It is hard to believe that Metallica has been producing hit record after hit record for the best part of 38 years, yet that is exactly what they are doing. Formed in Los Angeles in late 1981, Metallica have gone on to become one of the best-selling rock bands of all-time. Lars Ulrich placed an advertisement in The Recycler newspaper stating he was a drummer looking for metal fanatics to join him in possibly forming a band.
James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner, two guitarists, answered the advert and five months later, on October 28, 1981, the band was officially formed. Dave Mustaine would later join the band as a lead guitarist, Ron McGovney joined as a bassist before Cliff Burton replaced him in late 1982.
Metallica Were Almost Called Something Else
Metallica were almost called Metalmania but Ulrich preferred the former and that is what the band would always be called, although the band’s first original song, “Hit the Lights,” which was part of the compilation album Metal Massacre I, had their name incorrectly billed as Mettallica.
The band was ready to record its first album but struggled to find a record label that would sign them up and cover the recording costs, so they started their own label called Megaforce Records with the help of Johny “Z” Zazula.
Metal Up Your Ass was Metallica’s debut album released in May 1983 only a month before the band ejected Mustaine because of his drink and drug abuse and alleged violent behaviour; Mustaine was replaced by Kirk Hammett who is still in the band to this day.
Forced to Change the Name of Debut Album
Distributors refused to release an album entitled Metal Up Your Ass, so Metallica changed it to Kill ‘Em All. It peaked at 155 on the Billboard 200 and earned the band a growing fanbase in the underground metal scene.
Ride the Lightning was Metallica’s second studio album in August 1984, which is the same year the band embarked on several tours and even played in front of 70,000 people at Donington Park, England in 1985 at the Monsters of Rock festival.
Many consider Master of Puppets, Metallica’s third album, their greatest achievement. It reached 29 on the Billboard 200, stayed in the charts for 72 weeks and was eventually certified six times platinum by 2003.
Death of a Band Member
Disaster struck on September 27, 1986 when the band’s tour bus was in an accident that saw it overturn several times. Sadly, Burton was pinned under the bus and died of his injuries, although the other band members escaped relatively unhurt. While the band members considered disbanding, the three remaining members decided Burton would want them to carry on and with his family’s blessing, did so.
The band released … And Justice for All in 1988, the first album since Burton’s death. It eventually reached number six on the Billboard 200 and was the first album from Metallica to enter the top 10.
Metallica have since release an additional six studio albums, the latest being released in 2016. The self-entitled Metallica (1991) was followed by Load (1996), Reload (1997), St. Anger (2003), Death Magnetic (2008) and Hardwired… to Self-Destruct (2016). These albums have sold more than 125 million copies worldwide and an impressive 63 million in the United States alone, making Metallica one of the most commercially successful bands of all time.