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Metallica Weren’t Allowed to Play “Master of Puppets” in China


Metallica Chinese Flag

Here’s an interesting, if not exactly shocking, revelation, via a new interview with Howard Stern: before making their live debut in China last month, Metallica had to submit their lyrics to the government for approval… and were ultimately forbidden from playing certain songs, such as “Master of Puppets.” Like I said, not exactly shocking: China isn’t really known for its freedom of speech, and “Master of Puppets” isn’t about addiction to ventriloquism.

And while some fans, I’m sure, would argue that the band should have cancelled the China performances in protest, James Hetfield explains that the band had a perfectly good reason for going along with the censorship —  they didn’t wanna let down the tens of thousands of Chinese fans who would now get to see them for the first time:

“Whatever rules they set down, the fans were there to have fun. We got our foot in the door. We were able to go and play in China. That was the key.”

I know that Metallica and I haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye on a lot of things for the past, oh, twenty years or so, but I actually back this line of thinking, hard. I’m sure this was a real treat for the fans who got to go, and the setlists for the two performances show that the band still had plenty of classic material that was approved by the Chinese government, including “Hit the Lights,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Harvester of Sorrow.” And, apparently, Kirk Hammett worked some riffs from the banned songs into his nightly solo solos (by which I mean the solos he gets to take without the band, when he’s just being a guitar hero n’ stuff, not the solos that are parts of the songs themselves). So “Master of Puppets” or no, I’d call this an all around win for all parties involved.


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