I saw the bus lying right on him. I saw his legs sticking out. I freaked. The bus driver, I recall, was trying to yank the blanket out from under him to use for other people. I just went, 'Don't fucking do that!' I already wanted to kill the [bus driver]. I don't know if he was drunk or if he hit some ice. All I knew was, he was driving and Cliff wasn't alive anymore.
MTV ranked Metallica the third "Greatest Heavy Metal Band in History". Metallica was ranked 42st on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time", was listed fifth on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock", and the band was number one on VH1's "20 Greatest Metal Bands" list. Rolling Stone placed the band 61st on its list of "The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time"; its albums Master of Puppets and Metallica were ranked at numbers 167 and 252 respectively on the magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Master of Puppets was named in Q Magazine's "50 Heaviest Albums of All Time", and was ranked number one on IGN's "Top 25 Metal Albums", and number one on Metal-rules.com's "Top 100 Heavy Metal Albums" list. "Enter Sandman" was ranked number 399 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time".
Metallica was formed in Los Angeles, California, in late 1981 when Danish-born Drummer Lars Ulrich placed an advertisement in a Los Angeles newspaper, The Recycler, which read, "Drummer looking for other metal Musicians to jam with Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head and Iron Maiden." Guitarists James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner of Leather Charm answered the advertisement. Although he had not formed a band, Ulrich asked Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel if he could record a song for the label's upcoming compilation album, Metal Massacre. Slagel accepted, and Ulrich recruited Hetfield to sing and play rhythm guitar. The band was officially formed on October 28, 1981, five months after Ulrich and Hetfield first met.
Metallica was ready to record their debut album, but when Metal Blade was unable to cover the cost, the band began looking for other options. Concert promoter Johny "Z" Zazula, who had heard the demo No Life 'til Leather (1982), offered to broker a record deal between Metallica and New York City-based record labels. After those record labels showed no interest, Zazula borrowed enough money to cover the recording budget and signed Metallica to his own label, Megaforce Records.
Mustaine, who went on to found Megadeth, has expressed his dislike for Hammett in interviews, saying Hammett "stole" his job. Mustaine was "pissed off" because he believes Hammett became popular by playing guitar leads that Mustaine himself had written. In a 1985 interview with Metal Forces, Mustaine said, "it's real funny how Kirk Hammett ripped off every lead break I'd played on that No Life 'til Leather tape and got voted No. 1 Guitarist in your magazine". On Megadeth's debut album Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! (1985), Mustaine included the song "Mechanix", which Metallica had previously reworked and retitled "The Four Horsemen" on Kill 'Em All. Mustaine said he did this to "straighten Metallica up" because Metallica referred to Mustaine as a drunk and said he could not play guitar. Metallica's first live performance with Hammett was on April 16, 1983, at a nightclub in Dover, New Jersey called The Showplace; the support act was Anthrax's original line-up, which included Dan Lilker and Neil Turbin. This was the first time the two bands performed live together.
Metallica recorded its second studio album, Ride the Lightning, at Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was released in August 1984 and reached number 100 on the Billboard 200. A French printing press mistakenly printed green covers for the album, which are now considered collectors' items. Mustaine received writing credit for "Ride the Lightning" and "The Call of Ktulu".
Elektra Records A&R Director Michael Alago, and co-founder of Q-Prime Management Cliff Burnstein, attended a Metallica concert in September 1984. They were impressed with the performance, signed Metallica to Elektra, and made the band as a client of Q-Prime Management. Metallica's growing success was such that the band's British label Music for Nations released Creeping Death as a limited edition single, which sold 40,000 copies as an import in the U.S. Two of the three songs on the record—cover versions of Diamond Head's "Am I Evil?" and Blitzkrieg's "Blitzkrieg"—appeared on the 1988 Elektra reissue of Kill 'Em All. Metallica embarked on its first major European tour with Tank to an average crowd of 1,300. Returning to the U.S., it embarked upon a tour co-headlining with W.A.S.P. and supported by Armored Saint. Metallica played its largest show at the Monsters of Rock festival at Donington Park, England, on August 17, 1985, with Bon Jovi and Ratt, playing to 70,000 people. At a show in Oakland, California, at the Day on the Green festival, the band played to a crowd of 60,000.
