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Born: August 3, 1963
From: Los Angeles
Personal: Married, 3 Children
Instrument: Vocals, Guitar Vitals: Blue eyes, blonde hair, 6'1"/1.85 meters tall
When it comes to defining Metallica, most people use James Hetfield as their guide. There's never any bullshit with James and there's never any shirking of duties. Example? When he threw his back out on the Summer Sanitarium 2000 tour, James ploughed his way through three weeks of intense physical therapy in four days, according to his physical therapist. And when the going got really tough, and James needed help in 2001, he sought it out, took it on and came back stronger than ever. It is precisely this sort of fierce, unbending dedication, devotion and spirit which has made James such an inspirational focal point through the years for millions of fans.
Ironically, the voice of Metallica (indeed, a defining voice of his rock'n'roll generation) very nearly wasn't a voice at all, simply because in the early days, James Hetfield didn't fancy being a lead vocalist. Metallica tried a few different vocal/guitar configurations. Some of the options considered included adding another
guitar player, having then-lead guitar player Dave Mustaine play the sole guitar and asking John Bush from Armored Saint to sing for the band. Of course common sense prevailed, James decided to fight harder to establish himself as a frontman and the results are, ahem, history
To trace the roots of Hetfield's unflinching dedication and determination, you have to go back to a childhood that was often tough but laid a foundation, which underscores James today. Born to a truck driver and light opera singer on August 3rd, 1963, in Los Angeles, his family's Christian Science religious beliefs played a large part in the young Hetfield's life, and subsequently form a central point for many of Metallica's lyrics. He was 9 years old when he first took piano lessons before taking on brother David's drums and finally picking up a guitar in his pre-teens.
With the likes of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy providing inspiration, James quickly set about the task of becoming a rock star in his first band, Obsession. Made up of the Veloz brothers on bass and drums, with Jim Arnold on guitar, plenty of time was spent in the Veloz's garage jamming with Ron McGoveny and Dave Marrs acting as roadies. McGovney subsequently stepped in alongside Marrs and Hetfield when the Veloz brothers incarnation ended.
After moving to Brea, California, James attended Brea Olinda High School and met up with drummer Jim Mulligan. The two jammed at lunch time scaring fellow guitarists with their loud and heavy sounds before a guy called Hugh Tanner was seen carrying around part of a flying V guitar at school. Phantom Lord was born with Hugh on guitar, Mulligan on drums and James singing plus playing guitar. The group went through a few bass players until graduation when James moved back to Downey.
Back in Downey, James moved into a house owned by Ron McGovney's parents that was slated for demolition due to an expressway expansion. It was the perfect place for James and Ron to crash, rehearse and jam. James talked Ron into taking up bass, Phantom Lord was no more and the third band under Hetfield's leadership.
Leather Charm, was born. The only difference between Charm and Lord, was James singing without guitar and Ron playing bass guitar, Hugh Tanner and Jim Mulligan retaining their former 'Lord positions. Leather Charm was a largely hard rock combo, playing some originals and covers such as Iron Maiden's 'Remember Tomorrow' amongst others. Theband managedto perform ata few parties and recordeda demo, but then began to fall apart.
First Tanner left the band (replaced by Troy James), then Mulligan left for a more progressive, Rush-like band. And with no drummer, the band was forced to call it quits. Although it was Mulligan's departure that led to James searching for a new drummer, we can safely say that Hugh Tanner was responsible for the catalytic moment which would change the course of James Hetfield's life and out him on the path to achieving his childhood ambition. How? Simple...Tanner introduced James to Lars Ulrich. The rest, as you'll read elsewhere, is a long, illustrious (occasionally curious) and still-evolving history...
James is the main songwriter in Metallica, co-creating the framework and structure for most Metallimaterial. When he's not writing, singing or playing, James enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including hunting, snowboarding, water and jet-skiing, sketching, annoying neighbors with guns and loud pipes on his chopper "The Saga", watching his favorite Oakland Raiders and going to hot-rod shows. He also collects older guitars (particularly those from 1963) and enjoys working on old cars.Amongst his favorites are a '55 Chevy BelAir (which he helped builtand restore himself), and 'The Beast', a fearsome all-terrain 4-wheel drive Blazer that is designed to survive everythingfrom earthquakes to nuclear holocausts. Aside from these pursuits, James is often happiest spending time with his wife Francesca and three children, Cali, Castor, and Marcella.
Born: December 26, 1963
From: Gentofte, Denmark
Personal: Married, 2 Children
Vitals: Green eyes, blonde/brown hair, 5'7"/1.7 meters tall
The oft-seen and heard dynamo of Metallica, when it comes to arranging all matters from songs to business, Lars is always at the epicenter. Indeed, constant activity has been a hallmark of Ulrich's life. As a child he saw his father Torben run a small jazz club in Copenhagen (sax player Dexter Gordon is Lars' Godfather) before following the family on the professional tennis circuit where Torben became an established figure.
