james hetfield attended downey high school

To trace the roots of James Hetfield’s dedication to the heavy metal band Metallica, you have to go back to a childhood that was often tough, but underscores who James is today. Born to a truck driver and light opera singer on August 3rd, 1963, he was nine years old when he first took piano lessons before taking on his brother David’s drums and finally picking up a guitar in his pre-teens. James attended Downey schools and had just completed his sophomore year when his mother passed away that summer.

He moved to Brea and attended Brea Olinda High School and met up with drummer Jim Mulligan. The two jammed at lunch time scaring fellow guitarists with their loud and heavy sounds before a guy called Hugh Tanner was seen carrying around part of a flying V guitar at school. Phantom Lord was born with Hugh on guitar, Mulligan on drums and James singing plus playing guitar. The group went through a few bass players until graduation when James moved back to Downey.

Back in Downey, James moved into a house owned by Ron McGovney’s parents that was slated for demolition due to the construction of the 105 freeway. It was the perfect place for James and Ron to crash, rehearse and jam. James talked Ron into taking up bass and Phantom Lord was no more. During the next several years, band members came and went, but James quickly set about the task of becoming a rock star.

He identifies Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent, and Deep Purple as important influences in his music. When he’s not writing, singing or playing, James enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including hunting, snowboarding, water and jet-skiing, sketching, annoying neighbors with guns and loud pipes on his chopper “The Saga,” watching his favorite Oakland Raiders and going to hot-rod shows. He also collects older guitars (particularly those from 1963) and enjoys working on old cars. Among his favorites are a ’55 Chevy Bel Air (which he helped built and restore himself), and “The Beast,” a fearsome all-terrain 4-wheel drive Blazer that is designed to survive everything from earthquakes to nuclear holocausts. Aside from these pursuits, James is often happiest spending time with his wife Francesca and three children, Cali, Castor, and Marcella.