On September 27, 1986, during the European leg of Metallica's Damage, Inc. Tour, members drew cards to determine which bunks on the tour bus they would sleep in. Burton won and chose to sleep in Hammett's bunk. At around sunrise near Dörarp, Sweden, the bus driver lost control and skidded, which caused the bus to overturn several times. Ulrich, Hammett, and Hetfield sustained no serious injuries; however, Bassist Burton was pinned under the bus and died. Hetfield said:
Metallica finished its tour in the early months of 1987. In March 1987, Hetfield again broke his wrist while skateboarding, forcing the band to cancel an appearance on Saturday Night Live. In August 1987, an all-covers extended play (EP) titled The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited was released. The EP was recorded in an effort to use the band's newly constructed recording studio, test Newsted's talents, and to relieve grief and stress following the death of Burton. A video titled Cliff 'Em All commemorating Burton's three years in Metallica was released in 1987; the video included bass solos, home videos, and pictures.
Metallica's first studio album since Burton's death, ...And Justice for All, was released in 1988. The album was a commercial success, reaching number six on the Billboard 200, and was the band's first album to enter the top 10. The album was certified platinum nine weeks after its release. There were complaints about the production; Steve Huey of AllMusic said Ulrich's drums were clicking more than thudding, and the guitars "buzz thinly". To promote the album, Metallica embarked on a tour called Damaged Justice.
In 1989, Metallica received its first Grammy Award nomination for ...And Justice for All in the new Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrument category. Metallica was the favorite to win but the award was given to Jethro Tull for the album Crest of a Knave. The award was controversial with fans and the press; Metallica was standing off-stage waiting to receive the award after performing the song "One". Jethro Tull had been advised by its manager not to attend the ceremony because he was expecting Metallica to win. The award was named in Entertainment Weekly's "Grammy's 10 Biggest Upsets".
In October 1990, Metallica entered One on One Recording's studio in North Hollywood to record its next album. Bob Rock, who had worked with Aerosmith, The Cult, Bon Jovi, and Mötley Crüe, was hired as the Producer. Metallica—also known as The Black Album—was remixed three times, cost US$1 million, and ended three marriages. Although the release was delayed until 1991, Metallica debuted at number one in ten countries, selling 650,000 units in the U.S. during its first week. The album brought Metallica mainstream attention; it has been certified 16 times platinum in the U.S., which makes it the 25th-best-selling album in the country. The making of Metallica and the following tour was documented in A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica. The tour in support of the album, called the Wherever We May Roam Tour, lasted 14 months and included dates in the U.S., Japan, and the UK. In April 1992, Metallica appeared at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and performed a three-song set. Hetfield later performed "Stone Cold Crazy" with the remaining members of Queen and Tony Iommi.
In 1991, Huey said Metallica with new Producer Bob Rock simplified and streamlined its music for a more commercial approach to appeal to mainstream audiences. Robert Palmer of Rolling Stone said the band abandoned its aggressive, fast tempos to expand its music and expressive range. The change in direction proved commercially successful; Metallica was the band's first album to peak at number one on the Billboard 200. Metallica noticed changes to the rock scene created by the grunge movement of the early 1990s. In Load—an album that has been described as having "an almost alternative rock" approach—the band changed musical direction and focused on non-metal influences. Metallica's new lyrical approach moved away from drugs and monsters, and focused on anger, loss, and retribution. Some fans and critics were not pleased with this change, which included haircuts, the cover art of Load, and headlining the Lollapalooza festival of 1996. David Fricke of Rolling Stone described the move as "goodbye to the moldy stricture and dead-end Puritanism of no-frills thrash", and called Load the heaviest record of 1996. With the release of ReLoad in 1997, the band displayed blues and early hard rock influences, incorporating more rhythm and harmony in song structures.
