So its Wednesday night. Im lying in bed, trying to decide what to write my research paper on, but mostly focusing on the television. VH1s Behind the Music is on. Tonight, the show spotlights my favorite band: Metallica. Suddenly it hits me. I should do my paper on the most fascinating band in the world. And so the story begins. Well start over in Copenhagen Denmark. A young boy named Lars Ulrich is growing up in a rich neighborhood. He plays tennis, and has hopes of one day being one of the worlds best (Tolinski, 46).
But that dream comes to an abrupt halt when Lars gets his first drum set for his twelfth birthday (Tolinski, 46). This was also around the same time when heavy metal was beginning to catch on in Europe. The rise of this type of music is referred to as the new wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Suddenly Lars life has a new focus. Forget about tennis. Now this spoiled rich kid wants to be a drummer. In early 1979,Lars moved to Los Angeles California (VH1). He began to place ads in the cities local heavy metal magazine. For several months, he got no response.
In fact no one else even placed ads looking for other people to start a band, except for one guy. Desperate to start his musical career, Lars decided o call this other guy to see if he would like to jam sometime. Jamyz Hetfield was ecstatic to receive that phone call. He had grown up listening to the NWOBHM, and had taught himself how to play the guitar. When the two met for the first time, an instant brotherhood was born. Not because they liked each other, but because no one else was willing to give this new type of music a chance.
After a few jam sessions, Lars and Jamyz decided that they were ready to form a band. Lars knew a man named Brian Slagel that was putting together a metal compilation album called Metal Massacre (Tolinski, 46). Brian assured Lars a pot on the record if he could throw together a band. With this in mind Lars and Jamyz hit the Los Angeles club scene to try to discover possible band mates. They found a lead guitarist named Lloyd Grant, and a bassist named Ron McGovney. The foursome hit the studios and recorded one track: Hit The Lights (Tolinski, 47). So now its 1981.
The foundation for the greatest heavy metal band of all time has been formed, but they had no name, until another metal head named Ron Quintana came into the scene. He was developing a magazine dedicated to heavy metal music. The final nominees for the magazine title were Metallica and Metal Mania. Lars assured Ron that Metal Mania was far catchier, and promptly stole the other name for his band (VH1). It took a while, but Metal Massacre was finally released in the summer of 1982 (Tolinski, 47). Needless to say, Metallicas debut didnt set the world on fire.
And to top it all off, the bands name was misspelled on the track listing. But nothing could stop these guys from reaching the top. They were destined for stardom. In late 1982, Dave Mustaine replaced Lloyd Grant as lead guitarist (VH1). The band went back into the studios to rerecord their only song, and the new version as released on all subsequent pressings of Metal Massacre. With a now more solid line-up, Hit The Lights went on to be the most popular track on the record (VH1). With the end of 1982 quickly approaching, the band decided to hit the studios again and record a seven-track demo album titled No Life Til Leather.
In November of 1982 Metallica played their first show. It was a show dedicated to metal fans, and featured seven of the ten bands on the Metal Massacre album. Metallica quickly stole the show. In fact several of the other bands were booed off the stage by angry fans who were there just to see Metallica (Tolinski, 47). So now things were going okay for the guys. They had a steady underground following. But they werent making any money. They knew they needed to step up their music, but how? This question was answered when Jamyz attended a show in a LA bar.
On stage was a man named Cliff Burton(VH1). Burton, a bass player, was by far the most talented musician Hetfield had ever seen. He knew immediately that he must get him to join Metallica. Cliff issued Jamyz an ultimatum: Relocate to San Francisco, and Ill join your band(Tolinski, 48). Metallica, who had already developed a following in the Bay Area decided to eave LA, which was being populated with glam rock bands such as Motley Crue and Poison. They ditched Ron McGovney, and moved their stuff to San Francisco. Their popularity continued to grow in the San Francisco club scene.
They became so popular in fact that word spread all the way to a small musical flea market in New Jersey. A man named Johnny Zazula, or Johnny Z ran the flea market. Upon hearing the bands demo, he immediately began tracking them down. When initial contact was made, the band finally had its first real break, for Johnny Z was a metal god on the East Coast. He asked that the band relocate once gain, but this time it was to the other side of the country. After some consideration, Metallica rented a U-Haul, packed up their gear and began the long trip cross-country.
