Many fans who went to Metallica and Guns N’ Roses co-headlining show at Montreal’s Olympic stadium on August 8, 1992, knew they were in for a night to remember.
The gig would turn out to not be as fun as many wish to fantasize about. The show sees Metallica in their prime, and they’re starting to play “Fade to Black” when James Hetfield unwittingly stumbles on top of a pyro gun just as it is about to shoot. The sound of countless hearts stopping ensues, as both band and fans watch in disbelief as Hetfield gets engulfed in flames, suffering second- and third-degree burns all over his left side and back.
Due to this, Metallica would be forced to cancel the remainder of their set. However, as Guns N’ Roses take over the stage, Axl Rose too decides to cut their own set short allegedly due to a faulty sound system, causing the audience to erupt into a riot.
That notorious night was recently referenced by the famed pyro tech Pete Cappadocia – a.k.a “Pyro Pete” – during his guest appearance on the Appetite for Distortion podcast alongside the longtime Guns N’ Roses manager Doug Goldstein.
As Pyro Pete tells about the night: “I’m working for Metallica, and I’m working for Guns N’ Roses. I’m currently on tour with Metallica and we start talking about the GN’R-Metallica package that tour going out. So now, I’m going to shoot both bands. Lars catches wind do this and says, ‘Well, I don’t want you shooting Guns N’ Roses, I only want you shooting us.’ So I gotta call Opie, the production manager at the time.”
He did so.
He continued: “And I say ‘Lars wants to me to pick a band. And he goes, ‘Let me call Axl.’ He calls him a little while later and says, ‘How much do you want?’ And I said, ‘Well, they’re gonna give me this.’ So he goes, ‘Alright, we’ll give you that.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ “So now I gotta call Lars and I tell him ‘Your little plan backfired and now I’m not shooting you.’ So Lars had Tony De Chacho call Opie, to confirm how much they were paying me. Then Lars calls me back to basically curse me out and calls me a traitor and whatever. And I don’t care.'”
As of now, the night was going as planned until it all happened.
He continued: “So Metallica is playing and I’m sitting on a road case, because Guns N’ Roses is gonna go next. And I’m playing my GameBoy. I’m playing a game, and all of a sudden, I hear this horrific guitar noise. And everyone’s like, ‘James is hurt!’ So we all run to the stage. By the time I got there, the medical team was bringing him off [the stage]. What happened was, the guy that was shooting it, who was their guy, used to shoot it in Europe for them… They had moved the monitors, they had moved a piece of pyro. And James walked to his spot.”
“So he’s playing guitar. So he’s got his arm like this [standing up and playing], right? And so the pyro thing is right here [left of James]. So here’s the pyro and his arm was right here. And he walked to his cue to the spot as normal. They shot the pyro but then he did like a half a step.
All didn’t stop there.
He closed: “And he actually passed his arm so the pyro was coming up as he past arm through it. So it was like such a freak accident to happen. James stopped. So the pyro guy hit the cue, then James did that little half a step extra and put his arm right over it. And then the riot ensued.”