Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett recently recalled hanging out with the late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain "quite a bit" before the grunge icon's 1994 death.

On top of that, Hammett said Cobain was a big Metallica fan.

But did Metallica's pioneering ascent to popularity as a heavy metal act help pave the way for Nirvana's success with alternative rock just a short time later? Hammett suggested as much during his talk of Cobain in an interview with Classic Rock from Friday (Aug. 20).

"Kurt Cobain came to one of our shows in Seattle on the Black Album tour," Hammett remembered of the Nirvana singer. "I knew Kurt kind of well, and I hung out with him quite a bit. He was a pretty big Metallica fan — I was surprised at how much of a Metallica fan he was."

The memory surrounding the Black Album era came to the surface thanks to this year's 30th anniversary of the LP, Metallica's 1991 effort that exposed metal to millions. A remastered and expanded Black Album, plus a tribute set of Black Album songs by other artists called The Metallica Blacklist, arrives on Sept. 10.

Looking back on the original album now, Hammett surmised that listeners' acceptance of Metallica in the early '90s primed the public for Nirvana's breakthrough.

"Rock radio embracing our sound — our heaviness — helped the whole grunge thing take hold," the Metallica rocker added. "Not long after the Black Album came out, Nirvana put out Nevermind. I like to think we had something to do with the acceptance of Nirvana."

Those albums, each Metallica's and Nirvana's defining works, certainly made 1991 an exciting year for music fans. To wit, they were released within about a month of each other. But it's hard to imagine what the sonic landscape would look like now without one or the other.

Though he's been gone almost 30 years, Cobain remains a powerful influence in rock culture. His childhood home has become a tourist destination, and personal items related to the Nirvana founder rank among the most expensive rock memorabilia.

In the weeks leading to their upcoming Black Album reissue, Metallica have shared album rarities in "The Unforgiven," "Sad But True," "Of Wolf and Man," "Nothing Else Matters," "Through the Never," "Don't Tread on Me" and "Wherever I May Roam." Weezer, Phoebe BridgersVolbeat, Biffy ClyroSt. Vincent, Royal BloodMiley Cyrus and others have previewed their respective Blacklist cover tunes. Pre-order the album reissue here; The Metallica Blacklist here.

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