“We’ve got to thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year!” Watch Lars Ulrich’s brutal Grammy acceptance speech in 1992

Lars Ulrich giving a speech onstage in 1992
(Image credit: CBS via YouTube/WV Monster)

It wasn’t exactly an ideal debut. In 1989, the Recording Academy added a new award to their annual Grammys telecast: a prize that recognised each year’s Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal Or Instrumental. It was a response to the ballooning hard rock underbelly in the United States, given mainstream credibility by networks like MTV. However, the award’s first time on TV was a disaster.

The Grammys looked out of touch with the hard rock world from the second they started recognising it. They gave the inaugural trophy not to Metallica – who’d just smashed their way onto the airwaves with their One video – but to Jethro Tull. You know Jethro Tull: that prog band with flutes who aren’t hard rock or metal whatsoever. Everybody, including Tull, was annoyed and confused.

Although Metallica did win the rechristened Best Metal Performance Grammy in 1990, their venom over that ’89 snub clearly lingered. Lars Ulrich made this crystal clear when the band’s monstrous Black Album earned them their second Grammy in 1992: with his bandmates around him, he launched into a take-no-prisoners tirade of an acceptance speech.

“Couldn’t they have given us a few more minutes after that?” the sweat-drenched drummer asks as he steps up to the mic, Metallica being mere seconds removed from playing Enter Sandman on live TV.

“I think the first thing we gotta do, obviously, is we’ve gotta thank Jethro Tull for not putting out an album this year,” Ulrich continues. “We’ve got to thank the Academy for giving Jethro Tull the award in 1989 – read between the lines, you know what I mean?”

After thanking Metallica’s record label, Elektra, and their management company, Q Prime, Ulrich then takes a jab at MTV and the US’s radio stations, who didn’t touch the band until the late 1980s.

“I want to thank all the radio stations and MTV, without whom all this was possible anyway,” the drummer laughs. “Just kidding! I wanna thank the stations for coming around, finally, and understanding what Metallica’s all about.”

After also thanking Metallica’s fans, Ulrich and his bandmates leave the stage – no doubt with a handful of Grammy and radio station businessmen staring angrily at their TV sets as they do.

Happily, Metallica’s relationship with the Record Academy grew less and less antagonistic as the years rolled by. The band now have nine Grammys in their collective trophy cabinet, six of which are for Best Metal Performance. The other three are for Best Hard Rock Performance, Best Rock Instrumental Performance and – lastly in 2009 – a Best Recording Package prize that went to Death Magnetic.

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.