METALLICA's JAMES HETFIELD And KIRK HAMMETT Remember CLIFF BURTON: 'We Miss Him To This Day'
April 20, 2023
In a brand new interview with Kerrang! Radio, METALLICA's Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield were asked if there was a moment in the band's legendary 42-year career they wished was captured on film. Hammett responded: "I really wish that the first three or four years of [late METALLICA bassist] Cliff Burton being in the band was documented more. Because there's just not enough footage of him, there's not enough pictures of him, there's just not enough of him. For people who are coming into METALLICA and finding out about METALLICA, there's just not enough information about him. If there's one thing that I actually have a regret about, it's not documenting Cliff enough. But, you know, back then, we didn't know that it would be the situation that it is now. And so it would have been weird to say: 'Okay, Cliff, come here. We're just gonna film you.' Weird. But if there's one thing, I just wish there was just more Cliff footage."
Kirk went on to speak fondly of his late bandmate, saying: "Cliff, he was hilarious all the time. Other than music, his other huge things in his life were beer and breakfast. He lived for beer and he lived for breakfast. He was always talking about beer and breakfast. And it was a funny thing. And I wish I would have had footage of him getting excited about going to a pub. Or whenever he had a plate full of food, he would walk differently. He would walk with a sense of urgency. I would just crack up 'cause it was just so weird to me."
James also reflected on Cliff, telling Kerrang! Radio: "He loved fishing and hammers as well. He would take his little Pocket Fisherman on tour and find any little lake. And he carried a hammer in his suitcase. I was, like, 'What are you doing with that?' He [was, like], 'I don't know. Just in case. Just in case you need a hammer.' He was quite a character — very, very himself. He was unapologetically Cliff. And yeah, we miss him to this day."
Burton died on September 27, 1986, when METALLICA's tour bus crashed. Cliff and his bandmates were in Sweden at the time, as part of the European leg of their "Damage, Inc." tour.
Cliff was asked to join METALLICA in 1982 after the band saw him perform with his group at the time, TRAUMA.
The bassist was not willing to move to Los Angeles, where METALLICA was based, so they decided to move to the San Francisco area so that he would join.
Burton played on METALLICA's first three studio albums — "Kill 'Em All", "Ride The Lightning" and "Master Of Puppets" — and co-wrote classic songs like "Ride The Lightning", "For Whom The Bell Tolls", "Fade To Black", "Creeping Death" and "Master Of Puppets".
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.
February 10, 2018 was proclaimed "Cliff Burton Day" by Alameda County supervisors. The late METALLICA bassist would have turned 56 years old on that date had he lived.
Cliff's huge talent and achievements were chronicled in book form with the 2009 global publication of "To Live Is To Die: The Life And Death Of Metallica's Cliff Burton", written by U.K.-based author Joel McIver and published by Jawbone Press. The foreword was provided by Hammett.
A museum honoring Cliff's legacy opened in May 2022 in the Ljungby municipality. The museum includes pictures, albums, posters and tickets, along with interviews and photos from the first photographer at the crash site, Lennart Wennberg of the Swedish newspaper Expressen. There is also a film of recollections from first responders at the crash scene as well as a stage that recreates METALLICA's last performance with Burton in Stockholm, with copies of the bass and drum kit he and drummer Lars Ulrich used, plus a poster with Burton's last autograph.
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