"We look forward to an incredible evening of unique performances": Metallica to perform at star-studded Elton John tribute ceremony

Metallica, Elton John, Bernie Taupin
(Image credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM | Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

Metallica will perform at a special concert saluting the songwriting of Elton John and Bernie Taupin next month.

The English duo are to be presented with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Washington DC next month (March 20), and Metallica will join Annie Lennox, Garth Brooks, Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris and more in paying tribute to their influence and legacy. The concert is invitation only, but will be broadcast and streamed on PBS.

Announcing their participation in the special show, Metallica added "Elton and Bernie have been collaborating for 56 years and counting, and together, they have penned some of our lifetime’s most memorable and influential songs. We are thrilled to celebrate this honor with them, and we look forward to an incredible evening of unique performances from their remarkable collection of songs."

In 2022, Elton John brought James Hetfield to tears when he described Metallica's Nothing Else Matters as "one of the best songs ever written".

When promoting The Metallica Blacklist album on the Howard Stern show in September 2022, the band were stunned to see the legendary English singer/songwriter pop up on a Zoom call to talk about why he guested on Miley Cyrus' version of the song on the album. When Stern drew some comparisons between Nothing Else Matters and John's own songwriting, and hailed his piano piece within the cover as "beautiful", Elton John replied, "Well that idea came from Andrew Watt who produced the track and played guitar on it. He said, ‘I want you to start the song and finish the song, because I don’t want it to start with the guitar, because that’s how the original record started.

"Listen, this is one of the best songs ever written, to me," he continued. "It’s a song that never gets old. And playing on this track, I just couldn’t wait. The chord structure, the melodies, the time changes, it’s got drama written all over it."

Hearing this high praise, James Hetfield could be seen wiping away tears.

John continued, “I have to say, it was a no-brainer playing on this song. Metallica are probably the crème de la crème of those kind of bands. You can’t really define them. They’re not a heavy metal band. They’re a musical band. Their songs aren’t just heavy metal. They’re beautiful songs. This is such a melodic song — it’s fucking great, actually.”

Stern then asked Metallica how they felt about hearing John's opinion of the track.

Drummer Lars Ulrich replied "If you could have said 40 years ago when James and I started down… in Norwalk, in the garage down there, without a pot to piss in, if you could say 40 years later that we would still be functioning, that we would be sitting here with the greatest stars in the world next to us, with Elton on the Zoom and doing your radio show talking about the accomplishments and what this record means to so many people, that would be the mind fucks of all mind fucks."

Speaking to the English star while comforting Hetfield, Ulrich continues: "To be able to hear what you just said Elton, and sitting here next to James who's been, we've been doing this for 40 years together, the reaction that I could feel in his body language when you said it was one of the greatest songs ever written...".

At this point Ulrich began speaking directly to Hetfield while patting his back, stating "and I know how much it means to you".

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. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.