Cliff Burton

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Cliff Burton
Bass burton.jpg
Burton performing live with Metallica in 1986
Background information
Birth nameClifford Lee Burton
Born(1962-02-10)February 10, 1962
Castro Valley, California, U.S.
DiedSeptember 27, 1986(1986-09-27) (aged 24)
Dörarp, Ljungby Municipality, Sweden
Genres Thrash metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsBass, guitar, piano, vocals
Years active1980–1986
Labels Megaforce, Elektra
Associated acts Metallica, Agents of Misfortune, EZ-Street, Spastik Children, Trauma
Website Official Metallica website

Clifford Lee Burton (February 10, 1962 – September 27, 1986) was an American musician and songwriter, best known as the bass guitarist for the American band Metallica from December 1982 until his death in September 1986.

Bassist musician who plays a bass instrument

A bassist or bass player, is a musician who plays a bass instrument such as a double bass, bass guitar, keyboard bass or a low brass instrument such as a tuba or sousaphone. Different musical genres tend to be associated with one or more of these instruments. Since the 1960s, the electric bass has been the standard bass instrument for funk, R&B, soul music, rock and roll, reggae, jazz fusion, heavy metal, country and pop music. The double bass is the standard bass instrument for classical music, bluegrass, rockabilly, and most genres of jazz. Low brass instruments such as the tuba or sousaphone are the standard bass instrument in Dixieland and New Orleans-style jazz bands.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Contents

Burton joined Metallica in 1982 and performed on the band's first three studio albums: Kill 'Em All , Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets . He also received a posthumous writing credit for the song "To Live Is to Die" from the band's fourth studio album, ...And Justice for All .

<i>Kill Em All</i> 1983 studio album by Metallica

Kill 'Em All is the debut studio album by the American heavy metal band Metallica, released on July 25, 1983, by the independent record label Megaforce Records. Kill 'Em All is regarded as a groundbreaking album for thrash metal because of its precise musicianship, which fuses new wave of British heavy metal riffs with hardcore punk tempos. The album's musical approach and lyrics were markedly different from rock's mainstream of the early 1980s and inspired a number of bands who followed in similar manner. The album did not enter the Billboard 200 until 1986, when it peaked at number 155, following Metallica's commercial success with its third studio album Master of Puppets; the 1988 Elektra reissue peaked at number 120. Kill 'Em All was critically praised at the time of its release and in retrospect, and was placed on a few publications' best album lists. It was certified 3× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1999 for shipping three million copies in the United States. The album generated two singles, "Whiplash" and "Jump in the Fire".

<i>Ride the Lightning</i> 1984 studio album by Metallica

Ride the Lightning is the second studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica, released on July 27, 1984, by the independent record label Megaforce Records. The album was recorded in three weeks with producer Flemming Rasmussen at the Sweet Silence Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark. The artwork, based on a concept by the band, depicts an electric chair being struck by lightning flowing from the band logo. The title was taken from a passage in Stephen King's novel The Stand. Although rooted in the thrash metal genre, the album showcased the band's musical growth and lyrical sophistication. This was partly because bassist Cliff Burton introduced the basics of music theory to the rest of the band and had more input in the songwriting. Instead of relying strictly on fast tempos as on its debut Kill 'Em All, Metallica broadened its approach by employing acoustic guitars, extended instrumentals, and more complex harmonies. The overall recording costs were paid by Metallica's European label Music for Nations because Megaforce was unable to cover it. It was the last album to feature songwriting contributions from former lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, and the first to feature contributions from his replacement, Kirk Hammett.

<i>Master of Puppets</i> 1986 studio album by Metallica

Master of Puppets is the third studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. It was released on March 3, 1986 by Elektra Records. Recorded at the Sweet Silence Studios with producer Flemming Rasmussen, it was the first Metallica album released on a major record label. Master of Puppets was the band's last album to feature bassist Cliff Burton, who died in a bus accident in Sweden during the album's promotional tour. The album peaked at number 29 on the Billboard 200 and became the first thrash metal album to be certified platinum. It was certified 6× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2003 for shipping six million copies in the United States. The album was eventually certified 6× platinum by Music Canada and gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

On September 27, 1986, Burton died in a bus accident in Kronoberg County, a rural area of southern Sweden, as Metallica toured in support of the Master of Puppets album. He has been recognized as a very influential musician both during his career and after his death, placing ninth in a 2011 Rolling Stone magazine online reader poll recognizing the greatest bassists of all time. [1] He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Metallica on April 4, 2009.

