Origin – Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres – Heavy metal, Thrash metal
Years active – 1981–present
Website – metallica.com
-Current Band Members-
-Band Name –
The bandname came from Ulrich’s friend Ron Quintana, who was brainstorming names for a fanzine and was considering MetalMania or Metallica. After hearing the two names, Ulrich wanted Metallica for his band, so he suggested Quintana use MetalMania instead. Dave Mustaine replied to an advertisement for a lead guitarist; Ulrich and Hetfield recruited him after seeing his expensive guitar equipment. In early 1982, Metallica recorded its first original song, “Hit the Lights”, for the Metal Massacre I compilation. Hetfield played bass, rhythm guitar and sang while Lloyd Grant was credited with a guitar solo and Lars Ulrich played drums. Metal Massacre I was released on June 14, 1982, early pressings listed the band incorrectly as “Mettallica”, angering the band. The song generated word of mouth and the band played its first live performance on March 14, 1982 with newly recruited bassist Ron McGovney. Their first live success came early; they were chosen to open for British heavy metal band Saxon at one gig of their 1982 US tour. This was Metallica’s second gig. Metallica recorded its first demo, Power Metal, whose name was inspired by Quintana’s early business cards in early 1982.
The term “thrash metal” was coined in February 1984 by Kerrang! journalist Malcolm Dome in reference to Anthrax’s song “Metal Thrashing Mad”. Prior to this, Hetfield referred to Metallica’s sound as “power metal”. In late 1982, Ulrich and Hetfield attended a show at the West Hollywood nightclub Whisky a Go Go, which featured bassist Cliff Burton in the band Trauma. The two were “blown away” by Burton’s use of a wah-wah pedal and asked him to join Metallica. Hetfield and Mustaine wanted McGovney to leave because they thought he “didn’t contribute anything, he just followed”. Although Burton initially declined the offer, by the end of the year, he had accepted on the condition the band move to El Cerrito in the San Francisco Bay Area. Metallica’s first live performance with Burton was at the nightclub The Stone in March 1983, and the first recording to feature Burton was the Megaforce demo (1983).
Metallica was ready to record their debut album, but when Metal Blade was unable to cover the cost, they began looking for other options. Concert promoter Johny “Z” Zazula, who had heard the demo No Life ’til Leather (1982), offered to broker a record deal between Metallica and New York City-based record labels. After those record labels showed no interest, Zazula borrowed enough money to cover the recording budget and signed Metallica to his own label, Megaforce Records.
In May 1983, Metallica traveled to Rochester, New York to record its debut album, Metal Up Your Ass, which was produced by Paul Curcio. The other members decided to eject Mustaine from the band because of his drug and alcohol abuse, and violent behavior just before the recording sessions on April 11, 1983. Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett replaced Mustaine the same afternoon.
Mustaine, who went on to form Megadeth, has expressed his dislike for Hammett in interviews, saying Hammett “stole” his job. In a 1985 interview with Metal Forces, Mustaine said, “it’s real funny how Kirk Hammett ripped off every lead break I’d played on that No Life ’til Leather tape and got voted No. 1 guitarist in your magazine”. On Megadeth’s debut album Killing Is My Business… and Business Is Good! (1985), Mustaine included the song “Mechanix”, which Metallica had previously reworked and retitled “The Four Horsemen” on Kill ‘Em All. Mustaine said he did this to “straighten Metallica up” because Metallica referred to Mustaine as a drunk and said he could not play guitar.
Because of conflicts with its record label and the distributors’ refusal to release an album titled Metal Up Your Ass, the album was renamed Kill ‘Em All.
Metallica recorded its second studio album, Ride the Lightning. A French printing press mistakenly printed green covers for the album, which are now considered collectors’ items. Mustaine received writing credit for “Ride the Lightning” and “The Call of Ktulu”.
Metallica’s third studio album, Master of Puppets was released in March 1986. On September 27, 1986, during the European leg of Metallica’s Damage, Inc. Tour, members drew cards to determine which bunks on the tour bus they would sleep in. Burton won and chose to sleep in Hammett’s bunk. At around sunrise near Dörarp, Sweden, the bus driver lost control and skidded, which caused the bus to overturn several times. Ulrich, Hammett, and Hetfield sustained no serious injuries; however, bassist Burton was pinned under the bus and died. Hetfield said:
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 [bus driver]. 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.