Lars was nearly 10 when the sounds of Richie Blackmore and Deep Purple blew his little socks off at one of the first gigs he ever attended. It began a theme which has been recurrent in his life -obsession with a band- and having bought the 'Fireball' album, he began a Deep Purple love affair which continues to this day. At 13 his grandmother bought him his first drum kit, yet percussion vyed with tennis for priority. When the family moved to Newport Beach, CA in the late '70's, the seeds of priority scattered themselves in his field: girls, rock'n'roll and the occasional funny cigarette were all keys in turning Lars from the wooden raquet to full metal racket. He got so excited about metal music that he jammed a bit with a young lad called James Hetfield before taking a teenage trip to England during June of 1981 to see his newly beloved Diamond Head. He thus managed to finagle living with them for a while before returning to So Cal and the tape-trading he enjoyed with the likes of Metal Blade Records Brian Slagel.
Slagel was looking for bands to record cuts for an album he would release on the label (their first release). Lars got a slot but had no band. Remembering the less-than-awesome yet energetic jams with young Hetfield, Lars called him up and told him about the album. James listened. And thus was Metallica conceived.
These days, some 80-odd million albums worldwide later, Metallica might have undergone enormous collective and individual changes, but the essence of Ulrich remains. He is at once a loyal, attentive and determined person, one who locks in for the long-haul and one who's skin can achieve great thickness. He's also, in recent years, become even more comfortable saying exactly what he believes in regardless of the consequences (as evidenced by his willingness to be the band spokesperson on the Napster issue).
Music now shares the front seat with Lars' wife Skylar and two sons Myles and Layne as well as his thriving interests in art and film. Busy? Of course. But would Lars have it any other way? The proof is there for all to see...
Born: November18, 1962
From: San Francisco
Personal: Married Instrument: Guitar, background vocals
Vitals: Brown eyes, brown hair, 5'8"/1.75 meters tall
Kirk Hammett, never without a grin or a curious thought, is the true Bay Area band-member. Born in the East Bay townof El Sobrante (also the birthplace to one Les Claypool), hegainedan interest inmusic from his brother Rick's extensive record collection,Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelinand UFO. It all led to himproperly picking up the guitar when he was 15, his first being a wholly unglamorous Montgomery Ward catalog specialaccompanied by a shoe box with 4 inch speaker for an amp.
After picking up a 1978 Fender Stratocaster, Kirk experimented by mixing and matching guitar parts to find his perfect sound before falling for a 1974 Gibson Flying V. In a determined (and successful) effort to upgrade his equipment, Kirk even took a shift at Burger Kingto getthe cash together for his first Marshall amp. Around that time, Kirk alsoco-founded Exodus with Paul Baloff, andthe East Bay thrashers crossed paths with Metallica twice, in late '82 and early '83, as a support act.
In April 1983, Kirk received a phone call from Metallica in New York. They were in the process of firing guitarist Dave Mustaine and wanted Kirk to fly out and audition. Kirk got the money together for the flight, left California for the first time and arrived in the late afternoon to find three guys who were still waking up. Immediately he, and they, knew thefit was right despite the fact nobody ever formally invitedhim tojoin.
A keen student of his instrument even today, Hammett followed hisfirst 'Kill 'Em All' tour by taking lessons from Joe Satriani, and embarked upon a passage of guitar self-education that took in jazz, blues and classical styles.Indeed, education has always been Kirk's answer to potential burnout. After the marathon 'Black' album tourended in 1993, he immediately went to the CityCollege of San Francisco where hetook classes, something hecredits as the reason behind his reinvention as a guitarist on the'Load'and 'Re-load' albums.
Kirk continues tobring not only a dazzling arrayof lead guitarparts to Metallica's musicbut also some savage rifferey, having started sharing6-string duties with Jamesduringthe 'Load' era. He is happily married to Lani,and lives in San Franciscoalong with a large collection of old Hollywoodmovie memorabilia, his twodogs Darla and Hoku, plus cats.......Oh, and for the record, Kirk plays his guitar at least 361 days a year.
Born: October 23,1964
From: Santa Monica, California
Personal:Single Instrument: Bass, Background Vocals
Vitals: Brown eyes, dark hair, 5'9"/1.75 meters tall
He's got rhythm,and he's most certainly got music. Now Robert Trujillo's also got the job of being Metallica's new bassist and family member...one that will doubtless fit this most righteous and cheerful of Southern Californians like a glove.
