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Why Metallica Wrote a Song in Honor of Amy Winehouse

Theo Wargo / Jo Hale, Getty Images
Theo Wargo / Jo Hale, Getty Images

While some fans may have been surprised to learn that Amy Winehouse inspired one of the tracks on Metallica‘s new Hardwired… to Self-Destruct LP, frontman James Hetfield can point to the exact moment he was moved to use her story for a song.

As Hetfield recently told the Canadian radio station 102.1 The Edge (via NME), inspiration struck during a viewing of director Asif Kapadia’s 2015 documentary Amy. Watching Winehouse’s life and career unravel on the screen struck the first emotional chords that fed into “Moth Into Flame,” the Hardwired cut he’s since described as an indictment of fame as “a dark, dangerous drug.”

Calling the movie “extremely saddening,” Hetfield observed, “Her life went from such a lively joyous person, to someone who was just trying to escape the reality of where she was … It really hit me in the one part of the movie where she was lost in her mind, it seemed, and she was just leaving her flat in England. The press were just hanging out in front of her place all the time, snapping these pictures of her. ‘Hey, Amy, how’s it going?’ Talking to her like they know her.”

As Winehouse fans are aware, a major component of her story — particularly once her personal life started to spiral out of control — was the constant undue attention she received from British paparazzi. Dependent on the press to keep her in the spotlight but obviously unwell, Winehouse stayed in a vicious feedback cycle that ended in her death. In pointing the finger at fame, Hetfield made it clear he also holds the tabloid press responsible.

“They just don’t notice,” he said of the paparazzi’s treatment of Winehouse in her final days. “They wouldn’t say, ‘You look skinny, you look unhealthy.’ There was a total misconnection there with reality.”

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