Garage Remains the Same, November 1998, New York City, Virgin Record Store
Madly in Anger with You, December 14, 2003, Mannheim Germany
The first time I met Metallica was in 1998. This was back when Times Square in New York City was cool. They had a giant Virgin Record store right in the square. I queued for hours. I mean, like hours! Then, have someone hold your spot so you can run to the Howard Johnson's and pee, queue for hours. Metallica were doing a small tour called Garage Remains the Same.
To say I was nervous was an understatement. I had been a Metallica fan since 1986, high school. The moment K. Culpitt sang the lyrics to Disposable Heroes to my face whilst hanging out in the practice rooms (we were both band geeks), I've been enthralled. So to meet them was quite a moment for me. I remember meeting Kirk first. He was dressed head to toe in black leather. And I mean head to toe. He even had on dark black sunglasses and black leather gloves. I got the feeling he didn't want to be there and all the people were making him a tad bit displeased. He didn't talk. He'd sign what eveer you put in front of him. But there was like zero engagement. I was respectful of the "distance" he kept between himself and the endless stream of adoring humanity.
Then I met Lars **swoon**. I love the guy! I had always thought him cute, but meeting him face to face cemented an unrequited love affair in my mind! He was affable, playful, engaging, just down to earth lovable. He had asked which shows I was going to see. I told him I was going to the Philadelphia show at the Electric Factory. He wanted to know why I was not going to the New York City at the Roseland Ballroom. I told him I didn't have tickets. He gave me sad face. No lie. SAD FACE. The only person that had ever given my sad face was my then six year old nephew. And Lars gave me sad face! My heart swelled up and I got warm all over! I actually felt bad for not going to the NYC show. Then he laughed. ZOMG! That smile! The sparkle in his eyes. Yup. Lars. **swoon**
Next I met James. I. Was. Terrified. Yup. The aura of James Hetfield in 1998 terrified me. I felt like he could snap my neck with one hand whilst drinking a beer with the other hand and not bat an eye. He looked at me strangely as I had gone from joking around with Lars to sheer mumbling terror.
I did, however, redeem myself!
Fast forward to the Madly in Anger with You tour of 2003. I had won meet and greet passes for the Mannheim, Germany show. I was doing the Metallica tour circuit, four shows in seven days in three different cities and two countries (I ended up seeing 15 shows this tour). Mannheim was the first stop.
I hired a car, Toyota Yaris, and sped my way from the airport in Frankfort to Mannheim. I had figured it being winter, the roads would be snow bound and icy. I was glad they weren't. I made it to Mannheim in record time. I actually had to wait for several hours before they took the meet and greeters into the venue. Once inside I was surrounded by the loverly people of St. Germany. I think I was the only non St.Germany member there. I again met Lars, James, and Kirk, along with Rob.
As usual, Lars was my heart and soul. I brought an old photography book with me and we discussed at length his mullet. He trying to convince me he had never had one. Me not buying it for a second! I was pleasantly surprised by the change in James' presence. He was calmer, more approachable. We discussed my tour plans. He was concerned I wouldn't spend any time with my family over the holdiays (as I was going to Koln, then flying back to London for the two Earl's Court dates, then onto the Vegas for the New Years Eve shows). I assured him I would. He was lovely. But, the biggest change was meeting Kirk again.
I remembered our previous encounter and was quite respectful of his personal space. This time, there was no table between us; no throngs of huddled masses yearning to be acknowledged. I stood a respectable distance away. I handed him the book I wanted him to sign. I smiled politely. Then.... a picture was to be taken. Kirk reached out and grabbed me around my waist. And pulled me close to him. I was in shock. HE actually TOUCHED me. And he smiled. It was so comfortable! So natural.
To this day, it's my favourite picture and moment with any member of Metallica (including the night Lars and I and my mates stayed up drinking in the Beresford Arms and the time Lars tried to run me over with a golf cart). Looking at the picture, Kirk and I look like we are on a red carpet. My adventures with Metallica has thus far spanned 29 years, 57 shows in 9 countries. I've spoken to the various band members six times and made a plethora of friends that I hold dear. Metallica and the Metallica Family has truly shaped my life in the most positive of ways.