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R.I.P. Cliff Burton!





Ozzy
Rest In Peace Clifford Lee Burton, 20 years from the terrible tragedy...



Clifford Lee Burton (February 10, 1962 – September 27, 1986) was the second bassist in the band Metallica, joining the band in late 1982. His life and tragic death have inspired many songs from bands including Megadeth and Primus, as well as bassists such as Billy Sheehan, Les Claypool and John Myung. He was killed in a bus accident in Sweden, 1986.
Burton was born in Castro Valley, California. He started playing the piano at age six. In 1976 at the age of 14, Burton picked up the bass guitar and started playing in local bands, while taking lessons with a local music teacher, Steve Hamady. Cliff also played with local garage bands like Whiplash with Jim Shaffer Rick Anderson etc. According to his parents, Cliff would spend four to six hours a day perfecting his bass guitar skills, even after he joined Metallica. Upon graduating from Castro Valley High School in 1980, he took a music course at Napa Valley Junior College in northern California. One of his fellow schoolmates was one "Big" Jim Martin, former guitarist of Faith No More.



The other members of Metallica were looking for a bass player who was a bit more proficient than their current bassist, Ron McGovney. As they tell the story in the liner notes to "Garage, Inc.", they attended a show by Burton's band Trauma, heard what they thought was a wild wah-wah guitar solo, wondered where the guitar was, and discovered it was Burton playing his bass through a wah-wah. Burton was actually playing his famous solo (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth.
They recruited him when, after constant pleas, he agreed to join on the sole condition that Metallica would relocate from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area. The music scene in Los Angeles was "too plastic" for Burton.
Burton would reportedly monopolize the tape player in any touring vehicle, and deliberately expose the band to a variety of music styles ranging from The Misfits, Pink Floyd, and Thin Lizzy to legendary classical pianist Glenn Gould playing Bach.



His playing style was unusually varied for a heavy metal bassist. From the rapid-fire riffs from songs like "Battery", "Damage, Inc." or "The Four Horsemen" to very melodic playing like in "Orion", and of course solos like (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth. Burton never played with a guitar pick; he only used his fingers. Especially during his solos, he often played on 2 or sometimes even 3 strings at once.
Four rock musician influences that can clearly be heard in his playing are Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister, Rush frontman Geddy Lee, Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler, and Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. Unlike other, later virtuoso metal and progressive metal bassists who favor 5-string or even 6-string bass guitars, Burton only played a standard 4-string bass.



James Hetfield has admitted that Burton's influence was highly responsible for much of Metallica's early music and image. A classically trained pianist, Burton used his large knowledge of theory to add to the band's sound, both through his bass work and teaching James how to theorize and harmonize.
Cliff's obsession with surreal horror writer H.P. Lovecraft gave the band a large array of album cover art and song topics (i.e. The Call Of Ktulu, The Thing That Should Not Be). The band has also noted that their love of The Misfits, Samhain, and all things Glenn Danzig came directly from Cliff force-feeding a Misfits tape to them on tour, playing it to the point of monotony and using the dashboard as a drumset.
Cliff was, by and large, the most respected member of the band and James "looked up to him like an older brother". He was said to have been quiet and kept to himself most of the time; however when he spoke, everyone listened. Longtime Metallica photographer Ross Halfin has said that "Cliff ran that band -- absolutely nothing happened without his okay.". A popular debate among Metallica fans is the direction the group would have taken in the late 1980s and 1990s had Cliff been around.



While on the European leg of the Damage Inc. Tour, Burton and Kirk Hammett drew from a stack of cards to see who would get the top bunk on the bus. Burton picked the Ace of Spades and so he got to sleep on Kirk Hammett's bed, as Hammett recalls on MTV's 1992 bio of the band as well as in the VH1 show Behind the Music. Burton died when the band's tour bus hit black ice (though it is still disputed that they may have crashed because the driver may have been drinking) and flipped over in rural Sweden (Kronobergs län). As the bus was skidding out of control and eventually rolled over on the grass, Burton fell through a window, landed underneath the bus and was crushed. Burton was crushed again when the winch cable lifting the bus off him snapped, dropping the bus on him a second time. Since his death European tour buses have plywood boards fitted to all windows next to the bunk beds. These boards are commonly referred to as 'Burton Boards' in his honour.
The other people on the bus (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, the drum technician, and two guitar technicians) recount seeing Burton's feet sticking out from under the bus. That sight has haunted them for a long time.
Burton's body was cremated. At the ceremony, the instrumental "Orion" from the album Master of Puppets was played. Because of this, Metallica never played Orion in full live until June 6, 2006 when they performed the album Master of Puppets in its entirety to mark the 20th anniversary of its release. Previously, bits of the song had been used to bridge between other songs.



