His interest in music began when his father introduced him to classical music and he began taking piano lessons. He started playing bass at age 13, after the death of his brother and was quoted by his parents saying, “I’m going to be the best bassist for my brother”.
Clifford Lee Burton was born on February 10, 1962.
In 1982, Cliff Burton joined his first major band, Trauma and travelled to Los Angeles to perform at the Whisky a Go Go. Among those in attendance were James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, the founding members of Metallica which was formed a year ago.
James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich then heard this amazing guitar player shredding away and when they found out that what they heard was actually a bass solo by Cliff Burton, they decided to recruit him for their own band.
Cliff Burton thought that Trauma was starting to get a little commercial and agreed, only on condition that Metallica would relocate from Los Angeles to his native San Farncisco Bay Area.
Cliff Burton performed on their debut studio album, Kill ‘Em All. He then recorded two more albums with Metallica, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets, both of which met with major commercial and critical success.
For Whom The Bells Toll
(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth
Cliff Burton was known for his lead bass approach, in which the bass played a melodic and soloist role, in addition to holding down the harmonic and rhythmic foundation of the band.
On September 27, 1987, Cliff Burton died when the band’s tour bus over-turned in rural southern Sweden. The Metallica bassist was just 24-years-old.
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 Cliff Burton drew cards.
Burton won the game with an Ace of Spades and pointed at Hammett stating he wanted his bunk. Burton was sleeping shortly before 7am on September 27 when, according to the driver, the bus skidded off the road and flipped onto the grass in Ljungby Municipality, Sweden.
Burton was thrown through the window of the bus, which fell on top of him. They tried to save him and managed to lift the bus up a little, but before they could retrieve him, the weight of the bus became too much and the bus slipped off the crane and landed on the ground again.
James Hetfield later stated that he first believed the bus flipped because the driver was drunk, claiming his breath smelled of alcohol after the accident.
James Hetfield also stated that he walked long distances down the road looking for black ice and found none. 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. The driver was determined not at fault for the accident and no charges were brought against him.
On October 3, 2006, a memorial stone was unveiled in Dorarp, Sweden, near the scene of the fatal crash. It is located by the parking lot to Gyllene Rasten. Click HERE.
Cliff Burton was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Metallica on April 4, 2009.