Metallica have cancelled two festival appearances in 2020 (Picture: Rex Features)

Metallica have cancelled two festival appearances after the dates crashed with ‘critical recovery events’ for frontman James Hetfield.

The band have pulled out of performing at Sonic Temple festival in Columbus, Ohio in May, and Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Kentucky in September.

James, 56, had returned to rehab last year to ‘work on his recovery’ after ‘struggling with addiction for many years’, and the dates coincide with key events he needs to attend.

He shared a statement with fans, reading: ‘Dear Metallica Family, It pains me to write this, but I have to let all of you know that I cannot make it to Sonic Temple in Columbus and Louder Than Life in Louisville this year.

‘As part of my continuing effort to get and stay healthy, I have critical recovery events on those weekends that cannot be moved.

‘I apologize to all of our fans who have bought tickets for these festivals. We are working with the festival promoters to provide for refunds or exchanges. My intent with this statement is saying “I apologize” to each one of you.’

He added that touring meant he wasn’t able to prioritise his health, explaining: ‘The reality is that I have not prioritized my health in the past year of touring and I now know that my mental health comes first.

James Hetfield returned to rehab in September and is now prioritising his health and recovery (Picture: Rex Features)

‘That might sound like a no-brainer for most of you but I didn’t want to let the Metallica team/family down and, I alone, completely compromised myself.’

He reassured fans that his therapy has been going well and that the band will not be pulling out of any other planned shows.

James added: ‘Looking on the brighter side, my therapy is going well. It was absolutely necessary for me to look after my mental, physical, and spiritual health. I want to stress that the band will play all other announced 2020 shows.’

The band will still perform all their other 2020 dates (Picture: Getty Images)

He admitted that the support from fans has helped him throughout his time in rehab, explaining: ‘Beyond 2020, I am optimistic about the blessings I have been given and what the future brings.

‘I appreciate all the great prayers and support from everyone since I went into rehab last September.

‘Like the moth into the flame, being human in this career has its huge challenges and can be difficult. Your understanding helps the healing. James.’

The band had cancelled the Australia and New Zealand leg of their tour last year after James returned to rehab.

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