A history of the heavy metal legends from 1981 to the present day...
The first incarnation of Metallica (l-r: James Hetfield, bassist Ron McGovey, Lars Ulrich and guitarist Dave Mustaine). The band formed in California in 1981 after Lars Ulrich posted an advertisement in Los Angeles newspaper The Recycler which simply read: "Drummer looking for other metal musicians to jam with Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head and Iron Maiden." James Hetfield answered before they recruited Mustaine and then Ron McGovney for their debut live show in March 1982.
Metallica recorded their first ever song in early 1982 entitled Hit The Lights. It featured as the final track on the legendary heavy metal compilation Metal Massacre alongside songs by acts including Cirith Ungol, Malice, Ratt and Steeler.
Ulrich and Hetfield went to see a band called Trauma in late 1982 where they were truly overwhelmed by the skills of the bassist Cliff Burton – McGovney was duly kicked out of the band in favour of him. The new four piece recorded the Megaforce demo which was due to be Mustaine's last ever recording with Metallica.
Soon, the band's relationship with Dave Mustaine started to crack. In 1983 he was allegedly kicked out of the band due to an alcohol/drug dependency and violent behaviour. After the band drafted in Exodus' Kirk Hammett it was the start of an ongoing feud between Metallica and Mustaine (who formed Megadeth). Amongst Mustaine's stinging critiques was that Hammett received praise for playing his guitar lines.
Metallica hit the studio in New York in 1983 to record their debut album which had the working title Metal Up Your Ass. The band's distributors didn't like the name, so they changed it to Kill 'Em All - a live 1982 demo bearing the Metal Up Your Ass title and artwork did see the light of day (above). Four tracks on Kill Em' All, including The Four Horsemen, featured writing contributions from Mustaine. The record has shifted in excess of 3million copies in America alone.
In 1984 Metallica relocated to Copenhagen, Denmark (Ulrich's birthplace) where they recorded their second album 'Ride The Lightning'. It hit the shelves on July 27 of that year and has to date sold in excess of 5million copies in the States. Containing such musical mammoths as 'Whom The Bell Tolls' and the biblical 'Creeping Death' it was a landmark album for the band. The above green version is now a collectors' item after a French printing press accidentally failed to issue it in the intended blue. Doh!
In September 1984 Elektra Records' Michael Alago and Q-Prime Management's Cliff Burnstein witnessed Metallica in concert – soon after they both signed up the band. Recorded in Denmark late in 1985, the band released 'Master Of Puppets' through Elektra in March 1986 to widespread acclaim. It has since been hailed as their greatest achievement and also one the greatest albums of all time.
In September 1986 while in Europe for the Damage Inc. tour, the band drew cards for their sleeping position on the tour bus, Cliff Burton won and slept in Hammett's previous bunk. Tragically, the bus overturned while driving through Sweden resulting in Cliff Burton being crushed to death. After much deliberation the band decided to carry on believing that it was what Cliff would've wanted. A year later the live DVD 'Cliff Em All' was released in his honour.
Over 40 people applied for to be the replacement bassist for Metallica, but it was Jason Newsted, formerly of thrash metal outfit Flotsam and Jetsam, who eventually won. Newsted had learnt the entire Metallica setlist which some speculate gave him the edge over other applicants like Troy Gregory of Prong and Les Claypool of Primus.
Released on September 6, 1988 (almost two years to the day since Cliff Burton's death), ...And Justice For All propelled Metallica into mainstream consciousness after it entered at number 6 on the Billboard chart. Interestingly, Jason Newsted's bass was purposefully turned down by the rest of the band who were becoming increasingly unhappy with him, resulting in a tinny sounding record at times.
James Hetfield dwarfed by the mightily impressive stage props during the ...And Justice For All world tour in 1989.
Released in the summer of 1991 and recorded the previous year, 'Metallica' (or The Black Album) is the group's blockbuster album. Produced by Bob Rock, the record was famously mixed three times, stalled for almost a year, cost over $1million to make and ended three of the band members' marriages. Despite all this, it entered at number one in America is currently the 25th best selling album of all time in the country. Hit singles included the mighty 'Enter Sandman' and 'The Unforgiven.'
On August 8, 1992 the band were performing in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium as part of the Guns N Roses / Metallica stadium tour. During the opening track Fade To Black, Hetfield got too close to the onstage pyrotechnics and suffered second and third degree burns to his left arm. When the tour resumed, he had to sit out of guitar playing with John Marshall coming in to replace him once again.
