Former Overkill and current Vio-lence guitarist Bobby Gustafson recently revealed how he regrets not getting a chance to become the temporary replacement of James Hetfield in Metallica. John Marshall, Metal Church guitarist and onetime Metallica roadie, who had already filled in before when James broke his arm skateboarding, eventually landed the gig.
Bobby Gustafson opens up on the matter
Gustafson spoke to WWMusic about his experience auditioning for Metallica as James Hetfleld’s temporary replacement (on guitar only) while James recovered from being burned onstage back in 1992.
He said: “Yeah, James, he caught on fire. They asked me to fill in, so I tried to learn all eighteen songs that they gave me in literally two days. Going in, because I didn’t have much time, I really didn’t know any full songs. They should have given me four or five [songs], and let me learn over the two weeks we had off. That I do regret. It could have been cool.”
He continued: “I guess they assumed I knew the songs. James, Kirk [Hammett, Metallica guitarist] and I were good friends, but I never really was the type to play other people’s material. I was always writing myself. I was the first person they called that night. I feel bad that I let them down.”
During the “Zetro’s Toxic Vault” chat, Exodus frontman Steve “Zetro”Souza brought up the fact that Gustafson’s visual appearance toward the end of his time with Overkill and noted that it closely resembled that of Hetfield. (Gustafson was accused by some Metallica fans of ripping off Hetfield’s stage moves and wristbands, as well as “jacking” the white Gibson Explorer in Overkill 1989 video for the song “Elimination”.)
Gustafson said: “I was the better-looking one. That’s all I’ve gotta say…” Souza asked Gustafson if Hetfield “stole” his look and Bobby said: “Well, not all of it… He’s actually the one who recommended the guitar. I got it from Gibson. They gave me a white V, white Explorer. I still play ’em — love ’em to death. But sometimes you can do something first, but you don’t reach as many people as someone who hits a million people. So they think he did it first sometimes, and you’re just still underground.”