Metallica to Receive Sweden’s ‘Nobel Prize of Music’

Heavy metal legends and repeat Stern Show guests follow in the footsteps of B.B. King, Joni Mitchell, and Stern Show guest Paul McCartney

February 15, 2018
Photo: Getty Images

Metallica will become the first heavy metal band to be honored with Sweden’s Polar Prize, a distinguished award often referred to as the Nobel Prize of Music.

The metal pioneers—consisting of frontman James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo—will accept the honor this June in Stockholm, according to BBC, along with roughly $126,000 in prize money which the band already has plans to donate to its charitable foundation, All Within My Hands.

They’ll be following in the footsteps of several well-known rock legends who have received the prize in prior years, including Joni Mitchell, Chuck Berry, B.B. King, and repeat Stern Show guest Paul McCartney.

“Not since Wagner’s emotional turmoil and Tchaikovsky’s cannons has anyone created music that is so physical and furious, and yet still so accessible,” Polar Prize organizers explained in a statement. “Through virtuoso ensemble playing and its use of extremely accelerated tempos, Metallica has taken rock music to places it had never been before.”

“It puts us in very distinguished company,” Ulrich said in a statement. “It’s a great validation of everything that Metallica has done over the last 35 years. At the same time, we feel like we’re in our prime with a lot of good years ahead of us.”

“As myself and as Metallica I’m grateful to have this as part of our legacy, our history,” added Hetfield, who will also be expanding his horizons this year starring opposite Zac Efron in a thriller about serial killer Ted Bundy.

Since the band’s 1983 debut “Kill ‘Em All,” Metallica has sold an astronomical 66 million records, making them one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, regardless of genre. When the guys stopped by the Stern Show most recently in 2016, they performed several of their greatest hits. Check out out their in-studio performance of “Master of Puppets” (below) and listen to their full interview with Howard here.

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