Metallica's headlining set at the 2004 Download Festival is most famous for not featuring the band's drummer and co-founder, Lars Ulrich, who was hospitalized the day of the show.
In a newly-published oral history of the Download Festival, though, Metallica lead electric guitar player Kirk Hammett revealed that that fateful day also proved to be the last time he ever saw Pantera guitar legend Dimebag Darrell, who was tragically murdered onstage in Columbus, Ohio – while performing with his post-Pantera group, Damageplan – just months later.
Hammett – who spent the last hours before the band's Download set frantically speaking to potential replacements for Ulrich – expressed regret at not taking the time to have a full conversation with his fellow metal guitar hero.
“I couldn’t do anything for the next three hours except talk to drummers,” Hammett told The Guardian. “I remember seeing Dimebag wave at me from a distance backstage – I looked at him and mouthed, ‘We are completely fucked.’
“He came over laughing and just said: ‘You guys have got this.’ And that was the last time I saw Dime. I still regret not taking the time to have a full conversation with him.”
Ulrich's spot that evening would ultimately be taken by Slayer sticksman Dave Lombardo, and – primarily – the late Joey Jordison from Slipknot.
“Joey could play all sorts of things,” Hammett recalled. “I remember saying to him: 'Bro, you’re gonna have to play a bunch of these tunes tonight' – he was beside himself, he was so happy.
”At the end of the set, I turned to Joey onstage, and I asked him if he could play Enter Sandman. And I saw through his mask [from Slipknot's stage show] that he had tears in both of his eyes. He was crying because it meant so much for him to be playing Sandman with us at Download. I’ll never forget that.”