UNIVERSAL CITY, California — Seemingly unlikely fans like Michelle Branch and Lisa Marie Presley descended upon the Universal Studios lot Saturday alongside more predictable faces like Rob Zombie, Kelly Osbourne, Puddle of Mudd, ex-Guns N' Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum and Linkin Park's Chester Bennington for the taping of "mtvICON: Metallica."
The show included performances by the even more surprisingly enthusiastic Bay Area thrash metal fans Avril Lavigne and Snoop Dogg, along with Sum 41, Korn, Limp Bizkit, two members of Staind and Metallica — with new bassist Robert Trujillo — in tow.
In fitting tribute to the frequently black-clad band that released 1991's highly successful self-titled "black album," at this year's "ICON" — an annual event where celebrity fans pay homage to a legendary act — guests and performers alike arrived on a black rather than red carpet, all of them eager to talk about one of the biggest and most important rock and roll bands of all time. (Click for photos from the black carpet.)
"They did exactly what we did now in this time back when they first started," said a vintage ... And Justice for All T-shirt wearing Jonathan Davis, who arrived with the rest of the members of Korn, along with their respective ladies. "We have always looked up to them in the sense that they have paved the way. ... We are just here to pay respect tonight."
"I grew up on Metallica," said Travis Barker, who flew in from the current tour with side project the Transplants to attend. "Metallica is the sh--. I grew up, like, 13 years old, learning every album. [I] looked up to [drummer] Lars [Ulrich]."
Bennington, who turned out to introduce Korn's performance and talk about the band during the show with Barker, shared many of the Mohawk-sporting Blink-182 drummer's sentiments. "I was invited to come down and do something tonight and I just jumped at the chance to show my appreciation for the band," he said. "To try to do my little thing and say thank you for all the music."
"They've been around forever and I think it's hard to stick around in a world with such a short attention span," offered Fred Durst, who together with his Limp Bizkit bandmates — which now includes guitarist Mike Smith — will join Metallica for the Summer Sanitarium Tour.
"They are the originals, man," chimed in Limp Bizkit's DJ Lethal. "The original metal."
Poppy punk stars Sum 41 have never shied away from a chance to show
their appreciation for all things metallic, and the "ICON" taping — where they performed a medley of Metallica tunes — was no exception.
"We have covered Metallica before," explained bassist Cone.
"Actually, even when we don't even do Metallica, kids come up and are like, 'Hey, when you played Metallica tonight, that was amazing,' " joked guitarist Dave Baksh.
Papa Roach drummer Dave Buckner brought his young cousin along for a glimpse of the action. "What's not to love about Metallica?" he asked. "I mean, dude, [they're] just kick-ass heavy metal. They kick your ass with every song. What more do you want?"
While the influence Metallica have had on bands like Papa Roach, Korn and even Sum 41 is obvious, it might seem strange that Snoop — or Avril, for that matter — are fans. But it's true.
"I like the Red Hot Chili Peppers [and] I like Aerosmith," explained Snoop who, like Davis, was sporting a Metallica T-shirt. "I like some of everybody. If they make good music, I am with it."
"I've just started getting into [Metallica] in the last couple of years," Lavigne admitted. "I really didn't, like, grow up listening to it or anything like that. But it's great and I am really happy to be here."
From the fans like Avril who discovered the band post-Load to the headbanging underground disciples who religiously copied the band's No Life Til Leather demo and mailed it to their friends, Metallica have influenced two decades of fans and musicians.
"I think it has everything to do with the quality of our music," offered Kirk Hammett, who replaced lead guitarist Dave Mustaine 20 years ago on the eve of recording Metallica's Kill 'Em All debut. "The music speaks for itself, and to me, I think our music stands the test of time. I mean, when I hear a lot of our earlier stuff, it still sounds fresh to me, and I think it must sound fresh to a lot of people who are hearing it for the 50 millionth time."
MTVNews.com will present an in-depth interview with the band after "ICON" premieres.
Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Iann Robinson