Lars Ulrich

Last updated

Lars Ulrich
Ulrich in 2013
Background information
Born (1963-12-26) 26 December 1963 (age 55) [1]
Gentofte, Denmark
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • actor
  • record producer
  • Drums
  • percussion
Years active1980–present
Associated acts

Lars Ulrich R [2] ( /ˈʊlrɪk/ ; Danish:  [lɑːs ˈulˀʁæɡ] ; born 26 December 1963) is a Danish [3] musician, songwriter, actor, and record producer. He is best known as the drummer and co-founder of the American heavy metal band Metallica. The son of tennis player Torben Ulrich and grandson of tennis player Einer Ulrich, he also played tennis in his youth and moved to Los Angeles at age 16 to train professionally. However, rather than playing tennis, Ulrich began playing drums. After publishing an advertisement in The Recycler , Ulrich met vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield and formed Metallica.

Order of the Dannebrog award in Denmark

The Order of the Dannebrog is a Danish order of chivalry instituted in 1671 by Christian V. Until 1808, membership in the order was limited to fifty members of noble or royal rank who formed a single class known as White Knights to distinguish them from the Blue Knights who were members of the Order of the Elephant. In 1808, the Order was reformed and divided into four classes. The Grand Commander class is reserved to persons of princely origin. It is only awarded to royalty with close family ties with the Danish Royal House. The statute of the Order was amended in 1951 by a Royal Ordinance so that both men and women could be members of the Order.

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.

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.


Early life

Ulrich was born into an upper-middle-class family [4] in Gentofte, Denmark; [4] [5] the son of Lone (née Sylvester-Hvid) and professional tennis player Torben Ulrich. [6] His paternal grandfather was professional tennis player Einer Ulrich. His paternal grandmother, Ulla Meyer, was from a Jewish family; as a result, Ulrich's grandfather was persecuted by the Nazis during World War II. [7] Saxophonist Dexter Gordon was Ulrich's godfather, and he is a childhood friend of musician Neneh Cherry. [8]

Gentofte Municipality Municipality in Capital Region, Denmark

Gentofte Kommune is a municipality in the Capital Region of Denmark on the east coast of the island of Zealand (Sjælland) in eastern Denmark. It covers an area of 25.54 km2 (9.86 sq mi), and has a total population of 74,548. Since 1993, its mayor has been Hans Toft, a member of the Conservative People's Party.

Torben Ulrich Danish tennis player

Torben Ulrich is a Danish writer, musician, filmmaker, painter, director, performer and former amateur then professional tennis player. He is the father of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

Einer Ulrich was a Danish male tennis player who represented Denmark in the Davis Cup and the Olympic Games. He competed in the singles event at the 1924 Summer Olympics, reaching the second round in which he lost to Henk Timmer. With compatriot Erik Tegner he competed in the men's doubles event and reached the third round.

In February 1973, Ulrich's father obtained passes for five of his friends to a Deep Purple concert held in the same Copenhagen stadium as one of his tennis tournaments. When one of the friends could not go, they gave their ticket to the nine-year-old Ulrich, who was mesmerized by the performance and bought the band's album Fireball the next day. The concert and album had a considerable impact on Ulrich, inspiring the start of his music career.

Deep Purple English rock band

Deep Purple are an English rock band formed in Hertford in 1968. The band is considered to be among the pioneers of heavy metal and modern hard rock, although their musical approach changed over the years. Originally formed as a progressive rock band, the band shifted to a heavier sound in 1970. Deep Purple, together with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, have been referred to as the "unholy trinity of British hard rock and heavy metal in the early to mid-seventies". They were listed in the 1975 Guinness Book of World Records as "the globe's loudest band" for a 1972 concert at London's Rainbow Theatre, and have sold over 100 million copies of their albums worldwide.

Copenhagen Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.

<i>Fireball</i> (album) 1971 studio album by Deep Purple

Fireball is the fifth album by English Rock band Deep Purple, released in 1971 and the second with the Mk II line-up. It was recorded at various times between September 1970 and June 1971. It became the first of the band's two UK No. 1 albums, though it did not stay on the charts as long as its predecessor, Deep Purple In Rock.

As a result of his newfound interest in music, he received his first drum kit, a Ludwig, from his grandmother around the age of 12 or 13. [9] Ulrich originally intended to follow in his father's footsteps and play tennis, and he moved to Newport Beach, California, in the summer of 1980. [10] Despite being ranked in the top ten tennis players of his age group in Denmark, Ulrich failed to make it into the 7 man Corona del Mar High School tennis team, contributing to his decision to focus on music. [11]

Newport Beach, California City in California in the United States

Newport Beach is a coastal city in Orange County, California, United States. Its population was 85,287 at the 2010 census. Newport Beach is home to Newport Harbor and Balboa Island.

Corona del Mar High School high school located in Newport Beach, California, US

Corona del Mar High School (CdM) is a public school located in the Eastbluff neighborhood of Newport Beach, California, and belongs to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. It is a combination of a middle school and a high school. The school was founded in 1962 and has an enrollment of just over 2000 students. According to US News, there are 92 full-time teachers. The total minority enrollment(% of total) is 19%. The total economically disadvantaged is 7%.

