Skip to main content

Metallica festival cancellations due to James Hetfield’s ‘sobriety weekends’

(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Metallica had to cancel two US festival appearances due to James Hetfield having to attend ‘mandatory sobriety weekends’, according to festival organisers.

The metal icons were due to headline the Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life festivals in May, but recently announced that they were cancelling their appearances.

Speaking to Ultimate Guitar, Gary Spivack of Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life organisers Danny Wimmer Presents, said he was contacted by the band’s management, Q Prime.

"Well, we got the call from Metallica’s management team, Q Prime, who are, the best managers in the business, hands down, and said that James has Sobriety Weekends that are requirement weekend that are throughout the calendar year, and unfortunately, a couple of those weekends fell on our festivals.”

Sobriety Weekends involve rehab patients being readmitted to residential programmes to continue to help with their recovery,

James Hetfield has confirmed via a statement on the Metallica website that following his return to rehab at the end of 2019, he has "critical recovery events" which cannot be moved on the weekends that Sonic Temple and Louder Than Life are set to take place. 

Hetfield's statement reads: "It pains me to write this, but I have to let all of you know that I cannot make it to Sonic Temple in Columbus and Louder Than Life in Louisville this year. 

"As part of my continuing effort to get and stay healthy, I have critical recovery events on those weekends that cannot be moved. I apologise to all of our fans who have bought tickets for these festivals. We are working with the festival promoters to provide for refunds or exchanges. 

"My intent with this statement is saying “I apologise” to each one of you. The reality is that I have not prioritised my health in the past year of touring and I now know that my mental health comes first. That might sound like a no-brainer for most of you but I didn’t want to let the Metallica team/family down and, I alone, completely compromised myself.

"Looking on the brighter side, my therapy is going well. It was absolutely necessary for me to look after my mental, physical, and spiritual health.

"I want to stress that the band will play all other announced 2020 shows.

"I am looking forward to getting back to playing and seeing all our great South American fans in April. And, of course, playing Epicenter in Charlotte, Welcome to Rockville in Daytona and Aftershock in Sacramento. We will still play two unique sets at each of these festivals.

"Beyond 2020, I am optimistic about the blessings I have been given and what the future brings. I appreciate all the great prayers and support from everyone since I went into rehab last September. Like the moth into the flame, being human in this career has its huge challenges and can be difficult. Your understanding helps the healing."

Tool and the Red Hot Chili Peppers will step in for Metallica at Sonic Temple. Louder Than Life headliners will be announced at a later date.

The band’s other shows are unaffected.