The 5 Punk Bands That James Hetfield Picked As His Favorites

The 5 Punk Bands That James Hetfield Picked As His Favorites

James Hetfield has picked his favorite punk bands of all time. As he is one of the most iconic figures in the rock world, he has admiration for punk bands. In this article, we will look at the punk bands that James Hetfield picked as his favorites of all time.

James Hetfield is a legendary figure in the world of heavy metal music. As the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and co-founder of Metallica, Hetfield has made an indelible impact on the genre and the music industry as a whole. His unique style, powerful vocals, and intricate rhythm playing have inspired countless musicians and fans around the world.

Hetfield‘s musical legacy is the result of decades of hard work, dedication, and innovation. He formed Metallica in 1981 with drummer Lars Ulrich, and together they created a sound that would change the face of heavy metal. Over the years, Hetfield has written and performed some of the most iconic songs in the genre, including Enter Sandman, Master of Puppets, and One. His influence on the metal music genre cannot be overstated, and his music continues to inspire new generations of musicians to this day.

One of the defining characteristics of Metallica‘s sound is James Hetfield‘s rhythm guitar playing. Hetfield‘s style is known for its heavy use of palm muting, down-picking, and fast alternate picking. This technique creates a tight, aggressive sound that is a hallmark of thrash metal. Hetfield‘s playing has been a major influence on countless guitarists, and his technique is still studied and emulated by players around the world.

While his guitar work was undeniably influential, Hetfield‘s vocal contributions became equally defining for Metallica. His gravelly yet melodic voice brought a raw, emotive quality to the band’s lyrics, creating an emotional resonance that connected with legions of fans. Songs like Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters underscored Hetfield’s versatility as both a vocalist and lyricist.

However, let’s find out the punk bands that were picked favorites by James Hetfield.

The 5 Punk Bands That James Hetfield Listed His Favorites

James Hetfield has often shared his eclectic taste in music and cited several bands that have influenced him over the years. He is one of the people who respect all kinds of music. In addition to his love for rock and roll bands, he also loved punk bands that inspired him during his ongoing career.

In 2020, James Hetfield explained Howard Stern that the band owed its longevity to punk, saying: “I think there’s a punk rock attitude [about the band’s longevity], also.” 

So, it is time to learn the punk bands that James Hetfield loved.

#5. Fear

image: Kevin Estrada

James Hetfield liked the punk band Fear, formed in 1977. The band is known for its aggressive sound and controversial lyrics, which often touch on themes of violence, politics, and social issues. Fear gained national attention in 1981 after their infamous performance on Saturday Night Live, which resulted in the show being canceled for several weeks due to the band’s offensive language and behavior.

Fear’s live performances were a defining aspect of their identity. Infamously captured in Penelope Spheeris’s documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, Fear’s set at the punk club The Masque showcased the band’s ability to incite chaos and capture the raw energy of the punk movement. Lee Ving’s confrontational stage presence and the band’s blistering speed made them a standout act in a scene that thrived on intensity.


Fear has released several notable albums throughout their career. Their debut album, The Record, was released in 1982 and is considered a classic of the punk rock genre. The album features some of the band’s most well-known songs, including I Love Livin’ in the City and Beef Bologna. Fear’s other notable releases include More Beer, Have Another Beer with Fear, and American Beer.

#4. English Dogs

English Dogs band
English Dogs band

Another punk band that James Hetfield liked was English Dogs. The band is a British punk band that emerged in the early 1980s. It was formed in Grantham, Lincolnshire, England, by singer Pete “Wakey” Wakefield, drummer Andrew “Pinch” Pinching, bassist Jon “Foz” Fawkes, and guitarist Gizz Butt. They started as a punk band but later incorporated elements of metal into their music.

English Dogs gained popularity in the UK punk scene with their debut album Invasion of the Porky Men in 1982. The album was well-received by critics and fans alike, and it helped the band establish a loyal following. Over the years, the band underwent several lineup changes, with Pinch and Butt being the only constant members. They released several albums and toured extensively throughout the UK and Europe.

In the late 1980s, James Hetfield picked English Dogs one of his favorite bands of all time during his conversation with Steve Newton.

#3. Discharge

Discharge band photo
Discharge band – image: Pinterest

Metallica legend James Hetfield also named Discharge one of his favorite punk bands of all time.

