HISTORY PT 1
I guess this isn't the first Metallica story you have read, but I do
hope it is the best! I've tried to include all the stories and all the
facts in a day-by-day diary, but I know the history is far from complete,
so if you find anything missing, please mail me.
Many of you have asked if you can have this band-history on your web-page. This biography is a part of the first book I wrote, and the copyright belongs to C.G. Publishing in Canada. Please don't copy anything here, but feel free to print out for personal use.
- A young Lars Ulrich was addicted to the NWOBHM
(New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), and he tried to put his own band together.
At this point, his attempt failed, but he placed an ad in a magazine called
Recycler, to which one James Hetfield answered. James and Lars met
up to jam, but nothing became of this first meeting.
- Summer 81
- Lars went to the UK to follow Diamond Head around
for 3 months on tour. On his return he secured a deal to record a track
for the Metal Blade compilation Metal Massacre. Due to the fact
that he didn't yet have a band, he quickly began contacting people. The
three members he managed to put together were:
- Lars Ulrich (Drums)
- James Hetfield (Vocals; Rhythm and Bass Guitars)
- Lloyd grant (Lead guitar)
- Metallica's first show ever! At Radio City, in
- In order to get a certain live gig, Metallica
needed to present some of their material, so they recorded a demo, later
known as Power Metal . This was recorded with James, Lars, Ron McGovney,
and Dave Mustaine. There isn't an actual title for this demo, but when
it surfaced as a bootleg, the name stuck. The name comes from some early
business cards of the band that Ron printed up.
- They re-recorded four tracks: Hit The Lights,
Mechanix, Jump In The Fire, and Motorbreath. This
new version of Hit The Lights appeared on the second pressing of
Metal Massacre 1 (also the recent re-release).
- Metallica played a gig at Lars’ high school,
Backbay High School, managing to almost empty the hall.
- They played as a five piece band for the first
time with Jef Warner on vocals (luckily he didn't last).
- The first print of the Metal Massacre
compilation album was released, and included Metallica's first take of
Hit The Lights. The second print had another version of this track.
The album was released by Brian Slagel; this was the first release on his
new label, Metal Blade.
- The demo No Life 'Til Leather was recorded.
This demo was never officially released, but copies were made and spread
like wildfire. Tracks included were:
- Hit The Lights
- Seek And Destroy
- Metal Militia
- Jump In The Fire
- Phantom Lord
Line-up was as follows:
- Vocals/guitar: James Hetfield
- Drums: Lars Ulrich
- Bass: Ron Mcgovney
- Lead guitar: Dave Mustaine
- Brian Slagel told the band about a great bass
player (Cliff Burton) in a band called Trauma that played the Whiskey a
Go-Go. James and Lars were not happy with Ron McGovney, and where so amazed
by Cliff's playing, that they realized that this was the new bass player
for Metallica. Cliff was not interested, but said that he would join the
band if they moved to San Francisco, for he thought L.A. was a fucked-up
- To promote the Metal Massacre album, Brian
Slagel organized a gig with the bands the San Francisco. This was the first
time Metallica played in front of the Bay Area crowd, and it was a crucial
job for them. All of the kids joined the headbangers on stage and went
nuts. Metallica had to follow up this show with numerous gigs in the Bay
- The guys played at "The Old Waldorf"
in San Francisco, with support from a band named Exodus, with one Kirk
Hammett on guitar; this was the first time they met him. The show was recorded,
and today is known as the Live Metal Up Your Ass demo. They intended
to record it through the mixing board, but something went wrong, so instead
they set up a boombox in front of the speaker stacks; technically, this
recording is an audience recording. Both Metal Up Your Ass and No
Life 'Til Leather came with a cassette liner that was written by Lars
and contained the track listings and the band logo. This was Dave Mustaine's
first show with the band.
- Mabuhay Gardens. The last gig with Ron on bass.
They soon afterwards asked Cliff Burton to join; upon hearing this, Ron
- First jam session with Cliff Burton.
- The band is invited by record shop owner Jon
Zazula to do some gigs on the East Coast. He also tries to get them a record
contract, but when this fails, he founds his own record label, Megaforce
Records, and signs Metallica as his first band.
- March 83
- March of '83 saw them on a journey from SF to
New York to play a number of dates organized by Jonny Z of Megaforce Records.
During this trip Dave’s drinking problems were getting a bit out of hand.
The morning after they played a show in Vandenburg, supporting VENOM, they
asked Dave to leave. Meanwhile, Kirk was already on his way over by plane
to replace him.
- Cliff Burton's first gig with the band, in San
Francisco, at The Stone.
- The "Megaforce demo" was recorded.
This is Cliff Burton's first recording with the band. There are two different
stories about this recording, and I'm not sure which version is correct,
if either... Story one: the band used this recording (containing Whiplash
and No Remorse) to get a contract with Megaforce Records. Story
two: the band wanted to capture a recording with Cliff, so they did, and
then took the tape to KUSF FM in San Francisco, where it was played over
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- Live at The Stone in San Francisco. This was
the second gig with Cliff, and this show was videotaped. Parts of this
show are on the "Cliff 'Em All" video issued by Metallica.
- April 83
- Lars, James and Dave all re-located to San Francisco,
where Cliff lived; he now became a full member of Metallica.
