That time James Hetfield got onstage to sing a grunge classic with Alice In Chains

James Hetfield and Jerry Cantrell
(Image credit: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images/Sandy Caspers/Redferns)

There’s been a long-running love-in between Metallica and Alice In Chains. AIC guitarist Jerry Cantrell once told Metal Hammer that Metallica were “a huge thing” for him and his bandmates, adding that frontman James Hetfield “commands respect and attention without it being self-seeking or egocentric… he’s the godfather, man.”

The feeling was mutual. “They were so unique, so ahead of their time,” Hetfield told Revolver magazine of his Alice In Chains fandom. “And out of all the Seattle stuff, that stuff is the most timeless.”

On June 2, 2006, Hetfield put his money where his mouth was by joining the reunited Alice In Chains onstage at the Rock Am Ring festival to perform Dirt-era classic Would? with the Seattle band. The Metallica man took the parts late vocalist Layne Staley originally sang, trading lines with Jerry Cantrell. 

Pro-shot video from the festival shows Hetfield having a blast. While his instantly recognisable bellow isn’t as haunting as Staley’s voice, it fits in pretty well with Alice In Chains’ harmony-heavy approach. And Papa Het’s crunching guitar adds just the right amount of extra wallop to the song.

The love-in didn’t stop there either. Hetfield got up and joined Alice In Chains once more when they played San Francisco in November 2006, while Jerry Cantrell returned the favour in 2011 by getting up onstage at one of Metallica’s 30th anniversary gigs to play For Whom The Bell Tolls and Nothing Else Matters. But the crowning glory came in 2020, with Metallica’s stripped-down cover of Would? as part of an all-star livestream tribute to the Seattle band.

Check out footage and James Hetfield and Alice In Chains’ original cover of Would? below.

Metal Hammer

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