Discharge’s early releases were hardcore punk, but they started playing heavy metal for the majority of their career. The release of their album, Grave New World, in 1986 saw the band shift towards a more metal sound. Discharge’s music has been covered by some of the biggest names in heavy metal and other genres. The band continues to tour and record music, with their most recent album, End of Days, released in 2016.


Discharge’s distinctive D-beat drumming style, marked by a driving, fast-paced pattern, became a hallmark of their sound. This rhythm, characterized by its galloping pace, had a profound influence on subsequent punk and metal genres, with countless bands adopting the D-beat as a sonic weapon of rebellion.

Bands ranging from punk and hardcore acts to metal giants cite Discharge as a primary influence. As James Hetfield was one of those who picked the band as an influence, he said: “I love Discharge a lot. That’s kind of really cool thrash music to me.”

#2. Ramones

James Hetfield’s favorite punk band, Ramones

James Hetfield has always been respectful of Ramones. The band was formed in 1974 and its sound was heavily influenced by 1960s garage rock and British rock bands like the Beatles and the Who. Their debut album, released in 1976, was a watershed moment for punk. Tracks like Blitzkrieg Bop and Judy Is a Punk encapsulated the band’s rebellious ethos and introduced a new sonic language to the world.

Beyond their music, the Ramones played a pivotal role in shaping punk aesthetics. The iconic leather jackets, torn jeans, and shaggy hair became a visual manifesto of punk rebellion. The Ramones didn’t just play music; they embodied a countercultural movement that rejected the excesses of mainstream rock in favor of a stripped-down, unpretentious style.


James Hetfield was one of those who was inspired by Ramones. During his interview with Howard Stern in August 2020, he shared positive and heartwarming words for them, citing them as an influential punk band.

In the past, James Hetfield discussed Ramones’ effect on his musical life. He admitted they inspired him, praising Johnny Ramone.

“The Ramones with their simplicity,” Hetfield said when he mentioned how they inspired him. “It’s all down-picking! Watch some footage of Johnny Ramone and you’ll go, ‘Wow!’”

Moreover, in 2022, James Hetfield also shared respectful words for Ramones legend Johnny Ramone, saying: “Johnny Ramone [influenced me] – lots of down-picking. Just fast down-picking that helped develop my style. So kind of a combination of punk rock and heavy rock at the time, turned into the down-picking style with melody along with it.”

#1. The Misfits

James Hetfield's all-time favorite punk band, The Misfits
James Hetfield’s all-time favorite punk band, The Misfits

The Misfits were formed in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey, by Glenn Danzig, who had previous experience performing in local cover bands. The band’s original lineup consisted of Danzig on vocals, Jerry Only on bass, and Many Martinez on drums. The band’s early music was heavily influenced by horror movies and science fiction, with lyrics that often dealt with themes of violence, death, and the supernatural.

The Misfits have released several albums throughout their career, including Static Age, and American Psycho, Walk Among Us, which is now considered a classic of the punk rock genre. They are known for their energetic live performances and their iconic skull logo. The band has also been featured in several films, including The Return of the Living Dead and Empire Records. Despite their success, The Misfits have remained true to their punk rock roots and have continued to produce music that is raw, powerful, and uncompromising.


Despite Glenn Danzig’s departure in 1983, The Misfits pressed on, with Jerry Only taking up vocal duties. While the lineup shifted, the band’s dedication to their horror punk roots remained steadfast. The 1990s saw a resurgence of interest in The Misfits, fueled in part by covers and tributes from prominent artists, reaffirming their enduring influence.

James Hetfield admitted his love for The Misfits in 2009 while speaking to Music Radar, saying: “My rhythm gods are Tony Iommi, Rudolf Schenker and Malcolm Young. Guys who just keep it steady. The Misfits too.”

Also, back in 2004, James Hetfield shared a funny moment of Glenn Danzig and himself. In the past, Metallica covered a few The Misfits songs on their live shows, and James Hetfield sang their Green Hell song wrongly. Whenever James Hetfield contacted Glenn Danzig about lyrics, he thought Glenn was messing with him, as he explained: “Well, I was kind of hit every time I asked Glenn Danzig for the lyrics. He’d send me something different. He was just like, ‘We write them,’ or something – either to mess with me or he was trying to make him better. I don’t know.” 

Moreover, Metallica covered a lot of The Misfits songs in the past, including Gren Hell, Last Caress, and Die, Die My Darling.

James Hetfield’s Favorite Punk Bands:

  • English Dogs
  • The Misfits
  • Fear
  • Discharge
  • Ramones

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