The Metallica Effect: How ‘Garage Inc.’ Affected the Bands They Covered
Proud to wear their hearts on their sleeves, Metallica went all out and released Garage Inc. on Nov. 23, 1998. They’d released half of these cover versions before, those compiled on the second of the two disc collection, while the first disc full of new covers gave fans an even closer look at the kind of music that had started them on the road to becoming thrash metal pioneers.
“We were really influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which included bands like Venom and Diamond Head – underground stuff,” frontman James Hetfield said six years before the album arrived. “We learned a bunch of their songs from a batch of obscure singles that [drummer] Lars [Ulrich] had collected. Most people thought we were performing originals, because they had never heard any of the shit before – which was good for us! We took all the credit. You know, ‘Hey, you guys write good songs!’ ‘Yeah, I know!’ We certainly weren't going to tell them the truth.”
He was joking, of course. Metallica were happy to share the excitement and energy of the music that had molded them. But that’s not to say the impact of being covered by one of the world’s most successful bands was an entirely painless experience for everyone involved, as we discover below.
Discharge, “Free Speech for the Dumb" and “The More I See”
Current frontman J.J. Janiak and his predecessor Anthony “Rat” Martin have similar views of the Metallica effect, although neither was in involved in the 1982 album Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, from which both tracks came. “It's pretty humbling,” Janiak said in August 2018. “A lot of bands were inspired by what Discharge did and ran with it. They all got bigger and Discharge just carried on doing what they've always done. That's how it is.” Martin said he’d been “quite chuffed” to be told that two members of Metallica had attended a Discharge show in 2011. “I think it was Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett,” he said. “They wanted to get some free T-shirts, but the girl selling our shirts at the time didn’t know who they were and said they had to pay. … She was right to do it because there were people there who worked hard for that [sales] money. We would have liked to have met them. … They seemed to be enjoying it, so I was told.”
Diamond Head, “It's Electric,” “Helpless,” “Am I Evil?” and “The Prince”
Diamond Head guitarist Brian Tatler is comfortable with the fact that, the first time he met Ulrich, the drummer was a fan – and the tables have turned since then. “I'm full of admiration for what Metallica have done," he said in 2016. “It's an incredible ride, I think. I've been to see them probably at least 20 times. To have met Lars when he was just a Diamond Head fan — and he never mentioned playing the drums or forming a band or anything — and watch him rise to the top and headline the biggest festivals in world is something I've never seen happen before or since to anyone I actually knew and could count on as a friend. That was unbelievable. Yeah, they were influenced by bands like Diamond Head and Motorhead and [Iron] Maiden. … But by the time Master of Puppets came out, I think they'd left that style and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal influence probably behind, and they pushed into some new territory that no one had been before. Then everyone started copying them, and now there's 100,000 bands that sound like Metallica.”
Black Sabbath, “Sabbra Cadabra"
In 2011, Ozzy Osbourne and bassist Geezer Butler joined Metallica for a rendition of “Sabbra Cadabra” along with three other Black Sabbath songs. Afterward, Butler said, “I had the pleasure and honor of jamming 'Sabbra Cadabra'/'A National Acrobat', and then 'Iron Man'/'Paranoid' with Metallica. … Great bunch of guys, and, of course, one of the world's greatest bands. The late, great Cliff Burton was definitely in the house with us, and smiling."
Watch Metallica and Black Sabbath Members Perform 'Sabbra Cadabra'
Bob Seger, ”Turn the Page"
"I loved it. They told me they were gonna do it and I loved it,” Bob Seger said in 2012. “I really liked the drums, especially, because our drums are really simple. [It was] a cool take on it. It's been done before. Another guy did it in Australia and won a Grammy with it.”
Misfits, "Die, Die My Darling" and “Last Caress/Green Hell”
Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig has kept away from speculation about how much effect Metallica had on his career, but he was pleased to regard them as friends, and allowed Hetfield to appear on the 1988 debut LP by his band Danzig. “He was hanging out with us in L.A. I had to go back to the studio,” Danzig recalled in 2013. “He said he wanted to come along. I was like, ‘Oh, sure! Don't worry about it.’ … It was much different then. Because everybody hung out a lot. As bands get bigger and stuff, I don't think there's enough time, or people get families and things. … He’s on ‘Possession,’ ‘Twist of Cain’ and probably one other one.”
