Metallica's James Hetfield only attended freshman and sophomore years at California's Downey High School and says he felt like "a misfit" the whole time, but he gamely showed up at its Hall of Fame induction ceremony a few days ago and gave a fantastic speech that was like a pep talk for music-loving kids who don't fit into the Glee paradigm. As video posted on Music Radar demonstrates, it was actually better than his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech, although that one ended with the singer/guitarist hoisting Lars Ulrich off his feet in a massive bear hug.
"I hated high school," Hetfield said at Downey (strong opening, sir!). "I was a misfit, didn't fit in, didn't want to fit in. ... Music was a savior and I was able to climb into other people's heads and records. Instead of hanging out at school I went home and practiced guitar." His first ax was an SG he bought off the guitarist in the school's jazz band (ha!) and his takeaway message for the teens in attendance was inspiring: "The people in the misfit category are able to apply themselves and get their dreams, just in a different way."
Special shout out to the football coach who inadvertently made sure Hetfield didn't fulfill his childhood dream of playing for the Oakland Raiders: "He said you gotta cut your hair or you're off the team. ... At that point I made a decision, so I handed in my gear and I just concentrated on music. So thank you to him."
- California's Downey High School
- James Hetfield