James Hetfield Recalls “Unforgettable” First Practice with Cliff Burton

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In a new video for Metallica’s Back to the Front book about the making of Master of Puppets, James Hetfield recalls the first time he and Lars Ulrich jammed with late bassist Cliff Burton.

“I will never forget that day in the living room where we first jammed with Cliff,” Hetfield says.

“I remember ‘Seek and Destroy,’ just hearing Cliff doing that [mimes bass line]. It was like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! All right! We have a bass player. Or we have another guitar player who plays bass.’”

The new video comes on the heels of another Back to the Front clip in which Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and the rest of the band reminisce about Burton, who died at age 24 in a bus crash during the 1986 European leg of the Master of Puppets tour. Back to the Front includes many rare, previously unreleased photos of Burton and the group from the album’s recording sessions.

“Very emotional memories seeing Cliff,” Kirk Hammett says in that video. “Seeing pictures of Cliff and I in the hotel rooms, Cliff and I hanging out. Pictures of us in the dressing rooms when our dressing room was a deli tray, a stack of towels and, disproportionately, just a ton of booze. … I respect Cliff’s memory.”

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