Although he sometimes does use a pick, Trujillo is best known as a baaaad motherplucker, a finger-playin' bass monster who's dexterity, tones and attitude have seen him grace the bass of Suicidal Tendencies, Infectious Grooves and Ozzy Osbourne's band since his first professional work with Suicidal in1989. It allstems back to a childhood filledwith variety and spice.
Growingup in Venice Beach "Dog Town", Trujillo heard everything, from Led Zeppelin to Motown with a chunk of funk in between. Joined with a young love of surfing, Trujillo developed a rhythm and a vibe that saw him play with a variety of local bands through his early 20s until he met Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies via his High School buddy, Suicidal guitarist Rocky George. the two got on infamously well, and thus began a rich and fruitful relationship which saw Rob establish himself as one of the most exciting bass talents in the rock world.
In the early '90s, he and Muir formed the experimental funk-rockers Infectious Grooves, and then in the mid-'90s Trujillo joined up with Ozzy Osbourne. Together with drummer Mike Bordin, Trujillo formed one of rock music's most soild and reliable rhythm units.
Rob's name first floated by the Metallicamp during Suicidal's supporting role on the Summer Shed tour of '94, when all the band noted his enthusiastic style and performances. Thus when it was time to consider who could step up and take the bass full-time in Metallica, Rob's name was an obvious choice.
By all accounts, Trujillo's audition dared the band NOT to give him the job, and even producer Bob Rock was heard saying how complete and unequivocally whole the band sounded with Rob playing.
And so it was that on Thursday, February 24th 2003, Robert Trujillo walked in to the HQ and saw Ulrich, Hammett and Hetfield immediately start applauding him. Again, Rob is the perfect fit, a calm, even-keeled man with experience and full bass props...and genuinely one of the nicest guys around. It all adds up to the 4th member, an equal part of the Metallica family and an exciting new stage in Metallihistory.
It's the sort of story that scriptwriters would get laughed out of conference rooms for entering. The sort of story that illustrates perfect synchronicity between hunger, passion and time. The sort of story that only happens every 30-odd years. And the sort of story that would approximately 500 pages to do it true justice.
Metallica. A household name. The 7th biggest selling act in American history.
Who'd have thought it when, on October 28th, 1981, drummer Lars Ulrich made guitar player/singer James Hetfield an offer he couldn't refuse: "I've got a track saved for my band on Brian Slagel's new Metal Blade label."
The truth is, Lars didn't have a band at that time, but he did that day when James joined him. The two recorded their first track on a cheap recorder with James performing singing duties, rhythm guitar duties and bass guitar duties. Lars dutifully pounded the drums, helped with musical arrangements and acted as manager. Hetfield's friend and housemate Ron McGovney was eventually talked into taking up bass and Dave Mustaine took lead guitar duties.
The band adopted the moniker Metallica after a suggestion from Bay Area friend Ron Quintana, and they quickly began gigging in the Los Angeles area opening for bands like Saxon. Eventually recording a fully-fledged demo called No Life Til Leather, Metallica quickly saw the tape whistle around the metal tape-trading underground and become a hot commodity, with San Francisco and New York particularly receptive.
Metallica performed 2 shows in San Francisco and found the crowds friendlier and more honest than LA's "there to be seen" mob. They also caught up-and-coming band Trauma, and most importantly their bass player, Cliff Burton. Cliff refused to move to Southern California: it was enough to convince Metallica to relocate to the Bay Area, and Cliff subsequently joined Metallica.
In New York, a copy of No Life Til Leather made its way to Jon Zazula's record shop, the aptly named Metal Heaven. Zazula quickly recruited Metallica to come out east to play some shows and record an album. The band made it to New York in a stolen U-Haul. Dave Mustaine, at that point the band's guitarist, was proving to be more problematic than even these loose young chaps could handle. Thus a few weeks after arrival, Mustaine was sent packing, roadie Mark Whitakker suggesting Kirk Hammett from Bay Area thrashers Exodus. Two phone calls and one flight later, on April 1, 1983 Kirk Hammett joined Metallica.
Metallica's first album, Kill 'Em All, was released in late 1983 and some ferocious touring which saw the band's reputation soar both in the US and Europe. In 1984 they went to work withproducer FlemmingRassmussen in Copenhagen at Sweet Silence Studios on their second album.'Ride The Lightning' proved that Metallica were not some thrash-in-the-pan one trick pony, the writing and sound illustrating a growth, maturity and intensity which saw them immediately targeted by major management in QPrime, and a major label in Elektra. Both deals were done by the fall of '84and their reputation continued to grow worldwide.
Returning to the same studios in 1985, the group recorded'Master Of Puppets', mixing in LA with Michael Wagner and releasing in early 1986. They quickly secured a tour with Ozzy Osbourne, and that stint (plus a top 30 album chart position) saw their fan base and name take a quantum leap. What hadseemed so unlikely was nearer than ever to coming true; world domination.