Here's what Dave Mustaine texted James Hetfield after the Metallica leader felt insecure about his playing

Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield
(Image credit: Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM / Scott Legato/Getty Images)

Earlier this year, during Metallica’s show in Brazil’s Belo Horizonte on May 12, a visibly emotional James Hetfield spoke of the insecurities he experienced over his guitar playing

After telling the 60,000-plus crowd he felt like “an old guy” that “can’t play anymore”, Hetfield shared a group hug with his Metallica bandmates, who had offered their support for their frontman prior to the gig.

Hetfield, it turns out, also received a message of support from his old bandmate Dave Mustaine in the wake of the show, with the Megadeth leader revealing to Classic Rock he once suffered from feelings of insecurity about his playing as well.

“I love those guys,” Mustaine said. “I sent a text message to James just a couple of days ago after he’d said that he was insecure about his playing. 

“I said: ‘James, I love you and I really like your playing.’ He didn’t answer. Of course not,” he continued. “Why would he? The point is I wanted him to know that I’ve had those feelings too, but I don’t now.”

Mustaine also went on to describe Hetfield as “one of the best metal guitar players in the world” and a “mind-blowingly talented guy” – two facts Mustaine wanted to remind the Metallica frontman about.

He continued, “I must remind you that when I joined Metallica, James did not play guitar. He just picked it up and started playing when I was in the band. But let’s be honest, James is one of the best metal guitar players in the world. 

“So for him to have those feelings, that’s a lie, because he’s a mind-blowingly talented guy. So I just felt I needed to say something to him. I didn’t tweet it. I didn’t want anybody to know what I said.”

In 2019, Hetfield was one of the first people to send a message of support of his own to Mustaine, following the Megadeth frontman’s throat cancer diagnosis. Speaking to Rolling Stone at the time, Mustaine recalled, “A lot [of support] came from people that I knew but I didn’t know cared. 

“Most notably, I got a text message back from my old brother, James Hetfield, and I was so, so happy to hear from him,” he continued. “Contrary to what anybody says and contrary to any of the act that we put on, I love James and I know that James loves me and cares about me. 

“You can see that when the moment of truth is here and I’m telling the world that I’ve got a life-threatening disease. Who comes to stand next to me? James.”

It seems as though the two metal icons have well and truly moved on from Mustaine’s Metallica sacking in 1983, which has always been a point of contention in the pair’s fractious relationship.

“What’s the old Irish saying? If you carry a grudge you better dig two graves,” Mustaine continued with Classic Rock. “I got enough stuff making me go gray. I got a daughter in her early twenties who’s dating – I don’t need to worry about anything else!”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.