Robert Trujillo recalls the worst-ever Metallica "doodle" with Kirk Hammett

Publish Date
Tuesday, 23 June 2020, 7:47PM

Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo recently explained the origin of his and guitarist Kirk Hammett's nightly 'doodles.'

For the past few years, Trujillo and Hammett have been designated a few minutes in each set to lead a singalong of a popular song by an artist local to whichever city the band is in.

While the doodles have resulted in raggedy renditions of classics like Prince's "When Doves Cry" and A-Ha's "Take On Me," fans of the band have grown to look forward to a little good-humored relief in an otherwise serious Metallica show.

Trujillo tells Avenged Sevenfold bassist Johnny Christ in a recent conversation on the Drinks With Johnny podcast that one bomb was bigger than all the others.

"Sometimes you'll take some beatings," Trujillo said. "...I remember there was a couple of 'em, but there was one... it was over where Penn State is. And holy cow, man. I thought we would play the fight song for Penn State. We got like 10 seconds into that thing and nobody cared. It was like, 'Oh my god.'

"I stopped playing — I literally stopped playing. I was so embarrassed. And Kirk kept playing. And then, luckily, we kind of went into a Metallica [song], like 'Dyers Eve' or something. Just like, 'Okay, we screwed that up, but we got this.' So it was kind of our savior in the States."

The initial idea for the segment was for the bassist and lead guitarist to play a deep cut from Metallica's catalog. But that idea just never went over right.

"It was like, we'd go up there and we'd start playing 'Eye of the Beholder' or something, and then the crowd's expecting James [Hetfield] to come out and sing, and it's like, 'Man, this ain't working.' They were feeling like it was a prelude moment," he explained.

One night during the spot, Kirk started playing the iconic riff from Chic's "Le Freak." Trujillo had to improvise to get through it, but it got the reaction they were looking for. The following night, they tried it again and it worked again.

Somewhere along the line one of the band's managers suggested Trujillo and Hammett cover something from a local artist. The first one Trujillo remembers attempting was Golden Earring's "Radar Love" in the Netherlands.

"So I started playing the bass line, and then the crowd started singing, and it was like, 'Hold on a minute. There's something here.' So then we started to kind of formulate some local bands from each city," he said.

Before Metallica's last tour, Trujillo said he and Hammett spent a few days working out arrangements for their doodles, trying to make them even more local and make the surprise even better.

When Metallica is able to tour again, Trujillo says he's not sure whether they'll bring the doodles back or come up with something else.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission