Metallica is probably the most recognizable Heavy Metal band in the world. With over 59 million albums sold in the U.S. and 90 million globally Metallica has established itself as the premier heavy metal outfit. Still touring and releasing music to this day, their latest album Hardwired to Self-Destruct was released in November of last year, Metallica shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. However, the journey to achieve this massive amount of success has not been an easy one. Fired band mates swearing revenge, deadly accidents claiming and nearly-claiming the lives of members within the band, and legions of fans who claim the band turned their back on them and sold their souls for a dollar and a dime. These events and more have tested the band and at times made this immortal metal outfit feel the sting of mortality. Through it all the band stayed strong and continued to release new music. Showing the world that there is no stopping this metal behemoth simply known as Metallica.
Metallica was formed by drummer Lars Ulrich and front-man James Hetfield in 1981. Lars had put a listing in a local newspaper looking for metal musicians who drew inspiration from bands like Tygers of Pan Tan, Diamond Head, and Iron Maiden. The two met and eventually formed Metallica with other local musicians. Eventually the duo met guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist Cliff Burton and Metallica solidified its lineup with Lars on drums, James on rhythm guitar/vocals, Cliff on bass, and Dave on lead guitar.
Two years later the band signed a record deal with Megaforce records and traveled to New York to record their debut album. During that time there was a large amount of tension between the band and lead guitarist Dave Mustaine. Tensions rose so high that once they reached New York they bought him a bus ticket back home and informed him that he was out of the band. Dave took this hard, coupled with the fact that after asking his ex-band mates to not use his material they still used it. He formed a new band out of spite and vowed revenge against them, that band was the pioneering thrash metal outfit known as Megadeth.
After Dave’s ejection from the band Lars, Cliff, and James recruited fellow metal musician Kirk Hammett from the Bay-area Thrash band Exodus. This would be their permanent lineup until 1986. After a few weeks of relentless recording Metallica’s debut album was released on July 25, 1983 to massive acclaim. Quite possibly one the best debut albums for its time, this record helped Metallica gain a large amount of success. Music journalists from Allmusic, Billboard, and the Chicago tribune highly praised the album and fans couldn’t wait for Metallica’s next album.
After Kill’ Em All was released Metallica toured the county and over the next few years released more material, each better than the last. In 1984 Metallica released their classic album Ride The Lightning and in 1986, their major label debut on Elektra Records, Master of Puppets. Prospects were looking well for Metallica, they were now touring globally and each record they released was becoming more successful than the last with Master of Puppets peaking at number 29 on the Billboard top 200 and selling over 7 million copies globally. During their touring stint in Sweden however there was a fatal accident involving their tour bus where bassist Cliff Burton lost his life. The death of their band mate and friend hit the them hard and there was a large question each member had to ask themselves. Can we continue?