This Metallica custom-made machine was created for the band using a past-produced Williams Earthshaker pinball machine that was refurbished. 

Now in April 2013 Stern Pinball Inc has produced a coin operated licensed game with Dirty Donny art and custom speech. Also Brendon Small of Dethklok voices Sparkey and Snake in the new game. 4 versions are available through Stern Pinball distributors.

Working an idea

Due to Metallica singer/guitarist James Hetfield seeing the Hellacopters pinball game that artist Dirty Donny and Wade Krause created (which was also a one-of-a kind refurbished machine/not a mass-produced one), Hetfield wanted them to build a Metallica pinball machine for the band.

In order to work with the budget that they were given (which has not been publicly disclosed), Krause and Tanio Klyce (who also worked on the Hellacopters machine) dismissed using a machine with a dot matrix display due to the expense it would take to reprogram it. They settled on the classic pinball game of Earthshaker, due to the shaker motor that the game is well known for in pinball circles, which incites the roar of a crowd when it is activated, which they figured would work well with adding to the ambience of a Metallica concert. The machine was stripped and sanded down in order for work to begin to turn it into a custom Metallica machine as an end product.

An artist known as Dirty Donny, who had done work with Robert Trujillo before, was commissioned to hand-paint the playing field. Krause applied about fifteen colors of ink, including three in black light-activated fluorescent, to the backglass to make it really stand out (along with the light features being programmed by Klyce).

Dan Kramer rebuilt all the mechanical playfield devices and constructed them onto the freshly painted, metal-flaked and clearcoated playfield board. He brought the game to life and fine-tuned everything to optimize its performance as "tighter than factory". 

Williams (a classic pinball manufacturer) System 11 schematics were used to develop the music and how it would work with the game, which Klyce worked with various shop hardware and software in order for the audio to match with actions that went on during a game, along with not only Metallica music in the game being included (and it being CD quality), but Hetfield himself recorded new voice-overs to be used for the machine as well.

End result

During initial tests, however, the sound quality was not good, but upon many tweaks and feedback from Dirty Donny and Krause, they were improved, and there was a good response among pinball players who got to try out the game at the Pacific Pinball Expo before it was sent to the Metallica Headquarters for the band to enjoy. The game was noted for its very fast speed due to Dan Kramer's pinball building expertise and other features, such as the light-up plunger.


  • Wade Krause
  • Tanio Klyce
  • Dirty Donny
  • Rolph Britain
  • Dan Kramer



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