Armored Saint vocalist John Bush once had a shot at what became the ultimate crown -- being the lead vocalist for Metallica. Even as he jokes during our conversations that his kids will get grief at school someday because of his decision, he remains at peace with his choice.

Metallica offered fans a look at what that alternate universe might have looked like, bringing Bush out to blaze through a performance of "The Four Horsemen" at one of their 30th anniversary concerts in San Francisco in 2011. 

James Hetfield called the moment "a big dream for us," while drummer Lars Ulrich quipped, "If he'd been in the band, maybe we wouldn't still be playing fuckin' clubs like the Fillmore."

In a 2015 interview, Bush says that it was "destiny" and that had he gone the Metallica route, "I would have changed the face of heavy metal and I don't need that pressure." Here in 2021, he echoed those earlier comments.

During a conversation about the new Armored Saint release, Symbol of Salvation Live, he shared some of his memories with UCR regarding the 30th anniversary summit with Metallica and their continuing place in his own history.

It’s the 40th anniversary of Metallica this month and you have a pretty special place in the band’s history. For their 30th anniversary, you got to come out and jam with them on “The Four Horsemen.” Can you take us back to that day and getting ready for that?
It was awesome and of course, I was honored. They did four shows and Armored Saint opened one of them, which was really, really cool that they allowed us to do that. That of course, was the plan that I was going to come out [to paint the picture] of what it would have been like if John Bush actually joined Metallica. It was cool to do that and it sounded great. It was fun and the crowd was very receptive.

James and Lars told the story and now I’m living it again, because it’s the 40th anniversary of Metallica! I’ve done a couple of interviews recently about me being asked. I always just laugh, going, “I’ll never live this down.” [Laughs] It’s going to be with me for the rest of my life. I was telling somebody, it’s like, my kids are going to get shit for it. They’re going to be like, “Your dad’s an idiot! He didn’t join Metallica?”

But you know, again, it was not my destiny. It was meant to be James’ voice on every Metallica record and that was the way it was supposed to be. I’m honored to have been considered and I laugh that it’s forever going to be part of my lore. But whatever. They’re Metallica and they’re the kings! It was great to do that night. It was so much fun being there.

It was a really special night because they were playing different songs off of every record, every night. Even Kirk [Hammett], I think, had a music stand, which was pretty funny, I thought, and really cool. It was great. Lou Reed was there. Kid Rock. Mercyful Fate, Marianne Faithfulll and Ozzy [Osbourne] another night. [Rob] Halford. Jason [Newsted] of course. It was incredible.

Watch John Bush Perform 'The Four Horsemen' With Metallica

They approached you, but they also later approached Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera as well about potentially replacing Cliff Burton. So they had a lot of respect for what the band was doing.
Yeah, I don’t take it as a negative at all. I’m laughing about it all. Of course, I’m honored. They’re Metallica. They are the kings. To be associated with that in any capacity -- and then, Armored Saint toured with Metallica on Ride the Lightning [behind our] March of the Saint [album]. We had this history.

At one point, Lars’ wife at the time and Tony DiCioccio came back and managed us [during] the Symbol of Salvation [period]. So we were on Q Prime two different times. We still didn’t have the huge success and we were with ‘em twice. Again, these are the things that I look back in history and I laugh at.

You know, that night, here’s another funny story. [Q Prime co-founder] Cliff Burnstein, we had a falling out and kind of a lapse of time communicating. But he was of course there that night. When we played, we had a great show. Armored Saint tore it up as the support act. We’re walking off the stage at the Fillmore. Cliff grabs us and goes, “You guys were amazing!” He’s like, “I should have done more with you.”

At the time, we kind of said, “Whatever man, we’re here! Who cares?” Then we went backstage and we’re like, “Oh my God, Cliff said that.” We’re like, “You’re telling us that now? What?” But that’s the Armored Saint career in a nutshell right there. But it was cool that he told us that, because he was telling us something, that all of these years later, he sees us and he’s like, “I should have done more.” You know, he was kind of apologizing without actually maybe saying the words “I’m sorry,” but it felt nice. We felt rewarded.

What was it like on that Ride the Lightning tour with Metallica and W.A.S.P.? What are the memories that stick with you from that run?
It was a lot of fun. It was our second tour. We had gone out with Quiet Riot and Whitesnake the tour before that. We did that tour and it was still W.A.S.P.’s first record [1984’s W.A.S.P.], Metallica’s second record and our first full length record [March of the Saint]. Everybody was red hot and people were very psyched about that. We did three nights at the L’Amour in New York. It was a great tour. To this day, it still lives in infamy.

It was awesome to be a part of that, it really was. We had a lot of fun and there was a lot of mischief and hijinks. It was cold -- January to March [we were on] tour and we got stuck in Buffalo, New York, because we were in a blizzard there. We had to stay in this Hyatt Hotel, whatever it was. We couldn’t leave and there was no food. You know, there are so many stories connected to it. But it was a lot of fun, especially watching Metallica. You could see that they were just exploding. W.A.S.P was great every night too.

Watch John Bush's Interview With UCR About Metallica

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