Burton’s death left Metallica’s future in doubt. The three remaining members decided Burton would want them to carry on, and with the Burton family’s blessings the band sought a replacement. 40 people, including Hammett’s childhood friend, Les Claypool of Primus, Troy Gregory of Prong, and Jason Newsted, formerly of Flotsam and Jetsam, auditioned for the band. Newsted learned Metallica’s entire set list; after the audition Metallica invited him to Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco. Hetfield, Ulrich, and Hammett decided on Newsted as Burton’s replacement
Metallica’s first studio album since Burton’s death, …And Justice for All, was released in 1988. Following the release of …And Justice for All, Metallica released its debut music video for the song “One”
In October 1990, Metallica entered One on One Recording’s studio in North Hollywood to record its next album. Bob Rock, who had worked with Aerosmith, The Cult, Bon Jovi, and Mötley Crüe, was hired as the producer. Metallica—also known as The Black Album—was remixed three times.
On August 8, 1992, during the co-headlining Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour, Hetfield suffered second and third degree burns to his arms, face, hands, and legs. There had been some confusion with the new pyrotechnics setup, which resulted in Hetfield walking into a 12-foot (3.7 m) flame during “Fade to Black”. Newsted said Hetfield’s skin was “bubbling like on The Toxic Avenger”
Metallica returned to the studio to write and record its sixth studio album. The band spent about a year writing and recording new songs, resulting in the release of Load in 1996. The release marked a change in the band’s musical direction and a new image, the bandmembers’ hair was cut. The cover art, Blood and Semen III, was created by Andres Serrano, who pressed a mixture of his own semen and blood between sheets of plexiglass.
During early production of the album, the band had recorded enough material to fill a double album. It was decided that half of the songs were to be released; the band would continue to work on the remaining songs and release them the following year. This resulted in follow-up album titled Reload. The cover art was again created by Serrano, this time using a mixture of blood and urine.
In 2000, Metallica discovered that a demo of its song “I Disappear”, which was supposed to be released in combination with the Mission: Impossible II soundtrack, was receiving radio airplay. Tracing the source of the leak, the band found the file on the Napster peer-to-peer file-sharing network, and also found that the band’s entire catalogue was freely available.
Newsted left Metallica on January 17, 2001, as plans were being made to enter the recording studio. He said he left the band for “private and personal reasons, and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love”. Newsted said he wanted to release an album with his side project, Echobrain. Hetfield was opposed to the idea and said, “When someone does a side project, it takes away from the strength of Metallica”, and that a side project is “like cheating on your wife in a way”. Newsted said Hetfield had recorded vocals for a song used in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and appeared on two Corrosion of Conformity albums. Hetfield replied, “My name isn’t on those records. And I’m not out trying to sell them”, and raised questions such as, “Where would it end? Does he start touring with it? Does he sell shirts? Is it his band?”
For the duration of the recording period, producer Bob Rock played bass on the album and in several live shows at which Metallica performed during that time. Bassists Pepper Keenan, Jeordie White, Scott Reeder, Eric Avery, Danny Lohner, and Chris Wyse—among others—auditioned for the role. After three months of auditions, Robert Trujillo, formerly of Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne’s band, was chosen as the new bassist. In June 2003, Metallica’s eighth studio album, St. Anger, which drew mixed reactions from critics. Ulrich’s “steely” sounding snare drum and the absence of guitar solos received particular criticism.
In December 2006, Metallica released a DVD titled The Videos 1989–2004. Metallica scheduled the release of Death Magnetic as September 12, 2008, and the band filmed a music video for the album’s first single, “The Day That Never Comes”.
On August 18, 2016, the band announced via their website that their tenth studio album, Hardwired… to Self-Destruct
Metallica was influenced by early heavy metal and hard rock bands and artists Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Ted Nugent, AC/DC, Rush, Aerosmith, Judas Priest, Scorpions and by new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) bands Venom, Motörhead, Saxon, Diamond Head, Blitzkrieg, and Iron Maiden, and early punk rock bands Ramones, Sex Pistols, and the Misfits also influenced Metallica’s style as did post-punk band Killing Joke.
Kill ‘Em All (1983)
Ride the Lightning (1984)
Master of Puppets (1986)
…And Justice for All (1988)
St. Anger (2003)
Death Magnetic (2008)
Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016)