The Mighty Cliff Burton

The Mighty Cliff Burton

Hell yea my metal brothers and sisters.

The dude you see pictured above is Cliff Burton. Who is he, you ask? He was a bassist most known for being in the band Metallica, but he was also in the 3 other bands E-Z Street, Agents of Misfortune, and Trauma.

Cliff burton was born February 10th, 1962 in Castro Valley, California, to Jan and Ray Burton. He was the youngest out of the other siblings Connie and Scott. At a young age, his first instrument he learned to play was the piano. Ray taught him how to play it, and introduced him to classical music.

In Cliff's teen years, his interest in music grew, where he started admiring rock and then heavy metal. At age 13, he began playing bass to honor his brother who passed away. He felt he should try to be the best bassist just for Scott. Each day, Cliff practiced bass 6+ hours, and still did this by the time he was in Metallica.

The Mighty Cliff Burton

While still a high schooler, he put together his first band, E-Z Street, which is named after a strip bar in the Bay Area. Also in the band were future members of Faith No More, "Big" Jim Martin and drummer Mike Bordin. He later on was in a band called Agents of Misfortune, which was #4 on a battle of the bands contest. The audition also happened to be a first recording of Cliff's signature playing style. In 1982, he joined the band Trauma.

The band eventually performed at the Whiskey A Go-Go, which is where James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich of Metallica were at. They listened to his playing, and thought he was shredding a guitar. But nope! They were shocked to find that he was playing a bass! Metallica's original bassist Ron McGovney had recently left, and James and Lars wanted this guy.

He was already kinda thinking Trauma was getting a little commercial anyhow. But he made a deal with the Metallica guys: that he would join them if they moved from LA to the Bay Area of San Francisco, which is where he lived. They moved, and he joined.

The Mighty Cliff Burton

He played for the band through the first 3 albums, Kill 'em All, Ride The Lightning, and Master of Puppets.

The Mighty Cliff Burton

The first recording of him playing with Metallica is on their Megaforce demo. Cliff is credited for creating the name of the first album, because it was originally going to be called Metal Up Your Ass, but producers and record distributors didn't like it. In frustration, Cliff said to the band "We should just kill 'em all, man!" They thought it was perfect as a name.

On Kill 'Em All (1983), Cliff was given the chance to show off his bass skills on the song "Anesthesia-- Pulling Teeth", which is a long bass solo accompanied by a wah pedal, which isn't so commonly used by bassists. Getting toward the end of the song, the drums come in. This album has been considered by metal fans the "true birth of thrash".

With Ride The Lightning (1984), again, thrashy. Cliff was getting better with songwriting, and did a lead bass on the instrumental called "Call of Ktulu" and a more chromatic playing style on "For Whom The Bell Tolls"

Master of Puppets (1986) was Cliff's final album. The song named after the album itself was one of Cliff's favorites. This album also has an instrumental, "Orion". Many critics consider this album a landmark in metal music. The band was eventually on their Damage, Inc. tour to support the Master of Puppets album, but tragedy struck...

One night, during the European part of the tour, Cliff and guitarist Kirk Hammett were choosing what bunks to sleep in on the tour bus. They played a game of cards to decide who should get what bunks. Cliff won with an Ace of Spades. He said to Kirk "I want your bunk!" Kirk said "Fine, take my bunk, I'll sleep up front, it's probably better up there anyway." They slept, but early morning, around 7 am on September 27th, the bus went skidding off the road and flipped onto the grass. James broke the back window to get out. He saw everybody out crying and scared, but he noticed something... Cliff wasn't around. He looked, and he saw Cliff's legs sticking out from under the bus, motionless. When the bus flipped, Cliff was flung out of a window and the bus fell on top of him. If Kirk would have stayed in his original bunk, he would have been the one under that bus. These are pictures from the accident after the bus had been brought back onto its wheels.

The Mighty Cliff BurtonThe Mighty Cliff Burton

The bus driver said that there was black ice on the road, but James never found any. He suspected that the wreck was really caused by the driver being drunk due to smelling alcohol in his breath. The driver was never charged for the incident.

Cliff's body was cremated and scattered at Maxwell ranch, and "Orion" played at the ceremony. On his memorial stone, the lyrics "...cannot the Kingdom of Salvation take me home" from "To Live Is to Die" (on "... And Justice For All" album) are written. It was a song dedicated to Cliff, and the lyrics were his.

In a way, metallica felt like they couldn't continue on without Cliff. But they pushed themselves into doing so and got Jason Newsted into the band.

The Mighty Cliff Burton

When other bands heard about the death, they wrote music in memory of him. Dave Mustaine was pissed that metallica didn't tell him about the death, due to him and Cliff staying friends after Dave's departure from metallica. It was only metallica's manager who told him. In one sitting, he wrote In "My Darkest Hour" in respects to Cliff, though the song is not even about him. Anthrax's Among The Living album was named in memory of Cliff. Metal Church also did this with the album The Dark.

The memorial stone that is now at the crash site was unveiled in 2006.

The Mighty Cliff Burton

He was also posthumously inducted into the Rock n Roll hall of fame on April 4, 2009. Cliff's parents these days honor Cliff by donating towards scholarship for music students at the high school Cliff went to.

Cliff Burton only lived to be 24 years old, but for those years he lived in pure talent. He was a wild, bad ass dude on the bass guitar. For some he seemed to stand out from other metalheads, due to his bellbottom jeans and full denim clothes and frizzed hair. He looked more like he belonged in Black Sabbath. But he was not afraid to show otherwise on the stage. He is one of those musicians I can relate to, because even though he played metal he still had the respect for rock (like ZZ Top, Tom Petty, etc..) and classical music. I am that same way. I play guitar but someday I want to pick up a bass as well. And he's to blame for! When I first learned about how long he practiced each day, I started practicing for hours too, and its done me well. He may be dead, but his music surely lives on.

R.I.P Clifford Lee Burton. \m/

The Mighty Cliff BurtonThe Mighty Cliff Burton

#CliffBurton #Burton4Life


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