Metallica Cancels Tour Dates as Frontman James Hetfield Returns to Rehab

Metallica have canceled a tour of Australia and New Zealand following frontman James Hetfield's return to rehab after nearly 20 years. TMZ reports that is unclear what prompted the rocker to return to treatment for the first time since December 2001, but the band confirmed the decision in a statement released Friday.

"We are truly sorry to inform our fans and friends that we must postpone our upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand. As most of you probably know, our brother James has been struggling with addiction on and off for many years. He has now, unfortunately, had to re-enter a treatment program to work on his recovery again," the statement read. "We appreciate your understanding and support for James and, as always, thank you for being a part of our Metallica family."

The band made clear that all tickets purchased for the shows in Australia and New Zealand, including the "Enhanced Experiences" and "Black" tickets, will be refunded. The band did make it clear that they intended to return and make up for the cancellation as soon as possible.

"We fully intend to make our way to your part of the world as soon as health and schedule permit. We'll let you know as soon as we can," the band statement said.

Hetfield's initial stay in rehab was documented in the documentary Some Kind of Monster, transpiring during the production of the band's St. Anger album. As Rolling Stone points out, Hetfield define his motivation to go to rehab the first time as something everybody can relate to.

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"Fear was a big motivator in that for me," Hetfield said according to Rolling Stone. "Losing my family, that was the thing that scared me so much, that was the bottom I hit, that my family is going to go away because of my behaviors that I brought home from the road. I got kicked out of my house by my wife, I was living on my own somewhere, I did not want that. Maybe as part of my upbringing, my family kind of disintegrated when I was a kid. Father left, mother passed away, had to live with my brother, and then kind of just, where did my stuff go? It just kind of floated away, and I do not want that happening. No matter what's going on, we're going to talk this stuff out, and make it work."

Hopefully Hetfield will have a speedy treatment and be back on the road, sober and happier.