Metallica has announced that it will be postponing upcoming dates on its WorldWired tour in Australia and New Zealand due to lead singer and co-founder James Hetfield entering a treatment program for substance abuse. Tickets to the performances, which were to run in October and November, will be fully refunded, according to a statement posted by the band on their website.
“As most of you know, our brother James has been struggling with addiction on and off for many years,” reads the note from Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo, in part. “He has now, unfortunately, had to re-enter a treatment program to work on recovery again.”
Dates on the postponed leg of the tour were scheduled to begin on October 17th in Perth, Australia, and the run was to conclude in Auckland, New Zealand on November 2nd. According to Rolling Stone, a March benefit show in San Francisco is still scheduled to occur, as is a South American run scheduled for April of next year.
“We fully intend to make our way to your part of the world as soon as health and schedule permit. We’ll let you know as soon as we can.,” the band members wrote to fans in the affected cities. “Once again, we are devastated that we have inconvenienced so many of you, especially our most loyal fans who often travel great distances to experience our shows. We appreciate your understanding and support for James and, as always, thank you for being a part of our Metallica family.”
One of the longest running acts in live music, Metallica has long carried a hard-partying reputation. During the filming of the 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster, Hetfield left recording sessions with the band to enter a rehabilitation program in the summer of 2001, remaining through much of the remainder of that year, and not entering the studio until April of 2002.
In an interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Hetfield commented that he had reached 15 years of sobriety in the wake of that rehab stint. “There was drink and drug and all kinds of stuff just thrown at you all the time and it starts off as a fun little thing, and then it turns into an escape, and then all of a sudden you don’t remember why you’re out there doing stuff,” Hetfield told Rogan (via Loudwire). “I went on tour just so I could go to the strip clubs, or we’re going to drink here, but the actual playing on stage, it kind of gotten forgotten about a little bit.”
The band has been on its WorldWired tour since 2016, earning kudos from Pollstar as being perhaps the best-selling touring band in history, based on its longevity and ability to pack large venues the world over. The band did court some controversy earlier this year, as news broke that an associate was involved in selling tickets for that tour directly on the secondary market, though the band denied any role in that.