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Loverman"
Mercyful Fate, ”Mercyful Fate” (Originally Titled “Satan's Fall”)
Mercyful Fate frontman King Diamond first met Metallica in San Francisco 1984. “We hit it off, and we became very good friends instantaneously,” he recalled in 2016, saying that, all those years later, it was “such a great thing to see that everyone’s doing well. That means so very much to me. Not just that they are playing well and they’re doing fantastic music-wise, but that they are doing good as people.” He recalled that the "one thing that I have seen with Metallica, from when I first got to meet them until now, is that they have not changed at all. It’s mind blowing to me how they have been able to stay so centered with the kind of pressure and all that stuff that goes with being the most successful metal band in the world. You’d think it would have changed them. But it hasn’t.”
Watch Mercyful Fate Members Jam With Metallica
Blue Oyster Cult, “Astronomy”
Former Blue Oyster Cult bassist Joe Bouchard didn’t hold back when asked about the Metallica effect in 2011. “When I heard Metallica was covering a BOC song, and I found out it was my song 'Astronomy,’ I was floored," he said. "It was like a giant pat on the back. One of my co-written songs finally got some major recognition. The first thing I did was quit my day job. Honestly the money wasn't that amazing, but it was the principle of the thing.” “Yesterday, I saw a picture of Metallica in The New York Times, in a story about their new album, and there’s James Hetfield in a Blue Oyster Cult T-shirt," frontman Eric Bloom said in 2016. "It’s nice to know that other people like us.”
Thin Lizzy, “Whiskey in the Jar"
Even though Thin Lizzy didn’t write the song – it’s a traditional folk anthem in Ireland – Metallica based their version on Lizzy’s, and original guitarist Eric Bell won’t forget his run-in with them afterward. “They phoned me up and asked me to do a gig with them. And the bastards didn’t pay me,” he laughed in 2015. "They phoned me up about eight or nine years ago when they were in London, where I was living at this point. They were staying at this very plush hotel in Marble Arch, and they asked me to play ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ with them in Dublin. I said yeah, so I flew over with them on their private plane. They went on for about three hours, and then I came on to do ‘Whiskey in the Jar’ with them. And then we flew back to London again. They gave me all this merchandising stuff, like scarves and hats and T-shirts and sorta said, ‘Okay, man. Thanks!’ But no money. I was supposed to talk to some bloke about getting paid, but I just took it for granted that he was gonna come across with the money after the gig. But nobody come near me.”
Listen to Eric Bell Perform With Metallica
Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Tuesday’s Gone”
Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington made a guest appearance on the Metallica cover, and he’s also played the song live with them. While it’s safe to say it didn’t have a massive impact on the southern rock icons’ career, it surely must have at least helped as they returned to action at the end of the ‘80s, following years of hiatus. “We really are a soundtrack of their lives,” Rossington said of Skynyrd fans in 2010. “A lot of emotion comes out and we have people write to us all the time and they tell us how much our music means to them. In this lifetime, it has been really great to be able to touch people’s emotions.”
Watch Gary Rossington Guest With Metallica
Holocaust, “The Small Hours”
“One thing that really annoys me,” said easygoing Scottish frontman John Mortimer in 1994, “is when, occasionally, people will come up after gigs and say, ‘Hey, I liked your Metallica cover.’ No! Not!” He joked that perhaps all the bands that suffered a similar experience should “form a club, go on tour,” and added that he’d happily write songs for Metallica … again. In 2015, he more seriously discussed the experience of playing shows where the majority of the audience are there because of Metallica’s cover of “The Small Hours.” “It’s like, ‘Okay, we’ve heard about this band … come on then,’" he said. "Which is good – that’s actually a good, challenging situation.”
Killing Joke, “The Wait”
“I'll never forget their cover because I didn't know who the fuck they were,” Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman said in 2013. “I don't really go out of my way to find out what bands are happening, and while the other guys are into metal, I'm not.” He noted that he's "not sure they got all the lyrics right, but we never printed the lyrics of the first album. It really makes me laugh when these people think you've been singing one thing all these years and of course you haven't. They've gone and misconstrued the lyrics.” Bandmate Youth was more positive. “I thought it was great," he said. “They captured the spirit of the song.”
Budgie, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery” and “Breadfan”
Ray Phillips, drummer with Welsh metal pioneers Budgie, spoke of how Metallica saved him from financial disaster. “I was in a really dark place,” he recalled, after having lost nearly $70,000 when his post-Budgie band Tredegar failed. Then Garage Inc. was released and “thousands and thousands of pounds” began pouring in. “It's strange,” he noted. “I never considered us mega-rock stars, but it started when I was 18 and I'm 70 next birthday and still having this conversation.”
