Metallica reduced to tears by Lou Reed while recording Lulu

Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett came undone at the sound of Lou Reed's lyrics. © Tim Mosenfelder/Corbis

While recording their upcoming album, Lulu, Lou Reed reduced Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett to tears. The mighty metal duo revealed that they broke down crying while working with Reed on the song Junior Dad.

"I had just lost my father literally three or four weeks previous," Hammett told Mojo magazine. "I had to run out of the control room, and I found myself standing in the kitchen, sobbing away. James came into the kitchen in the same condition - he was sobbing, too. It was insane. Lou managed to take out both guitar players in Metallica in one fell swoop, with his amazing poetic lyrics."

The line that did Hetfield and Hammett in - "Say hello to junior dad, the greatest disappointment - age withered and changed him" - can be heard on Lulu when it's released on 31 October (1 November in the US). The record is based on Reed's reworking of a musical he'd written, inspired by German playwright Frank Wedekind's material from the early 1900s.

"We were very interested in working with Lou," said Hetfield. "I had these giant question marks: What's it going to be like? What's going to happen? So it was great when he sent us the lyrics for the Lulu body of work. It was something we could sink our teeth into. I could take off my singer and lyricist hat and concentrate on the music part.

"These were very potent lyrics, with a soundscape behind them for atmosphere," Hetfield continued. "Lars and I sat there with an acoustic and let this blank canvas take us where it needed to go. It was a great gift, to be asked to stamp 'TALLICA on it. And that's what we did."

For his part, Reed is equally effusive about his pairing with Metallica. "We had to bring Lulu to life in a sophisticated way, using rock," he said. "And the hardest power rock you could come up with would have to be Metallica. They live on that planet. We played together, and I knew it: dream come true. This is the best thing I ever did. And I did it with the best group I could possibly find."

Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar WorldGuitar PlayerMusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.