Kronoberg County County (län) of Sweden

Kronoberg County is a county or län in southern Sweden. It borders the counties of Skåne, Halland, Jönköping, Kalmar, and Blekinge. Its capital is the city of Växjö.

Sweden constitutional monarchy in Northern Europe

Sweden, formal name: the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe, the third-largest country in the European Union and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. Sweden has a total population of 10.3 million of which 2.5 million have a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the central and southern half of the country.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and music critic Ralph J. Gleason, which became famous for its coverage of rock music, and for political reporting by authors such as Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine broadened and shifted its focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content.

Biography

Early life

Clifford Lee Burton was born in Castro Valley, California, to Ray and Jan Burton. He had two elder siblings, Scott and Connie. Burton's interest in music began when his father introduced him to classical music and he began taking piano lessons.

Castro Valley, California CDP in California, United States

Castro Valley is a census-designated place (CDP) in Alameda County, California, United States. As of the 2010 census, it is the fifth most populous unincorporated area in California and the twenty-third most populous in the United States. The population was 61,388 at the 2010 census.

In his teenage years, Burton had an interest in rock, classical, and eventually heavy metal. He began playing the bass at age 13, after the death of his brother. His parents quoted him as saying, "I'm going to be the best bassist for my brother." [2] He practiced up to six hours per day (even after he joined Metallica). Along with classical and jazz, Burton's other early influences varied from southern rock and country to the blues. [3]

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Southern rock is a subgenre of rock music and a genre of Americana. It developed in the Southern United States from rock and roll, country music, and blues, and is focused generally on electric guitar and vocals. Although the origin of the term Southern rock is unknown, "many people feel that these important contributors to the development of rock and roll have been minimized in rock's history."

Burton cited Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler, Stanley Clarke, Lemmy Kilmister and Phil Lynott as major influences on his style of bass playing. [4]

Geddy Lee vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush

Geddy Lee Weinrib,, known professionally as Geddy Lee, is a Canadian musician, singer, and songwriter best known as the lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for the Canadian rock group Rush. Lee joined what would become Rush in September 1968, at the request of his childhood friend Alex Lifeson, replacing original bassist and frontman Jeff Jones. Lee's first and so far only solo effort, My Favourite Headache, was released in 2000.

Geezer Butler English musician, bassist and lyricist of Black Sabbath

Terence Michael Joseph "Geezer" Butler is an English musician and songwriter. Butler is best known as the bassist and primary lyricist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. He has also recorded and performed with Heaven & Hell, GZR, and Ozzy Osbourne. He currently serves as bassist of Deadland Ritual.

Stanley Clarke American bassist

Stanley Clarke is an American bassist, film composer and founding member of Return to Forever, one of the first jazz fusion bands. Clarke gave the bass guitar a prominence it lacked in jazz-related music. He is the first jazz-fusion bassist to headline tours, sell out shows worldwide and have recordings reach gold status. He is one of the few bassists in history to double on the acoustic and electric bass with equal mastery. Clarke is a 4-time Grammy winner, and one of his electric basses is permanently on display at The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Career

While still a student at Castro Valley High School, Burton formed his first band called EZ-Street. The band took its name from a Bay Area topless bar. Other members of EZ Street included future Faith No More guitarist "Big" Jim Martin as well as Faith No More and Ozzy Osbourne drummer Mike Bordin. Burton and Martin continued their musical collaboration after becoming students at Chabot College in Hayward, California. Their second band, Agents of Misfortune, entered the Hayward Area Recreation Department's Battle of the Bands contest in 1981. Their audition was recorded on video and features some of the earliest footage of Burton's playing style. The video also shows Burton playing parts of what would soon be two Metallica songs: his signature bass solo, "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth", and the chromatic intro to "For Whom the Bell Tolls". [3] Burton joined his first major band, Trauma, in 1982. Burton recorded the track "Such a Shame" with the band on the second Metal Massacre compilation.

