Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich picks the best “musical anthem” from the last 25 years

Metallica’s Lars Ulrich has been ever-present in rock music for 40 years, and only a few bands have stopped him in his tracks. One such outfit is the Kurt Cobain-led group Nirvana, who Ulrich says is responsible for creating “the great musical anthem of the last 25 years”.

Unfortunately, Nirvana are a group who Ulrich never crossed paths with, and he also didn’t get the opportunity to meet Cobain. It’s one of the few regrets from his career. Largely, Ulrich has managed to fulfil almost every one of his grand ambitions, but getting the chance to befriend Cobain and infiltrate his inner circle sadly evaded him.

However, it almost wasn’t the case, and they were nearly touring partners. Metallica had already made their way to superstardom when Nirvana released Bleach in 1989, and following Nevermind, they wanted Cobain’s clan to join them on the road.

According to Ulrich, the sticking point wasn’t anything to do with Metallica but that it was a joint tour with Guns N’ Roses, who Cobain despised. Speaking to NME in 2004, he recalled: “I never met him but our guitarist Kirk Hammett had a relationship with him. We were doing this tour with Guns N’ Roses in the US in 1992 and we wanted Nirvana to come out and join us. Kirk asked Kurt, but while Cobain said he would play with Metallica anywhere in the world, at any time, on any stage, he would not step up on the same stage as Guns N’ Roses — obviously he felt that Axl was the antithesis to what he was.”

He added: “As I said, I never met Kurt, and he’s probably the only guy in rock’n’roll that I have never met that I really wanted to — other than Bon Scott maybe. What a sad thing we can’t hear the fourth Nirvana album. It would have been so great to be able to see how that would have evolved.”

Although Nirvana only released three albums during their time together, Ulrich believes ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is an era-defining track. When he had Joan Jett as the guest on his radio show ahead of her performing the number at the band’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2014, Ulrich commented: “‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is the great musical anthem of the last 25 years.”

He was in favour of their induction unsurprisingly, and upon hearing the news, Ulrich said: “Nirvana is a no-brainer for the first year and I’m glad that Kiss is getting the long-overdue recognition that they deserved for everything that they pioneered.”

Watch the footage below of Joan Jett blowing the roof of the building during that aforementioned induction and doing justice to the track Ulrich once christened “the great musical anthem of the last 25 years”.

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