Kirk Hammett recalls Joey Jordison's onstage tears before playing Enter Sandman with Metallica at Download

Joey Jordison onstage with Metallica
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns)

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has shared a memory of seeing Slipknot's Joey Jordison crying onstage at Download 2004 as the emotion of sitting in with his teenage heroes overwhelmed him.

Famously, Jordison and Slayer's Dave Lombardo were drafted in to save Metallica's headline performance at the second staging of the UK's biggest metal festival after Lars Ulrich fell ill on the band's private plane en route to the Donington Park site. 

Hammett recalls the episode in a new oral history of the festival due to be published by Rufus Publications later this year, an extract from which appears today (June 9) on The Guardian's website

The guitarist recalls telling Pantera's Dimebag Darrell backstage that Metallica were "completely fucked", but remembers his worries subsiding after Jordison and Lombardo stepped up to save the day.

"Joey could play all sorts of things," Hammett says. "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 [Jordison was still in his Slipknot stage attire] 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."

In 2014, this writer spoke to Jordison about his memories of the day, and suggested to the drummer that it must have seemed like a bizarre dream.

"It honestly was," Jordison replied. "That whole thing was kinda like the ultimate reward for all my hard work I think. I means that’s the fucking band: without Metallica I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. From the end of fifth grade, around ’86 when [Master of] Puppets and Reign In Blood came out, I was just sold on thrash metal: I would spend hours playing drums in my parent’s basement with the stereo behind me, just cranking those records, and learning Lars’ drum beats beat-for-beat. I did that for years and I knew those first four records front-to-back. So it was so weird that that opportunity came along and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

"My manager told me that James wanted to talk to me, and I went over there, and he asked me, and it was literally like a dream. I sat down in their little warm-up room and we played some songs that we didn’t get to play onstage and just jammed. I mean, the show was cool, but that fucking waaaaay cooler, because it was just us. Though I later discovered that all the other band guys backstage were standing outside listening, it was like a little show in itself. But getting to play with Metallica? Come on, it was amazing man, it’s one of my most treasured memories.’

Responding to a question about whether he had even have a second’s hesitation before agreeing to take the gig, Jordison replied, "Absolutely not."

"Because honestly, it was like, 'They need help, there’s 70,000 people waiting on them out there, and they’re asking me?' I was just like, 'I know all you guy’s stuff, whatever you throw out at me I’ll know it.' Because I used to play along with that shit, fucking day in and day out man.  Of course I was going to help."

Download: The Official History will be available from Rufus Publications later this year.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.