra Records and becoming a client of Q-Prime Management, Metallica’s popularity began to rise exponentially. Their third studio album, “Master of Puppets” (1986), peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and became the band’s first album to be certified gold, as well as receiving a large amount of praise. After bass player Cliff Burton died in a tour bus accident, the band questioned if they should carry on, and who would replace Burton if they did. They held auditions, and Jason Newsted took over the role. In 1988, the band released their fourth studio album “And Justice for All…,” which became the band’s first album to reach the top 10 in the Billboard 200, peaking at number six, was an overall commercial success, and earned the band their first Grammy Award nomination. In 1991, their self-titled fifth studio album, also known as “The Black Album,” brought the band a great deal of mainstream attention, peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, and went on to become the 25th best-selling album in the United States.

The band’s sixth studio album, “Load” (1996) debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making it their second number-one album. The band had recorded enough material for two albums, so they released the remaining songs in their seventh studio album, titled “Reload,” the following year, and it debuted at number one as well. They followed this up with two cover albums and one live album of previous songs played alongside the San Francisco Symphony, all of which were very successful. However, Hetfield started to struggle with alcohol addiction and entered rehab in 2001 just before the band was set to start recording another album. Some claimed that this risked the band’s future, but he returned to the studio a few months later and Metallica’s eighth studio album, “St. Anger” (2003), debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance the following year. In 2008, the band released their ninth studio album, titled “Death Magnetic,” which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 as well, making Metallica the first band to have five consecutive albums debut at number one on that chart. In April 2009, the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2012, the band launched an independent record label, Blackened Recordings, after leaving Warner Bros. Records, and announced that their future releases would be produced by their label. In 2013, Metallica became the first band to play on all seven continents after their concert held in Antarctica, which was called “Freeze ‘Em All.” After many years of writing, recording, and producing, the band released their tenth studio album in 2016, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct,” which became their sixth consecutive album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200. However, Hetfield had been struggling with addiction again, and the band’s plans were put to halt in 2019 when he re-entered rehab. He left a few months later and took some more time off for his recovery, after which he’s continued to work on new music with the rest of Metallica.

Career timeline

1977
Hetfield Starts Playing with Bands

He starts playing guitar and joining bands at the age of 14 and continues throughout his teenage years.

1981
Metallica is Formed

Hetfield answers an advert put out by Lars Ulrich seeking metal musicians for a band.

1983
His First Studio Album

Hetfield, along with the other members, releases Metallica’s debut studio album, “Kill ‘Em All.”

1991
Hetfield’s First Number One Album

Metallica’s self-titled fifth studio album, a.k.a. “The Black Album,” becomes the band’s first record to reach number one on the Billboard 200.

2009
Hall of Fame Induction

Metallica is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in a big ceremony.

2016
Ten Albums

Metallica releases their 10th studio album, “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct.”

Why We Love James Hetfield

  1. Hetfield is loyal to what he loves

    He once said he couldn’t fathom dedicating himself to other projects while still being part of Metallica. He has also faced many challenges throughout his career but has never once quit making music.

  2. He is an inspiration to millions

    Hetfield has rightly earned a place among history’s most legendary musicians. His music has touched the hearts of people all across the world and inspires them to create art of their own.

  3. Hetfield’s band is the most charitable in the world

    In 2019, “Forbes” released an article in which Metallica was deemed possibly “World’s most charitable metal band.” They have their own charity organization, “All Within My Hands,” and have donated millions of dollars to various important causes.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. Hetfield loves cars

    He is a known car enthusiast and has a quite expensive collection.

  2. Albums by the millions

    Metallica has sold an estimated 100 million records around the world.

  3. Hetfield’s bee hobby

    When he’s not making music or performing live with his band, he dedicates his time to beekeeping.

  4. Nine Grammys

    Throughout Hetfield’s career, he and the rest of Metallica have won nine Grammy Awards.

  5. Hetfield’s wife used to be his costumer

    He met his wife Francesca when she worked making costumes for Metallica.

James Hetfield FAQs

When did James Hetfield lose his voice?

In 1991, Hetfield blew out his voice. Thankfully, he got it back on track with voice lessons and continues singing to this day.

Is James Hetfield a good guitarist?

Yes! Various “Greatest Guitarists” lists and polls have ranked Hetfield highly.

Who is James Hetfield married to?

He has been married to Francesca Hetfield (née Tomasi) since 1997 and has three children with her.

James Hetfield’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2022August 3Wednesday
2023August 3Thursday
2024August 3Saturday
2025August 3Sunday
2026August 3Monday

Holidays Straight to Your Inbox

Every day is a holiday!
Receive fresh holidays directly to your inbox.