It’s safe to say that unless you have been living under a rock for the past 34 years, you know exactly who Metallica are. But, in case you don’t, Metallica is a legendary metal band that originally formed in Los Angeles, California back in 1981. They basically are the creators of thrash, which (in this writer’s humble opinion) is by far the best type of metal. Metallica is a phenomenal band that has inspired millions of people all over the world to listen to heavy metal music and continues to do so to this day.
What’s amazing is that Metallica is one of the most popular and powerful bands not just in the metal genre but in the history of music as a whole. Their music resonates with their fans in a way that upon every listen to one of their songs they become more powerful and intense. James Hetfield‘s impressive voice range rips through every note flawlessly while Kirk Hammett showcases masterful riffs and solos. Metallica has always done a great deal for their fans, not just on a musical level but also on a personal one.
Here is our list of the top 19 shocking facts about Metallica you may or may not be aware of:
19. James Hetfield’s First Band
Contrary to what many people believe, the first band James Hetfield joined was actually Obsession, and not Phantom Lord. It was in Obsession that Hetfield had his first jam session with original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney. The band is well known for launching the career of singer Michael Vescera. Obsession has had a long and storied career, having been active from 1982-1989 and reuniting in 2004. The band is still active today and released their latest studio album Order of Chaos in 2012.
18. The Green Ride The Lightning
Metallica’s second album, 1984’s Ride The Lightning is one that most of us either have seen or own in standard blue, but there are 400 copies in existence due to the French pressing misprint of the cover that had Bernett Records printing the album out in green. These green copies are highly coveted by collectors and can be difficult to find. Ride The Lightning has been certified 6x platinum, having sold over 6 million copies in the United States alone.
17. Metallica Owns and Operates MetClub
If you’re a devoted Metallica fan, chances are you have heard of MetClub. The band formed the club in 1994 for die hard fans, and it’s 100% owned and operated by Metallica. Metallica Club produces an annual T-shirt and prints their very own magazine entitled “So What!” which is issued out five times throughout the year. That’s not it though, you can also get tickets, merchandise, and if you’re lucky maybe even the chance at some backstage passes if you’re signed up as a member.
16. “Seek and Destroy” Was Never a Single
“Seek and Destroy” has arguably gone down as one of the most popular songs off of Metallica’s 1983 album Kill ‘Em All, which, if you think about it, is rather disappointing considering the album consists of some phenomenal songs. For example, “Phantom Lord”, “Metal Militia”, and “The Four Horsemen” are technically all superior tracks to “Seek and Destroy”, which was actually never released as a single. In fact, only two singles came from Kill ‘Em All – “Jump in the Fire” and “Whiplash”.
15. Tarot Cards Killed Cliff Burton?
The tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton in a bus accident as the band was touring in support of the Master of Puppets album was an enormous loss for Metallica and all of their fans. Ex-Pentagram member Joe Jasselvader has said on different occasions that he believes Burton died because he was in possession of tarot cards that were from the Salem witch trials. Burton was only 24 years old when he died on September 27, 1986. His legacy has lived on though, as Burton was voted Rolling Stone’s ninth greatest bassist of all time in 2011.
14. The Black Album’s Legacy
Out of the nine albums Metallica has recorded, their self-entitled album, which is also known to some as The Black Album, is still considered to be one of the best-selling albums of all time and the best-selling album of the SoundScan era, having sold over 30 million copies worldwide. In 2003, the album was ranked 255 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2012, the band played The Black Album in all its entirety during the 2012 European Black Album Tour.
13. Death Magnetic Helped Break A Record
Since the release of Metallica’s last album Death Magnetic back in 2008, they have been the only band in U.S. history to have had five consecutive studio albums debut at number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album received a great deal of positive reviews which had a number of critics stating that Metallica had returned to their original musical style. Death Magnetic was also the first album that included bassist Robert Trujillo. Speaking of whom…
12. Robert Trujillo’s Backstory
Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo formed the band Mass Mental in 1998 while he was actually still in Ozzy Osbourne‘s band. Mass Mental only released one live album and one studio album and both were released only in Japan. In addition to that he was also a member of Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. Trujuillo has now been with Metallica since 2003 but has only played on one studio album in his 12 years with the band.
11. Spastik Children
Have you heard of the band Spastik Children? It’s quite possible you haven’t considering Spastik Children was a “joke band” that James Hetfield, Cliff Burton, Fred Cotton and James McDaniel created. Their music was more of a raw punk style and they only performed in clubs in Northern California. They never practiced and ended up playing some pretty outrageous songs. James was the drummer and Cliff played bass. After Cliff died, Kirk played bass in the mock band, and once said that “Spastik Children was a good excuse to drink and be silly on stage.”
