A METALLICA lover, Johnson was introduced to Hetfield during the band's 1997 Reload tour. "Randy was a regular, cool guy despite being eight feet tall," says Hetfield, 41, of the 6'10" Johnson. They became close and often attend each other's concerts or games. When the headbanger ruptured a disk in his neck in 2002, Johnson hooked him up with a neck specialist. Says Hetfield, "I have maybe four friends. Randy is one of those guys I can talk to.... He listens. He doesn't blow me off."