- Metallica called Kirk Hammett and asked him if
he would like to join Metallica in New York for an audition. Kirk thought
someone played an April Fool's trick on him, and answered "Yes, sure".
The next day they called again to supply further details, and he realized
that they were serious.
- Live at L'Amours in Brooklyn, New York. The last
gig with Dave Mustaine.
- Having done his audition for Metallica, Kirk
was accepted into the band; on this day he did his first gig with them
in New Jersey. Exodus, Kirk’s previous band, went on to release some good
thrash albums in the 80's and early 90's.
- May 1983
- They went into the studio to record their first
album, Kill 'Em All , produced by Paul Curcio. Originally, this album
was to be called "Metal Up Your Ass", but the record distributors
refused to release an album with such a name. The name was immediately
changed to Kill 'Em All , in reference to the record industry's distributors.
- Kill 'Em All was released.
- Metallica went on the road for a two month tour
with Raven for the "Kill 'Em All For One" tour (the Raven album
at the time was entitled All for One ). The tour ended on September
- October-December 83.
- Metallica spent their time writing new material
for the next album, Ride The Lightning .
- February 84
- The quartet visited Europe for the first time.
They went on a tour supporting VENOM, starting in Zurich, Switzerland and
covering Germany, France and Belgium, then finishing with the Aardshock
Festival in Zwolle, Holland. During this tour, the British label, Music
for Nations, released the 'Jump in the Fire' EP to promote the tour.
- Ride The Lightning is released by Megaforce
- November 84
- The "Creeping Death" EP is released,
featuring the original garage days on the B-side. Included is one cover
tune, originally recorded by Blitzkrieg, and one track by Diamond Head.
These tracks are now available on the re-release of Kill 'Em All ,
and garage Inc. Garage Days Re-Revisited is the follow up to this recording.
- Performed for the first time at the famous Monsters
of Rock festival at Donnington, England. Metallica was squeezed in-between
two poser bands, Ratt and Bon Jovi, on the bill. James decided to tell
the 70,000 kids what to expect: "If you came here to see spandex,
eye makeup, and the words 'Oh baby' in every fuckin' song, this ain't the
- xx.09.85 - 27.12.85.
- The band was in Copenhagen again, recording the
third album, this time with producer Flemming Rasmussen.
- Master Of Puppets was released.
- The tour with Ozzy Osbourne starts. This was
a very important tour for Metallica, supporting Ozzy, as their popularity
was steadily rising and they were ready to hit the bigtime. This was also
their last tour as a supporting act.
- Shortly before a gig in Evansville, Indiana, James broke
his wrist in the infamous "skateboarding incident." The show
was cancelled, and during the rest of the tour James sang with his arm
in a sling while John Marshall stood in on guitar. At that time, John Marshall
was Kirk’s guitar roadie, as well as a member of the band Metal Church.
- It was approaching dawn on Saturday, the 27th
of September, 1986. Metallica's two tour buses were making their way along
a god-forsaken road that lies somewhere between the Scandinavian cities
of Stockholm and Copenhagen. Apart from these vehicles, the route was deserted
- there was no one else travelling at that unearthly hour of the morning.
Suddenly, for no apparent reason, just before 6:15 a.m., one of the coaches
swerved violently to its right and started careening wildly down the wrong
side of the road. It was out of control, and a crash was inevitable.
The bus' brief, but horrific, excursion came to
a halt some 60 feet further up the tarmac. By this time, the vehicle was
on its side and lying in a ditch by the side of the road, near the small
Swedish town of Ljungby.
During the unavoidable confusion that followed,
the vast majority of the overturned bus' passengers managed to scramble
free of the wreckage. Those that emerged included three of the four members
of the band. In all honesty, the survivors had been extremely lucky, as
they had all somehow managed to escape with little more than minor injuries
Swedish police arriving on the scene of the crash
immediately arrested the driver as a matter of routine, but later released
him without charges after further investigation revealed that the cause
of the crash was black ice on a nasty bend in the road.
Unfortunately, however, there had been one fatality
in the accident...... what is more, the deceased individual turned out
to be one of the group. So, tragically, in the short space of those few
dreadful seconds on that lonely Swedish road, Metallica's dreamlike existence
was suddenly transformed into a hellish nightmare. Their 24 year old bass
player, Cliff Burton, was dead.
"I saw the bus lying right on him. I saw
his legs sticking out. I freaked. The bus driver, I recall, was trying
to yank the blanket out from under him to use for other people. I just
went, 'Don't fucking do that!' I already wanted to kill the guy. I don't
know if he was drunk or if he hit some ice. All I knew was, he was driving
and Cliff wasn't alive anymore." James Hetfield -1993
- The dazed group dealt with their anxiety in the
manner with which they were most familiar: drinking. James broke two hotel
windows and screamed, venting his rage. Kirk and his guitar tech, John
Marshall, were so shaken that they left the light on in their room that
night. On this day James, Lars and Kirk returned to the United States.
- Jason Newstead goes to an audition, in the hopes
to become the new bass player. He learned all the songs in a couple of
days, so when the three of them asked Jason what song he would like to
play, he said "anyone you like." At the end of the audition,
Metallica had five candidates, but invited Jason to have a drink with them
at Tommy's Joint. Before leaving the place, the three members went to the
loo, and when they came back, they told Jason, "Welcome to Metallica."