By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Metallica frontman James Hetfield fought back tears on Friday as he recounted his public battle with addiction, and labelled the sex, drugs and rock' n' roll ethos as a "horrible myth."
The 42-year-old singer/guitarist was being honoured at a Hollywood fundraiser for the MusiCares MAP Fund, which provides access to addiction recovery for members of the music community.
The event, which also honoured concert promoter Bill Silva, culminated in a three-song set by Hetfield and Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, along with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney. They dusted off the Alice in Chains songs "Would?" and "Them Bones," and finished with the Metallica ballad "Nothing Else Matters."
Other performers included Tom Waits, Velvet Revolver, Jason Mraz and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.
Guests included Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, Motorhead frontman Lemmy, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist Kirk Hammett, and Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis. They reclined on couches scattered throughout the Music Box @ Fonda and imbibed alcohol-free refreshments, thus avoiding the risk of any public relapses.
Hetfield began his speech asking for a moment of silence "for the people who didn't make it, that aren't with us, who could be and I think should be."
He recounted the old saw that "dying is easy, living is hard," and offered his own recovery as proof that addiction is survivable.
Five years ago, things were different, he recalled, expressing gratitude to the award-winning documentary "Some Kind of Monster," which depicted Metallica's virtual dissolution as Hetfield began a lengthy rehabilitation to treat drug and alcohol abuse.
"I think that movie helped some people, and it took the black veil away, it took the mystique and the mystery out of the rock myth 'sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll,'" he said.
"What a horrible statement, to me. It is a myth. And to have those things attached to music, which is the best drug in the whole f-----' world, moves me like no other. And I thank God that I discovered that gift early on."
He alluded to his constant daily struggle, connecting with real emotions such as fear and love.
He also paid tribute to his bandmates and producer Bob Rock for saving his life daily, as well as wife Francesca and their three children, 7-year-old daughter Cali, 5-year-old son Castor, and especially 4-year-old daughter Marcella, whom he tearfully described as the glue that kept the family together during his darkest days.
Other performers chimed in with bons mots during the evening. Waits congratulated Hetfield, saying "getting sober's not for sissies."
And Velvet Revolver singer Scott Weiland dedicated the band's acoustic cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" to "everyone from Gram Parsons to Kurt Cobain."
The event raised about $300,000 (158,000 pounds) for MAP MusiCares, which is part of the National Academy of Recordings Arts and Sciences, the group that organises the Grammy Awards.