Cliff Burton Almost Missed A Metallica Show Wandering About Backstage, Blackie Lawless Recalls

In 1985, Metallica was on the ‘Ride the Lightning’ tour. Their stop on January 30 was at the Sherwood Country Club in Indianapolis, where one of the other acts was W.A.S.P. In a Q&A session before a concert for their current U.S. tour, Blackie Lawless recalled those days and shared a funny story about Cliff Burton.

“We had gotten there late,” he said, remembering the concert day. “We had a long drive the night before. Nobody got soundchecks that day. We were scrambling to try to make it happen. So we were flip-flopping [with Metallica] every night [on that tour] — one night they’d close, one night we’d close — and this happened to be one of the nights we were closing.”

He continued, “The dressing rooms were all downstairs, and it was like a maze down there; I mean, nobody knew where they were. Usually, you get in early in the afternoon, and everybody gets kind of a feel for what’s going on, signs are posted with arrows going this way and that way, what’s where. I’m in there shaving, and I hear Metallica’s intro start. And I’m looking up in the mirror, and I’m shaving; I’ve got the razor at my throat.”

That’s when Cliff Burton entered the room in a panic. Blackie recalled, “The door flies open behind me. There’s Cliff [Burton, Metallica bassist] standing there with his bass on. Now, their intro was playing. And Cliff’s standing there. He goes, ‘Blackie, Blackie, how do I get to the stage? How do I get to the stage?’”

But Blackie had no idea about it either. “I didn’t know. I hadn’t been up there yet. And I looked in the mirror. He was behind me. And I said, ‘Cliff, honestly, I don’t know.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, f*ck you, Blackie.’ He thinks I’m busting his chops. Two minutes go by. I’m still down there shaving. They are already into the first song, and I hear the bass finally come in.”

In the summer of 1984, Metallica released their second album ‘Ride The Lightning.’ After some rest, they set out to promote it the following winter. Their setlist was one of the strongest. The first leg of the tour was States and Canada. They were in a different city almost every day. It marked the first time they played in front of a crowd of 70,000.

Performing to 70,000 people on this tour probably surprised and excited them. However, only seven years after this tour, they would become metal gods by giving a concert to 1.6 million people and come to be known as the band that gave the biggest show ever. Unfortunately, Burton did not see those days, but his legacy has survived through his work and the beautiful memories he left behind.