Rock legends Metallica were forced to disappoint 16,000 fans and cancel a concert in Sweden after frontman James Hetfield fell ill.

A band statement said the lead singer had contracted a stomach bug on Sunday and was hospitalised after experiencing dehydration.

Fans awaiting the show at the Stockholm Globe Arena learned of the gig's cancellation just minutes before it was due to start, after Hetfield's band-mates came onstage to apologise.

Drummer Lars Ulrich said the band were "truly, truly, truly sorry."

"Trust me, none of you guys wanna hear me, Rob or Kirk sing," he added, referring to bassist Robert Trujillo and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett.

Hetfield has since returned to the US and Metallica have pledged the cancelled show will be rescheduled "sometime this spring".

"We apologise to all our fans who travelled from near and far and we look forward to coming back soon," said a statement on the Metallica website.

10/03/2009 10:04:27