Skip to main content

Watch Elton John make James Hetfield cry

Metallica and Elton John
(Image credit: The Howard Stern Show)

Metallica leader James Hetfield became tearful last week in an interview which saw Elton John describe Nothing Else Matters as "one of the best songs ever written".

The band appeared with Miley Cyrus on The Howard Stern Show on (September 9) for a performance of the tune, and shortly gathered to discuss John and Cyrus' recent collaborative cover of the track. The rendition appeared on The Metallica Blacklist, the recently-released charity album showcasing covers from 53 different artists of tracks from Metallica's ‘Black Album, in celebration of its 30th anniversary. 

To the surprise of Hetfield and co., Elton John joined the group interview via Zoom to weigh in on the discussion, and to reveal what made him want to be part of The Metallica Blacklist. When the host suggests that Nothing Else Matters is similar in writing style to an Elton John song, and that John's piano piece within the cover is "beautiful",  the star responds, "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. 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.”

At this moment, Hetfield can be seen welling up and wiping away tears.

John continues, “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 asks Metallica how they feel about hearing John's opinion of the track. Drummer Lars Ulrich says: "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 begins speaking directly to Hetfield while patting his back, stating "and I know how much it means to you".

Watch the full interview and check out Metallica's performance with Miley Cyrus below:

Elizabeth Scarlett

Elizabeth (Lizzie) works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. When not writing, she enjoys music design and reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.