Pyro Tech Recalls What Caused James Hetfield’s 1992 Burn Accident
Metallica's 1992 co-headlining tour with Guns N' Roses was not without its fair share of chaos, particularly the show at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal where James Hetfield suffered second-degree burns as a result of a pyrotechnics accident. Pete Cappadocia, who was working as GN'R's pyro tech on that tour, has recalled what caused the Metallica frontman's accident in a new interview on the Appetite for Distortion podcast.
“So Metallica is playing and I’m sitting on a road case because Guns N’ Roses is gonna go next, and I’m playing my GameBoy. I’m playing a game, and all of a sudden, I hear this horrific guitar noise. And everyone’s like, ‘James is hurt!’ So we all run to the stage," Cappadocia said [via Ultimate Guitar].
“By the time I got there, the medical team was bringing him off," he continued. "What happened was, the guy that was shooting it, who was their guy, used to shoot it in Europe for them… They had moved the monitors, they had moved a piece of pyro. And James walked to his spot."
Apparently, the rocker walked to his designated location, and the pyro went off as it was supposed to, but then he took about a half a step further, and his arm passed over it as it ignited. Metallica, of course, ended their set early, and the vocalist was rushed to the hospital, where his clothes and wedding band were cut off to treat the injuries.
Guns took the stage a few hours later than they were set to go on, which further aggravated the disappointed crowd. Apparently, Axl Rose had been suffering from damage to his vocal cords, and felt he was going to worsen them if he kept the show going — so they, too, cut their set early.
A riot ensued. It wasn't the rockers' first, either.
Funny enough, Cappadocia had previously worked on the pyrotechnics for both bands, but Lars Ulrich wanted him to work solely with Metallica on that tour. When it came time for him to choose which of the two he wanted to work with, Guns offered him more money, so he went with them. Ulrich wasn't pleased. It had been an ill-fated trek from the start.
Listen to the full podcast episode below.