In 1982, Trauma traveled to Los Angeles to perform at the Whisky a Go Go. [3] Among those in attendance were James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, both members of Metallica, which had formed the previous year. Upon hearing, as Hetfield described it, "this amazing shredding" (which later became "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth"), the two went in search of what they thought was an amazing guitar player. When they learned that what they had heard was a bass solo by Burton, they decided to recruit him for their own band. They asked him to replace departed bassist Ron McGovney, and since Burton thought that Trauma was "starting to get a little commercial", [5] he agreed. The idea of having to move to Los Angeles did not sit well with him, and said he would join only if the band would relocate from Los Angeles to his native San Francisco Bay Area. [3] Metallica, eager to have Burton in the band, left their origin of Los Angeles to make a home in El Cerrito, [6] a town located across the bay from San Francisco.

Burton's first recording with Metallica was the Megaforce demo. A demo tape the band had made prior to Burton's joining, No Life 'til Leather, managed to come into the hands of Jon Zazula, owner of Megaforce Records. [7] The band relocated to Old Bridge, New Jersey and quickly secured a recording contract with Zazula's label. [7] Their debut album, Kill 'Em All , features Burton's famous solo piece, "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth", which showcased his use of effects, such as a wah-wah pedal, not commonly used by bass guitarists.

Metallica's debut album, Kill 'Em All, was originally intended to inherit the name of one of their earlier demo releases (predating Burton's participation), which was Metal Up Your Ass, [8] but the record company did not like the title and insisted on changing it. After the band learned of the change, Burton said "We should just kill 'em all, man," which gave the band members an idea for the new title. The album was released on July 25, 1983 through Megaforce Records.

The band's second studio album, Ride the Lightning , showcased the band's increasing musical growth. [9] Burton's songwriting abilities were growing, and he received credit on six of the album's eight songs. [10] Burton's playing style and use of effects is showcased on two tracks: the chromatic intro to "For Whom the Bell Tolls", and the "lead bass" on "The Call of Ktulu".

The increase of musicianship on Ride the Lightning caught the attention of major record labels. [7] Metallica was signed to Elektra Records, and began working on its third album, Master of Puppets , which is considered by most critics to be a landmark album in heavy metal. [11] Burton is featured heavily on a number of tracks, most notably the instrumental "Orion", which again featured Burton's lead bass playing style. The album also contained Burton's favorite Metallica song "Master of Puppets". [12] Master of Puppets was the band's commercial breakthrough, [13] but it would be Burton's final album with Metallica.

Burton's final performance was in Stockholm, Sweden, at the Solnahallen Arena on September 26, 1986, one day before his death. [14]

Death

During the European leg of the Damage Inc. tour in support of Master of Puppets , the band complained that the sleeping cubicles on their tour bus were unsatisfactory and uncomfortable. To decide who received pick of the bunks, Kirk Hammett and Burton drew cards. [15] On the evening of September 26, 1986, Burton won the game with an ace of spades, thereby getting the first choice of bunk. Burton was sleeping shortly before 7 am on September 27 when, according to the driver, the bus skidded off the road (the E4, 12 miles (19 km) north of Ljungby), [16] and flipped onto the grass in Kronoberg County. [17] Burton was thrown through the window of the bus, which fell on top of him, resulting in his death.

Cliff Burton memorial stone October 15, 2018 Memorial stone 4.jpg
Cliff Burton memorial stone October 15, 2018
Cliff Burton memorial stone October 15, 2018 Memorial stone 2.jpg
Cliff Burton memorial stone October 15, 2018

The bus driver said that the crash was caused by the bus hitting a patch of black ice on the road, but James Hetfield later stated that he first believed the bus flipped because the driver was drunk. Hetfield also stated that he walked long distances down the road looking for black ice and found none. When local freelance photographer Lennart Wennberg (who attended the crash scene the following morning), was asked in a later interview about the likelihood that black ice caused the accident, he said it was 'out of the question' because the road was dry and the temperature around 2 °C (36 °F), above the freezing point of 0 °C (32 °F). This was confirmed by police who – like Hetfield – also found no ice on the road. Ljungby detective Arne Pettersson was reported in a local newspaper to have said the tracks at the accident site were exactly like ones seen when drivers fall asleep at the wheel. However, the driver stated under oath that he had slept during the day and was fully rested; his testimony was confirmed by the driver of a second tour bus that was carrying the band's crew and equipment. [16] The driver was determined not at fault for the accident and no charges were brought against him. [18]

Legacy

Burton's body was cremated and the ashes were scattered at the Maxwell Ranch. [15] At the ceremony, the song "Orion" was played. Shortly after Burton's death, Jason Newsted from Flotsam and Jetsam became Metallica's new bassist, a position he held until his resignation in 2001. The role has since been filled by producer and studio musician Bob Rock and by the former bassist of Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne, Robert Trujillo.

