The Big Four: Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth

It was the tour many thought wouldn’t happen, but it blazed across Europe, and recently had a triumphant show in Indio, CA. 

Of course we’re talking about the Big Four tour with Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth, and by all reports, it was a roaring success. (The Big Four will also be hitting New York at Yankee Stadium on September 14, 2011.)

KJ Doughton was a Metallica fan from the get go, running their fan club, copying hundreds of copies of their No Life Til Leather demo in his basement, and writing the best book yet on the band, Metallica Unbound.

When asked if he felt this tour would ever happen in the first place, Doughton says, “I think that on a pragmatic level, the business side of things was able to make it materialize. These bands are brilliant on musical and resiliency levels – but they’ve also benefited from brilliant management. On a fan level, I’ve long since lost interest in all of the internal rivalries, and who’s pissed off at who. None of the bands have much to prove at this point. Kerry King recently said that the four bands started as this ‘big metal beast’ that went on to grow four different heads. That’s a pretty good summation. There’s mutual respect.”


As for how well the bands held up on this legendary day, Doughton raves, “In all sincerity, I’ve never seen any of the bands perform better than they did at the Indio show.”


It’s also remarkable to think that some of the players in Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer, will actually be hitting, gasp!, their fifties soon. 

“God bless the Rolling Stones and their longevity,” says Doughton, “but could they play Whiplash or Angel of Death onstage for three decades? The sheer physicality of this type of music, for thirty plus years?”


Backstage Doughton ran into Slayer frontman Tom Araya, who recently had neck surgery from too many years of headbanging. 

Araya was showing around the x-ray, and Doughton says, “A friend of mine suggested he use it for the next album cover. Not a bad idea.” 

Indeed, a number of the musicians in the Big Four have shown their age a bit, but Doughton says, “In some ways they seem more ruggedly resistant and confident than I’ve ever seen them. My hair’s gone gray, and my stamina’s compromised with middle age, but (Slayer drummer) Dave Lombardo still looked pretty chipper, and his drumming is still supernatural fast.”