The early years :
On October 28th, 1981, drummer
Lars Ulrich (born in Gentofte, Denmark on December 26th, 1963) makes an
offer to singer/guitarist James Hetfield (born in Los Angeles,
California on August 3rd, 1963) to record a song to be released on the new
label Metal Blade Records. James also plays bass on it. The new band would
eventually be completed by bassist
Ron McGoveny, a friend of James living in the same apartment, and
Mustaine (born in La Mesa, California on September 13th, 1961). The name
of Metallica comes from a friend of the San Francisco bay, Ron
Quintana, and the band starts to play live in Los Angeles opening for bands
A first demo entitled "No Life Til Leather" is selling well in the
underground circuit, most of all in San Francisco and New York City. The
band presents 2 concerts in San Francisco and the audience is more friendly and
honest than the Los Angeles crowd. The guys meet the band Trauma and
its bassist Cliff Burton
(born in Castro Valley, California on February 10th, 1962) who would replace McGoveny
with Metallica and convince them to move to San Francisco.
A copy of their demo goes to Jon Zazula in NYC and he recruits them to come
to play on the east coast and record an album. The band moves to New York
City in a stolen U-Haul truck. Dave Mustaine, who is Metallica's guitarist,
is so full of problems for the band they decide to fire him. Mustaine would
create later his own band, Megadeth, with whom he would have a lot of success.
To replace him, someone tells the band to hire Kirk
Hammett (born in San Francisco, California on November 18th, 1962) who
is Exodus' guitarist at the time. On April 1st, 1983, he joins
Metallica and completes the most creative lineup of the band's career.
The creative era
Late in 1983, Metallica releases its first full-length album entitled Kill 'Em
All. The album and the following tour give the band a good reputation
with songs like "Seek & Destroy", "Whiplash", "The Four Horsemen" and "Motorbreath". The following year, the band flies to Copenhagen,
Denmark to work with the producer Flemming Rassmussen on its 2nd record
Ride The Lightning. The band's maturity on songs like "Fade
To Black", "For Whom The Bell Tolls", "Creeping Death" and "The Call Of Ktulu" brings the attention of management company QPrime and the major label Elektra
that releases the album and rereleases their first one with 2 bonus songs,
the covers of "Am I Evil?" and "Blitzkrieg".
The four guys get back to the same studio in 1985 to record Master Of Puppets which
is mixed in Los Angeles by Michael Wagner and issued in early
1986. The band goes on tour with the legendary Ozzy Osbourne and gets
many new fans. The album reaches the top 30 on Billboard chart with classic
songs like "Battery", "The Thing That Should Not Be", "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" and most of all
the title song. This third record by Metallica is considered by many like the
best the band did and one of the bests in metal history. It will be a great
influence for many bands for years to come.
On September 27th, 1986, the dream turns to nightmare when in Sweden late at
night, the driver of the tour bus loses control of the bus and it turns
upside down killing Cliff Burton. His influence on the band's music was huge
and they lose a big part of the band. It's impossible to think about
Metallica without Cliff Burton...
Lars, James and Kirk finally decide to resume the band's career and they
audition 40 bassists for the replacement of Burton. They hire Jason
Newsted (born in Battle Creek, Michigan on March 4th, 1963), a
member of Flotsam & Jetsam. The band quickly records an EP of
cover songs in Lars' garage. It's simply entitled Garage Days Re-Revisited and it contains covers of punk and metal bands like the Misfits, Holocaust
and Killing Joke. The EP is issued in 1987.
They get back into the studio in 1988 to record their 4th album,
...And Justice For All, which is released in August. It's a
concept album that brings metal one more time to another level of creativity.
The first ballad of the band and also the first video, "One", which will repulse fans of the first
years, will have a huge success on MTV and will support the album to the 6th
position on the Billboard chart. The band will be nominated for a Grammy for "best
metal/hard rock band" and will blow headliners Van Halen on the "Monsters of Rock"
tour. After that, Metallica leaves by itself for a huge world tour.
In 1991, Metallica comes back with its self-titled album, better known as the
black album. That new record, produced by hard rock specialist Bob Rock,
offers shorter songs, more pop with good melodies which is a lot different
from what they did in the past. The album reaches #1 throughout the world
the week of its release and stays on top for many weeks to come. 15 million copies
will be sold on the planet, most of all because of mega-hits like "Enter Sandman",
"Sad But True", "The Unforgiven" and "Nothing
The band goes on tour for 3 long years with a solo tour in arenas entitled "An Evening With Metallica",
a stadium tour with Guns N' Roses and the main event at many
festivals. A live box set of 3 discs is released in 1993 (Live Shit: Binge & Purge).
The bad era :
Almost 5 years later, we can see a new studio album by Metallica in the
record stores. Load is recorded at The Plant in Sausalito, California and is
released in 1996. It's their longest album ever with 14 songs and we can
hear many changes of style and experiment, even if the producer is still Bob
Rock. Load is not well received by the critics and is often considered
like the weakest Metallica album of their entire career. It's the ballad "Until
It Sleeps" that carries all the CD.
Because of the great number of songs recorded during the Load sessions, they release another
album in 1997, Reload, which doesn't have more
success than the previous one. We can hear on Reload "hits" like
"The Memory Remains" and the not very good "The Unforgiven II" which is a bad ending
of "The Unforgiven",
a big hit from the black album.
The following tour is huge with modern technology, stuntmen, 2 stages and a
concert of more than 2 hours that will shut the mouth of the people who didn't
like them since the black album.
In 1998, they take all the b-sides and covers recorded in the past, with the
recordings of Garage Days..., and they go in the studio to record
11 new covers. All that stuff is offered on a double CD set entitled Garage Inc.
This album proves to the world that Metallica is definitely the best garage
band in the world.
with the collaboration of director and composer
Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the band records
a double live album simply entitled S&M containing
the greatest hits of Metallica in a symphonic version. The project is not so
great, but it gives the opportunity to rediscover the band's classics. A
of the concert is also issued at the same time.
With the growing market of peer to peer services to download music like Napster,
the band goes on a war with companies promoting free MP3 downloading
bringing many problems to the music industry for the last couple of years.
In the summer of 2000, even if the band doesn't have a new album to promote,
the guys decide to go on tour in stadiums. The "Summer Sanitarium Tour"
is very popular and they take the decision to go back in the studio to
record new songs.
after many rumors, Jason Newsted announces his departure from Metallica. The
band doesn't want a new bassist for the moment and asks the producer Bob
Rock to play bass on the next album of the band. On his side, James has to
go in desintox because of his drinking problem, what will postpone once
again the recording of the next album.
In the fall of 2002, the band decides to hire a new bassist and
after 40 auditions, it's the ex-bassist of Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy
Osbourne, Robert Trujillo (born in Santa Monica, California on
October 23rd, 1964), who is hired.
St. Anger is released in 2003 and receives quickly a huge
success, most of all because of the title-song and "Frantic". This album presents a more garage sound and brings us back to the metal they offered 15
years ago. The imperfection of the Bob Rock producing is impressive, because
most of the time he over-produces his albums.
In the summer of 2003, the band goes back on tour for the "Summer Sanitarium
2003", another very successful tour...