He couldn’t wait to buy a house so he could “shoot guns in it.”
Unabashedly original in every way, Cliff Burton’s genius went far beyond the four strings of his Rickenbacker. Educated in music theory before graduating high school, the bell-bottomed Burton demonstrated unmatched dedication from the age of 13.
Adopting the nocturnal life early on, he conditioned himself for his unquestionable future, honing his craft up to six hours a day.
Metallica is Lars Ulrich’s brainchild, and Burton was initially reluctant to join – so much that their relocation to his hometown was a condition upon his recruitment. Yet, the changes in their musical direction since that untimely accident in Sweden, gave some points for many to argue that it was Cliff’s influence that gave Metallica its fangs. His contributions, “Call of the Cthulhu,” “Creeping Death,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “Master of Puppets,” and of course, his haunting bass solo which was accomplished in a single take, “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth),” have all become staple classics which cemented Metallica’s place in the “Big Four” of Thrash Metal and music history, itself.
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His professional music career began with a band named Trauma, and his life ended that way.
His motto, “To live is to die,” was not engraved on his death site’s memorial, but “Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home,” was carved instead. However, the band used his immortal words to pay musical tribute to him on Puppet’s follow-up …And Justice for All.
Cliff’s death was taken so hard, Ulrich ordered Steve Thompson, their sound engineer, to lower Jason Newsted’s bassline to near inaudibility on Justice.
Inspired by Lemmy Kilmister and Johann Sebastian Bach, Burton was declared an official “Maestro” and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame posthumously, as well as proclaimed the 9th greatest bass player of all time by Rolling Stone.
A memorial plaque in his old elementary school reads, “Thank you for your beautiful music.”