Complete List Of Metallica Band Members looks at a band formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California. Metallica stands as one of the most influential and commercially successful bands in the history of heavy metal. The band was founded by James Hetfield (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Lars Ulrich (drums) after Ulrich posted an ad in a local newspaper. Ron McGovney was the original bassist, and Dave Mustaine, who later formed Megadeth, was the initial lead guitarist. Within a short period, the band produced its first demo, “No Life ’til Leather,” which garnered attention in the underground metal community. However, tensions between the members led to Mustaine’s firing in 1983, and he was replaced by Kirk Hammett.
The band’s debut album, Kill ‘Em All, was released later that year. McGovney left soon after and was replaced by Cliff Burton, solidifying a lineup that would carry the band through two more seminal albums: Ride the Lightning (1984) and Master of Puppets (1986). Tragically, Burton was killed in a bus accident in 1986 while the band was on tour in Sweden. Jason Newsted replaced Burton, and the band released …And Justice for All in 1988, which marked their mainstream breakthrough, aided by the iconic single “One.”
Metallica entered the 1990s with what would become one of the best-selling albums of all time, known commonly as “The Black Album” (1991). The record featured a softer sound and radio-friendly singles like “Enter Sandman.” It catapulted the band to global stardom. During this period, they worked with producer Bob Rock, who helped shape their evolving sound. The band released two more albums with him, Load (1996) and Reload (1997).
Entering the 2000s, Metallica took a detour with St. Anger (2003), a polarizing album that marked a significant departure from their established sound. It was during these sessions that Newsted left the band and was replaced by Robert Trujillo. The band also filmed a documentary, Some Kind of Monster, that exposed the internal conflicts and struggles within the group.
They returned to a more traditional metal sound with Death Magnetic in 2008 and followed it up with Hardwired… to Self-Destruct in 2016. Over the years, Metallica has garnered numerous awards, including nine Grammys, and has sold over 125 million albums worldwide. They’ve also ventured into other projects, like the collaboration with Lou Reed on Lulu (2011) and their 3D concert film, Metallica Through the Never (2013).
CURRENT METALLICA BAND MEMBERS
James Hetfield, born on August 3, 1963, in Downey, California, is one of the founding members of Metallica. He joined the band in 1981 and has been the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist ever since. Hetfield has played on all of Metallica’s albums, from Kill ‘Em All (1983) to their latest releases. Notable songs he has composed or co-composed include “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets,” and “One,” among countless others. Besides playing the guitar and handling vocals, Hetfield has occasionally played other instruments in studio recordings, like the piano for “Nothing Else Matters.” Outside of Metallica, Hetfield has made various guest appearances on other artists’ recordings but has not pursued a separate solo career as of my last update.
Kirk Hammett, born on November 18, 1962, in San Francisco, California, joined Metallica in 1983, replacing original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine. He has been with the band since their debut album, Kill ‘Em All, and has played on all subsequent albums. Some of the popular songs that feature his songwriting and iconic solos include “Fade to Black,” “The Unforgiven,” and “Enter Sandman.” Before joining Metallica, Hammett was a member of the band Exodus. Outside of Metallica, he has also been involved in various projects, including releasing a horror-themed instrumental album, and has made guest appearances with other musicians.
Robert Trujillo was born on October 23, 1964, in Santa Monica, California, and joined Metallica in 2003 as the band’s bassist. He made his studio debut with Metallica on the 2008 album Death Magnetic, and has been part of all subsequent albums and projects. Trujillo’s songwriting contributions include tracks like “Spit Out the Bone.” Before Metallica, he was part of several other bands, including Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne’s band. Outside of Metallica, Trujillo produced a documentary about jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius and has been involved in various other musical projects.
Lars Ulrich, born on December 26, 1963, in Gentofte, Denmark, is another founding member of Metallica. He has been the band’s drummer since its inception in 1981 and has played on all of Metallica’s albums. Ulrich has also been heavily involved in the songwriting process, co-writing classics like “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman.” Apart from his role in Metallica, Ulrich has acted in a few films and hosted his own radio show. He is also known for his role in the initiation of legal proceedings against Napster, a file-sharing service that was distributing Metallica’s music without consent. Outside of Metallica, he has not been significantly involved in other musical projects.
FORMER METALLICA BAND MEMBERS
Dave Mustaine, born on September 13, 1961, in La Mesa, California, was one of the original members of Metallica. He joined the band in 1981 as the lead guitarist but was fired from the band in 1983, just before the recording of their debut album, Kill ‘Em All. During his short tenure with Metallica, he did contribute to some early compositions but did not appear on any official studio albums. After leaving Metallica, Mustaine went on to form the successful band Megadeth. Megadeth has had a prolific career and is considered one of the “big four” bands of thrash metal alongside Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer. Mustaine’s songwriting in Megadeth has often touched upon themes of politics, war, and personal struggles.
Ron McGovney, born on November 2, 1962, in Los Angeles, California, was Metallica’s original bassist when the band was formed in 1981. However, his time with the band was short-lived, and he departed in 1982. McGovney played with Metallica during their early live performances but did not record any studio albums with the band. After leaving Metallica, McGovney stepped away from music for a long time, although he did make occasional guest appearances with the band. He has largely remained out of the music industry.
Cliff Burton, born on February 10, 1962, in Castro Valley, California, joined Metallica in 1982 as the band’s bassist, replacing Ron McGovney. He played on Metallica’s first three studio albums: Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning, and Master of Puppets. Known for his intricate and melodic bass playing, he had a major influence on the band’s early sound. Burton tragically died in a bus accident on September 27, 1986, during the band’s tour in Sweden. His songwriting contributions include tracks like “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and the instrumental “Orion.”
Jason Newsted, born on March 4, 1963, in Battle Creek, Michigan, joined Metallica in 1986 as the bassist, replacing the late Cliff Burton. He made his studio album debut with …And Justice for All in 1988 and was a part of subsequent albums like Metallica (often called “The Black Album”), Load, and Reload. Newsted’s contributions to Metallica also include co-writing songs like “My Friend of Misery” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” He left the band in 2001, citing personal reasons for his departure. After leaving Metallica, Newsted pursued various musical projects, including a stint with Ozzy Osbourne and his own band, Newsted.
TOURING METALLICA BAND MEMBERS
Bob Rock, born on April 19, 1954, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is not a permanent member of Metallica but had an essential role as a producer for some of their key albums. Rock’s most notable collaboration with Metallica began with their 1991 self-titled album, commonly known as “The Black Album,” which included hits like “Enter Sandman” and “The Unforgiven.” The album marked a departure from the band’s thrash metal roots and brought them mainstream success. He also produced subsequent albums such as Load, Reload, Garage Inc., and St. Anger. Interestingly, during the recording of St. Anger in 2001, Rock played the bass parts in the absence of a permanent bassist, following the departure of Jason Newsted. After the St. Anger album, Rock and Metallica parted ways, and he returned to his primary role as a producer, working with various other artists across different genres.
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