CLIFF BURTON Was 'So Nervous' When GEDDY LEE Came To See METALLICA Perform
January 29, 2022
As part of METALLICA's 40th-anniversary celebrations, the band's longtime photographer Ross Halfin was the subject of a 90-minute question-and-answer session with Steffan Chirazi, the editor of METALLICA's fan-club magazine So What!, on December 18, 2021 at Elk's Lodge in San Francisco, California. Ostensibly to discuss Halfin's book documenting METALLICA's "Black" album era — "Metallica: The Black Album In Black & White" — the conversation also looked back over Halfin's career, focusing on his decades of work with the band. METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett dropped in for a chat too, and the audience chipped in with several questions of their own.
Reflecting on one of METALLICA's early tours, Hammett said: "Geddy Lee [RUSH] showed up at one of our shows on the 'Ride The Lightning' tour. We played Toronto, and all of a sudden we got a message backstage that Geddy Lee was in the audience. And [late METALLICA bassist] Cliff Burton just freaked out. He started pacing, he started smoking pot, and he was, like, 'Oh my God! Geddy! Geddy Lee!' He could not settle down; he was so nervous and just happy at the same time that Geddy Lee was there. And then Ross tells him that Geezer Butler [BLACK SABBATH] is out there one night. Same thing — he starts pacing around, super nervous, grab[s] a beer."
Back in 2015, Geddy confirmed the longstanding rumor that he almost produced METALLICA's classic 1986 album "Master Of Puppets". He told Noisey: "It's sort of true. There was some discussion with [METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich], back in the day, about working with them. This was before 'Master Of Puppets' came out, I think. There was talk, you know. I was friends with their management, and I met Lars back in England. I remember going to see them here in Toronto when they played at the Masonic Temple. That's when the original bass player [Cliff Burton] was still happening. You know, before that tragedy. And, you know, we talked about it, and I liked their band a lot at that time. But it just never came together."
During the same interview, Lee admitted that he isn't much of a heavy metal fan.
"I don't listen to a lot of metal," he said. "Even though there's an aspect of our sound that can be quite metal, I sort of attribute it more to early metal, in the way that [LED] ZEPPELIN were metal and in the way that BLACK SABBATH were metal, and BLUE CHEER were metal. And that's the sort of tradition of metal that we took on."
He continued: "I like METALLICA. I've got great respect for them. But you won't hear too much speed metal or death metal in my house."
Cliff joined METALLICA in 1982 and performed on the band's first three studio albums: "Kill 'Em All", "Ride The Lightning" and "Master Of Puppets". He also received a posthumous writing credit for the song "To Live Is to Die" from the band's fourth studio album, "...And Justice For All" and was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame as a member of METALLICA on April 4, 2009.
His life was tragically cut short at the age of 24 in a tour bus crash on September 27, 1986 in Sweden.
Burton's initial replacement in the group was Jason Newsted, who stayed in the lineup until 2001. Robert Trujillo joined in 2003 and remains in the band to this day.