In 1991, Metallica was on the “Monsters of Rock” tour, travelling through Europe with the Black Crowes, Pantera, AC/DC. In the fall there was a coup in the USSR, and Gorbachev was briefly overthrown. It didn’t last long, but it sent the country into turmoil — and eventually lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the re-emergence of Russia.
Once the turmoil of the coup was over, the Monsters of Rock artists decided to add Moscow to their itinerary. And so in October of 1991, they came to Moscow and put on a free concert.
It was an intense experience–free concert, half a million people, Soviet helicopters buzzing overhead, tens of thousands of soldiers. I happened to be visiting friends in Moscow at the time, so I got to go. It was one of the craziest concerts I’ve been to in my life. I was working at the SF Bay Guardian at the time, and was able to make my way backstage using my homemade Bay Guardian press pass.