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Tough news for their fans down under, but ultimately, Metallica is doing the right thing here.

The high-profile hard rock band has decided to cancel their upcoming tour through Australia and New Zealand, after they announced on Friday night that frontman James Hetfield (pictured above) is going back to rehab. The band didn’t want to go forth without him, and so they’ll stand behind the lead singer and guitarist as he hopefully gets clean.

In a statement published to the group’s website on Friday afternoon, band members Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo said:

“We are truly sorry to inform our fans and friends that we must postpone our upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand. As most of you probably know, our brother James has been struggling with addiction on and off for many years. He has now, unfortunately, had to re-enter a treatment program to work on his recovery again. We fully intend to make our way to your part of the world as soon as health and schedule permit. We’ll let you know as soon as we can. Once again, we are devastated that we have inconvenienced so many of you, especially our most loyal fans who often travel great distances to experience our shows. We appreciate your understanding and support for James and, as always, thank you for being a part of our Metallica family.”

Very well said — on a very serious, concerning topic for the tight-knit and iconic band.

This isn’t the first time Hetfield has been in rehab; he had previously succeeded in staying clean for a long time after a stay there back in December 2001. It’s not clear what prompted his return to a recovery program this time around, either, though clearly the band is taking it very seriously and giving their lead singer the time he needs to fully get back on track. That’s certainly the right move.

For now, Metallica has confirmed that all tickets from the tour will be refunded; Live Nation is apparently working to reschedule the tour dates in Australia and New Zealand, but nothing has been set in stone yet.

Understandable — there’s quite a bit for the group to do on the home front now to get their beloved singer and guitarist clean again after that unfortunate relapse. Our thoughts are with Hetfield as he takes on rehab and attempts to re-take control of his life here. Here’s hoping the rock legend can get healthy and clean again very soon!

[Image via Avalon/WENN]

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