When Metallica brings the WorldWired Tour to Sioux Falls tonight (September 11), the band's iconic music will instantly transport many at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center back to their high school days.

It will also take me back to the days of roaming the hallways at my high school in Southern California, but for a completely different reason.

You see, Metallica's James Hetfield and I were classmates. We both attended Brea-Olinda High School and graduated in the Class of 1981.

Don't believe me?

Brea-Olinda High School Yearbook
Jeff Harkness/Townsquare Media

Here's our the cover of senior yearbook The Gusher. The name comes from the oil wells that dotted the area surrounding our city of 25,000 people in North Orange County.

The book is open to page 46, right smack dab in the middle of the senior class.

Jeff Harkness - James Hetfield
Jeff Harkness/Townsquare Media

There in the H's is 'Harkness' and just three photos down is 'Hetfield'. In our senior notes James even shared his dream of being a rock star someday!

So you'd think I have a TON of great stories about hanging with this rock legend before he made it big, right?

Not exactly.

I never actually knew James and I went to high school together until someone brought it up at our 20-year reunion! Even then I didn't believe it until someone pulled out a yearbook and showed me.

You see there were a few things were working against me and James crossing paths back in the day.

We had nearly 400 kids in our graduating class and so getting to know everyone was nearly impossible. We had also a very large campus that included a number of separate buildings, several outdoor quad areas, two gyms, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, football stadium, baseball diamonds, and even a farm for our local FFA chapter., so there was lots of room to spread out and NOT cross paths.

Also, James was only in Brea for one year, which significantly cut down on our time together,

So here we are 37 years later and once again we're going to be in the same general proximity, sadly with the same result.

Months ago I reached out to people connected to Metallica and asked if I could spend a few minutes with James while he was in Sioux Falls, if for no other reason than to have him finally sign my yearbook.

The answer was no.

I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Enjoy your visit to Sioux Falls, James.

'81 still rules!

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