James Hetfield’s all-time favourite vocalist

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Despite his strong association with the metal genre, James Hetfield‘s musical inclinations extend far beyond the realm of thrash. The iconic Metallica frontman boasts a diverse record collection that encompasses everything from punk to folk, showcasing his commitment to exploring a wide range of sounds in the pursuit of expanding his creative horizons.

While Hetfield’s musical tastes traverse various genres, his profound connection to metal remains undeniable. Growing up during the formative years of metal in the 1970s and 1980s, Hetfield absorbed the genre’s raw essence before melding it with the rebellious energy of punk and its unmistakably anti-establishment ethos.

Given his lifelong dedication to metal and pivotal role in its evolution, Hetfield frequently finds himself offering insights on some of the genre’s most influential figures. Even when not explicitly prompted to discuss metal, it naturally emerges as an integral part of his narrative, a testament to the genre’s profound impact on his musical journey.

This aspect became evident when Hetfield shared his list of favorite vocalists with Rolling Stone, a collection that spanned genres but predominantly featured metal legends. In a surprising twist, his top choice was Ronnie James Dio, the charismatic frontman of Rainbow and two-time Black Sabbath vocalist. Despite Dio’s less mainstream prominence compared to other metal leads, Hetfield passionately believes that no vocalist has surpassed Dio’s contributions. Lars Ulrich elaborated on Dio’s influence on Metallica’s DNA, describing his music as an integral part of the band’s harder, edgier, blues-based hard rock roots from the Seventies.

The profound impact Dio had on Hetfield and his bandmates is exemplified by their tribute in the form of the ‘Ronnie Rising Medley,’ recorded for the all-star 2014 tribute album, “This Is Your Life.” This nine-minute mashup of four Rainbow songs stands as a resounding testament to Metallica’s admiration for the late metal icon. Hetfield, reflecting on the cover, expressed the importance of mentors in his musical journey, emphasizing the need to have someone to look up to, learn from, and strive to emulate. Dio’s legacy continues to resonate within Metallica, showcasing the enduring influence of a mentor figure on the trajectory of a legendary band.


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