Metallica wrote a tribute to Burton titled "To Live Is to Die" for ...And Justice for All . Burton also received a writing credit for the lyrics and bass parts that were taken from unused bass recordings done by Burton which were re-recorded by Jason Newsted. [19] A non-Metallica tribute to Burton is the song "In My Darkest Hour" by thrash metal band Megadeth. According to Dave Mustaine, due to hearing of Burton's death, he sat down and wrote the music for the song in one sitting. The lyrics, however, are unrelated to Burton's death. Mustaine was Metallica's lead guitarist in the early days and was a close friend of Burton at the time. [20]

On October 3, 2006, a memorial stone was unveiled in Sweden near the scene of the fatal crash. The lyrics "...cannot the Kingdom of Salvation take me home" from "To Live Is to Die" are written on Burton's memorial stone. The coordinates to the stone are 57°00'01.4"N 14°00'08.9"E

Thrash metal band Anthrax dedicated its album Among the Living to him, as did Metal Church with The Dark .

On April 4, 2009, Burton was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with fellow Metallica bandmates James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett. Future bassists Jason Newsted and Robert Trujillo were inducted as well. During the ceremony, the induction was accepted by his father Ray Burton, who shared the stage with the band and mentioned that Cliff's mother was actually Metallica's biggest fan.

A biography, To Live Is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica's Cliff Burton, written by Joel McIver, was published by Jawbone Press in June 2009. Hammett provided the book's foreword. [21]

In November 2016, Metallica released the album Hardwired... to Self-Destruct . The deluxe version of the album features a series of live recordings at Berkeley, California's legendary record store Rasputin Music in celebration of Record Store Day on April 16, 2016. The song "Fade to Black" was played with lead singer James Hetfield dedicating the song to the late Cliff Burton. During the song Hetfield yells, 'Can you hear us Cliff?'. [22]

In 2017, it was revealed that Burton's parents had been "quietly" donating his posthumous royalty payments to a scholarship fund for music students at his alma mater Castro Valley High School. [23]

In 2018, the Alameda County, California, Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation declaring February 10, 2018 (what would have been Burton's 56th birthday) as "Cliff Burton Day" after a fan petition successfully passed. [24]


Equipment

Cliff Burton used a handful of basses over his career. The first bass guitar he was publicly seen playing in Metallica was a heavily modified Rickenbacker 4001, painted in a "Burgundyglo" color. After joining Metallica Burton had the stock pickups removed, and had the neck humbucker from a Gibson EB-0 installed in the neck position, a Seymour Duncan Jazz pickup in the bridge position and a guitar pickup was fitted under the bridge of the bass. At some point after recording Kill Em All, Burton retired this bass from public use, and instead used a variety of high-end bass guitars, most notably an Alembic Spoiler, and an Aria Pro SB-1000. Burton used an array of amplifiers and effects pedals as well.

Cliff Burton Signature Bass

In January 2013, guitar manufacturer Aria revealed through Metallica's official website that they would be releasing a replica of Burton's bass, called the Aria Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass. They had received permission from Burton's family and former bandmates from Metallica to authorize the production of the instrument. The bass guitar was officially unveiled at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, California. On January 25, 2013, Burton's father Ray attended the press conference where he signed autographs and talked about Burton and the instrument. [25] Current Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo was also present and was the first to try out the bass, playing parts of "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth". It is unknown whether any other members of Metallica attended the event. Ray Burton was quoted as saying, '"What a beautiful instrument and a wonderful tribute to Cliff." [26]

Specifications

Discography

Metallica

Studio albums

Video

Demos

Compilations

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Preceded by
Ron McGovney
Metallica bassist
1982–1986
Succeeded by
Jason Newsted