James Hetfield’s Tattoos: A Journey Through his Metal Art

James Hetfield rightfully can be considered a legend of heavy rock music. He is one of the founders of the group «Metallica». The artist is not only an amazing guitar player, performer; his creative nature is spreading further. He likes to draw, is fond of symbolism and graphic design is his free time. All his hobbies are displayed on the body in the form of numerous tattoos.


James Hetfield puts deep meaning in tattoos, reflecting through them the attitude to life of the family, marking significant events.

1 The left shoulder shows a composition of four playing cards that make up the date of his birth. The flames are associated with an incident that occurred during a performance at a concert in Montreal in 1992. The artist was captured by a twelve-foot flame during the performance of «Fade to Black» on this day. The performance took place together with the group «Guns N’Roses». The accident happened because of the pyrotechnics. The inscription in Latin «Carpe Diem Baby» literally meaning «Catch the day, baby» complements the composition. It symbolizes the call to rejoice at every moment in the life.


2 The tattoo on the chest of the singer is dedicated to the family and children. It unites the names «Marcella», «Tali» and «Castor» around the prayer folded hands and the sacred cross. Children are always in his heart and he prays for them in the shower. The swallows on the sides appeared later.


3 There is a religious illustration of St. Michael and Satan on the inner side of the right hand. The guitarist sees inspiration in the stories of the saints. The tattoo calls not to lead into temptation. It also symbolizes victory over human vices.


4 Jesus Christ is depicted on the outer side of the right hand. Displays James’s fascination with iconography, faith and the search for inspiration in religion.


5 There are letters of the Latin alphabet «F» and «M» on the back of the palms, denoting two singer’s loves which are the creation of the group of his whole life Metallica and the name of the woman of life Francesca.


6 There is a graphic composition based on the skull, surrounded by the words «Live to Win, Dare to Fail» on the right shoulder. It means that life is given just one and you must be able to take risks in order to succeed.


7 The tattoo at the bend of the James Hetfield’s left hand is the note of the song «Orion». This composition sounded at the funeral of his friend Cliff Barton. It serves as a reminder of it.


8 The composition is from the words «Lead Foot», fire and horseshoe on the back of a rock musician. The interpretation is speed, heavy rock and driving perception of life.


9 There is a spiderweb with spanners in it on the elbow of the right hand.


10 There is the skull on the back surface of the left hand.


11 The inner part of the right hand contains a tattoo with the inscription «Faith».

12 A skull with wings is depicted on the singer’s neck.


13 The Iron Cross is on the left elbow.


14 There is a composition from the coat of arms covered with a flame called «Daddy Pat» on the inside of the left hand. It is his name that is popular in rock parties. The ship depicts wrenches, a guitar, a microphone and a royal lily. Tattoo symbolizes the experienced problems and favorite hobbies of the musician. The name «Papa Het» musician gave himself after the birth of his second child.


15 There is a religious tattoo with an illustration of an angel on his left hand.


16 There are tattooed the letters «CBL» in memory of a good friend of Cliff Lee Barton on the left hand above the elbow.


It is possible that the religious James Hetfield’s tattoos are rooted in childhood. His parents were very faithful. Most of the images were made by the famous tattoo artist Korey Miller.