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James Hetfield
b. August 3, 1963
Downey, California

Kirk Lee Hammet
b. November 18, 1962
San Francisco, California

James Hetfield is the main songwriter, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and a founding member of Metallica. 


Hetfield was nine when he started piano lessons; he also played on his brother David's drums and eventually picked up a guitar at the age of fourteen. Hetfield formed his first band, Obsession, in his early teens. In high school James formed the band Phantom Lord. Just after high school, James met Lars Ulrich, and formed Metallica. (James has been a major endorsee of ESP guitars since 1991, and is best known for playing custom-made Explorer-style guitars with an EMG 81/EMG 60 set for pickups.)

Kirk Lee Hammett is the lead guitarist for Metallica. As a child, Kirk Hammett had great interest in his brother Rick's extensive collection of guitars and hard rock records. He started playing guitar at the age of fifteen, beginning with a Montgomery Ward catalog special. Kirk even took a job at Burger King to raise money to buy a Marshall amplifier.

Hammett's musical interests drew him into the thrash metal genre. In 1982, he formed the group Exodus and played on their 1982 demo. Exodus was a crucial early player in the Bay Area thrash movement. In 1983, Hammett was invited to join Metallica after the dismissal of guitarist, Dave Mustaine, just before Metallica was to record its first album, Kill 'Em All. At the time, Hammett was taking private guitar lessons from now-famous guitar virtuoso, Joe Satriani.

Together James and Kirk would sell more than 57 million albums in the U.S. and more than 90 million world-wide, while re-defining heavy metal music with their unique guitar performances.

Download the James Alan Hetfield & Kirk Lee Hammett Image

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