The Metalhead Mama is about to get her rock 'n' roll wish.
Margaret Priebe, 85 — a huge, if unlikely, fan of headbanging heroes Metallica — became a viral sensation after her story appeared in Thursday's St. Petersburg Times. The Internet, from Fark to Twitter to Facebook, lit up with the Largo woman's story. An international Metallica site even asked to translate the story into Bulgarian.
But the coolest thrill for the recent cancer survivor was yet to come. Before Metallica's show tonight at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, the thrash-metal quartet will bring Margaret backstage for a meet-and-greet. A rep from the band's Warner Bros. label confirmed the invitation Friday.
"I guess they showed the guys in the band the article, and they wanted to meet her," said son Jim Priebe, adding that the response "has been crazy. I've gotten so many phone messages!"
Margaret, who lives with her 48-year-old son, appeared on 98 Rock Thursday night. As an on-air surprise, the local radio station promised to get her backstage to meet the band. Jim said he also spoke with Metallica's PR people, who formally extended the invite.
Nine years ago, Margaret turned on the radio and discovered Metallica's 1999 S&M album, recorded with the San Francisco Symphony. She had never heard such a racket before — but she loved it. Last year, she endured a cancer battle with help from her trusty MP3 player, loaded up with Metallica, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne. She's cancer-free now, but still cranks the tunes.
For the Times story, Margaret was asked if she'd like to meet Metallica — singer James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. She smiled and said "Oh sure," but added "I wouldn't know what to say! I'd be so nervous!"
Don't sweat it, Margaret. Metallica probably doesn't have a lot of experience meeting 85-year-old fans, either.
Sean Daly can be reached at email@example.com.