You always wonder if famous people are aware of the metal bands you listen to, whether they’re big or small. We know about a lot of celebrities being secret metal heads but one we didn’t know about was Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs and narrator of Deadliest Catch.
A few days ago, Rowe had an encounter with one of his neighbors while walking his dog and turns out said neighbor was Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield, in company of his niece. While most of you would’ve flipped the hell out by having Papa Het approach you casually on the street, Rowe was oblivious about who the tattooed gentleman was, despite being a huge Metallica fan for years.
Rowe told the story of his meeting with Hetfield on his Facebook and, while it looks long, it’s totally worth the time to read it:
Man, do I feel like an idiot. Normally, when I feel like an idiot, the feeling diminishes over time. But after our meeting yesterday morning and my subsequent brain-fart regarding your actual identity, I’m afraid my feelings of idiocy have not only persisted, they’ve actually metastasized, to the point where I’m now wondering just how idiotic I’ll feel this time tomorrow.
Thing is, I’m normally very good with names and faces, especially when they’re attached to people who have entertained me for the last 35 years. Typically, when I go out of my way to see a legendary band perform – a band whose many songs I’ve memorized – I’m able to recognize the lead singer when I see him on the street years later. But apparently, after a few mimosas on a warm Saturday afternoon, I no longer possess that skill. Likewise, when my dog – a unique mix of terrier and asshole – decides to attack a legendary rock star for simply trying to say hello, I am rendered temporarily stupid.
Anyway, I’m writing to thank you for being so gracious and saying such kind things about my foundation. I was very flattered. I also wish to apologize – not just for failing to recognize you – but for not recognizing you in front of your charming niece from Buenos Aries. It must have been very strange for her to watch her uncle – one of the greatest singers in the history of rock and roll – introduce himself to a guy with a psychopathic dog and no idea who he was. And it must have been especially gratifying for you, when I tried to recover by calling you Lars Ulrich – the first named that popped into my head when my synapses started firing off bad information.
For what it’s worth, I know that Metallica consists of several people who aren’t Lars Ulrich, but earlier this week, someone told me Lars lived in the neighborhood, so his was the name that shot into my head when I finally realized I was talking to the lead singer of Metallica. Point is, I knew you weren’t Lars before I called you Lars, but I called you Lars anyway – which brings me back to the aforementioned idiocy, and my own slow unraveling. Regardless, if we meet again, I’ll get it straight. Promise.
In the meantime, this will likely endure as my favorite botched encounter for a very long time. So, lest I forget the specifics, as I am clearly prone to do, I’ll memorialize our exchange here for posterity…
Exterior. Late morning. A large man with many tattoos and dark sunglasses walks across the street toward a table where Mike Rowe is dining al fresco and drinking mimosas.
Large Tattooed Man: Sorry to interrupt, you’re Mike Rowe right?
Mike Rowe: I’m him.
Large Tattooed Man: I just wanted to tell you I enjoy your shows, and really appreciate what you’re doing for the skilled trades.
Freddy: bark-bark-bark, snap-growl-snap, bark-bark-bark!!!
Mike Rowe: Freddy – knock it off. Bad dog! Sorry. You guys local?
Large Tattooed Man: I live around here, and Sophia’s from Argentina.
Freddy: bark-bark-bark, snarl-growl-snap!!
Mike Rowe: That’s nice. What part?
Sophia: Buneos Aries.
Mike: I was there a few years ago. Beautiful place.
Sophia: It is.
Mike Rowe: So what do you do around here?
Large Tattooed Man: I play in a local band.
Mike Rowe: Cool! I love local bands. What kind of music?
Large Tattooed Man: Rock and Roll.
Mike Rowe: Nice. What do you call yourselves?
Large Tattooed Man:: Metallica.
Freddy: bark-bark-bark, snap-growl-snap, woof.
Mike: Oh my God. Of course. You’re Lars Ulrich. Forgive me. I heard you lived around here. What a pleasure to meet you.
Large Tattooed Man: Actually, my name is James. James Hetfield
Anyway, thanks James, for saying hello, and for writing songs that used to make my workouts fly by. And for being Record Store Ambassadors. That’s very cool, and I heard the gig at Rasputin was awesome. Rock on.
PS. Please assure your niece that I have all your records.
PPS. Please tell Lars I think he has a bright future ahead of him.
That’s probably one of the worst feelings ever about having a person you admire in front of you and completely blow it. Honestly, Hetfield probably didn’t think much of it and just thought Rowe wasn’t a Metallica fan to know for sure who he really was, but that still doesn’t take the sting away from Rowe. Now, as this story made it around the web and we know Metallica does pay attention to what we report on (Hi James!) maybe Rowe will get a second chance to meet up with him and the rest of the gang.