ALICE IN CHAINS' Jerry Cantrell has paid tribute to James Hetfield on the METALLICA guitarist/vocalist's 57th birthday. Speaking to Metal Hammer magazine, Jerry said: "What makes James such a great frontman is his physical presence. Nobody else commands the same kind of respect and attention without it being self-seeking or egocentric. He's all about the music; all about the fun and the celebration and the connection with the fans. And that, to me, is really inspiring. Especially because he's done this for so long, and he's been at the top of his game for so long and he continues to search for a deeper meaning. He took an underground thing and took it worldwide.
"METALLICA is a huge thing for me and for any hard rock or metal band," he added.
"Will he go down in history as a rock icon? He already has — he's the godfather, man."
Fourteen years ago, Hetfield joined ALICE IN CHAINS on stage twice to perform the song "Would?": at the Rock Am Ring festival in Nürburgring, Germany, and at the Warfield in San Francisco.
Asked by Revolver magazine if he had a close relationship with late ALICE IN CHAINS singer Layne Staley, Hetfield replied, "I wasn't really close with Layne, but I remember going to see ALICE IN CHAINS many times. I remember when we were down in L.A. [in 1991, making 'The Black Album'], I left the studio early to see them play on 'Clash Of The Titans' with SLAYER. I was driving like a madman in this rented van, going on the median and scaring the shit out of my friend — 'We gotta get there!' And we get there, and they'd just got off. I was like, 'Aw, man!' [Laughs] I hung with them a little bit, always just loved their music, and I'd say that Jerry and I share some life experiences, like getting a second chance at life and realizing how cool things can be. So we've got kind of a kinship that way. And seeing them play — I just love hearing those songs. Those songs are awesome and should be heard, you know? They were so unique, so ahead of their time. And out of all the Seattle stuff, that stuff is the most timeless. Unfortunately, Layne just loved the junk too much, man, and that was that. I just read in his lyrics his obsessiveness about it. And he knew where he was goin'! It's like, in the school of driving, look where you want to go — and that's what he was doing, it seems like."