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Cliff Burton

He was considered a prodigy bass player who would have expected greatness, had he not died in an unfortunate accident and is only 24 years old. Here are some interesting facts about Cliff Burton, bassist of "Metallica":


1. He was born on February 10, 1962, as Clifford Lee Burton, to a mother from a Jewish family from Germany and a father who worked as a road engineer.

2. The first instrument on which he began playing at the age of 6, was the piano.

3. His older brother died of a cerebral aneurismת when he was only 13 years old. That same year he started to play bass. He swore to become a great bass player as a tribute to his brother.

4. To achieve his goal Cliff used to train 4-6 hours a day. He was discovered to be a prodigy and after about two years had already surpassed his teacher in bass playing. By the way, Burton devoted many hours to training even after joining "Metallica".

5. He noted that he was greatly influenced in his playing by bassists Geddy Lee, Geezer Butler, Stanley Clarke, Lemmy Kilmister, and Phil Lynott.

6. Burton was also heavily influenced by classical music and Southern Rock music. Among the artists Burton loved and were not of the metal genre was: "R.E.M.", Peter Gabriel, "Yes" and "The Police".

7. In his youth, Burton earned the nickname "Cowboy" since he used to wear a straw hat.

8. Back in high school, Burton formed the band "EZ Street" in which Jim Martin played guitar and Mike Bordin drums, both from "Faith No More".

9. In 1979 Cliff along with "EZ Street" won a youth band competition, one of the songs played by them was "Rebel Rebel" by David Bowie.

10. In 1982 he joined the band "Trauma" with which he recorded the song "Such a Shame". The song became a hit and was included in the compilation album "Metal Massacre II" by the record company "Metal Blade".

11. He first met James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich when he performed at the "Whiskey A-Go-Go" club, with his band. He played the solo piece that would later become the instrumental "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)". James and Lars were stunned by Cliff's playing. They of course invited him to join their band immediately.

12. Cliff agreed but on one condition. That the band will move from Los Angeles to San Francisco, his hometown. The band agreed and indeed everyone moved to live in San Francisco.

13. The solo track "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)" from "Kill 'Em All", is one of Rock's greatest and most appreciated bass solo tracks. The track consists of several solo pieces that Cliff used to play in performances and that were put together into one track. The track highlights Cliff's playing level and his virtuoso abilities as well as his ability to compose and control the bass guitar with effects like distortion and wah-wah that were known to be used mostly on a guitar.

14. Burton was the one who coined the name of "Metallica's" first album. The album's original name was supposed to be "Metal Up Your Ass" but when the record company refused to release it with that name, Burton responded: "Just kill 'em all, man!".

15. The image of the blood-stained hammer was also inspired by him. Kirk Hammett said Cliff used to walk around with a hammer in his bag wherever he went.

16. Cliff co-wrote six of the eight songs on the "Ride The Lightning" album.

17. Cliff wrote the immortal riff for the song "For Whom the Bell Tolls". The intro to the song is also played by him with a bass guitar with a distortion effect.

18. The opening of the track "Damage, Inc." was written and played entirely by Burton. He uses 12 recording channels, that include harmonies and effects of his bass guitar.

19. The instrumental track "Orion" is one of Cliff's favorite tracks, in which he contributes a lot to its writing. There are two solos of Cliff with bass on this track, which are sometimes confused to be a guitar solo. The first starts at 1:42 and continues until 2:13 and the second starts at 6:36 and ends at 6:55. Cliff also uses the Wah-Wah pedal on this one.

20. James Hetfield has a tattoo with the notes from the middle bass section of "Orion", on his left arm.

21. James Hetfield also sometimes wears a ring with a silver skull that belonged to Cliff.


22. "Orion" was also played at Cliff's funeral, which was held on October 7, 1986.

23. Cliff was influenced in writing "Orion" from the composition "Come, Sweet Death" by Johann Sebastian Bach.

24. And the death did indeed come, when on September 27, 1986, Burton was killed in a car accident, after the bus on which the band was traveling during their European tour flipped and buried him underneath.

25. Before the horrific accident, the band members drew cards for choosing their sleeping places on the bus. Cliff and Kirk Hammett drew cards from a deck to decide who would choose the best place to sleep. Cliff pulled an ace of spades from the deck and won, choosing the place that would cause his death.

26. Burton's last appearance with "Metallica" was held at Stockholm's Solnahallen Arena in Sweden on September 26, 1986.

27. Cliff received credit for the song "To Live Is To Die" from the album "...And Justice For All" which came out after his death. James Hetfield noted that it was a homage to their good friend.

28. "Megadeth's" song "In My Darkest Hour" was also written by Dave Mustaine in Cliff's memory. Dave claimed that when he first heard about Cliff's death he sat down and wrote the music for the song in one take.

29. "Anthrax" went even further and dedicated an entire album - "Among the Living" to him.

30. So did the band "Metal Church" with the album "The Dark".

31. In a 1986 interview with him, Cliff noted that his Metallica's favorite song is "Master Of Puppets".

32. In 1987, "Metallica" released a collection of videos in Burton's memory called "Cliff 'Em All".

33. In 2009 Cliff entered the "Hall Of Fame", with his band "Metallica". His father - Ray Burton was present in the hall during the ceremony and took the stage with the band members. Sadly Ray Burton who was very active in commemorating Cliff's memory passed away in 2019.

34. In 2018, Alameda County, California, the city where Cliff grew up, set February 10 as Cliff Burton's day. This was done following pressure from fans.

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