On this day in 2002 - Kirk Hammett wins Guitar World’s first Hall of Fame Award

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
On this day in 2002 - Kirk Hammett wins Guitar World’s first Hall of Fame Award

When you’re the guitarist for one of the biggest bands in the world, you’d think you’d quickly get used to having people tell you that you rock.

Not Kirk Hammett of Metallica. He was completely blindsided when he learned on this day in 2002 that he’d been named as recipient of Guitar World’s very first Hall of Fame Award.

“It totally took me by surprise,” Hammett told Guitar World at the time. “Especially since our profile has been so weird lately. It’s been very non-musical, you know?”

What Hammett was referencing is this: at the time he was given the award, Metallica hadn’t put out an album in three years – the last one up to that point had been 1999’s live orchestral effort S&M, which was certainly not an LP that would be described as a typical Metallica album – and most of the news they’d been making had been about either their position on Napster (not a fan), the departure of longtime bassist Jason Newsted, or vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield entering rehab. In other words, even though it’s supposed to be the music that matters, Metallica’s music was almost never coming up in conversation anymore, or at least not with the media anyway.

Nonetheless, when the tally of the year’s ballots came in, it was Hammett who’d come out the victor, beating out Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Michael Schenker. “I’m actually quite flattered and impressed, and a little bit shocked and dumbfounded,” Hammett told Guitar World. “There’s a little bit of ‘why me?’ in there for good measure, too.”

Still, Hammett overcame the surreality of the moment quickly: the next thing to come out of his mouth was to ask, “Do I get, like, a gold plaque?”