Happy Birthday to [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Metallica[/lastfm] frontman [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]James Hetfield[/lastfm]!!
And for the record, ever since “Enter Sandman,” Jack FM has had to sleep with a nightlight on.
Got a problem with that?
All it took was an ad in a newspaper to create one of the world’s most successful and best-known heavy metal bands.
In 1981, drummer [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Lars Ulrich[/lastfm] placed an ad in a local Los Angeles newspaper seeking other metal musicians to jam with. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield responded, and the seeds of Metallica were planted. A few months later, another ad for a lead guitarist was placed, with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Dave Mustaine[/lastfm] landing the job. A year later, Hetfield and Ulrich recruited bassist [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Cliff Burton[/lastfm], and the original line-up of the band was set.
In April 1983, just as Metallica was about to begin recording their debut album, the band decided to kick Mustaine out. The reason? Mustaine’s substance abuse problems and violent behavior. He was quickly replaced by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Kirk Hammett[/lastfm], while Mustaine went on to form [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Megadeath[/lastfm].
Metallica’s debut album, Kill ‘Em All, was released in July 1983. Although the album was not a commercial success, it did earn the band a growing fanbase in the underground metal scene.
Over the next three years, Metallica released two more albums: Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. The latter peaked at #29 on the Billboard 200 and became the band’s first gold record.
Things were starting to look up for Metallica when tragedy struck on September 27, 1986. The band, who were on the European leg of their Damage Inc. tour, were asleep on the bus when the driver suddenly lost control. The bus skidded and flipped several times, pinning Cliff Burton under it and killing him. His death left the band’s future in doubt. The remaining members eventually decided that Burton would want them to continue on, and, with the blessings of Burton’s family, recruited [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Jason Newsted[/lastfm] as their new bassist.
Moving forward, Metallica released their fourth studio album, … And Justice for All, in 1988. It became the band’s breakthrough album, peaking at #6 on the charts and going platinum just nine weeks after its release. The band filmed their first video for the single, “One,” where its rotation on MTV exposed the band to a mainstream audience. … And Justice for All earned Metallica their first Grammy nomination in the new category Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental. They were the favorites to win, but lost to [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Jethro Tull[/lastfm] in what many considered to be one of the biggest Grammy upsets of all time.
Metallica’s biggest success came in 1991 with the release of their self-titled album. Metallica, which was also known as “the Black album,” debuted in the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart. It sold 650,000 copies the first week, eventually selling 22 million worldwide. Six hit singles were released from the album, including “Enter Sandman,” “The Unforgiven,” and Jack’s Song of the Day, “Nothing Else Matters.” “Nothing Else Matters” was written by Hetfield while on the phone with his then-girlfriend, and the lyrics were dedicated to her. The song went to #34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to #11 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
With every high comes a low. In August 1992, Metallica was in Montreal playing a show with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Guns N Roses[/lastfm] when the unthinkable happened. Frontman James Hetfield, confused by the new pyrotechnics setup, accidentally walked into a 12-foot flame during “Fade to Black.” He suffered second- and third-degree burns to his arms, face, hands and legs. Hetfield took some time off to recover, then continued with the tour.
After touring for nearly three years in support of Metallica, the band returned to the studio to begin work on their sixth album. Load was released in 1996. Although the album was at #1 for four weeks and sold five million copies, the band saw backlash from some of their hardcore fans. Many criticized Metallica for the album’s bluesier sound and called the band “sell-outs.” Metallica even underwent an image change: they cut their long hair.
But the criticism couldn’t derail the band. Metallica released three more hit albums before the end of the century: Reload, Garage Inc. and S&M, a live album featuring the band performing with the San Francisco Symphony.
In 2000, Metallica discovered that a demo of their song for the Mission Impossible: II soundtrack, “I Disappear,” was being played on radio. The source of the leak was traced back to Napster, a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. The band also found their entire catalog was available on the site for free. Metallica filed a lawsuit against Napster for copyright infringement. After a lengthy battle, a settlement was reached.
Bassist Jason Newsted left the band in January 2001, citing private and personal reasons. Continuing on as a trio, Metallica released St. Anger in 2003 and embarked on the Summer Sanitarium tour with [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Limp Bizkit[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Lincoln Park[/lastfm].
With new bassist [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Robert Trujillo[/lastfm], Metallica went back into the studio for their ninth album, Death Magnetic. Released in 2008, the album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, making it the band’s fifth consecutive studio album to do so. And in 2009, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Today, Metallica are still going strong. They recently finished recording a compilation project with the legendary [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Lou Reed[/lastfm] and have begun writing for their next album. In September, Metallica will be headlining the Rock in Rio Festival in Brazil, and in December, the iconic metal band will celebrate their 30th anniversary by playing four shows for fan club members at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
Check out this recent live performance of “Enter Sandman.” Great… now Jack FM is going to have nightmares tonight.
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