Jimmy Page and Jack White both loved Metallica's St. Anger, according to Bob Rock

James Hetfield performs onstage (left), Jack White and Jimmy Page
(Image credit: Mick Hutson/Redferns, Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Bob Rock has said that both Jimmy Page and Jack White told him that they loved St. Anger – Metallica’s much-maligned eighth studio album, released in 2003. 

The producer was speaking on Chris Jericho’s Talk Is Jericho podcast, where he was asked about his role in St. Anger. Though he acknowledged the album's less-than-enthusiastic reception, Rock largely defended the band's creative decisions, in addition to sharing anecdotes of praise from the two electric guitar heroes.

“Two guys in the whole world [told me they liked that record]," Rock tells Jericho in the interview. "Jack White, when It Might Get Loud [came out], at the premiere – I happened to be in Toronto when it happened – came up to me from across the room and he says, ‘By the way, I love St. Anger. It’s an amazing album.’ Then he left.“

In a way, it's not entirely surprising that White – whose love of raw, no-bells-and-whistles music runs deep – was a fan of the record, which remains infamous for its lack of guitar solos and clanging snare sound. 

The praise from Page, though, is definitely eyebrow-raising.

“Jimmy Page – not to drop names but he’s kind of a friend – was at the Sunset Marquis, eating breakfast on the other side of the pool," Rock recalls. "Someone walked by and said, ‘I’m here to see Bob Rock.’ He said, ‘Oh, Bob’s here?’ And he came over and talked to me, which blew my mind, coming from Winnipeg! That Jimmy Page even knows my name, you know? He said, ‘By the way, I loved St. Anger. It’s a great album.’”

Kind words from figures as titanic in the guitar and music universe as those two, Rock feels, somewhat balances out – for him – the harsh criticism of the LP from other listeners.

“I’m okay," Rock says. "Those two guys bought the album. With those two [liking it] I’m fine, right?”

The stories sprung from Jericho's question about St. Anger's two famous quirks – the aforementioned snare sound and lack of solos. 

Of the former, Rock recounts, “We went to Oakland with the fan club, to the house where they practiced with [late Metallica bassist] Cliff Burton. When we got back to their studio, I asked the drum tech to drag out the drum kit from that. He dragged out the kit, this Tama set, and it just sat there in the studio for probably two months.

“Lars [Ulrich], when he started to play, said, ‘Give me a snare drum’ and I just bought that snare drum at a local music store. For whatever reason, he says, ‘Let’s just use this!’ And I put up four microphones, one on each kick, one on top of kit and one on the snare, and he said, ‘That’s it!’ I said, ‘What do you mean that’s it?’ He said, ‘This is the sound we’re gonna do.’ 

“All I can say is there’s this great album by Iggy [Pop] and The Stooges called Raw Power, and if you think about it, St. Anger sounds like the band in that house. There was no harmonies, no fixing anything, it’s just raw.”

As for the solos, Rock maintains, “That was a rule that I didn’t make, by the way. I’m not going to say what happened there. There was a band called The Fucking Champs from San Francisco and all they did was put riffs together, so that was the basis of that.” 

In one of the Jericho interview's other eyebrow-raising anecdotes, Rock said that Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx approached him during the sessions for the band's Dr. Feelgood album and alleged that someone had replaced his bass parts on early Mötley Crüe albums.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.

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