The heavy metal hitters blew the roof off the Public Auditorium in Cleveland last night at the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
"Dream big and dare to fail, because this is living proof that it is possible to make a dream come true," said frontman-guitarist James Hetfield, who cofounded the group in 1981.
After accepting the honor, Metallica played some of their biggest hits, including "Enter Sandman" and "Master of Puppets," in front of a crowd of more than 6,000. For the first time, tickets to the ceremony were sold to the public.
Legendary rap group Run-DMC was also inducted this year. Eminem presented the honor to Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, calling them "the baddest of the bad and the coolest of the cool."
"The music that we made then didn't just impact friends, it impacted a generation. So I guess that's what rock 'n' roll does," said McDaniels.
The band retired after the 2002 shooting death of founding member Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell.
Other musicians on hand for the big event included Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, who introduced 2009 inductee Jeff Beck and jammed with him onstage to Zep's "Immigrant Song"; Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones and Smokey Robinson.
Also inducted this year were soul singer Bobby Womack and R&B vocal group Little Anthony & The Imperials.