He co-wrote several Metallica songs, including "Master of Puppets," "Orion," "For Whom The Bell Tolls," and "Fade to Black." The best examples of his unique bass playing style are:

* The intro of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" (Which is usually mistaken for a guitar.)
* The epic bass solo "(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth" from the album Kill 'Em All
* The lead bass in the instrumental "The Call of Ktulu" from Ride the Lightning
* The lead bass in the instrumental "Orion" from Master of Puppets.
* The intro of "Damage Inc." which has very complex volume swells in bass by using a volume pedal

* The lead bass in the song "Disposable Heroes" from Master of Puppets is a good example of Cliff's bass being mistaken for a guitar.

He wrote many of the riffs used in "To Live is to Die" which is featured on the ...And Justice for All album, and the song is dedicated to him. There are only these lyrics, also written by Burton, in the entire song, intoned by James Hetfield about three-quarters (7:32) of the way through:

"When a man lies, he murders
some part of the world.
These are the pale deaths which
men miscall their lives.
All this I cannot bear
to witness any longer.
Cannot the kingdom of salvation
take me home?"

The line "When a man lies, he murders some part of the world" is a quote from the movie Excalibur. The line "These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives" is actually from the book Lord Foul's Bane in the Thomas Covenant series written by Stephen R. Donaldson.



After Burton's death, Metallica made ...And Justice for All in 1988. The instrumental track, "To Live Is To Die", is Burton's last writing credit and is said by the band to be mainly made up of his unused riffs, and the spoken part also penned by him. In 1987 Metallica released the tribute documentary Cliff 'em All, a retrospective of Burton's time in the band.
The most well known non-Metallica tribute to Cliff is the song "In My Darkest Hour" by Megadeth. The band's frontman Dave Mustaine was Metallica's lead guitarist in the early days and knew Cliff quite well. Mustaine was quoted in various magazines and Megadeth's "Behind The Music" as saying the song was inspired by Burton's passing. He claimed that neither James, Kirk, nor Lars informed him of Cliff's accident and he only found out when the band's manager called him. When he heard Dave sat down and cried and then grabbed an acoustic guitar. In one sitting he wrote the entire song, which is the only song he has ever written that way. While the lyrics are not directly about Burton, they were inspired by his death.





We love you Cliff
pudovkin
Yeah. Great guy and spirit.
Sickness
he was an amazing bassist...

a card can decide your destiny... life has got very stange things...
tkGER
Great research you did man Cool
He was a really great bass player, but now they've replaced him with the ninja turtle trujillo... that's really a shame. Jason was OK, too bad the guys took the wrong twist somewhere.
But the best era was the Burton one, definitely Smile
Subsonic Sound
Quote:
Especially during his solos, he often played on 2 or sometimes even 3 strings at once.


Haha... I'm going to assume the writer's not a bassist... because that's not hard.

Still, Burton was a good bassist, and untimely death isn't something you'd wish on anyway. Personally I don't think he was as amazing a player as so many fans seem to, but I can't deny he was solid, and influential.
SunburnedCactus
He was very understated though, a much better player than you would hear on record, although of course he is incredibly solid on record (when you consider he could keep up with some pretty fast thrash despite never using a plectrum, fingers of steel for sure!)
Subsonic Sound
How can he be under-rated, when legions of Metallica fans worship the ground he walked on?

I'd actually say he's over-rated. He was a very good player, but not nearly as good as the praise he gets would indicate.
bonestorm74
RIP Cliff, certainly an icon in metal and tremendously influential.
SurBiff
really great writings m8.
achene
I sense an easy way to get some points Wink


Anyways - it sure was a great tragedy. Cliff will be remembered.
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