1980 A young Lars Ulrich
was addicted to the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), and
he tried to put his own band together. At this point, his attempt
failed, but he placed an ad in a magazine called Recycler, to
which one James Hetfield answered. James and Lars met up to jam,
but nothing became of this first meeting.
Summer 81 Lars went to the UK to follow Diamond Head around for 3 months on tour. On his return he secured a deal to record a track for the Metal Blade compilation Metal Massacre. Due to the fact that he didn't yet have a band, he quickly began contacting people.
In order to get a certain live gig, Metallica needed to present some of their material, so they recorded a demo, later known as Power Metal. This was recorded with James, Lars, Ron McGovney, and Dave Mustaine. There isn't an actual title for this demo, but when it surfaced as a bootleg, the name stuck. The name comes from some early business cards of the band that Ron printed up.
They re-recorded four tracks: Hit The Lights, Mechanix, Jump In The Fire, and Motorbreath. This new version of Hit The Lights appeared on the second pressing of Metal Massacre 1 (also the recent re-release).
Metallica played a gig at Lars’ high school, Backbay High School, managing to almost empty the hall.
They played as a five piece band for the first time with Jef Warner on vocals (luckily he didn't last).
The first print of the Metal Massacre compilation album was released, and included Metallica's first take of Hit The Lights. The second print had another version of this track. The album was released by Brian Slagel; this was the first release on his new label, Metal Blade.
Brian Slagel told the band about a great bass player (Cliff Burton) in a band called Trauma that played the Whiskey a Go-Go. James and Lars were not happy with Ron McGovney, and where so amazed by Cliff's playing, that they realized that this was the new bass player for Metallica. Cliff was not interested, but said that he would join the band if they moved to San Francisco, for he thought L.A. was a -up freak show.
To promote the Metal Massacre album, Brian Slagel organized a gig with the bands the San Francisco. This was the first time Metallica played in front of the Bay Area crowd, and it was a crucial job for them. All of the kids joined the headbangers on stage and went nuts. Metallica had to follow up this show with numerous gigs in the Bay Area.
The guys played at "The Old Waldorf" in San Francisco, with support from a band named Exodus, with one Kirk Hammett on guitar; this was the first time they met him. The show was recorded, and today is known as the Live Metal Up Your demo. They intended to record it through the mixing board, but something went wrong, so instead they set up a boombox in front of the speaker stacks; technically, this recording is an audience recording. Both Metal Up Your and No Life 'Til Leather came with a cassette liner that was written by Lars and contained the track listings and the band logo. This was Dave Mustaine's first show with the band.
It was approaching dawn on Saturday, the 27th of September, 1986. Metallica's two tour buses were making their way along a god-forsaken road that lies somewhere between the Scandinavian cities of Stockholm and Copenhagen. Apart from these vehicles, the route was deserted - there was no one else travelling at that unearthly hour of the morning. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, just before 6:15 a.m., one of the coaches swerved violently to its right and started careening wildly down the wrong side of the road. It was out of control, and a crash was inevitable.
During the unavoidable confusion that followed, the vast majority of the overturned bus' passengers managed to scramble free of the wreckage. Those that emerged included three of the four members of the band. In all honesty, the survivors had been extremely lucky, as they had all somehow managed to escape with little more than minor injuries and shock.
Swedish police arriving on the scene of the crash immediately arrested the driver as a matter of routine, but later released him without charges after further investigation revealed that the cause of the crash was black ice on a nasty bend in the road.
Unfortunately, however, there had been one fatality in the accident...... what is more, the deceased individual turned out to be one of the group. So, tragically, in the short space of those few dreadful seconds on that lonely Swedish road, Metallica's dreamlike existence was suddenly transformed into a hellish nightmare. Their 24 year old bass player, Cliff Burton, was dead.
"I saw the bus lying right on him. I saw his legs sticking out. I freaked. The bus driver, I recall, was trying to yank the blanket out from under him to use for other people. I just went, 'Don't do that!' I already wanted to kill the guy. I don't know if he was drunk or if he hit some ice. All I knew was, he was driving and Cliff wasn't alive anymore." James Hetfield -1993
The dazed group dealt with their anxiety in the manner with which they were most familiar: drinking. James broke two hotel windows and screamed, venting his rage. Kirk and his guitar tech, John Marshall, were so shaken that they left the light on in their room that night. On this day James, Lars and Kirk returned to the United States.
Jason Newstead goes to an audition, in the hopes to become the new bass player. He learned all the songs in a couple of days, so when the three of them asked Jason what song he would like to play, he said "anyone you like." At the end of the audition, Metallica had five candidates, but invited Jason to have a drink with them at Tommy's Joint. Before leaving the place, the three members went to the loo, and when they came back, they told Jason, "Welcome to Metallica."