James Hetfield Offers Explanation Behind Metallica's Cancellation of Two Festival Shows
WENN/Adriana M. Barraza

The 'Enter Sandman' rockers have bowed out of the Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio in May, and of the Louder Than Life bash in Louisville, Kentucky in September.

AceShowbiz - Metallica has pulled out of two upcoming festival gigs to allow frontman James Hetfield to attend "critical recovery events" as part of his battle with sobriety.

The "Enter Sandman" rockers had been booked to perform a double headlining set at the Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival in Columbus, Ohio in May, and perform at the Louder Than Life bash in Louisville, Kentucky in September, but they have since bowed out of the shows due to a personal diary clash.

In an open letter to fans, Hetfield, whose rehabilitation treatment last year (19) prompted the group to postpone a planned Australian tour, apologizes to ticketholders and writes, "As part of my continuing effort to get and stay healthy, I have critical recovery events on those weekends that cannot be moved..."

"The reality is that I have not prioritized my health in the past year of touring and I now know that my mental health comes first," he explains. "That might sound like a no-brainer for most of you but I didn't want to let the Metallica team/family down and, I alone, completely compromised myself."

The singer goes on to share that he is making good progress with his ongoing treatment, "Looking on the brighter side, my therapy is going well. It was absolutely necessary for me to look after my mental, physical, and spiritual health."

He assures fans all other Metallica concerts will go ahead as planned, and concludes his statement with a note of gratitude.

"Beyond 2020, I am optimistic about the blessings I have been given and what the future brings," he adds.

"I appreciate all the great prayers and support from everyone since I went into rehab last September. Like the moth into the flame, being human in this career has its huge challenges and can be difficult. Your understanding helps the healing."

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tool will step in as replacement headliners for the Sonic Temple Art + Music Festival, while the new Louder Than Life performers are set to be announced soon.

The cancellation news emerges days after Hetfield returned to the stage for the first time since his rehab stay to honor late rocker Eddie Money.

The musician made a surprise appearance at a Thursday night (February 20) memorial show at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, where he was joined by the likes of Sammy Hagar, Rick Springfield and George Thorogood.

Hetfield performed Money's tune "Baby Hold On".

Proceeds from the Money tribute show benefited the USC Eddie Money Cancer Research Fund.

Money died in September, aged 70. following a battle with stage 4 esophageal cancer.

Hetfield will be back onstage with Metallica in April for a show at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile.

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