On August 8, 1992, during the co-headlining Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour, Hetfield suffered second and third degree burns to his arms, face, hands, and legs. There had been some confusion with the new pyrotechnics setup, which resulted in Hetfield walking into a 12-foot (3.7 m) flame during "Fade to Black". Newsted said Hetfield's skin was "bubbling like on The Toxic Avenger". Metallica returned to the stage 17 days later with guitar technician and Metal Church member John Marshall replacing Hetfield on guitar for the remainder of the tour, although Hetfield was able to sing. Later in 1993, Metallica went on the Nowhere Else to Roam Tour, playing five shows in Mexico City. Live Shit: Binge & Purge, the band's first box set, was released in November 1993. The collection contained three live CDs, three home videos, and a book filled with riders and letters.
After almost three years of touring to promote the album Metallica, including a headlining performance at Woodstock '94, Metallica returned to the studio to write and record its sixth studio album. The band went on a brief hiatus in the summer of 1995 and played three outdoor shows that included headlining at Donington Park, where it was supported by Slayer, Skid Row, Slash's Snakepit, Therapy?, and Corrosion of Conformity. The short tour was titled Escape from the Studio '95. The band spent about a year writing and recording new songs, resulting in the release of Load in 1996. Load debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and ARIA Charts; it was the band's second number one album. The cover art of Load, called Blood and Semen III, was created by Andres Serrano, who pressed a mixture of his own semen and blood between sheets of plexiglass. The release marked a change in the band's musical direction and a new image; band members' hair was cut. Metallica headlined the alternative rock festival Lollapalooza festival in mid-1996.
In 1998, Metallica compiled a double album of cover songs titled Garage Inc. The first disc contained newly recorded covers of songs by Diamond Head, Killing Joke, the Misfits, Thin Lizzy, Mercyful Fate, Black Sabbath, and others. The second disc featured the original version of The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited, which had become a scarce collectors' item. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number two.
On March 7, 1999, Metallica was inducted into the San Francisco Walk of Fame. The mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, proclaimed the day "Official Metallica Day". The band was awarded the MTV Icon award in 2003, and a concert paying tribute to the band with artists performing its songs was held. Performances included Sum 41 and a medley of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Enter Sandman", and "Master of Puppets". Staind covered "Nothing Else Matters", Avril Lavigne played "Fuel", hip-hop Artist Snoop Dogg performed "Sad but True", Korn played "One", and Limp Bizkit performed "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)".
At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Ulrich appeared with host Marlon Wayans in a skit that criticized the idea of using Napster to share music. Marlon played a college student listening to Metallica's "I Disappear". Ulrich walked in and asked for an explanation. Ulrich responded to Wayans' excuse that using Napster was just "sharing" by saying that Wayans' idea of sharing was "borrowing things that were not yours without asking". He called in the Metallica road crew, who proceeded to confiscate all of Wayans' belongings, leaving him almost naked in an empty room. Napster creator Shawn Fanning responded later in the ceremony by presenting an award wearing a Metallica shirt, saying, "I borrowed this shirt from a friend. Maybe, if I like it, I'll buy one of my own." Ulrich was later booed on stage at the award show when he introduced the final musical act, Blink-182.
In April 2001, filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky began following Metallica to document the recording process of the band's next studio album. Over two years they recorded more than 1,000 hours of footage. On July 19, 2001, before preparations to enter the recording studio, Hetfield entered rehab to treat his "alcoholism and other addictions". All recording plans were put on hold and the band's Future was in doubt. Hetfield left rehab on December 4, 2001, and the band returned to the recording studio on April 12, 2002. Hetfield was required to limit his work to four hours a day between noon and 4 pm, and to spend the rest of his time with his family. The footage recorded by Berlinger and Sinofsky was compiled into the documentary Some Kind of Monster, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2004. In the documentary, Newsted said his former bandmates' decision to hire a therapist to help solve their problems which he felt they could have solved on their own was "really fucking lame and weak".
