1981 in Los Angeles, CA
Metallica began when James Hetfield placed an ad in an underground heavy metal magazine. He was looking for other musicians to help him form a band, and when Lars Ulrich responded to the ad, the two hit it off immediately. Together they formed the core of what would become one of the most influential metal bands of the 80ís decade. Hetfield initially didnít want to sing, but he sat in as lead singer until they could find an appropriate vocalist. He also played guitar, but was more accustomed to rhythmic part than lead. Lars thrashed away at the drums, developing his double-bass style that would eventually drive the rhythm section. Starting out primarily as a thrash band, they looked for a guitar player that could fit the bill. They found him in Kirk Hammett. Hammett had studied with Joe Satriani, and had a reputation for being a great lead. And eventually, after a long search that ended in San Francisco, they found Cliff Burton, who was already considered a god amongst bassists.
In 1983, Metallica exploded on the underground metal scene with the release of Kill ĎEm All, and fans loved it. The album set the standard, which other metal bands followed. The band had never replaced Hetfield as lead singer, and he had developed a low, gravelly snarl that would become a Metallica trademark. Metallicaís following was loyal and mounting, as word spread about the thundering music they played. Each album showed improvement in the band, climaxing in 1986 with the release of the heavy metal standard Master of Puppets. The success was short-lived, however, when the band suffered tragedy. While on tour supporting the album, the tour bus slipped in ice and rolled, killing bassist Cliff Burton in the process.
After much deliberation, Metallica decided to go on, and found a new bass player in Flotsam and Jetsamís Jason Newsted. A rigorous initiation process ensued, as Newsted as terrorized by the other three band members. Newsted passed the initiation, and the band proceeded to put out ...And Justice for All, which reached the top ten with no airplay and minimal MTV support. In 1991, however, Metallica released the self-titled Metallica, which would be the bandís commercial crossover album. The songs were tailored for radio airplay, and the band produced videos that rotated on MTV. While this turned off Metallica fans of an older age, younger music fans loved the hard-driving riffs, rocket-fast drum beats and growling vocals.
The bandís popularity really slipped, however, with the release of Load. Metallica seemed to become more image-oriented, releasing albums that lacked the hard edge that most Metallica fans looked for. They changed their look, and released big money videos for MTV. They released S&M, detailing a live concert with the San Francisco Symphony. The masses loved it, but the fan core that Metallica had started with had shifted from metal heads and thrashers to yuppies and pop-culture teenagers.
Since 2000, Metallica has been entangled in an ongoing lawsuit with the file-sharing service Napster, alleging that their copyrighted material is being downloaded free of charge. In a move that seems injudicious, Metallica had 300,000 of their fans kicked off of the service for downloading Metallica music. Naturally, this caused a major decrease in the popularity of the band. In January of 2001, Jason Newsted announced that he was leaving the band. No bass player has been announced to replace Newsted at this time.
To top things off, Hetfield went into rehab for alcohal abuse a few weeks before Thanksgiving. He has recovered slowly, and is now spending time with family and friends. Metallica will resume in the studio in a couple of months, but no bass player has been found to take the place of Newsted. Hetfield, however, feels confident in getting that job done himself. Their next album, he says, "Will basically be the same style as 'I Disappear' which was on the Mission Impossible 2 soundtrack."(Kevin contributed this!)