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Cliff Burton’s First Live Performance With Metallica 30th Anniversary: 10 Facts About the Bassist

Ross Halfin

The date of March 5th in history marks many interesting occurrences in popular culture. In 1965, it was the day the Beatles recorded their first number one single, “From Me to You.” In 1982, it was the tragic date the world lost one of the most singular characters in American comedy, John Belushi. But this is also the date in 1983 when James Hetfield, Dave Mustane and Lars Ulrich stepped on stage for the first time with Cliff Burton to change the face of heavy metal forever in a little band named Metallica.

Somewhere in 1982, James and Lars thought original Metallica bass player Ron McGovney wasn’t cutting the mustard and wanted to seek out a replacement. After seeing Cliff bang his head and play his bass in Trauma – contemporaries of Metallica in the California metal scene of the time – James and Lars knew they had their man. Burton was not easily cajoled though. If they wanted him as their bass player, they’d have to relocate from Los Angeles to his stomping grounds of Northern California. Metallica relented, picked up stakes and moved to Burton. Thank whatever deity you want for this happening.

Although Cliff saw the band through their formative years, he sadly didn’t live long enough to see the impact Metallica would make on the world.

But instead of mourning the loss of Cliff, let’s celebrate his time on earth and his first time playing with the band with 10 facts about the man with the bad ass Misfits shirt and the bell-bottomed jeans.

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