American heavy metal band Metallica was awarded Sweden’s Polar Music Prize on Wednesday, drawing a delighted response from the group which has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.
Founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, publisher and manager of the Swedish band ABBA, the Polar Music Prize has become a coveted accolade in both classical and popular music.
“Receiving the Polar Music Prize is an incredible thing,” said Metallica’s drummer and co-founder Lars Ulrich in a statement on the band’s website.
“It puts us in very distinguished company. It’s a great validation of everything Metallica has done over the last 35 years. At the same time, we feel like we’re in our prime with a lot of good years ahead of us.”
Previous winners of the Polar Music Prize include Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon, the Kronos Quartet, Patti Smith and Björk.
The prize committee lauded Metallica for their virtuoso ensemble playing and the reach of their music.
“In Metallica’s world, both a teenage bedroom and a concert hall can be transformed into a Valhalla. The strength of the band’s uncompromising albums has helped millions of listeners to transform their sense of alienation into a superpower”, the committee said.
Founded in 1981 by drummer Ulrich and guitarist and singer James Hetfield, is one of the most commercially successful rock acts in history, having sold 110 million albums worldwide.
Two prizes are given out each year, traditionally to one classical and one pop musician. The committee also rewarded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and its founder Ahmad Sarmast.
The winners will receive their awards, including a check of 1 million Swedish crowns ($124,000), at a gala in Stockholm on June 14.