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Metallica. Nicknamed by fans the “Godfathers of Rock” (Metallica), the mere mention of this name puts a smile on every heavy metal fan’s face. They were the ones that started it all. If you look at Metallica, you see not only one of the most influential bands of all time, but you also see five men who have struggled through many tribulations; from failure to death, they have seen and experienced it all. From beginning to present, this influential band known as Metallica has inspired the world of heavy metal and helped mold rock into what we know it today.

The beginning of Metallica was all started with two teenage “metal-heads” named Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield. James Hetfield, after seeing an ad placed in the local newsletter “The Recycler” for wanting to start a band from Lars, contacted him and they both got to work (Jameson 1). They did not have much to start out with, it was Lars playing drums, and James Hetfield playing guitar and providing vocals, all done on a cheap tape recorder. Ron McGoveny, housemate and old school friend of James, eventually joined the band as the new bass players, and another friend of James, Dave Mustaine, took up lead guitar (Jameson 1). All the while, Ron McGoveny, was having second thoughts of the band, and was eventually replaced by Cliff Burton. Former member of local San Francisco band “Trauma”, he was asked by James and Lars to join, and Ron left of his own free will. The band had previously recorded a demo titled “No Life till Leather” with Ron, which they released and hit big in New York (Jameson 1). They were asked to go and play some shows, and to record a full album, to which they agreed to do. However, once they arrived, they announced they kicked guitarist Dave Mustaine out of the band, mainly because of his large drinking problem. James’ roadie at the time, Mark Whitakker, knew of a guitar player, Kirk Hammett of local San Francisco band “Exodus”, and on April 1st, 18, he was the new official replacement of Dave Mustaine. Around September of that year, Metallica had finally released its first album, “Kill `Em All” (Jameson 1).

