Cliff Burton of Metallica

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Cliff Burton of Metallica

Post by BrendonM » Wed Jan 17, 2007 8:45 pm

Not sure if this is where to post stuff like this, so if not then please move it.
Clifford Lee Burton (February 10, 1962 – September 27, 1986) was a bass guitarist, best known for his work with the thrash metal band Metallica from 1982-86. He was killed in a bus accident in Sweden, 1986 while touring with Metallica.

His life and tragic death have inspired many songs from bands including Megadeth ("In My Darkest Hour") and Primus, as well as bassists such as Billy Sheehan and John Myung.

Born - February 10, 1962 Castro Valley, California
Died - September 27, 1986 Ljungby Municipality, Sweden
Genre(s) - Heavy metal, Thrash metal
Affiliation(s) - Metallica
Years active 1981-1986

Burton was born in Castro Valley, California. He started playing the piano at age six. In 1976, when he was 14, Cliff started taking bass guitar lessons from a local music teacher. According to his parents, Cliff would spend four to six hours a day perfecting his bass guitar skills (even after he joined Metallica).

Upon graduating from Castro Valley High School in 1980, he took up a music course at Napa Valley Junior College in northern California. One of his fellow schoolmates there was "Big" Jim Martin, former guitarist of Faith No More.

Joining Metallica
The other members of Metallica were looking for a replacement to their current bassist, Ron McGovney, with whom a personality conflict with the other band members lead them to replace him. According to their liner notes to "Garage, Inc.", they attended a show by Burton's band, Trauma, and heard what they thought was a wah-wah guitar solo. After wondering where the sound was coming from (as they noticed the guitarist wasn't playing), they discovered it was Burton playing his famous solo, (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth, on his bass guitar through a wah-wah.

Burton was then asked to join Metallica. Eventually, he agreed to join, but on the condition that the band would relocate from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area. He believed the music scene in Los Angeles was "too plastic", and indeed, it was at the time a major hub for hair metal.

During their tours, Burton deliberately exposed the band to a variety of music styles ranging from The Misfits, Pink Floyd, and Thin Lizzy, to legendary classical pianist Glenn Gould playing Bach.

Cliff's first show with Metallica was at "The Stone" in San Francisco, CA on March 5th, 1983. His last show was in Stockholm, Sweden on September 26, 1986. The last song he ever played with the band live was "Blitzkrieg".

While on the European part of the Master of Puppets tour, the sleeping cubicles were reportedly unsatisfactory and uncomfortable, and so the band drew cards to decide who got to sleep in the most comfortable bunk. Burton and guitarist Kirk Hammett drew from a stack of cards to see who would get the top bunk. Burton won the card game with the ace of spades and therefore he got to sleep in Kirk Hammett's bed, as recalled on MTV's Rockumentary 1992 bio of the band (as well as in the VH1 show Behind the Music and the Metallica biography Metallica: Unbound by K. J. Doughton).

Burton died when the band's tour bus hit black ice (although it is still disputed that it may have crashed as the driver had been drinking) and flipped over in rural Sweden (Kronobergs län). Burton fell out of the emergency exit door's window, and the tour bus landed on top of him, killing him instantly. He was crushed again when the winch cable lifting the bus off him snapped, dropping the bus on him a second time.

Burton's body was cremated. At the ceremony, the instrumental "Orion" from the album Master of Puppets was played. Subsequently, Metallica never played "Orion" live in full until June 6, 2006, when they performed the album Master of Puppets in its entirety to mark the 20th anniversary of its release. Previously, parts of the song had been used to bridge between other songs. During the 1990s, Burton's replacement, Jason Newsted, sometimes played the bass line for "Orion" as part of a Master of Puppets medley.

Burton was succeeded as Metallica's bassist by Jason Newsted, at the time a member of the band Flotsam & Jetsam. Newsted says he was never really accepted by the band, "I always felt this shadow cast over me, and I always felt like I wore shoes that were too large for my feet whenever I remember who I replaced." Newsted left the band in 2001 after they finished "I Disappear".

To temporarily fill the missing slot, the band's long-time producer Bob Rock took over bass playing on St. Anger. Soon after, Robert Trujillo (formerly of Suicidal Tendencies) was selected as their new bassist and has since been taken in much kinder than Newsted was. As quoted by Kirk Hammett, in the documentary Some Kind of Monster, "I looked over at him during Battery, and he was just right in the pocket and in there. And then afterwards when he played it alone with his finger, it hadn't been played like that since Cliff."

Style of playing
His playing style was unusually varied for a heavy metal bassist. From the rapid-fire riffs from songs like "Battery", "Damage, Inc." or "The Four Horsemen" to more melodic playing in "Orion", and solos like "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth." Burton never played with a guitar pick; he always used his fingers. During his solos, he often played on two or sometimes even three strings at once.

Burton's main influences in his bass guitar-playing were most notably Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, Rush frontman Geddy Lee and Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler. Unlike other later metal and progressive metal bassists who favor 5-string or even 6-string bass guitars, Burton played standard 4-string basses exclusively. He usually played Rickenbacker, Alembic or Aria basses during live performances.

James Hetfield has admitted that Burton's influence was highly responsible for much of Metallica's early music and image. A classically trained pianist, Burton used his large knowledge of theory to add to the band's sound, both through his bass work and teaching James how to theorize and harmonize.

