“Ozzy Osbourne gets in my face and we're doing this dance. Sometimes Kirk and I do it during For Whom the Bell Tolls”: Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo explains the origin of his iconic crab walk

Robert Trujillo of Metallica performs on stage at Ippodromo San Siro on May 8, 2019 in Milan, Italy.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Robert Trujillo’s credentials are pretty impressive. After developing his bass guitar craft with Suicidal Tendencies, he later formed the funkier outfit Infectious Grooves before taking on two of the most demanding jobs of his career – Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society and a seven-year stint with Ozzy Osbourne.

It was just the experience he needed to prepare for life in Metallica, having joined when the band was still reeling from the departure of Jason Newsted, and the recording of the aptly named St. Anger album. A lot has changed in the 20 years since, but one constant has been Trujillo’s unwavering onstage energy, which often culminates in his famed crab walk.

Speaking to The Howard Stern Show, Trujillo recalled how Ozzy Osbourne had inspired his signature move during a rendition of Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf at a show in Vegas. “We just went into that groove. All of a sudden, Ozzy gets in my face and we're doing this dance and it's like we're sumo wrestlers. It turns into this body position where we're going lower and lower. Next thing we know, our booties are a foot off the ground and we're doing what I call the crab walk.”

Trujillo first met Osbourne when Suicidal Tendencies offshoot Infectious Grooves were making their debut album The Plague That Makes Your Booty Move. Trujillo recounted his first meeting with The Prince of Darkness for Vans Off The Wall TV back in 2013. “We were recording our first album and next door was my hero, Ozzy Osbourne. We thought it would be great to ask Ozzy to sing on one of our songs. He ended up singing the chorus on a song called Therapy. We finish the album and Ozzy demands that Infectious Grooves tours with him on his Theatre of Madness Tour. Five years later I joined his band.”

Trujillo went on to enjoy a seven-year tenure with Osbourne before finally joining Metallica in 2003. “Ozzy’s a guy that I grew up listening to – obviously, with Black Sabbath, and then his solo material, and playing Ozzy’s music in backyard parties back when I was 16 years old – and now there I was, doing a crab walk with this guy in front of 18,000 people, in a sold-out arena.”

The creation of Trujillo's crab walk soon became a mainstay in Metallica shows. “It's a performance move that I've been doing up until this day and I enjoy doing it. Sometimes Kirk and I do it during For Whom the Bell Tolls. So, thank you Ozzy, thanks for providing me with your choreographed ingenuity and helping me turn on my stage performance with the crab walk. I appreciate you for that."

Metallica's latest album, 72 Seasons, is out now via Rhino/Blackened Recordings.

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.