Artist and Musician Biographies


Here is metallica performing "One" from their album "...and Justice for All.

There is a long list of characteristics that have defined heavy metal music since it's conception in the late 1960s. To name a few, virtuosic, extended guitar solos, loud vocals, innumerable references to sex, drugs and breakin' the rules, and men strutting with high-hair, skin tight spandex, wearing eyeliner. To outsiders, heavy metal could appear as sleazy, adolescent, and embracing all things Dionysian; but Metal musicians and their followers would say that the music is stripped of all superficial, sentimental glamour, as found in some pop music, to reveal something honest and genuine. Instead of teasing an audience, they confront artistic and cultural conventions.

And although, as in any genre, many bands homogynize the form to the point where it might sound the same, some bands have remained dedicated to the music itself. One band that transcends the stereotypes and delivers some of the highest quality hard rock since Led Zeppelin is San Francisco's Metallica.

Metallica's music is generally classified as heavy metal, although their unique brand of hard core speed metal has revealed them to be one of the best and most influential hard rock bands of the 1980s and 1990s. Influenced by the late 1970's new wave of British heavy metal bands including Iron Maiden and Diamond Head, Metallica was formed in 1981 by the Danish immigrant Lars Ulrich (1963), a drummer. Although he had plans to become a tennis pro, after meeting guitarist James Hetfield (1963) through a newspaper ad, the two decided to start playing music together in Los Angeles.

Soon after adding guitarist Dave Mustaine, who was soon replaced by Kirk Hammett (1962) and bass player Cliff Burton (1962-1986), the four-piece band relocated to San Francisco. Although they came out of the gritty glam metal and thrash underground scene of Los Angeles, it wasn't long before they had established a large following, and many consider them the band that brought heavy metal to the mainstream.

In 1983, they had released their debut album, Kill 'Em All, followed one year later by Ride the Lightening. Unlike other underground success stories of the time, however, Metallica rejected the traditional protocols of success. Refusing to make videos for MTV, their records were virtually ignored by radio. Instead Metallica made their mark through relentless touring and an inflexible devotion to creating music. In 1986, Metallica had a major breakthrough with their third release Master of Puppets.

By now the word was out. This band was redefining metal with their intense thrashing style, deeply focused chugging rhythms, blistering speed and intelligent yet razor sharp lyrics. Their talents and innovations were impossible to ignore, and by late 1986 they were opening for Ozzy Ozbourne, although it would be the last opening gig of their career.

Unfortunately, in a tragic bus crash on the European leg of that tour, bassist Cliff Burton lost his life. Jason Newsted (1963) soon filled the position, followed by the 1987 release And Justice for All. It's rumored that Led Zeppelin's bass player John Paul Jones attended one of the concerts promoting the album and was later seen shaking his head muttering, "I didn't know that sort of thing was possible."

Since that time, Metallica continued to tour incessantly and has released an additional seven albums. Although they have experimented with a broad variety of musical styles, refining and continually redefining their music, they remain one of the most critically acclaimed heavy metal bands in the world.

Their 1999 release, "S & M" is a live recording of well-known Metallica songs rearranged and composed for the collaborative project with the San Francisco Symphony revealing Metallica's ability to continually find new ground to break.

Bass player Robert Trujillo replaced Jason Newsted when he left the band in 2001. The band soon produced the album St. Anger (2003) and next they returned to their 1980s roots in the album Death magnetic (2008). With a growing audience in Latin American countries, they released Orgullo, Pasión, y Gloria: Tres Noches en la Ciudad de México (2009).

Their next album, Lulu (2011), was a collaboration with Lou Reed and in 2012 Metallica started its own recording label, Blackened on which they release two more albums: Through the Never [Music from the Motion Picture] (2013) and Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (2016).

Metallica is also known for two documentary motion pictures: Some Kind of Monster (2004) and The Big Four: Live from Sophia Bulgaria (2010). Metallica continues to thrive and rise to prominence in the world of Heavy Metal.

Page author: A.E., C.F. & M.B.