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Introduction


From the moment they formed in 1981, Metallica have embodied all things metal ...


The Early Days


The band remembers its beginnings, when the object of the game was to seek and destroy ...


The Bassists


After Cliff Burton's death, Jason Newsted joins, only to be tortured for years and years before finally giving up ...


Alcoholica


The group speaks candidly about James Hetfield's life-changing stint in rehab ...


The Music


Metallica talk about the songwriting process, and share memories of recording Master of Puppets, the Black Album, St. Anger and more ...


Photo Galleries


Metallica: 20 Years Of Photos, Tickets, Posters




Avril, Snoop, Sum 41, More On "mtvICON: Metallica" Black Carpet


Metallica Icon Main




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Lars Ulrich: In the fall of 1981, after coming back from a trip in England, I wanted to put a band together. There was a classified ads newspaper called The Recycler, and I put an ad in there saying something like, "Heavy metal drummer looking for other musicians to form a band with. Influences: Tygers of Pan Tang, Angel Witch, Saxon." And most people would call up and be like, "I'm into heavy metal but I've never heard of any of those bands. But I like Journey and I like REO Speedwagon. Does that work?" One of the guys that called up was a guy named Hugh Tanner. And I remember very clearly, he came down with his rhythm-guitar player, this James Hetfield guy, who basically spent the whole afternoon not saying one f---ing word. I mean, I'd never met anyone that shy in my life. We had a bit of a jam and nothing much materialized out of that. My ability on the drums at that time was basically zero. And I think they were secretly laughing at me. But there was something about this guy Hetfield. The way he played, his aura, his vibe.

So I called up Hetfield and I said, "Look, my friend's putting this [heavy metal compilation] record together. Do you want to take another shot at it?" And he came down and we started hanging out pretty much every day. And I started subjecting him to every single New Wave of British Heavy Metal thing from Praying Mantis to Black Axe to Silverwing to all the rest of the bands. And he was sitting there saying, "Well what about Ted Nugent and Aerosmith?" I'm like, "Dude." And then we basically wrote a song together — "Hit the Lights."

 Metallica: 20 Years Of Photos, Tickets, Posters
James Hetfield: One of the biggest things about hooking up with Lars was that he had lots of music I never heard. He was Danish. He had European stuff. Little singles and things that I had never heard of. The hardest stuff I had heard was Kiss, Aerosmith, just some of the punk stuff. Ramones, Sex Pistols. AC/DC, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden. But then when he brought in some of the more underground stuff, I was blown away. It was like Lars is this rich kid who's got this record collection, it's like he's got a record store at his house. He had everything. And I would spend weeks at his house just taping stuff.

I moved high schools and it was so hard to link up with other people. When I hooked up with Lars, I still didn't really trust anyone. But at least we enjoyed the same kind of music. Music was it. That was my best friend. And I met other people with the same feeling. Music took them to a place of safety. To a place of expression. It allowed them to get some of their own real stuff out. But back in L.A. we wanted to get gigs. We wanted to tour. And I know back then all we wanted to do was not have a job. I wanted to be a rock and roll dude. And we wanted to seek out all the poseurs. "Poseur" was a big word back then. If you were a poseur you thought you were metal but you weren't.

So we get this gig. The first gig ever. The crew at sound check steal a keg from the place. And they call us up and say, "Well, you're canceled." And we said, "Oh, we'll bring the keg back, hold on!" It was our first run-in with what you were supposed to do and not do in the music business. And for the better of the band, we won't drink all that keg right now. But yeah, basically seek and destroy. Drink, smash stuff up, feel good.

Ulrich: Initially [for our fans] it wasn't just about identifying with the songs. It was also identifying with what the band represented. We were the antithesis to what most of the bigger bands were doing at that time. In '83, '84, '85, the music scene in America was still dominated by the major labels. We were the big f--- you alternative to Loverboy and Journey and REO Speedwagon. At that time we were pretty f---ing vocal about it, too. We made sure that everybody understood that we were the anti-Mötley Crüe.

Hetfield: It was all about armies and war. It was like, we are Metallica. We're riding into town. The "Four Horsemen" are riding into town to rape and pillage and leave town. Conquering the world with our metal. But that's how we felt. We're 17, 18, 19. We're not just some B.S. hair band from L.A. We got stuff to say and listen to us. Or else we'll play louder and faster. And that's what we did.

We were four guys sleeping in the same room. Sometimes in the same bed because we couldn't afford anything more. We didn't care. We're fighting over one towel. You're on tour. That's my pillow. Someone slept without. And you had to fight for what you got. That for me was our family vibe. At the beginning, it was just all for one, one for all. Kill. Kill 'em all.


NEXT: Dave Mustaine drops the f-bomb on Kirk Hammett, the band squats in an icy building in Queens, New York, and plays louder and more obnoxiously than anybody ...
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Photo: Elektra

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