In the summer of 1995, Metallica took time out of the studio to play three stadium dates – including one at Donington Park in the UK alongside Slayer, Therapy?, Skid Row and many more. They dubbed the tour Escape from the Studio '95 – a name that would be parodied 11 years later by the band.
After a year of writing and recording songs, the band surfaced once again with the epic 78-minute long Load. Another number one, it was an intensely personal record for Hetfield - 'Until It Sleeps' dealt with his father's cancer while 'Mama Said' dissected his relationship with his mom. From the recording sessions, Metallica had enough material for a double album, so a year later came ReLoad. Andres Serrano created the artwork for both from a mixture of his own blood, semen and urine.
Metallica at the 1996 MTV Music Video Awards where they scooped the Best Hard Rock Video gong for the Load track Until It Sleeps. They also performed at the ceremony held at the Radio City Music Hall in New York.
Two fresh albums quickly followed Load and Reload. First up in November 1998 was the covers record Garage Inc., featuring takes on Killing Joke, Misfits and Black Sabbath tracks. On April 21/22, Metallica performed two shows with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra as conducted by Michael Kamen. Metallica penned two new songs – 'Human' and 'No Leaf Clover' – which Kaman scored. The resulting album and live video, 'S&M', hit the shelves in April 1999.
Led by Lars, Metallica took Napster to court in 2000 after they discovered their entire back-catalogue could be downloaded for free. 335,435 Napster users were banned from the site after they 'stole' Metallica material. Napster finally reached an agreement with Metallica in 2002, but in many peoples' eyes the band's reputation was tarnished. Napster's Shawn Fanning taunted them with: “I borrowed this shirt from a friend. Maybe, if I like it, I'll buy one of my own.”
Immediately after Metallica announced plans to begin work on their eighth studio album in January 2001, a disenchanted Jason Newsted announced he would be leaving the band. James Hetfield was reportedly unhappy that the bassist planned to make an album with his side-project Echobrain, while Newsted argued against this and hit out at the band with vitriol. Above is Metallica as a threesome at the ESPN Action and Sport Awards in May 2001.
In July 2001, James Hetfield checked into rehab to battle his alcoholism demons leading some to speculate about the future of the band. He returned to the fray, however, in December of that year and shared his time between the studio and spending time with his family.
Metallica had already completed work on their eighth studio album 'St. Anger' before they started recruiting for their new bassist (Bob Rock had recorded bass on the record). Three months of auditioning later in February 2003 and they decided upon Robert Trujillo formerly of Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves ahead of the music great Twiggy Ramirez.
St Anger was released on June 5, 2003 to a mixed critical reception. The absence of guitar solos irked some journalists with one Pitchfork hack calling the record “an utter mess” (the website gave it a 0.8 out of ten rating). Despite some favourable reviews, it was possibly Metallica's most poorly received record, perhaps echoing the fraught rift in the band during the recording process between James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
The New York première of the Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky directed Metallica rockumentary Some Kind of Monster in July 2004. The warts and all documentary was filmed during a tense time for the band – beginning in 2001 - and captured the chaotic record sessions for St Anger. It also featured an interview with former bassist Jason Newsted who was less than complimentary about his former band mates.
In 2006 Metallica announced that their producer of 15 years Bob Rock would step down from working on their next album. They drafted in legendary Slayer, Johnny Cash, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Shakira and Slipknot producer Rick Rubin for the task. Above is Rick in the studio with the band.
On July 7, 2007 Metallica performed at Wembley Stadium, London in front of 80,000 people for the series of Live Earth concerts calling for action against climate change. The following day they headlined the vast stadium themselves.
In the spring of 2008, the band embarked on a sprawling European tour which will go on to feature a headline slot at the Reading and Leeds festivals this August. The above shot is taken from their show at the Slaski Stadium in Chorzow, Poland on May 28.
A faithful Metallica fan holding aloft an ...And Justice For All t-shirt on the German leg of their 2008 European tour. He was probably barely out of nappies when it was released in 1988.
Metallica's ninth studio album 'Death Magnetic' will be released on September 12, 2008. It's the first album to be produced by Rick Rubin and the first to feature input from bassist Robert Trujillo. The 10 track album was due to include 11 songs, but at 75 minutes another song couldn't be squeezed in. Explaining the record's title Lars Ulrich said: “Thinking about death… some people are drawn towards it, and just like a magnet and other people are afraid of it and push away.”
The 2008 press picture of Metallica. Ahead of the release of 'Death Magnetic', James Hetfield praised Robert Trujillo saying: "In the studio — and no offense towards Jason (Newsted) — but Rob has already contributed more to this record than Jason did in 14 years."