Fifty-seven years ago, in Downey, California, a child was brought into the world. Nobody knew it at the time, but this baby would grow up to be the leader of one of the most important bands of all time—Metallica. We'd like to think that even as baby, James Hetfield snarled and sneered instead of the usual crying that is common among infants. Or maybe he would give the metal sign whereas other children simply grasped at their parent's fingers. The point we're trying to make is that there had to have been some type of sign that this was no ordinary baby, but a future heavy metal god.
By 1981, 39 years ago, all of the signs were there when Hetfield answered an ad that had been placed by drummer Lars Ulrich. As the cliche goes, from there, the rest was history. Metallica was formed, although the lineups would change over the years, Hetfield and Ulrich have been a constant.
Although they were founded in Los Angeles, the band made a name for itself once they relocated to San Francisco. Right from the start, they had some of the most rabid fans in all of the metal scene. Their fans were notorious for turning their back to opening bands, showing off the Metallica patches on their backs. With the release of each subsequent Metallica album, you hear fans bickering back and forth about how the band "was better before." By this point in time, it's become a cliché. [Editor's Note: The correct answer to this is that it all went downhill after "...And Justice For All," but at no point has Metallica ever been bad. With the exception of the snare drum on "St. Anger." That is an affront to God.]
While fans may disagree on their favorite albums, the passion cannot be denied. So it should come as no surprise that there are thousands of Metallica tattoos out in the world, including a ton of portraits of Hetfield. In the gallery below you'll find both portraits of the birthday boy and tributes to the band.