In June 2003, Metallica's eighth studio album, St. Anger, debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and drew mixed reactions from critics. Ulrich's "steely" sounding snare drum and the absence of guitar solos received particular criticism. Kevin Forest Moreau of Shakingthrough.net said, "the guitars stumble in a monotone of mid-level, processed rattle; the drums don't propel as much as struggle to disguise an all-too-turgid pace; and the rage is both unfocused and leavened with too much narcissistic navel-gazing". Brent DiCrescenzo of Pitchfork described it as "an utter mess". However, Blender magazine called it the "grimiest and grimmest of the band's Bob Rock productions", and New York Magazine called it "utterly raw and rocking". The title track, "St. Anger", won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2004; it was used as the official theme song for WWE's SummerSlam 2003.
Before the band's set at the 2004 Download Festival, Ulrich was rushed to the hospital after having an anxiety seizure and was unable to perform. Hetfield searched for last-minute volunteers to replace Ulrich. Slayer Drummer Dave Lombardo and Slipknot Drummer Joey Jordison volunteered. Lombardo performed "Battery" and "The Four Horsemen", Ulrich's drum technician Flemming Larsen performed "Fade to Black", and Jordison performed the remainder of the set. Having toured for two years in support of St. Anger on the Summer Sanitarium Tour 2003 and the Madly in Anger with the World Tour, with multi-platinum rock band Godsmack in support, Metallica took a break from performing and spent most of 2005 with friends and family. The band opened for The Rolling Stones at AT&T Park in San Francisco on November 13 and 15, 2005.
Kerrang! released a tribute album titled Master of Puppets: Remastered with the April 8, 2006, edition of the magazine to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Master of Puppets. The album featured cover versions of Metallica songs by Machine Head, Bullet for My Valentine, Chimaira, Mastodon, Mendeed, and Trivium—all of which are influenced by Metallica. At least 15 Metallica tribute albums have been released. On September 10, 2006, Metallica guest starred on The Simpsons' eighteenth-season premiere, "The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer". Hammett's and Hetfield's voices were used in three episodes of the animated television series Metalocalypse. Finnish cello metal band Apocalyptica released a tribute album titled Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, which features eight Metallica songs played on cellos. A parody band named Beatallica plays music using a combination of The Beatles and Metallica songs. Beatallica faced legal troubles when Sony, which owns The Beatles' catalog, issued a cease and desist order, claiming "substantial and irreparable injury" and ordering the group to pay damages. Ulrich, a fan of Beatallica, asked Metallica's Lawyer Peter Paterno to help settle the case.
Death Magnetic debuted at number one in the U.S. selling 490,000 units; Metallica became the first band to have five consecutive studio albums debut at number one in the history of the Billboard 200. A week after its release, Death Magnetic remained at number one on the Billboard 200 and the European album chart; it also became the fastest selling album of 2008 in Australia.
The Guitar Hero video game series included several of Metallica's songs. "One" was used in Guitar Hero III. The album Death Magnetic was later released as purchasable, downloadable content for the game. "Trapped Under Ice" was featured in the sequel, Guitar Hero World Tour. In 2009, Metallica collaborated with the game's developers to make Guitar Hero: Metallica, which included a number of Metallica's songs. Harmonix' video game series Rock Band included "Enter Sandman"; "Ride the Lightning", "Blackened", and "...And Justice for All" were released as downloadable tracks. In 2013, due to expiring content licenses, "Ride the Lightning", "Blackened", and "...And Justice for All" are no longer available for download.