In 184, Metallica finally released their first album after stunning the world with their first. This second LP, titled “Ride the Lightning”, was the first heavy metal band to start off a track with acoustic guitar, after which many other bands followed suit and took the idea (Winston 1). After much success, although never making it to mainstream radio, the LP went gold and spent 50 weeks of Billboard’s Top 00 (Winston 1). Just two years later, Metallica released their third LP, titled “Master of Puppets”. Most fans when asked the question, “Which is your favorite Metallica CD?” will answer this one (Metallica). This album came to be known as the more “thrash-metal” album, with more “inexorable, intense, melodic sounds.” (Winston). A million copies in the U.S. are sold in merely a week, even with no hit singles or music videos released. What could ever go wrong with Metallica now? Unfortunately, while touring Europe for the first time, while on an icy road in Sweden, Metallica’s tour bus skidded off a patch of ice and bassist Cliff Burton died instantly (Winston 1). Metallica continued to exist, though, with Lars stating, “Cliff would have been the first one to be pissed off if we didn’t.” (Winston 1) And the band did move on, only a few weeks later, they had replaced Cliff Burton with a new bassist, Jason Newsted, who was rumored to have been picked out of 40 auditions because he could keep up with Metallica’s drinking habits, “Beer and Metallica is like cereal and milk, they just mix so perfectly,” says James Hetfield (Metallica). After finally returning home from Europe, with the world still mourning Cliff Burton’s death but rejoicing that Metallica would continue to be, Metallica released an EP, “Garage Days Revisited”, a collection of cover songs from some of their favorite bands. In 188, Metallica released the VHS titled “Cliff `Em All”, a tribute to their lost friend, and also providing a short documentary on the band (Winston 1). The same year, Metallica released their fourth LP, “…And Justice for All”. Sales for this album are higher than for any in the past, and two hit singles are finally released onto mainstream music, “One” and “Harvester of Sorrow.” A music video is made for “One”, something they had never done before, and they begin their world tour, “playing 10 arena gigs in the U.S. alone,” (Jameson 1). The year is now 11, and Metallica has released their fifth self-titled LP, which fans came to give the name “The Black Album”, which came encased in a completely black CD case and CD booklet. Longtime fans at this time began to question Metallica, because of the albums shorter, yet fuller and deeper songs (Jameson 1). For several weeks, the album came to be number one in countries all over the world and stayed there for weeks on end. Following suit from “…And Justice for All”, they released several singles including “Enter Sandman”, “Nothing Else Matters”, and “Unforgiven”, and won a Grammy for best album, as well as snagging some MTV and American Music Awards, causing some fans to say they sold out, to which James replies “No rules but Metallica rules. Here it is, black sleeve, black logo, fuk you,” (Winston ). Time has past and it’s now been five years since Metallica has released an album and the world is beginning to wonder, “What has happened to Metallica?” They then stun the world by finally releasing their sixth LP, “Load”, which “had songs that were loose and more powerful”. They actually recorded two CD’s worth of songs. A year later, they released their seventh LP “Re-Load”, a follow up to “Load”, which contained the other half of the songs they could not fit onto the first CD (Winston ). Fans at this time, if not having questioned Metallica at the release of “The Black Album”, began to question them now. Many claimed they “sold out”, because they had now cut their hair to short length, the vocal styles were altered completely along with the guitar riffs, and the band had become more mainstream, even filming a music video that cost them well over $1,000 (Metallica). One of the main reasons was the vocal changes. During their first two albums, the vocals were considered by many as not “top of the line”, where it was mainly talking out loud but with some melody. During their three next albums, the vocals became more heavy and well-defined. During this period is where most Metallica fans remember James Hetfield’s trademark voice from. Then, after their “Black Album”, James took on a more “country” voice, adding more epic tones and longer note holds, while maintaining a deeper, more baritone sort of voice. Many fans then lost interest, but the true Metallica fans stayed on, hoping the old Metallica might return some day (Metallica). The year is 18 and Metallica releases their eighth LP, titled “Garage Inc.”, which is a compilation of unused songs from the band, along with covers of their favorite bands. A couple years have past by and it’s now April of 1, together with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, they played their old songs along with two new ones with the orchestra backing up to a large audience in San Francisco (Jameson ). They released their ninth LP later that year in November, titled “S&M”, which was a recording of the two night’s live performance (Winston ). The world was then in shock in the year 000, when bassist Jason Newsted announced he was leaving Metallica, due to the emotional and physical stress it was all causing him. Metallica was then without a bass player for three years, until in April of 00, they recruited former Ozzy Osbourne bassist Rob Trujillo as a new member of the Metallica family. Metallica is scheduled to release their already recorded tenth LP, “St. Anger”, on June 10th of this year (Metallica).

Even a band as great as Metallica started out looking up to the other bands out there. For James Hetfield, that band was Aerosmith (Metallica). Even as a child, he adored the band, being known as a total “Steven Tyler freak” (Metallica). Loving Steven Tyler’s singing style and the guitar riffs the band provided, he had to choose between becoming a vocalist and a guitarist, until he decided, “Why not both?” (Metallica). For Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich, their inspiration came from local New York band Diamond Head. This had inspired both Lars and Kirk to take up drums and guitar (respectively) (Metallica). The entire band seems to find inspiration in them as well, as they played some shows with them in the beginning of their career, as well as doing many cover songs on their EP “Garage Days Revisited” and their eighth LP “Garage Inc.” As for emotional influences, James Hetfield finds his inspiration for writing lyrics in the things he has both seen and experienced. The most influential album, according to the man himself, was “Master of Puppets”, which deals about songs from drug addiction to the control governments have over their people. Metallica has also inspired many bands out in the world today, even on the mainstream (Metallica). Blink 18 drummer Travis Barker himself admitted at the “MTV Icon � Metallica” showing that when he picked up his first Metallica album as a kid, it inspired him to take up drums. The mere mention of Metallica’s name to any band out there will have them bowing their heads in respect.

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There is not one person who hears the name Metallica, and does not know of them. They are respected as one of the most influential bands out there, giving heavy metal a boost into the mainstream, and showing the world how “rough” they can be while still singing about thoughtful things that matter. Metallica truly did earn the name of the “Godfathers of Rock”.

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