Leadville’s “Heavy-Metal” Christmas Gift!
By Kathy Bedell, © Leadville Today
This one’s for all you heavy-metal lovers – music or mining – because it’s all about Leadville either way you look at it! Did you hear the news?
Did you see the video? America’s highest city made it into one of America’s heavy-metal band’s music videos released earlier this month.
For a combined ten seconds, Metallica’s lead guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield is seen wearing a Leadville t-shirt in the music video for the newly released “Atlas, Rising.” And as the song quickly climbs the charts, Leadville Today (LT) dug deep to answer the question: how did this hard-rock community make it into the heavy-metal music video?
The now-famous Leadville t-shirt’s appearances are broken-up into three quick segments, the longest being at the 4:57 time mark in the video, the others coming in at 1:08 and 5:10.
When it comes to heavy-metal, Metallica and Leadville have a lot in common. Both have seen their share of gold. The band in the form of Grammys and chart-topping, million-selling albums. And the city in the form of earthly veins extracted underground and transformed into ornate opera houses and lavish hotels above ground.
For readers not inclined to “headbanger” music genre, Metallica is one of America’s favorite heavy metal bands. The group came together 35 years ago in Los Angeles, Calif. when vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield responded to an advertisement posted by drummer Lars Ulrich in a local newspaper. And while that heavy-metal was on the rise, the one in Leadville was on the decline as the Climax Mine began instituting massive layoffs in the early 80s which would forever change the faces of this heavy-metal community.
Both Leadville and Metallica are familiar with the term underground, in fact in many ways it’s central to their very nature. For Metallica, it was their lightning-fast appeal in the underground heavy-metal music community, unearthing consistent veins of gold in the form of ten studio albums, four live albums, five extended plays, 26 music videos, and 37 singles. Metallica is often described as one of the most influential and heaviest of the thrash metal musicians.
For Leadville, underground means the jobs that come with heavy-metals and their extraction from the earth to be used in everything from toothpaste to cars. But for mining towns the rise to riches is often followed by a bust to rags in the ever changing cycle of the industry. Something Metallica has not seen the likes of in its world of heavy metal. In fact, Metallica has been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone. And lead man Hetfield is often ranked in the top 100 Greatest Guitarists lists created by industry experts. Pretty impressive, even for your toughest hard-rock miner!
So last month, when Metallica released their latest harvest, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016), long-standing, head-banger investors wondered if the band could jack-leg out the same kind of return that the hard-rock community had come to expect from the aging rockers, now seeing their fourth decade of playing together off on the horizon. But like the legendary Matchless Mine in Leadville, these heavy-metal miners hit pay dirt, once again. And then, they gave it a little bit of magic, by adding that special Leadville twist.
And by means of a ten-second t-shirt, so did America’s highest city!
When it comes to brand development and product placement those 10 seconds are marketing silver and gold! Leadville Today has reached out to Metallic’s representatives but until the “holiday stall” slips back into gear among the PR types, Leadville Today’s investigative team has connected the dots about how the top-billing came about. Here are the facts, so far.
When the Leadville t-shirt first came up on the radar, the natural inclination was to think that there might be a LT100 connection. It was logical to think that the t-shirt would be donned by some aging rocker who keeps in high-energy, stage shape by running or cycling. But no, at first glance, that’s not the case. The t-shirt billboard which makes three different cameos, displayed nicely across Hetfield well-defined chest and arms, simply reads Leadville, Colo.
So, he’s not a racer. Then the next logical step in the heavy-metal-meets-underground-mining crossover investigation would collide somehow with the neighboring ski resorts, often attracting jet-set celebrities, mixing-up some high-altitude slope time with some high-end shopping time in either Aspen or Vail.
And so it’s there in the alpenglow limelight, that you can find comedian Joe Rogan’s podcast interview last week with Metallica’s James Hetfield explaining that he’s moved his whole family from the San Francisco Bay area to Vail, Colo. Seems he wanted to escape the “elitist attitude,” particularly in Marin County where he’s lived for many years.
And while Hetfield’s outspoken enthusiasm for guns and hunting might not exactly be found in ritzy Beaver Creek, perhaps his 10-second-shirt shout-out to The Cloud City indicates he knows that he can find hundreds of camo-clad brothers and sisters right over the hill in the heavy-metal Leadville community.
“I kind of got sick of the Bay Area, the attitudes of the people there, a little bit,” stated Hetfield in the interview, originally broadcast on The Joe Rogan Experience. “They talk about how diverse they are, and things like that, and it’s fine if you’re diverse like them. But showing up with a deer on the bumper doesn’t fly in Marin County. My form of eating organic doesn’t vibe with theirs.” Maybe it was the wide open spaces and prime hunting grounds of Leadville and Lake County that inspired Metallica’s front man to extend his generous Yuletide marketing gift?!
But in the end, like most of life decisions and yes, even when it comes to a man’s wardrobe, there’s usually a smart woman behind the scenes. And that could very well be Mrs. Hetfield whose stellar fashion choice landed the Leadville brand an appearance in a music video that will not only be seen by tens of millions of people, but has a public relations dollar amount starting in the quarter million dollar range, according to industry standards.
Hetfield explains in the Rogan podcast interview that his wife of 19 years, Francesca, grew up partly in Vail, and always preferred skiing there to Tahoe, where Hetfield’s three teenage kids grew up skiing. So she’s got good taste in skiing and shirts! Perhaps it was Mrs. Hetfield who bought the t-shirt for her husband during a neighborly outing with the family to Leadville.
Does anyone recognize where this shirt design is sold? Find out where this “as seen in the Metallica music video” t-shirt is sold and help promote a local business!
But no matter how the t-shirt found its way into rock-n-roll history, this is where the Leadville magic happens.
You can’t buy it. You can’t plan it. It just happens. And this time, it’s happening on a t-shirt worn by another lover of heavy-metal.
Welcome to the neighborhood, James Hetfield and family! Come up and visit any time. . . . In The ‘Ville.