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Metallica Postpone Australian Tour As James Hetfield Goes Back To Rehab

The heavy metal legends were scheduled to tour Australia and New Zealand next month for the first time in years.

Group members Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Rob Trujillo revealed their "brother" James (Hetfield) had re-entered treatment for substance abuse, in a note posted online Saturday.

The trio described the band's co-founder Hetfield, 56, as "struggling with addiction on and off for many years".

Metallica guitarist James Hetfield, 56, has re-entered treatment for substance abuse. Image: Getty

Tickets for the postponed tour, scheduled to kick off in October and the first time Metallica would headline stadium shows in Australia and New Zealand, will be "fully refunded" by Live Nation.

New concert dates will be announced when Hetfield's "health and schedule permit".

The band was set to tour Australia for the first time since 2013 and New Zealand for the first time since 2010, with Slipknot as their "special guests".

An earlier rehab stint of Hetfield's occurred in July 2001, when he was admitted for alcohol and "other addictions" like chocolate, according to NME.

Hetfield described himself as "reborn straight-edge" in a 2010 interview with Metallica fan club magazine, So What? The term is used to describe hardcore punk adherents that refrain from using alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs.

“I have an addictive personality, so when I act impulsively it can go very wrong," he said.

In 2016, the married father of three told podcaster Joe Rogan that the idea of losing his family scared him most on his journey to sobriety.

"That was the bottom I hit, that my family is going to go away because of my behaviours that I brought home from the road," Hetfield said.

Hetfield co-founded Metallica in October 1981, after answering an advertisement by drummer Ulrich in a Los Angeles newspaper. The band has won nine Grammys and released 10 studio albums, three live albums, four EPs and 24 singles.

Support for Hetfield flowed in from thousands of the iconic group's fans on social media, with an almost unanimous appeal for the guitarist to get well.