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Portrait of Cliff Burton

This Day In Music History – Metallica Bassist Cliff Burton Dies in Sweden

written by: on September 27, 2011

On September 27, 1986, Metallica’s tour bus crashed in southern Sweden as the band was promoting their Master of Puppets album. Cliff Burton died from the accident at the age of 24.

Burton was the bassist on Metallica’s first three albums, Kill ‘Em All, Ride the Lightning and Master of Puppets. His unique playing style grabbed the attention of Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield during a club show for his then band, Trauma. His use of wah wah pedal and bass solos were used in place of traditional guitar solos. Metallica soon relocated to San Francisco on Burton’s behest and began recording demos.

On songs like “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Master of Puppets” and “Orion”  feature Burton’s raw shredding style. Routinely mistaken for guitar solos, Burton’s riffs were the driving force for many of Metallica’s early hits. “Orion” is particularly impressive because it’s the only instrumental song on Master of Puppets and is an eight minute bass solo.  ”Orion” is only rarely played live to this day. Metallica only began playing “Orion” again in 2006 and only a handful of times since. Burton is not only considered the best Metallica bassist but one of the best metal bassists of all time. In 2009, Burton was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside Metallica.

Live videos of “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Master of Puppets” are below.

What is your favorite solo or song by Cliff Burton?

Metallica – “(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth”

Metallica – “Master of Puppets”

Metallica – “For Whom the Bell Tolls”