Cliff's obsession with horror writer H.P. Lovecraft gave the band a large array of album cover art and song topics (i.e. The Call of Ktulu, The Thing That Should Not Be). The band has also noted that their love of The Misfits, Samhain, and all things Glenn Danzig came directly from Cliff force-feeding a Misfits tape to them on tour, playing it to the point of monotony and using the dashboard as a drumkit[citation needed]. This influence has persisted ever since, and when Metallica toured the USA in the summer of 1994, Danzig was one of the opening bands, and on a few occasions, he came out on stage with Metallica, providing vocals when they performed the Misfits' "Last Caress/Green Hell."

After Burton's untimely death, Metallica made ...And Justice for All in 1988. The instrumental track "To Live is to Die" is Burton's last writing credit and is said by the band to be mainly made up of his unused riffs, and the spoken part also penned by him. In 1987 Metallica released the tribute documentary Cliff 'Em All, a video retrospective of Burton's time in the band, presented as a collection of bootleg footage shot by fans, some professional filming and TV shots that were never used and some of his best bass solos, personal photos and live concerts.

The most well known non-Metallica tribute to Cliff is the song "In My Darkest Hour" by Megadeth. The band's frontman Dave Mustaine was Metallica's lead guitarist in the early days and knew Cliff quite well. Mustaine was quoted in various magazines and Megadeth's "Behind The Music" as saying the song was inspired by Burton's passing. He claimed that neither James nor Lars informed him of Cliff's accident and he only found out when the band's manager called him. While the lyrics are not directly about Burton, they were inspired by his death.

On October 3, 2006 a memorial stone was unveiled in Sweden near the scene of the fatal crash. After the stone had been uncovered a remembrance concert was held at the nearby restaurant/pub, Gyllene Rasten, where these bands performed: Age of Fury, The Haze, Killersqueze and Morbid Insultor. Video of the uncovering of the stone can be seen here.

Thrash metal band Anthrax dedicated their Among The Living album to him.

Burton co-wrote several Metallica songs, including "Master of Puppets," "Orion," "For Whom The Bell Tolls," "Damage, Inc." and "Fade to Black." The best examples of his unique bass playing style are:
* The chromatic intro of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" (which is usually mistaken for a guitar by those unfamiliar with his unique style.)
* The epic 3 and a half minute bass solo "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" from the album Kill 'Em All
* The lead bass in the instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" from Ride the Lightning
* The lead bass in the instrumental "Orion" from Master of Puppets; also, the section in the song's interlude was written by Burton.
* The intro of "Damage Inc." which has very complex volume swells and harmonies in bass by using a volume pedal.
* The lead bass in the song "Disposable Heroes" from Master of Puppets is a good example of Cliff's bass being mistaken for a guitar.
* He wrote many of the riffs used in "To Live is to Die" which is featured on the ...And Justice for All album, and the song is dedicated to him. There are only these lyrics, also written by Burton, in the entire song, intoned by James Hetfield about three-quarters (7:34) of the way through:

“When a man lies, he murders some part of the world.
These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives. All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?”

The line, "When a man lies, he murders some part of the world", is a quote from the movie Excalibur. The line "These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives" is actually from the book Lord Foul's Bane in the Thomas Covenant series written by Stephen R. Donaldson.

* Cliff stood 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) tall, the tallest Metallica member throughout the band's lineup.
* The last 2 songs he played live were Damage Inc. and Blitzkrieg.
* In the Cliff 'em All official VHS release (and later, on DVD), Cliff is seen smoking pot with Lou Martin (Jim Martin's brother) and friend Danny Donato[1].

Bass guitars
* Rickenbacker 4001.
* Aria Pro SB-1000RI.
* Alembic Spoiler. This was stolen, according to Burton in a interview.

* Mesa Boogie 4"x12" cabinet.
Custom-built 1"x15" cabinet.
* Mesa Boogie Mesa 400+ head.

* Chrome Tel-Ray Morley Power Wah Boost. (discontinued since 1983)
* Electro-Harmonix Sovtek Big Muff.

External links
* - The Official Metallica Website
* Cliff In Our Minds memorial website
* Tribute To Cliff Burton
Last edited by BrendonM on Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Dan » Wed Jan 17, 2007 9:13 pm

Definitely in the right place.

I gather Cliff is your favourite bass player Brendon? In my younger days I was a bit of a Metallica fan (but not a true fan as I like the stuff from Black album on best) hehe :P

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Post by bassnut14 » Mon Jul 05, 2010 5:58 pm

Dan wrote:Definitely in the right place.

I gather Cliff is your favourite bass player Brendon? In my younger days I was a bit of a Metallica fan (but not a true fan as I like the stuff from Black album on best) hehe :P
SACRILEGE!!!!!!!! the black album is evil it is truly awfull (well half is anyway).

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Re: Cliff Burton of Metallica

Post by Kalel » Tue Aug 10, 2010 4:58 pm

Awesome info there, that was a good read, big fan, the 'Some kind of monster' DVD was great, finally got to hear them talk about Cliff and why Jason was never really part of the family. Wasn't too angry with the black album but was disgusted by everything that followed including the change of wardrobe from metalhead to cowboy! /shakes his head in disapproval :cry:

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