Metallica

  • Heavy metal band formed in 1981, from Los Angeles California. The main lineup for the band is James Hetfield (lead vocals, rhythm guitars), Kirk Hammett (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Lars Ulrich (drums). They have had 4 bass guitarists over the years – the bassist during their biggest years was Jason Newsted.
  • In 1981, Ulrich placed an ad in an L.A. classified-ads newspaper, seeking to jam with other metal musicians. Hetfield was part of another local band, and he responded to the ad. Before forming the band, Ulrich convinced a heavy metal record executive to let him contribute to a compilation album that the record company was developing. Ulrich recruited Hetfield to play guitar and to sing for the record. Five months after they met, they official formed the band. A friend of Ulrich’s suggested the name Metallica. Ulrich and Hetfield placed another ad, looking for a lead guitarist. Dave Mustaine was recruited and the trio recorded its first original song, Hit The Lights, in early 1982 for the compilation album, with Hetfield playing bass.
  • The band started live performances in March 1982, with bass player Ron McGovney joining. They were immediately popular, and were asked to open for British heavy metal band Saxon later that year. They also recorded a demo in April, called Power Metal. Late that year, they saw bassist Cliff Burton perform at a club, and they asked him to join the band, dispatching McGovney. Burton agreed, but only if they moved to San Francisco, which they did in 1983. Ready to record an album, the record company that had issued the compilation album could not cover the costs, so they signed with an east coast concert promoter who had started a new independent record label.
  • Before recording their debut album, they fired Mustaine because of drug and alcohol abuse, and Hammett joined the band. Kill ‘Em All was released in the summer of 1983. It did not sell well at first, but they established a following with the metal scene. Subsequently, the album was re-issued after the band was established, and it has been certified 3x platinum.
  • Their second album, Ride the Lightening, was released in 1984. It too had limited success at first, but as the band became popular, it sold over 20 million copies worldwide. While they still were not selling large numbers of records, their live performances had become legendary for their energy. Executives at a major record label saw them perform in 1984, and signed them to a new contract. They began to play rock festivals, with over 50,000 concert-goers attending.
  • Their next album was 1986’s Master of Puppets. The album reached #29 on the Billboard 200 album chart, and ultimately was certified 6x platinum. It was included in Rolling Stone’s Greatest Album list at #167. While promoting the album on tour, Burton was killed in bus accident. The remaining members decided to continue with the band, and they hired Newsted after he won an audition.
  • Their real breakthrough came with 1988’s …And Justice For All. Their first single to chart, titled One, reached #35 on the Hot 100. The album is certifed 8x platinum. The band became a mainstream success with the 1991 release of the self titled Metallica. It became their biggest selling album – 16x platinum, with global sales exceeding 31 million copies. The album topped the Billboard album chart, and 5 singles charted in the Hot 100, with Enter Sandman reaching #16. The album makes the Rolling Stone GOAT list at #255, and Enter Sandman makes the GOAT songs list at #408.
  • Metallica released 2 more studio albums in the 90s – Load and Reload. Both are multi-platinum, reaching the top of the album chart. The single Until It Sleeps became their highest charting single at #10, and their first of 8 songs to top the US Mainstream Rock chart.
  • In 1998, they released a cover album named Garage Inc. It covered songs originally performed by artists ranging from Black Sabbath to Bob Seger to Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was a huge success, reaching #2 on the album chart and ultimately certified 5x platinum. A live album followed – S&M, recorded with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, covering earlier Metallica songs with the orchestra backing the band. The performance was filmed, and a concert film was released with the same name.
  • Three albums have been released since 2000. St. Anger, Death Magnetic and 2016’s Hardwired…To Self Destruct all were platinum sellers, with singles The Day That Never Comes, Cyanide, Hardwired and Atlas Rise! all topping the Mainstream Rock chart.
  • Metallica’s legacy is unmatched among heavy metal bands. They are considered one of the “big four” of thrash music (along with Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeath). They have won 9 Grammy awards, and they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Here’s the video to the song that made them put them on the GOAT map, Enter Sandman. 

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