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So it’s Wednesday night. I’m lying in bed, trying to decide what to write
my research paper on, but mostly focusing on the television. VH1’s Behind the
Music is on. Tonight, the show spotlights my favorite band: Metallica. Suddenly
it hits me. I should do my paper on the most fascinating band in the world. And
so the story begins.
We’ll start over in Copenhagen Denmark. A young boy named Lars Ulrich is
growing up in a rich neighborhood. He plays tennis, and has hopes of one day
being one of the worlds best (Tolinski, 46). But that dream comes to an abrupt
halt when Lars gets his first drum set for his twelfth birthday (Tolinski, 46).
This was also around the same time when heavy metal was beginning to catch on in
Europe. The rise of this type of music is referred to as the new wave of British
Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Suddenly Lars’ life has a new focus. Forget about
tennis. Now this spoiled rich kid wants to be a drummer.
In early 1979,Lars moved to Los Angeles California (VH1). He began to place
ads in the cities local heavy metal magazine. For several months, he got no
response. In fact no one else even placed ads looking for other people to start
a band, except for one guy. Desperate to start his musical career, Lars decided
to call this other guy to see if he would like to jam sometime.
Jamyz Hetfield was ecstatic to receive that phone call. He had grown up
listening to the NWOBHM, and had taught himself how to play the guitar. When the
two met for the first time, an instant brotherhood was born. Not because they
liked each other, but because no one else was willing to give this new type of
music a chance.
After a few jam sessions, Lars and Jamyz decided that they were ready to form
a band. Lars knew a man named Brian Slagel that was putting together a metal
compilation album called Metal Massacre (Tolinski, 46). Brian assured Lars a
spot on the record if he could throw together a band. With this in mind Lars and
Jamyz hit the Los Angeles club scene to try to discover possible band mates.
They found a lead guitarist named Lloyd Grant, and a bassist named Ron McGovney.
The foursome hit the studios and recorded one track: “Hit The Lights” (Tolinski,
So now it’s 1981. The foundation for the greatest heavy metal band of all
time has been formed, but they had no name, until another metal head named Ron
Quintana came into the scene. He was developing a magazine dedicated to heavy
metal music. The final nominees for the magazine title were Metallica and Metal
Mania. Lars assured Ron that Metal Mania was far catchier, and promptly stole
the other name for his band (VH1).
It took a while, but Metal Massacre was finally released in the summer of
1982 (Tolinski, 47). Needless to say, Metallica’s debut didn’t set the world
on fire. And to top it all off, the band’s name was misspelled on the track
listing. But nothing could stop these guys from reaching the top. They were
destined for stardom.
In late 1982, Dave Mustaine replaced Lloyd Grant as lead guitarist (VH1). The
band went back into the studios to rerecord their only song, and the new version
was released on all subsequent pressings of Metal Massacre. With a now more
solid line-up, “Hit The Lights” went on to be the most popular track on the
With the end of 1982 quickly approaching, the band decided to hit the studios
again and record a seven-track demo album titled No Life ‘Til Leather. In
November of 1982 Metallica played their first show. It was a show dedicated to
metal fans, and featured seven of the ten bands on the Metal Massacre album.
Metallica quickly stole the show. In fact several of the other bands were booed
off the stage by angry fans who were there just to see Metallica (Tolinski, 47).
So now things were going okay for the guys. They had a steady underground
following. But they weren’t making any money. They knew they needed to step up
their music, but how? This question was answered when Jamyz attended a show in a
LA bar. On stage was a man named Cliff Burton(VH1). Burton, a bass player, was
by far the most talented musician Hetfield had ever seen. He knew immediately
that he must get him to join Metallica. Cliff issued Jamyz an ultimatum: “Relocate
to San Francisco, and I’ll join your band”(Tolinski,
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Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance, Metallica, Kill Em All, Ride the Lightning, Jason Newsted, Ron McGovney, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, Master of Puppets, Dave Mustaine, ...And Justice for All, One
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