In the documentary Anvil! The story of Anvil , Ulrich states that witnessing a Y&T show was his defining moment in deciding to become a musician. In 1981, he discovered British heavy metal band Diamond Head. He was excited about the band's style of music after purchasing their debut album Lightning to the Nations , and traveled from San Francisco to London to see the band perform live at the Woolwich Odeon. Ulrich remains a fan of Diamond Head and would later go on to mix their album The Best of Diamond Head . [12] Upon returning to America, Ulrich placed an advert in a local classifieds newspaper looking for musicians to start a band with him. James Hetfield replied to the ad, and Metallica was formed. [13]

<i>Anvil! The Story of Anvil</i> 2008 rockumentary film about the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil directed by Sacha Gervasi

Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a 2008 rockumentary film about the Canadian heavy metal band Anvil. The film is directed by screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, in his directorial debut, and features interviews with other musicians who have been influenced by the band, including Slash, Tom Araya, Lemmy, Scott Ian, and Lars Ulrich.

Y&T American rock band

Y&T is an American hard rock/heavy metal band formed in 1974 in Hayward, California. The band released two studio albums on London Records as Yesterday & Today in the 1970s, before shortening their name to Y&T and releasing several albums on A&M Records beginning in 1981, as well as albums on Geffen Records, Avex Records, and others. The band was originally co-managed by Herbie Herbert and Louis "Lou" Bramy. The band has sold over 4 million albums worldwide to date.

Diamond Head (English band) British metal band

Diamond Head are an English heavy metal band formed in 1976 in Stourbridge, England. The band is recognised as one of the leading members of the new wave of British heavy metal movement and is acknowledged by thrash metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as an important early influence.


Ulrich in 2008 Lars Live London.jpg
Ulrich in 2008

Later in 1981, Ulrich met James Hetfield in Downey, California, and they formed the heavy metal band Metallica. He got the band name from a friend, Ron Quintana, who was brainstorming names for a heavy metal fanzine he was creating, and Metallica was one of the options, the other being "Metal Mania." Ulrich encouraged him to choose Metal Mania, and used the name Metallica for himself. [14]

James Hetfield American musician

James Alan Hetfield is an American musician, singer, and songwriter known for being the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for the American heavy metal band Metallica. Hetfield is mainly known for his intricate rhythm playing, but occasionally performs lead guitar duties and solos, both live and in the studio. Hetfield co-founded Metallica in October 1981 after answering a classified advertisement by drummer Lars Ulrich in the Los Angeles newspaper The Recycler. Metallica has won nine Grammy Awards and released ten studio albums, three live albums, four extended plays and 24 singles.

Downey, California City in California

Downey is a city located in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, 13 mi (21 km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles. It is considered part of the Gateway Cities. The city is the birthplace of the Apollo space program. It is also the home of the oldest still operational McDonald's restaurant in the world. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 111,779.

He became known as a pioneer of fast thrash drum beats, featured on many of Metallica's early songs, such as "Metal Militia" from Kill 'Em All , "Fight Fire with Fire" from Ride the Lightning , "Battery" and "Damage Inc." from Master of Puppets and "Dyers Eve" from ...And Justice for All . He has since been considerably influential due to both the popularity of his band, as well as his drum techniques, such as the double bass drum in the song "One" ( ...And Justice for All ) and "Dyer's Eve". Since the release of Metallica , Ulrich adopted a less focused and simplified style of drumming, and reduced his kit from a 9-piece to a 7-piece.

Between 1998 and 2002, Ulrich tried running a record label, the Music Company. The company was a joint venture with Metallica accountant Tim Duffy. It failed to catch on and folded in the spring 2002. [15] His voice can be heard in the opening seconds of "Leper Messiah" and he also counts to four in his native Danish on the "St. Anger" music video. To unwind after certain gigs, Ulrich listens to jazz. [16]

He made his acting debut in the HBO original film Hemingway & Gellhorn , which began filming in March 2011 and was released on 28 May 2012. [17] Ulrich made a brief cameo appearance as himself in the film Get Him to the Greek , as the partner of the character Jackie Q. [18] In 2012, Ulrich was the focus of the documentary film, "Mission to Lars". The film by Kate and Will Spicer concerns their journey with their brother Tom, who lives in a care home in Devon, England and who has Fragile X syndrome, to try to meet Ulrich at one of Metallica's 2009 gigs in California. [19]


Ulrich in Madrid in 2009 Lars Ulrich Madrid 2009.jpg
Ulrich in Madrid in 2009

Ulrich's drumming style has changed throughout his career. During the 1980s he was known for his fast, aggressive thrash beats. He would often utilize the double bass technique in Latin breakbeats, which became highly popular among heavy metal drummers. The best examples of this are found in songs such as "Metal Militia" ( Kill 'Em All ), "Fight Fire with Fire" ( Ride the Lightning ), "Battery", "Damage, Inc." ( Master of Puppets ), "Blackened", "One", "Dyers Eve" ( ...And Justice for All ), "That Was Just Your Life", "All Nightmare Long" and "My Apocalypse" ( Death Magnetic ). Even though "Hardwired", "Moth Into Flame" and "Spit Out the Bone" have the same double bass technique, the 2016 release of Metallica's Hardwired... to Self-Destruct saw a more aggressive and experimental drumming style from Ulrich. Ulrich uses groove in his drum style, including clean and fast double bass beats in many songs and heavy drum fills. He has been known to drum in sync with the rhythm guitar played by James Hetfield. [20]

