Tuesday (September 27th) was the 30th anniversary of the death of Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, who was killed in 1986 at the age of 24 in a bus crash while the band was touring in Sweden. Frontman James Hetfield reflected on the somber date in a new interview posted at the official Metallica website, saying, "I miss Cliff a lot. I think about him quite often. But it also makes me realize that, you know, he’s here in spirit. He’s not here physically, but there are people that are here physically, and let’s have some good times now."
Hetfield admitted that he and his bandmates avoided dealing with their grief for a long time, saying, "We drank a lot. And then when Cliff passed away, it was doubled, you know? Took twice as much to stuff it down. And (I) never, ever really grieved. We just went back out, started touring again, and that was supposedly the remedy to shake it off and to get back on the horse, all the clichés."
- Hetfield acknowledged that it was his 2001 stint in rehab that finally allowed him to begin processing his grief over not just Burton, but also Hetfield's late mother. The singer/guitarist remarked, "I think just by (opening up to the) memories . . . that’s how grieving is happening for me over a longer period of time."
- Burton was replaced a month after his death by bassist Jason Newsted, who stayed with the group until 2001. Robert Trujillo took over the bass spot in 2003.
- All three bass player, including Burton, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Metallica members in 2009. Burton's father attended the ceremony on behalf of his son.
- At a January 2009 press conference announcing Metallica's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, James Hetfield was asked to speculate on what Burton would have thought of the induction: "I hate playing what-ifs. I love being here right now. You know, the spirit of Cliff lives in us, we take him everywhere we can, so I want to think that he would love this, the fact that Metallica is being recognized as something to reckon with."
- Burton was not Metallica's first bass player: that honor belonged to Ron McGovney. But Burton caught the eye of Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich when they saw him play in a band called Trauma in his hometown of San Francisco.
- They asked him to join Metallica and he said he would only do it if the group relocated to the Bay Area, which they did.
- Burton, who played on Metallica's first three studio albums, was renowned for his ferocious live presence and extended bass solos on songs like "Orion" and "Pulling Teeth."