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Clifford Lee Burton

cliff2.jpg

1962 - 1986

Clifford Lee Burton was the bassist for Metallica.

Cliff was born on February 10, 1962 at the Eden Hospital in San Francisco, CA at 9:38 pm. His parents were two San Francisco hippies, Jan and RayBurton. It was from them that Cliff got his image, his hippie ideas, but most of all, his attitude.Cliff was the best heavy metal bassist then and now. By combining the styles of blues, jazz, and classical, he single-handedly transformed a then noisy, not-very-good Metallica into a very listenable group of musicians that they be came in the ensuing years.

From an early age, it was evident that Cliff had a love of music. At the young age of six, he began playing the piano, his first instrument. Although he played in a band commonly termed "thrash metal," his love always rested in the finer genres of music. He was educated in music theory, after taking college courses on the subject. He loved classical, blues, jazz and country, not the typical likes of the thrash player,but definitely those of a good musician.

Cliff picked up the bass in his teenage years, taking bass lessons from September 1978 to January 1980. Before he was in Metallica, he was in several other bands. Supposedly, everyone in the area wanted Cliff in their band.

Enter a bunch of kids doing really fast metal. This is late 1982. Said band are growing frustrated with their bassist, who lacks creativity and skill. This band is looking for a bassist with more creativity and who will contribute to the band more. They see Cliff, playing at the Whiskey, flailing away at his bass. So the love affair begins. Metallica knew they must have Cliff in their band. Cliff wouldn't go easily. After a few jams, Metallica finally agreed to leave their native L.A., to get Cliff. Not that leaving meant much to them, anyway. Metallica had never cared much for L.A. and the fans for the glam/poser scene had never cared much for their ripped jeans and fast music. The fans thought Metallica was a punk band because of their fast playing and their look.

Cliff played his first show with Metallica, in SanFrancisco, on March 3, 1983. Little did anyone know that this band, with its wild bassist, Cliff Burton, would go on to produce three of the most influential albums in heavy metal history. His second gig with Metallica was on March 19, 1983. Most of you have probably seen his solo from this show on the video "Cliff 'em All." Dave Mustaine dubbed him the "major rajor and the four string mother fucker". Well put, as only Dave could put it.

After gigging around the bay area with their wondrous new bassist they went to New York to record their legendary debut, "Kill 'em All", with Megaforce Records.

The "Kill 'em All for One" tour brought them home, Metallica now begins to prepare to record their next album. In the process, they sign with Electra records. Many said they had sold out when they heard a ballad on the album. These are Cliff's thoughts on this > situation: "We do what we wanna do--if they consider that selling > out...whatever."

Metallica's natural progression continued when Ozzy Ozbourne invited them to open for him on his "Ultimate Sin" tour. This would prove to be Metallica's real break to a wider range of audiences.

Sadly,Metallica and Cliff were not to be. After touring with Ozzy, the band went on a tour of Europe, playing various dates. Their last show with Cliff was on September 26, 1986, in Stolkholm, Sweden. Metallica always liked Stolkholm, they seemed to get a good response from the fans.

Later on that night, the band was in their bus, headed toward Copenhagen, Denmark, for a gig the next night. At about 3AM Stolkholm time September 27, or 9PM Eastern Time US September 26, the bus began to slide on icy roads in the mountains between Stolkholm and > Copenhagen. It was a long slide, about 20 or 30 seconds. In the process, Cliff was throw out of the bus. Then it fell landed on its side, crushing him.

The rest of the band continued on to Copenhagen, where they stayed in a hotel with Anthrax, with whom they were touring. Lars injured his foot, Kirk and James suffered trivial injuries. That night, while Kirk and Lars slept, James paced around, saying that he would never go on. He had just lost his best friend.

Tribute was paid to Cliff Burton through $19.98 Home Vid -- Cliff ,Em All!, a collection of bootleg footage and stuff shot for TV featuring Metallica live during the 3 years when Cliff was in the band, including bass solos. Another tribute to Cliff is the song "To Live Is To Die" from ...And Justice For All. The song was based on a couple of riffs that Cliff had written. James and Lars added to them and made this instrumental. Cliff wrote the poem that James reads in the middle of the song, and the title was a quote that Cliff once said.

"Why should we change onstage? We're not trying to be something big and fancy, it's just us, doing what we do, we'd like to keep it that way." - The Late Cliff Burton