Personal life


Ulrich has been married three times. His first marriage was in 1988 to Debbie Jones, a British woman he met on tour, but they divorced in 1990 due to Ulrich's constant absence during the recording of the 1991 album Metallica. His second marriage was to Skylar Satenstein, an emergency medicine physician, from 1997 to 2004. They had two sons before divorcing. [21]

Following his divorce from Satenstein, Ulrich dated Danish actress Connie Nielsen from 2004 to 2012. They had one child together. [22] He is currently married to American fashion model Jessica Miller. [23]

Interests and philanthropy

Ulrich is a fan of a wide variety of genres, feeling particularly passionate about jazz music. He is particularly inspired by the influential tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who was Ulrich's godparent. [24] Ulrich, a friend of Noel Gallagher, is a fan of Gallagher's former band Oasis and claimed Gallagher was his inspiration to give up cocaine in 2008. [25] Ulrich has also expressed his desire to sometime play drums in Gallagher's current band Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds. [26]

Ulrich also has a passion for fine art. In 2002 Ulrich parted with a painting from his own personal collection. It is now known as one of the world's most coveted contemporary art paintings, "Self Portrait" by Jean Michel Basquiat, 1982. With a pre-sale price estimate of $5 million, Ulrich took home almost triple that amount after the evening sale at Christie's Auction House. [27] At the 2016 Men in Blazers Night of the Golden Blazer, Ulrich revealed his passion for Chelsea Football Club, as he stated that he went to Stamford Bridge many a time starting in 1973 during the time his father was playing at Wimbledon during the Tennis Season. [28]

Ulrich has been an activist in support of expanding access to health care for U.S. citizens, with his family working with the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic of San Francisco, California. He raised $32,000 for the group during a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? . [29]

Napster controversy

In April 2000, Ulrich became a vocal opponent of Napster and file sharing as Metallica filed a lawsuit against the company for copyright infringement and racketeering. In July 2000, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee after Metallica's entire catalogue, including the then-unfinished track "I Disappear" was found to be freely available for download on the service. The case was settled out-of-court, resulting in more than 300,000 Napster users being banned from the service. [30] Ulrich was quoted by LAUNCHcast as having some regrets: [31]

I wish that I was more ... you know, I felt kind of ambushed by the whole thing because I didn't really know enough about what we were getting ourselves into when we jumped. ... We didn't know enough about the kind of grassroots thing, and what had been going on the last couple of months in the country as this whole new phenomenon was going on. We were just so stuck in our controlling ways of wanting to control everything that had to do with Metallica. So we were caught off guard and we had a little bit of a rougher landing on that one than on other times than when we just blindly leaped. But you know, I'm still proud of the fact that we did leap ... and I took a lot of hits and it was difficult.

Awards and honors

When Ulrich and fellow Metallica members James Hetfield, Jason Newsted, Cliff Burton, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, Ulrich was the first Dane to receive the honor. [32]

Having led the charge for several years to get his longtime favorite band, Deep Purple, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ulrich delivered the band's induction speech when Deep Purple finally went into the Hall in 2016. [33]

Ulrich was knighted in his native country of Denmark. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog on 26 May 2017, by her majesty Margrethe II. [2]


Lars Ulrich in 2017 Metallica - The O2 - Sunday 22nd October 2017 MetallicaO2221017-91 (37187886834).jpg
Lars Ulrich in 2017

Current tour kit (2016–present)

In 2013, Ulrich used his silver drum kit that he used from the period 1995–2000 on a secret show on the Orion Music + More Festival when Metallica played as the band 'Dehaan'



All Metallica studio albums. For a complete list, see Metallica discography .

Mercyful Fate


2004 Some Kind of Monster HimselfDocumentary
2010 Get Him to the Greek Himself
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Joris Ivens HBO original film
2012Mission to LarsHimselfDocumentary film
2013 Metallica: Through the Never Himself
2016 Radio Dreams Himself

Related Research Articles

<i>Metallica</i> (album) 1991 studio album by Metallica

Metallica is the fifth studio album by American heavy metal band Metallica. Released on August 12, 1991 by Elektra Records, it received widespread critical acclaim and became the band's best-selling album. Metallica produced five singles that are considered to be among the band's best-known songs, which include "Enter Sandman", "The Unforgiven", "Nothing Else Matters", "Wherever I May Roam", and "Sad but True". A sixth song, "Don't Tread on Me", was also issued to rock radio shortly after the album's release, but the song did not receive a commercial single release. The album marked a change in the band's sound from the thrash metal style of the previous four albums to a slower and heavier one rooted in heavy metal. Metallica promoted the album with a series of tours. In 2003, the album was ranked number 255 on Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time.

<i>Load</i> (album) 1996 studio album by Metallica

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Further reading