On December 13, 2010, the band announced it would again play as part of the "big four" during the Sonisphere Festival at Knebworth House, Hertfordshire, on July 8, 2011. It was the first time all of the "big four" members played on the same stage in the UK. On December 17, 2010, Another "big four" Sonisphere performance that would take place in France on July 9 was announced. On January 25, 2011, another "big four" performance on April 23, 2011, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, was announced. It was the first time all of the "big four" members played on the same stage in the U.S. On February 17, 2011, a show in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on July 2, 2011, was announced. On February 22, a "big four" show in Milan on July 6, 2011, was announced. On March 2, 2011, another "big four" concert, which took place in Gothenburg on July 3, 2011, was announced. The final "big four" concert was in New York City, at Yankee Stadium, on September 14, 2011.
Metallica was due to make its first appearance in India at the "India Rocks" concert, supporting the 2011 Indian Grand Prix. However, the concert was canceled when the venue was proven to be unsafe. Fans raided the stage during the event and the organizers were later arrested for fraud. Metallica made its Indian debut in Bangalore on October 30, 2011. On November 10, it was announced that Metallica would headline the main stage on Saturday June 9, 2012, at the Download Festival at Donington Park and that the band would play The Black Album in its entirety. Metallica celebrated its 30th anniversary by playing four shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco in December 2011. The shows were exclusive to Met Club members and tickets were charged at $6 each or $19.81 for all four nights. The shows consisted of songs from the band's career and featured guest appearances by artists who had either helped or had influenced Metallica. These shows were notable because Lloyd Grant, Dave Mustaine, Jason Newsted, Glenn Danzig, Ozzy Osbourne, Jerry Cantrell, Apocalyptica, members of Diamond Head, and King Diamond joined Metallica on stage for all appropriate songs. In December 2011, Metallica began releasing songs that were written for Death Magnetic but were not included on the album online. On December 13, 2011, the band released Beyond Magnetic, a digital EP release exclusively on iTunes. It was released on CD in January 2012.
On February 7, 2012, Metallica announced that it would start a new music festival called Orion Music + More, which took place on June 23 and 24, 2012, in Atlantic City. Metallica also confirmed that it would headline the festival on both days and would perform two of its most critically acclaimed albums in their entirety: The Black Album on one night, and Ride the Lightning on the other. In a July 2012 interview with Canadian radio station 99.3 The Fox, Ulrich said Metallica would not release its new album until at least early 2014. In November 2012, Metallica left Warner Bros. Records and launched an independent record label, Blackened Recordings, which will produce the band's Future releases. The band has acquired the rights to all of its studio albums, which will be reissued through the new label. Blackened releases will be licensed through Warner subsidiary Rhino Entertainment in North America and internationally through Universal Music. On September 20, 2012, Metallica announced via its official website that a new DVD containing footage of shows it performed in Quebec in 2009 would be released that December; fans would get the chance to vote for two setlists that would appear on the DVD. The film, titled Quebec Magnetic, was released in the U.S. on December 10, 2012.
In an interview with Classic Rock on January 8, 2013, Ulrich said regarding the band's upcoming album, "What we're doing now certainly sounds like a continuation [of Death Magnetic]". He also said, "I love Rick [Rubin]. We all love Rick. We're in touch with Rick constantly. We'll see where it goes. It would stun me if the record came out in 2013." Also in 2013, the band starred in a 3D concert film titled Metallica: Through the Never, which was directed by Antal Nimród and was released in IMAX theaters on September 27. In an interview dated July 22, 2013, Ulrich told Ultimate Guitar, "2014 will be all about making a new Metallica record"; he said the album will most likely be released during 2015. Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo later confirmed the band's intention to enter the studio. At the second Orion Music + More festival held in Detroit, the band played under the name "Dehaan"—a reference to actor Dane DeHaan, who starred in Metallica: Through the Never. The band performed its debut album Kill 'Em All in its entirety, celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release. On December 8, 2013, the band played a show called "Freeze 'Em All" in Antarctica, becoming the first band to play on all seven continents. The performance was filmed and released as a live album the same month.
