Metallica salute Michael Jackson/Queen at Sonisphere

Metallica give props to MJ and Queen in concert
Metallica give props to MJ and Queen in concert (Image credit: Anton Corbijn)

Even Metallica are Michael Jackson fans. For their encore at the Sonisphere Festival in Germany, the heavy metal titans played the memorable riff to Jackson's Beat It before paying a full-fledged tribute to Queen.

After the band slammed down a forceful portion of Beat It, a newly shorn James Hetfield said to the crowd, "That was a main influence on Kirk's guitar playing."

Whether he was referencing the riff itself or the fleet-fingered solo that Eddie Van Halen famously played on Michael Jackson's across-the-board smash isn't clear, but the performance was a timely gesture.

But they weren't done. Next, Hetfield said, "OK, here's a part where we play a song that's inspired us to play music from a band that we grew up listening to. Tonight, the chosen band is Queen."

And with that, Metallica sliced through a frenzied version of Queen's classic Stone Cold Crazy. The band covered the song for the1990 compilation album Rubaiyat - Elektra's 40th Anniversary; it would later appear as a b-side on the single Enter Sandman and again on their 1998 set Garage Inc. Which means they really, really like it!

Check out a fan-shot YouTube video below:

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.