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Fan Note: Me & Metallica

I can tell you almost exactly to the minute when I experienced the coolest moment of my life.

My absolute zenith of cool isn't my mountaintop marriage ceremony on a glorious fall day and it isn't crossing the stage to get my college diploma 10 years after dropping out of high school. It isn't even the birth of loved ones.

Not even close.

No, the one time I was the coolest guy on earth involves Metallica, the Rolling Stones and the hallway of a loading dock in AT&T Park.

The Stones were on the 47th leg of their Bigger Bang tour in November 2005 when they announced a special local guest band as the opener for their San Francisco shows: Metallica.

I never would have sprung for Stones tickets, especially not for a show in San Francisco since I lived in Chicago, but the Stones figured out three very smart ways to make suckers like me pay $300 a ticket: 1) Be the world's greatest rock 'n' roll band 2) keep Keith Richards alive long enough so that any concert could reasonably be his last and 3) get a local hero act to open for you.

Reasons number one and two weren't enough for me to spend $1,000, at a minimum, to make the trip, but the once-in-a-lifetime, unimaginable, fantasy pairing of my two favorite bands of all time sealed the deal. It was if my metal-head buddies and I sat around in a smoke-induced haze and said, "Man, it would be totally awesome if the Stones and Metallica were to play together!" and then it came true. I had to go.

I wasn't going just to see a couple of bands play. Oh no, it was so much more than that.

See, I live and breathe Metallica.

I've been a fan of Metallica so long that this would not be the first time I'd seen them open for another band. I am a sweatpants and dirty hair, mid-80's, WVVX fan. In my 1986 yearbook picture my mullet is greasy and permed; my jean jacket is frayed at the cuffs; my "Metal Up Your Ass" t-shirt is faded and dirty. My biceps have Metallica lyrics tattooed on them.

But it's not just Metallica I'm crazy about - the Stones come in a close second. While my wife wasn't tolerating my dream of a Metallica-themed wedding, she did let me talk her into using "You Got the Silver" by the Stones as our processional song. The only "artwork" I have in my office is a Metallica calendar and a framed "Exile on Main St." poster.

No way was I missing this show.

Going to San Francisco to see Metallica open for the Rolling Stones was a chance to live out almost every childhood fantasy I'd ever had: rock 'n' roll, travel to exotic places, seeing a strange new major league ballpark. I was a single freelancer at the time, so there was no boss or girlfriend to nix the idea. I bought a ticket through the fan club, cashed in all my airline miles and booked the cheapest room I could find.

Permission wasn't a problem, but getting someone to travel from Chicago to San Francisco in the middle of the workweek to go to a $300-a-seat concert, no matter how cool, was. So, I was going to San Francisco to see the Stones and Metallica play on the same stage, on the same night, for the only time ever, by myself.

And then it happened: When I got off the airplane in San Francisco the day before the concert, I got the phone call of my life. As a Metallica fan club member, I had won a random drawing for one of 12 spots for the meet-and-greet before the show. I was going backstage to meet Metallica.

The perky woman on the phone told me that I needed to be at the loading dock gate two hours before show time, sharp, if I wanted to meet the band. I could bring two items to sign but no camera or cell phones; the Stones didn't allow any photography in the backstage area.

The following day, I got to AT&T Park three or four hours before show time. Several fan club members were already lined up at the gate.

Kim, the fan club coordinator, took a head count and led us through the gate. We waited just outside the loading dock doors as a convoy of four black Suburbans pulled up. A member of Metallica and their assembled entourage spilled out of each Suburban.

As soon as the band made their way into the stadium, we were led down a long hallway, filled to capacity with security. They parked us against a concrete wall across from the clubhouse dressing rooms. A couple of walking biceps searched us for cameras and told us, in no uncertain terms, that we were not to move from that spot.

Kim came back and explained the rules to us: There would be no touching Metallica, no requests to have skin autographed and no moving from the wall. This was a Rolling Stones show - they called the shots and the Stones didn't want anyone wandering around backstage, taking pictures and having a good time.

After about a 30-minute wait, one by one, Metallica came out to meet and greet us.

Each member of the band walked down the line to say hello and thanks for coming to the show. You wouldn't believe how polite, how friendly and how truly and genuinely glad they were to see each and every one of us. The band formerly known as Alcoholica turned out to be warm and accommodating people. Who knew?

And then, as Lars Ulrich stood in front of me and asked me where I was from, IT happened - the coolest moment of my life:

As I started to answer, Lars glanced away over his shoulder. Walking down the hallway, from one dressing room to the next, was Mick Jagger, all barely-there-five-feet-thin of him. Lars Ulrich reached out his hand, flicked his wrist in my general direction and tapped me on the chest with his index finger and said, "Hey look, it's Mick Jagger."

Lars paused for just a moment to look at Jagger darting into another doorway and then turned back to me. Without saying another word about it, he reached for the album cover I had brought to be autographed. He signed his name and with a nod of his head, moved to the next guy in line.

And that's it.

The last moment of my life that will flash before my eyes on my death bed will be the drummer of Metallica pointing out Mick Jagger to me as he quickly slipped from one doorway to another. I'll remember sharing a single second or two of rock star awe with one of the rock stars I've obsessed over for most of my life. I'll bask in a having witnessed a strange synchrony of rock 'n' roll history.

The Rolling Stones playing in San Francisco meant that there were people in the crowd who might have been at Altamont. Metallica started in San Francisco; the band still lives there. There could have been people in that crowd who saw Metallica play backyard house parties. And for the briefest of moments, I felt like I was in the center of all that history.

I saw two world-famous men, from entirely different places on the music spectrum, brush past one another and I was part of the experience. These are the guys who created the soundtrack to my life. There was no reason for them to ever be in the same place at the same time but somehow I - me, the dirthead kid from Waukegan - got to be in the center of the brief intersection of Metallica and the Rolling Stones.

Hopefully, someday, I might win a Pulitzer Prize or strike it rich or maybe have a kid. Maybe one day I will own a comfortable home. Maybe I'll be the first moon tourist. Who knows?

But no matter how successful I become, no matter how many lifetime goals, humble or lofty, that I achieve, it is clear to me that I have already experienced the coolest moment of my life: November 15th, 2005, at about 6:37 PST.

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Not THE moment, but close.

PapaHet.jpg

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Bonus Link:
* Lars Ulrich Disses Rolling Stones.

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Drew Adamek is a former investigator for the BGA and the Aviation Integrity Project. He now lives in Massachusetts and works for a production house. He welcomes your comments.

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Previous Fan Notes:
* Fan Note: Confessions Of A Radiohead-Head

* Fan Note: Shawn Phillips Is The Man.

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Submit your own Fan Note.



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Posted on January 12, 2010


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POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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