Metallica Was Told Not To Make Eye Contact With Mick Jagger When They Opened for the Rolling Stones – Lar Ulrich Interview 2023

Club Random:
Lars Ulrich | Club Random w/ Bill Maher.

You can listen to the entire interview via the embedded YouTube clip or @ this location. An excerpt has been provided (transcribed by full in bloom).

Bill Maher: What do you think of Mick (Jagger) and Keith (Richards) doing it at 80?

Lars Ulrich:

I respect and love it.

I remember when we were doing Rolling Stones are old jokes when they were 50. I remember, ‘Their new hit is number one with an arrow.’

I’ll tell you a story – I’ve said it a couple of times before because it hits right to the center of what you are saying. We were fortunate enough to get asked to play with the Stones about 20 years ago. They were playing a couple of shows in San Francisco and asked if we would play with them. At that time, we had played shows in our career with Deep Purple, AC/DC, and a few other bands; all bands that I had posters on my wall when I was a kid. So, the last one of those boxes to check was the Stones.

We’re playing a couple of shows, where the (San Francisco) Giants played, and we’re no spring chickens at this point. We’re in our early 40s, late 30s. We’re sitting backstage – and this is in no way a judgment on the Stones, this is really more about us – we’re sitting backstage and at one point a personal assistant or whatever comes and says: “Mick Jagger is going to walk through here in a couple of minutes. He’s going over to his private gym in his truck, and he is going to warm up before the show. When he walks through here, please don’t make eye contact with him or talk to him.” We’re sitting there going: “What? He has a truck with a portable gym in it? He goes and warms up for 30 to 40 minutes before he goes on stage?” Cue, HA HA because we are still like late 30s, early 40s. Now, guess who’s got a truck with a gym in it? Guess who’s got a Peloton bike on the road with us? Guess who’s got a chef who walks around and makes us protein drinks and all kinds of other nasty stuff? We’re right there in it.

I get your point. I think you’re missing the really salient part of the story. It’s not that he was warming up before the show, which is completely understandable, whether you’re 20, 30, or 80.

I know what you’re referring to.

Come on, that’s so disappointing.

You know, we used to laugh a lot at those things.

Did he walk through, and you did that and didn’t look? You must’ve talked to him at some point.

We were told we could have a picture taken with the Rolling Stones as they were walking to the stage. There was another support act. The two guest acts (Metallica & Everclear) were in the tunnel that goes up to the stage. The Stones stopped and took a picture with them (Everclear). I don’t think they fully stopped. They were sort of caught in mid-walk where they slowed down just long enough. Then they got to us, and we got our picture taken with the Stones.

I had dreams of, we’re going to play with the Rolling Stones, and you know I’m going to spend my time in Keith Richards’ hotel room doing those legendary parties until 9 o’clock in the morning. I’ll be the last one to leave. It wasn’t exactly like that.

I don’t disrespect them for that. Now, we’re turning into a version of that. But we are always very careful. I always go and say hello to our support act. I look them in the eye. I ask them if there’s anything they need. It’s a human thing. If somebody comes out and plays on a Metallica stage, I want them to feel at home.

There also something involved here called professional courtesy. If you were like a very new, beginning band, it still wouldn’t be acceptable, but it would be a little more understandable. But you’re a peer, who probably, at that moment, was selling more records than they were. It’s just so disappointing. I’ve heard stories like this before. There’s a big rock star, I’m not going to say who it is. I happen to like him personally in my brief encounters with him. But someone I know, who I know is not lying, said she walked up to him. He was having lunch with his wife somewhere, and she said, “I hate to bother you,” and he cut her off and said, “And yet, you did.”

The first time we were exposed to that, and again, I’ll refrain from saying the name. This was the mid to late ’80s, and we were just figuring it all out and getting into arenas. Our tour manager had been on tour with this other band, who were a little more established than we were. But they weren’t the Rolling Stones, or they weren’t legends in their own mind. He was telling stories about the lead singer. The tour manager had to go in front five minutes before and tell whatever crew people – technicians, or whatever awesome people who make rock n’ roll shows go up and down, whether it’s catering or all the people that work at these buildings, God bless every one of them – “No eye contact allowed.” We were sitting there, we were 25 years old, just hysterically laughing. How can anybody look at another human being and go, “No eye contact allowed?” What is that about?