You Say It's Your Birthday: Metallica's Kirk Hammett

Today is the 35th birthday of Metallica lead guitarist Kirk Hammett. Metallica, made

up of Hammett, vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich on drums, and Jason

Newsted on bass, have been one of the longest lasting heavy metal outfits, attracting both

longtime metal adherents and fans drawn to experimentation and virtuosity. Formed in

1981, the band came of age in a time when metal bands were known for their big hair and

outlandish attitudes, but not necessarily for their musicianship. Hammett joined the band

following the ousting of future Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine in 1983. Later that

year, the band released Kill 'Em All, a classic thrash-metal album which

immediately set Metallica apart from other popular '80s metal acts by dealing with such

subjects as politics, violence and battles with personal demons.

In 1985, the band signed with Elektra and continued touring and recording for a growing

audience. The 1986 death of bassist Cliff Burton in a tour bus accident gave the group

some pause, but they eventually recruited Jason Newsted to fill his shoes. 1986's

Master of Puppets reached #29 on the Billboard charts and scored the group a slot

opening up for Ozzy Osbourne and a space on the Monsters of Rock Tour. In 1988, they

produced their biggest success yet, ...And Justice for All, an album which

contained the hit single "One," for which the group made its first video. 1991's self-

titled album continued the group's success, launching it on a lengthy world tour and

spawning such hits as "Enter Sandman" and "Wherever I May Roam." In 1996, the group

cut their hair, released Load and headlined the Lollapalooza festival. This year saw

the group playing at Neil Young's Bridge Benefit, playing a free show in a Philadelphia

parking lot and releasing Re-Load, a collection of songs culled from the

Load recording sessions.

Other birthdays: Herman Rarebell (Scorpions), 48; Graham Parker, 47; John Parr, 43;

Jenny Burton (C-Bank), 40 and Kim Wilde, 40.