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Testament’s Alex Skolnick Defends Metallica + Lady Gaga Grammys Performance

Ethan Miller / Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Ethan Miller / Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Testament guitarist and thrash legend Alex Skolnick offered his critique of Metallica’s ill-fated performance with Lady Gaga at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards. Along with defending Lady Gaga, Skolnick expressed bewilderment that the Grammys couldn’t get James Hetfield’s mic working and the show’s choice of “Zumba class” dancers onstage.

Millions of Grammy viewers gazed in amazement as James Hetfield’s mic was completely silent until the second verse of “Moth Into Flame.” Apparently the fault was that of a stagehand, who accidentally unplugged a wire sometime between rehearsals and the live set. Regardless, Hetfield was visibly irritated by the screw-up, kicking over his mic stands and throwing his guitar after the song ended.

Alex Skolnick offered some wise words via Facebook about the event, especially toward those who thought Gaga had hung Metallica out to dry:

My thoughts on #MetalliGaga (for those asking):
Great idea in theory. Would have/should have gone down in history as a home run for the ages. Unfortunately to be forever overshadowed by mic problems (can’t fault anyone performing) and failed intro (please make sure all presenters do a quick run thru before going on. I did when introducing DillingerEP at Golden Gods. Haven’t we learned from from John “Adele Dazeem” Travolta??).
Saw a few comments accusing Lady G of “leaving James hanging,” and saying “she didn’t help” while others claim she “came to his rescue” and “saved the day.”
Both are wrong: She (and the guys) are all wearing in-ear monitors which – as anyone with experience using them can tell you – provide a custom mix separate from the audience. You don’t hear anything else. The first thing you assume if you don’t hear a vocal or other part that’s supposed to be there is that it’s just an issue with the monitors relating to your individual in-ear mix, which does happen sometimes (who’d ever guess – in the heat of performing no less- that Hetfield’s mic isn’t even on in the house? At the Grammys?!)
In other words, she had no idea and just did her thing. So all in all, for the naysayers, I think you have to look at the following:
A) What other mainstream pop superstar would even dare get up there with Metallica (or any other metal band)?
B) Who else could pull off performing with Tony Bennett one moment and Metallica the next, with equal love and appreciation for both?
C) Sure, it was maybe a bit over-the-top for those more interested in Metallica than her. But then again, she is Gaga, after all (over-the-top is her middle name, or at least should be).
D) Yes, she does lot of theatrics but she’s also someone that can kill with just her voice and a piano (which I hope she’ll do more of one day).
E) Given her and Lars’ interest in art and doing the unexpected in music, it absolutely makes sense they’d collaborate.
F) Bottom line, did she sound good on the tune if you turn away from the imagery and just listen? Heck yes! Great song choice, too.
The only thing I’d change (other than the mishaps, which were accidental) is this:
Why was there a freakin’ Zumba class going on up there? Whose idea was that? Get real fans up there rocking out for effect (as Metallica does at some shows), but a bunch of obvious pop dancers/models in metal-like wardrobe gave it a very “hot topic” vibe.
Otherwise, it’s all 👍 from here and I truly hope they’ll give it some tweaks, maybe add a tune or two and try again!

In the comments section of Alex’s post, the guitarist added, “By the way, major congrats to Megadeth, great guys, good friends and Mega-well deserved!”

Skolnick also responded to a fan who brought up the Grammy house band jamming Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” while Megadeth walked down the aisle to accept their Best Metal Performance award. “House Bandleader needs to be verbally abused,” Skolnick wrote.

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