10. They’ve All Gone Solo
Besides being part of the biggest metal band in the world, the guys have dabbled in some side projects over the years. Lars recorded a drum track with Mercyful Fate for their remake of Return of the Vampire. James recorded backing vocals for Danzig’s “Am I Demon?” and “Twist of Cain.” Kirk has also recorded tracks outside of Metallica, ones with Les Claypool and Mike Bordin, and he also produced a few demos for Death Angel.
9. The Olympic Accident
Hetfield was burnt due to a fiery onstage accident on August 8 1992 while performing at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. James walked into a 12 foot flame during a pyrotechnics display, leaving the left side of his upper body and head with second and third degree burns. Jason Newsted, the band’s then-bassist, stated at the time Hetfield’s skin was “bubbling like on The Toxic Avenger.” Because of the incident Metallica was forced to end their set early. After a long delay Guns N’ Roses took the stage for their set, but because of inadequate setup time between the two acts their monitors were not properly positioned and the musicians had trouble hearing themselves. Axl Rose also claimed his throat hurt so GNR also cut their set short, leading fans to riot in the streets of Montreal.
8. St. Anger Won a Grammy
The 2003 album St. Anger was hated by some of Metallica’s fans, so much so that some “fans” in the U.S. went as far as to have a CD-burning party. It’s very rare nowadays that you will see Metallica play songs from St. Anger at their live shows. Despite the hate from fans, Metallica won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for the lead single “St. Anger” and the album itself has gone 2x platinum in the United States and has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
7. Hetfield’s Christian Upbringing
Frontman James Hetfield is known for his emotional and fierce lyrics, most likely stemming from his overly strict Christian Scientist upbringing. The track “The God That Failed” from Metallica’s 1991 self-titled album earned its title from Hetfield’s religious family as the song is based on the death of his mother. Due to her strong beliefs she refused any medical treatment for her cancer and instead chose to look to her faith in the hopes of being healed.
6. Lars The Tennis Prodigy
Lars Ulrich was a tennis prodigy as a child back in Denmark. Playing professional tennis ran in his family, both his dad and grandfather played the sport professionally. Before he moved to Los Angeles at 16, Ulrich became friends with Swedish mellow singer Neneh Cherry and soon after his passion for music overshadowed everything else, especially tennis. Although he has often been criticized for his technical skills behind the drum kit (especially compared to many other metal players) there’s no doubt that Ulrich has become one of the most famous drummers on earth.
5. Hammett vs. Mustaine
Original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine was fired in 1983 and, as most know, later went on to form Megadeth. Kirk Hammett eventually replaced Mustaine in Metallica. In the midst of all of this, Mustaine thought that an injustice was done as he was the one who wrote many of the riffs that Hammett later perfected and made famous. He once said that Hammett “stole my job, but at least I got to bang his girlfriend before he took my job.” Stay classy, Dave.
4. Metallica’s Personal Assistants
It’s not uncommon for celebrities to have personal assistants these days. In fact, it might be rare to find a celebrity that doesn’t have one. Lars Ulrich has a personal assistant who follows him everywhere. Her name is Barbara, and she basically does everything for him from turning on his computer to putting his watch on… ah, the rock star life! Altogether Metallica has 83 full-time staff members working for the band. During the recording of St. Anger this even included a psychologist to keep the band from totally breaking down.
3. April Fools Joke?
Before he joined Metallica, Kirk Hammett was the guitarist for the band Exodus. When he first received the phone call about auditioning for Metallica he was in shock and figured it was just his friend playing a cruel April Fool’s joke on him. However, a few days later he received a follow up call and realized it was serious, and the rest is history. In 2003 Hammett was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, slotting in right between Keith Richards at number 10 and Kurt Cobain at number 12.
2. No Personal Political Opinions
Through the years, many musicians have expressed their personal political opinions through their music. However, James Hetfield doesn’t agree with that whole concept. He has stated in the past on this subject that,
“There are so many celebrities that soapbox their opinions, and people believe it’s more valid because they’re popular. For us, people are people- you should all have your own opinion. We are hopefully putting the human element in what is an unfortunate part of life.”
1. The Beginning of Metallica
The origin of any band is always interesting to learn about, especially if it is of one of your all-time favorite groups. The origins of Metallica date back to 1981 when James Hetfield replied to an advertisement which was posted in Recycler by Lars Ulrich. The two of them met up for a jam session but nothing really came out of this until a year later when Lars needed to put a band together immediately so he could record a track for the Metal Blade compilation Metal Massacre. The name Metallica was a suggestion from Ulrich’s friend Ron Quintana who also suggested naming the band MetalMania.
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