New Music Express has reported that that Metallica's James Hetfield was hospitalized for "a stomach bug and dehydration," forcing a cancellation of a March 8 Stockholm show .This latest health-related incident parallels a similar incident in Switzerland in 2004 , when drummer Lars Ulrich was hospitalized with the ever-popular "undisclosed ailment," and the band was forced to recruit drummers from Slipknot and Slayer at the last minute.
Hetfield's most recent hospitalization continues a string of bad press for hard rock's baddest boys (or metal's most commercially-successful sellouts, depending on your perspective). Ulrich--a poster boy for the anti-Napster music industry contingent--recently admitted to VH1 he illegally downloaded a copy of the band's latest album, Death Magnetic. The album itself sold well, but received mixed reviews (ranging from "self-plagiarization abounds" to "the best Metallica album since Metallica"). Despite the listening public's continued interest, critics couldn't help noting the band had become "a comedy of errors" (to quote Pitchfork ) which reached its shark-jumping, "Spinal Tap"-like nadir with the mama-weer-all-in-therapy-now rockumentary "Some Kind of Monster" and the Landry-era Brian Wilson-esque St. Anger - which was strangely devoid of guitar solos.
Sure, nearly every legendary band which has strayed from its roots eventually tries to return to them (see: Judas Priest's Jugulator, Prince's 3121) but at this point all we can say is, it's sad but true: Metallica ain't getting any younger. We'd be less surprised to see them riding in a Segway then a Harley these days, to be perfectly frank. Now, with the news of Hetfield's latest injury, it has to be said: is arena rock no country for old men?
At least Spinal Tap has thusfar managed to avoid canceling any shows on their 2009 Unwigged and Unplugged Tour. We'd like to attribute this to their clean and sober lifestyles, but the simple fact is, the tour (which plays Oakland's Paramount Theatre April 22) doesn't actually start until next month.