During this trip they took turns driving. Apparently, Dave thought it was a good idea to get drunk before his driving shift. He went off the road, nearly killing the band before their careers had even started. Upon arriving in New Jersey, Lars and Jamyz gave Dave the boot (VH1). So now they were in New Jersey, but they had no lead guitarist. One of their friends back home suggested Kirk Hammet from Exodus. Metallica had played everal shows with Exodus back in the bay area, and knew of his talent. But why would he want to leave the second most popular heavy metal band in on the West Coast?
One reason; to join the most popular heavy metal band on the West Coast. Kirk flew to New Jersey on April Fools Day, 1983 (Tolinski, 49). He auditioned for the guys, and was hired instantly. This new foursome would go on to become the most powerful band in the world. They went into the studios and recorded their first full length album, titled Kill Em All. The album was released on Johnny Zs record label Megaforce Records. It was a smash nation ide. After a few months of touring to support their debut album, they group headed back into the studios to record Ride the Lightning.
It was released in late 1984. Finally, their dreams were coming true. They were a force to be reckoned in the world of music. Around this time, all four guys quit their other jobs and dedicated all their time to the music. In 1986, Metallica headed back into the studios to record their third album Master of Puppets. This album marked a plateau for the band. Never before had a heavy metal band been able to combine thunderous guitar riffs with coherent vocals. The album went platinum in less than three months which was unheard of for a band of their nature.
On September 26, 1986 while touring in support of their album, tragedy struck the band for the first time. On the road between shows in Europe, their tour bus hit some black ice and subsequently went off the road. Jamyz, Lars, and Kirk escaped the accident unhurt. But Cliff Burton perished in the crash (VH1). Several years passed before the band finally made the decision to go on with out Cliff. While holding auditions for a new bassist, Jason Newstead came into the picture. He was perfect for the band. He was hired on the spot, and plans to record their fourth album became a reality.
And Justice For All was released in September of 1989. It went on to sell almost 10 million copies (VH1). During a supporting tour the band played with the likes of Van Halen, Ozzy, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue. The band also decided to shoot their first music video for the track One. It went to the top of MTVs charts (VH1). In August of 1991, Metallica released their fifth, and what some will argue their best album. It was called Metallica, but it commonly referred to as The Black Album. Their supporting tour featured the other big name in heavy metal at he time; Guns-n-Roses.
During a show at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, tragedy struck the band for a second time. During an encore, Jamyz walked into a pyrotechnic, and the intense flames engulfed his entire body. But the band treaded on. A roadie named John Marshall filled in on the guitars, and Jamyz continued to sing from a stool in the center of the stage (Tolinski, 106). The tour continued that way for quite some time. In fact they toured for almost three years strait. After Jamyz was fully recovered, the band made a decision to take a well-needed break. They went their separate ways, and eturned to their family lives.
When the band joined forces again in late 1996, a new bond was formed. It wasnt all about the music anymore. Everyone but Jason was now married, and Lars and Jamyz had children. They were financially set for life, so their new attitude was just to make music for fun. This attitude was apparent by the release of their sixth album titled Load. A lot of people say that Metallica sold out at this point. With new haircuts and a totally new sound, they hit the road again, attempting to prove to the world that they were still the same heavy metal band of days past. It worked.
Load was very successful. During the recording sessions for Load , thirty tracks were recorded. Only fourteen were released on Load, so instead of writing more music, the guys decided to release the other sixteen tracks on their seventh album Reload. This album didnt do all that well. Well, by any other bands standards, it was a smash. But by Metallica standards, it was a flop. Taking a different attitude once again the boys went back to their roots, recording a double CD chock full of covers from their favorite NWOBHM bands. Also they performed live with the San Francisco orchestra.
This spawned another double CD. Sure some fans were disappointed by both efforts. I for one love all of their music regardless of their sounds and hairstyles. If youve ever watched Behind the Music on VH1, you know that there are crucial elements to being a successful band in America. Someone has to die, someone has to have a problem with drugs, and the band has to lose their fan base at least once. All of these things have happened to Metallica, so I guess youd call them an American band. I just call them my idols and inspiration, and also the greatest heavy metal band of all time.