An Open Letter to Lars Ulrich of Metallica

Dear Mr. Ulrich,

I will not call you by your first name, that is reserved for friendly people.

I have a grudge against you.  I doubt you will ever read this and I’m absolutely positive you won’t care if you do.  But I have been holding this grudge in for almost 20 years and by golly I’m going to put it down on virtual paper.

You sir have angered me and even after almost 20 years, the anger is still there.  I usually do not hold grudges and quite honestly I rarely remember vivid details of things especially when they happened so long ago.

I was a big fan of Metallica, I have your records and CDs (heck, probably a cassette tape somewhere too). I was even in your fan club for a short time supporting the band.  I even supported the band when it “sold out” with the black album, but that’s when things changed.

I met you.

After those brief minutes, I would never listen to Metallica again.

Picture it – Montreal, Quebec during a raging blizzard in the month of February.  This was the concert to make up for the one that ended early because of a pyrotechnic accident that ended the show early the summer before.  Oh I was there, riot and all, but alas that will be in another letter to Axl Rose.

Great concert, my friend and I were right up front enjoying every minute.  After the show, we decided to see if we could try to meet some members of the band.  Sometimes, waiting out back gave a chance and we figured that in a blizzard, there wouldn’t be too many fans out there.  Of course, we didn’t think ahead of time and we didn’t have gloves or warm clothes, just leather jackets and sneakers – in fact one of us ran over to a nearby 7-11 to buy gloves and the only kind they had were gardening ones – which we bought and wore for whatever good that did.

So we waited by a window in the back of the arena with maybe 15-20 other crazy fans freezing to death in our leather and sneakers.  I remember vividly that we could see inside the window as to what was going on, even though it was darkened.  It snowed, it was friggin’ cold and at one point I thought that I might lose a frozen little toe and almost gave up hope of staying.  But we persevered for the opportunity to meet one of our favorite bands.

Now I realize as anyone is reading this, you might say to yourself “You fools, that was your choice, most people would of gone home or to a bar to warm themselves somehow.”  This is the truth, it was our decision to stay, but we figured it would of been worth it in the end.

Moving forward – we knew that our waiting was going to pay off.  While many of the fans started dwindling away, my friend and I being the rocker chicks (no, we are not groupies, yuck) stayed strong and stayed glued to the building for shelter against the storm. Then of course there was indication of life and the fans all started getting excited.

As I peered into the frosty glass window pane, I saw you Lars Ulrich in all your rock star glory. You came and sat down right in front of the window with your back towards us and no acknowledgement whatsoever.  Granted, it was cold as hell, so why would you look outside?

I remember we kept on asking the security guards if they would let us in, or rather if you would allow us to meet you.  They kept a straight face and for a time were telling us that it wouldn’t happen and that you wouldn’t meet with us with your Heineken beers keeping you warm.  The wait was horrible, but we continued on in frostbite pain because it’s what you do to meet the people who you listen to practically every day.

Then suddenly about an hour later a guard came outside and said a bunch of rules that of course we didn’t really hear. He said that we could go in, but not all at once and only for a few minutes.  By then there were maybe a dozen of us outside and literally the frost on the guy’s beard next to me made me giggle.

Slowly they let people in. Two by Two was how it went.  We waiting agonizingly for however long it was before we got to go inside. You were sitting to the right of the door behind a makeshift wall to avoid the wind coming inside.  I remember it quite well, you sat there with your beer, legs crossed and not looking tired considering this was hours after a 2 hour concert – it must of been the beer.

I sat down next to you for a photo (yeah, back in the day sneaking a camera into a concert involved injuring body parts I prefer not to mention) and I talked to you briefly.  You weren’t just rude, but you sir were a jerk. It was if, being in your presence was supposed to be a holy experience.

I know, that’s harsh. I mean you did allow us to come in and meet you.  So I give you that.  But it wasn’t just a rock and roll ‘tude, it was an all out going out of your way to be an ass.

Just an example – my friend who admittedly had the hots for you back then and it just happened to be her birthday.  She sat next to you giggling like a crazy woman and nervous as hell (it might of been the de-thawing process too).  I was watching this unfold while trying to take a photo of the both of you.  She finally managed to mutter, “It’s my birthday today, I’m so happy!” or something similar, and you sir simply looked over at her directly in her eyes and said rather loudly, “So?”  Then turned around for the photo and stuck your tongue out at the camera for it.

Our turn was over, but luckily we were able to catch Jason Newstead on his way out the door for a photo and at the very least, he didn’t seem to treat us like the enemy.

We got shoved out the door back into the cold and snow.  I remember my friend saying to me as we were walking to shelter, “What the f*ck just happened?” and she was crushed.  Sure, we were happy to meet you for a short time, but in that short time, changed a history.  We stopped listening to Metallica immediately. It was like turning off a light. That’s how fast.

Now I know that doesn’t make one bit of difference to you.  You’ve got more fans than you can shake a stick at.  You don’t need us for your bank account, it is fine without us.  I get that.

But the consequences of those actions that one day lost you at least 2 fans.  We lost respect in the music because we lost respect in you.  Oh of course you sold out (and recently you admitted that in an interview somewhere).  You took your music mainstream and made millions.  What about your dedicated fans that followed you before your sell-out?  Do they mean nothing to you?

It’s been almost 20 years since that day and I still get angry when I hear a Metallica song (especially from the Black album and newer).  When people tell me how much they love Metallica, I can honestly tell them that I won’t support a band that treats their fans the way you did.

You can do whatever you want Mr. Ulrich, after all you are a rock star.  Maybe 20 years later you’ve learned that fans are important and if you don’t feel like meeting them or you’re in a bad mood – just don’t.  You will save fans from grieving over the loss of a band they once were dedicated to.

So in essence, by meeting you I could no longer listen to your band.  Some say it’s all about the music and the band members shouldn’t make any difference.  I respectfully disagree – if the band members can’t treat the fans with respect then they don’t deserve any fans at all.

The good news is – in case you wondered, I managed to keep all my toes.

Signed,

A former Metallica fan

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