METALLICA's LARS ULRICH Looks Back On CLIFF BURTON's Death: 'We Didn't Know What Hit Us'

November 23, 2016

METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich recently spoke to Seattle's KISW 99.9 radio station about the 30th anniversary of the tragic loss of the band's bass player Cliff Burton when METALLICA's tour bus skidded on ice while the group was on tour in Scandinavia and Cliff was thrown out the window and crushed. Lars said (hear audio below): "We were so shocked and stunned that we didn't know what hit us. And, like most, I guess, kids in their early 20s who get ambushed with that type of thing, we jumped into a bottle of, in this case, vodka, for me, and stayed in there for quite some time. We weren't mature enough or seasoned in life enough to know how to deal with this other than just to sort of, basically, almost hide behind the alcohol and compartmentalized it. So the next few months were very difficult, and it was crazy, but we just put the blinders on and started auditioning bass players. And we knew in our hearts that Cliff would be the first one to kick us in the ass and tell us to keep going, if he could see us mope. And so there was no moping; we just kept going the best we knew how to."

METALLICA frontman James Hetfield was asked in a recent interview with TeamRock what he thinks Burton might have thought about the drastic changes in its look and sound that METALLICA made through the 1990s and early 2000s with albums like "Load", "Reload" and "St. Anger". Hetfield replied: "Well, I certainly would have thought there would have been some resistance, for sure. I think the 'Black Album' was a great album and I appreciate the fact that we did have the balls to do that… I would certainly think that the 'Load' and 'Reload' [era], I would have had an ally that was very against it all — the reinvention or the U2 version of METALLICA."

Asked if Hetfield was personally comfortable with the more "alternative" image and music METALLICA made on those albums, the singer/guitarist replied: "No, no, not at all. There’s some great, great songs on there but my opinion is that all of the imagery and stuff like that was not necessary. And the amount of songs that were written was… it diluted the potency of the poison of METALLICA. And I think Cliff would have agreed with that."

Following the "Load"/"Reload" albums and tour, METALLICA went into a tailspin that resulted in the exit of bassist Jason Newsted, Hetfield spending the better part of a year in rehab and the band nearly splitting up.

METALLICA returned to a heavier style more reminiscent of its early albums on 2008's "Death Magnetic", while its new disc, "Hardwired... To Self-Destruct", arrived last week.

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