Thin Lizzy's Eric Bell brands Metallica “bastards” after band failed to pay for Whisky in the Jar guest spot

(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

In one of the more bizarre stories to surface recently, former Thin Lizzy electric guitar player Eric Bell has slammed the members of Metallica, calling them a “pack of bastards” for failing to pay him for a guest appearance at a gig two decades ago.

Bell, a founding member of the Irish rockers, joined Metallica onstage at the Point Theatre in Dublin on July 5, 1999 to play Whiskey in the Jar, the traditional Irish tune adapted by Thin Lizzy in 1972 and then covered by Metallica for their Garage Inc. album in 1998.

In a new interview with the Irish Sun, Bell recounts how Metallica flew him from the UK to Dublin in their private plane for the appearance.

The guitarist says he expected to receive a fee – in his mind, £2,000, although there had never been any discussion of payment – for the performance. Instead, he says, “I got paid fuck all.”

He tells the Sun: “It was about half-three in the morning. The transport was all lined up, and there was a car to take me home.

“I was quietly expecting about two grand, which wouldn’t have meant a thing to them.

“But I got handed over a big ball of Metallica t-shirts, key rings and hats. I got paid fuck all. Then they all fucked off.”

Bell continues, “It wasn't until I was sitting in my car on the way home I realized they hadn't paid me. I thought I'd get something in the post but not a dickie bird. Later somebody tried to get in touch with Metallica to get me something but they found it impossible and they gave up.

"They are a pack of bastards. I couldn't believe what they did, especially as they are so well off. I should have been paid £2,000 but got fuck all.”

Ahead of the performance, Bell was called into practice with the band – although he wasn't impressed by the alterations they'd made to the Lizzy classic, which forced him to play in a different key.

They had their instruments tuned a whole tone down which made the strings look like elastic bands

“They had their instruments tuned a whole tone down which made the strings look like elastic bands,” Bell recounts.

“I kept my tuning the same, we did the song really quickly and then they left again as soon as they’d come in.”

Bell goes on to say that after the appearance he was approached by a member of Metallica’s crew asking him to sign a piece of paper, which may have been a form waiving his fee for the performance. He signed, although he claims he couldn’t read the document because he didn’t have his glasses on.

Bell finishes by telling the Sun that if Metallica had asked him to repeat his guest spot at their recent Dublin show, he’d have responded very differently than he had the first time.

Following this interview, we can only assume that there will be no future offer to respond to.

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Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.