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Metallica: Fun Facts and Rarities



Pre-Metallica James Hetfield

James Hetfield started playing guitar back in middle school where he met Ron McGovney. Ron McGovney played regular six-string guitar at the time but would later play bass in Metallica for less than a year. In 1979 and '80, a teenage James Hetfield played in his first band which was named Obsession. They played covers of Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, UFO, Scorpions and Black Sabbath in peoples backyards and at parties. The only singing James would do at that point were on UFO songs like “Doctor Doctor.” Eventually Obsession disbanded and James briefly joined another band called Syrinx, which exclusively played Rush songs. Next James formed the band Phantom Lord, which had Ron McGovney on bass guitar. James taught Ron how to play bass guitar because they desperately needed someone on bass guitar. Before this Ron had only played guitar. Next in June 1981 Leather Charm was formed by James Hetfield and Ron McGovney.

Bands Covered by Leather Charm

  • Diamond Head
  • Budgie
  • “Pictured Life” by Scorpions
  • “Remember Tomorrow” by Iron Maiden
  • Wraithchild
  • “Slick Black Cadillac” by Quiet Riot (with Rhandy Roads on guitar)

Pre-Metallica Lars Ulrich

In 1973 Lars Ulrich decided at the age of 10 to take up the drums after seeing Deep Purple in concert. He had planned to become a professional tennis player like his dad before this, but now he had a passion for hard rock and heavy metal. At 16 he and his family moved from their home in Denmark to Los Angeles. About five months after moving to America James Hetfield responded to an ad he had written, and the two founded Metallica.

Pre-Metallica Kirk Hammet

Circa 1977, at the age of 15 Kirk Hammet first picked up playing the guitar. His first band was Exodus, which he helped to found and played a demo for in 1982. Then in 1983 he joined Metallica.

Why Ron McGovney Quit

By his own account, Ron McGovney was never fired from the band as bassist—he just got fed up with the behavior of his bandmates. According to him they did not take recording and playing their instruments seriously and would often be too drunk to perform songs right. Dave Mustaine had broken his bass guitar and he had overheard the band members talking about getting a new bassist, Trauma’s Cliff Burton. Driving around to gigs was costing him money that he was never reimbursed by the band by any paycheck. That is why Ron McGovney left the band. Even if he hadn’t quit Cliff Burton would have been Metallica’s bassist because he was simply a better bass player. On March 5, 1983, Cliff Burton officially joined Metallica as their bassist and played his first show with the band.

Metallica Songs Written by Dave Mustaine

Dave Mustaine claims that he wrote four songs on Kill 'Em All. He also claims he wrote the intro to the song "Motorbreath." He wrote the song "Jump in the Fire" which James and Lars re-wrote for the album. His song "Mechanix" was sped up, and given a new intro and became "The Four Horseman." He wrote the ending riff of the song "Phantom Lord" and had some part in the making of "Metal Militia." Other songs he is credited with include "The Call of Ktulu" and "Ride the Lightning."

Why Dave Mustaine Was Fired

On April 11, 1983, Dave Mustaine was fired from the band for his obnoxious and threatening behavior when he was drunk. When both Lars and James got drunk they would act foolish, but when Dave got drunk he would be self-destructive and get into fights with his bandmates and other people as well. He was not even given a chance to change his ways and Kirk Hammet seamlessly transitioned to the spot of lead guitarist.


Ron McGovney may have been in Metallica for less than a year, but he left a lasting impression, as he was the one who designed the band's logo.

History of "Hit the Lights"

Dave Mustaine played first lead guitar, Lloyd Grant played second lead guitar on this first version of "Hit the Lights", interestingly James Hetfield was on bass guitar as well as vocals. Of course Lars Ulrich played the drums. This was the first song that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich wrote together for Metallica.

Pre-Metallica Cliff Burton

This is the only known recording of Cliff Burton on bass guitar performing the song "Such a Shame" with the band Trauma for Metal Massacre II. Below is a rare live recording of Cliff Burton playing a bass solo.

Potential Singers for Metallica

John Bush was approached by the band to sing for them back in the early 1980's. He later was a success with Armored Saint and Anthrax.

Back around 1982 Tygers of Pan Tang vocalist Jesse Cox could have been the singer of Metallica, but he declined to be in the band.

Lars Ulrich and Metal Church

In the early 1980s, Lars Ulrich tried out for the position of drummer in Metal Church but didn't become a member of the band.

Les Claypool Replacing Cliff Burton?

Les Claypool, most known for his bass playing in Primus, was one of numerous bassists that were considered to be in Metallica after Cliff Burton's untimely death. He and Kirk Hammet were friends but Flotsam and Jetsam's Jason Newsted was chosen instead.

Lars Ulrich Almost Fired?

Around 1986 there were plans in Metallica to fire drummer Lars Ulrich. This has been confirmed by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian in his autobiography. Fortunately, Lars Ulrich was never fired.