“It’s a double-edged sword,” frontman Brian Ross said in 2016. “On one edge of the sword, obviously it was an honor for them to do that. It was really nice for them to say that we influenced them in their early days and actually still do influence them apparently, because every time a new Blitzkrieg album comes out, Lars is on the phone saying, ‘Can I get a copy of this, please?’" But, "on the other side of the sword," he said, "It’s kind of been difficult in that there is an awful lot of Metallica fans out there that actually think that ‘Blitzkrieg’ is a Metallica song. That is not really where you want it to be. Not that Metallica has ever claimed that the song is theirs, they haven’t. They quite strongly said, ‘No, it’s not our song.’ They promoted it quite well.” Guitarist Ken Johnson took a slightly different angle in 2017, saying, “Maybe to some young bands, some of what is classed as metal these days isn't quite cutting it for them to listen to. So, they are going out and discovering why Metallica likes Blitzkrieg, Diamond Head, etc., and instead of listening to the likes of Avenged Sevenfold, a lot of the younger audience is discovering [Judas] Priest, Accept, Scorpions, etc. I know we have noticed a younger generation at our shows and also attending more classic metal shows in the last two years.”
Queen, “Stone Cold Crazy”
Brian May recorded a video message for Metallica to mark the band's 30th anniversary in 2011, saying they were “still trailblazing” and they they “epitomize metal.” He added that he’d never forget the “honor” of Metallica’s appearance at the 1992 Freddie Mercury tribute concert, where he, Roger Taylor, Tony Iommi and Metallica performed a live version of “Stone Cold Crazy."
Watch Brian May's Tribute to Metallica
Watch Queen and James Hetfield Perform 'Stone Cold Crazy'
Anti-Nowhere League, “So What”
If it weren’t for Metallica, frontman Animal might still be working for his father’s roofing business. The band had split and he’d gone back to college when the cover of “So What?” was released, and then Animal received an invitation to guest with Metallica at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1992. “They redirected me,” he said in 2010. “It was them that said, ‘What the fuck are you doing?’ I said, ‘I’ve quit now, haven't I? I don't do stage work any more.’ ‘Getcha band back on the road man!’” He admitted to being a “bit of a bread head,” interested in making money, and noted, “I didn't really know Metallica … but going up there and being involved with it, they've got chefs and they've got money and great big set up. I must admit the money was tempting. They wanted me to go on tour with them. Go around on their jet and be a guest each night around the world on their tour. I thought, ‘Well, I don't want to outstay my welcome,’ but I was tempted. … Metallica though, taking us on board, under their wing so to speak, telling us that they couldn't put the song down and they fuckin’ loved it, were just a great bunch of blokes. It was Slash who told them first to do it as a cover because Guns N' Roses had just done ‘I Hate People,’ but Axl [Rose] dropped that because he couldn't sing it properly. … It was nice that they were all talking about us.”
Sweet Savage, "Killing Time”
Before Vivian Campbell was in Def Leppard, he was a member of Sweet Savage, the band for which he co-wrote “Killing Time.” In 2018, he said, “Yeah, that was incredibly flattering when [the Metallica cover] happened. I do think that there were very, very strong similarities between Sweet Savage and Metallica. … We were in Belfast, Northern Ireland in the '70s, and it was a very tough environment, but we kind of put our heads down and got into music. … It's funny when you're 15 or 16 years of age and you write a riff and you get together with your mates and it becomes a song, and then, 25 years later, you get a royalty check for it. It's funny how life works sometimes.”
Watch James Hetfield Perform 'Killing Time' With Sweet Savage in 2008
Motorhead, “Overkill,” “Damage Case,” “Stone Dead Forever” and “Too Late Too Late”
Asked in 2011 if he still got a kick from being named as an influence by bands including Metallica, Lemmy said, “Well Metallica’s starting to feel the old age bite now, aren’t they? They’ve been around a long time now. I mean, you can’t top Metallica. They’re really a fucking excellent band. I’m delighted that they said that I was one of their influences. Like, they have all of their influences, and you can’t hear the influences in them, which is great. They’ve become their own people, and that’s great. I like them a lot. I’ve spent a lot of time with those boys.”
Watch Lemmy Play With Metallica in 2009