It was on this day in 1986 when we lost Metallica bassist Cliff Burton in a tragic bus accident during their Master Of Puppets tour in Sweden. We all know the story, he switched bunks with Kirk Hammett after being displeased with his sleeping arrangements. And it wasn’t just by asking him either, they all drew cards and Cliff got the ace of spades…he then chose Kirk’s bunk. So, it’s a weird and creepy chain of events which led up to his death. Many often ponder the question of whether or not he actually saved Kirk’s life that night. As to the cause of the accident, the driver claimed to have skid on a patch of black ice, of which frontman James Hetfield could not find after walking all around the scene of the accident. Was the driver intoxicated or just plain tired? I guess only the driver knows that one.
I was only five years old at the time of Cliff’s death, so I can’t say I remember that day clearly. Hell, I was more into Raffi then and had no clue who Metallica was, let alone Cliff Burton. And if you have no clue who Raffi is, then good for you. He was probably a pedophile anyway. It was the summer transitioning from fifth to sixth grade when I first became exposed to Metallica during summer camp. This kid I knew had Master Of Puppets on cassette and we rocked that shit all summer long. I became an instant Metalhead when I first heard it and I immediately took all of my non Metal CDs down to The Wherehouse as soon as I got home and sold them all for somewhere between $400-$500 I think. I then took that money and built up my Metal collection. The first CD I went for, of course, was Metallica’s Master Of Puppets along with Kill ‘Em All and Ride The Lightning…the rest is all a blur.
I remember not knowing as much about the band then and both me and the kid who turned me onto Metallica were questioning Cliff’s absence from the current lineup then which had Jason Newsted on bass. We were both so into their music that neither of us had a clue as to what happened to Cliff. Can’t blame us really, there wasn’t an internet like we have today and we were both so young when Cliff’s death occurred. It’s not like we could ask our parents about stuff like that. We initially thought that either Cliff quit or he was let go for some reason. But then I took it upon myself to research it and find out what happened. I was immediately crushed, to me it was like he died on that specific day. I went home and cried over it. I was so into those first three Metallica albums at that point to where it was a major part of my life. The next day I told my childhood Metal buddy what happened to Cliff. I have no idea how he handled it, probably not as bad as I did. This kid seemed to be more obsessed with Crosby, Stills & Nash than Metallica.
Well that’s my Cliff story. I wanted to do something different. I wanted to recount how Metallica’s music and Cliff’s death affected me personally as opposed to the Metal community as a whole. Of course, these days Metallica’s music bores me like most true Metalheads, but I will always enjoy the Cliff-era the most. That includes ..And Justice For All, since he had a posthumous writing credit on ‘To Live Is To Die’.
We all miss you Cliff….perhaps you’re jamming with Dimebag, somewhere.
-Max ‘ManJewky’ Wallis (Kosher Metal Co-Founder & Blog Editor)
R.I.P. CLIFF BURTON