Jonathan Davis of Korn said he respects Metallica as his favorite band; he said, "I love that they've done things their own way and they've persevered over the years and they're still relevant to this day. I think they're one of the greatest bands ever." Godsmack Drummer Shannon Larkin said Metallica has been the biggest influence on the band, stating, "they really changed my life when I was 16 years old—I'd never heard anything that heavy". Vocalist and Guitarist Robb Flynn of Machine Head said that when creating the band's 2007 album, The Blackening, "What we mean is an album that has the power, influence and epic grandeur of that album Master of Puppets—and the staying power—a timeless record like that". Trivium guitarists Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy said that when they heard Metallica they wanted to start playing guitar. M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold said touring with Metallica was the band's career highlight, and said, "Selling tons of records and playing huge shows will never compare to meeting your idols Metallica". God Forbid guitarists Doc and Dallas Coyle were inspired by Metallica as they grew up, and the band's Bassist John Outcalt admires Burton as a "rocker". Ill Niño Drummer Dave Chavarri said he finds early Metallica releases are "heavy, raw, rebellious. It said, 'fuck you'", and Adema Drummer Kris Kohls said the band is influenced by Metallica.
At the 56th Annual Grammy Awards in January 2014, Metallica performed "One" with Chinese Pianist Lang Lang. In March 2014, Metallica began a tour called "Metallica By Request", in which fans request songs for the band to perform. A new song, titled "Lords of Summer" was written for the concerts and released as a "first take" demo in June 2014. In June 2014, the band headlined the Glastonbury Festival in an attempt to attract new fans. Ulrich said, "We have one shot, you never know if you'll be invited back". In November 2014, Metallica performed at the closing ceremony of BlizzCon 2014. In January 2015, Metallica announced a "Metallica Night" with the San Jose Sharks, which featured a Q&A session with the band and a charity auction benefiting the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, but no performances. They were announced to headline Lollapalooza in March 2015, returning to perform there for the first time in 20 years. On May 2, 2015, Metallica performed their third annual Metallica Day at AT&T Park. Metallica were also announced to play at X Games for the first time at X Games Austin 2015 in Austin, Texas. On June 14, 2015, Hetfield and Hammett performed The Star-Spangled Banner live via electric guitars prior to game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. In late October, the band unveiled a new website with an introduction from Ulrich containing footage from the studio of the band working on new material. On November 2, Metallica were announced to play "The Night Before" Super Bowl 50 at AT&T Park. Metallica announced they would be opening the U.S. Bank Stadium on August 20, 2016, with Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat as support.
On August 18, 2016, the band announced via their website that their tenth studio album, Hardwired... to Self-Destruct, would be released worldwide on November 18, 2016, via their independent label, Blackened Recordings. They also unveiled the track listing, album artwork, and released a music video for the album's first single, "Hardwired". The album was released as scheduled and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.
Metallica announced they would be touring the US in summer of 2017 for the WorldWired Tour. The stadium tour also includes Avenged Sevenfold, Volbeat and Gojira as supporting acts. On August 7, 2017, Metallica was invited by the San Francisco Giants again for the fifth annual "Metallica Night" with Hammett and Hetfield performing the national anthem. In January 2018, the band announced that they would be reissuing The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited on April 13 for Record Store Day, and the sixth annual "Metallica Night" was also announced a few weeks later, this time in April, with all proceeds going to the All Within My Hands Foundation, which the band created in late 2017. In February 2018, the band announced a second set of North American tour dates, most of which for cities that they had not visited in up to thirty years.
Metallica has released ten studio albums, four live albums, a cover album, five extended plays, 37 singles and 39 music videos. The band has won nine Grammy Awards from 23 nominations, and its last six studio albums (beginning with Metallica) have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Metallica ranks as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, having sold over 125 million records worldwide as of 2018. Metallica has been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by magazines such as Rolling Stone, which ranked them at no. 61 on its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list. As of 2017, Metallica is the third best-selling music Artist since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991, selling a total of 58 million albums in the United States.