Why Kirk Hammett Described Cliff Burton As An ‘Anomaly’

The reign of the legendary heavy metal band Metallica started when Lars Ulrich placed an advertisement in a Los Angeles newspaper, The Recycler. James Hetfield replied to it, and they formed the band in 1981; later, Dave Mustaine also reached out to them to become their guitarist. Then, they began their search for a bassist, and Metallica recruited Ron McGovney, but he couldn’t reach his bandmates’ expectations.

Even though the band became more and more popular with their performances and talents, they realized that they needed a lineup change. Therefore Ulrich and Hetfield had to find a bassist because the current member, McGovney, didn’t contribute to creating the newly formed band’s style. The day when the drummer and vocalist went to a show at the West Hollywood nightclub, Whisky a Go-Go changed everything.

Cliff Burton’s Career In Metallica

Cliff Burton’s band Trauma was playing at Whisky a Go-Go while Hetfield and Ulrich were watching them. The Metallica members lost their minds and were impressed by his bass performance and use of a wah-wah pedal that they wanted Burton to join the band. Even though the bassist didn’t agree to become a Metallica member initially, he accepted their offer, which would bring him great fame and popularity as a bassist in a short time.

Burton performed in Metallica’s first three albums, ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ ‘Ride the Lightning,’ and ‘Master of Puppets,’ which got critical acclaim and became best-selling worldwide. The bassist’s one-of-a-kind playing drew significant attention from his peers, bandmates, and metalheads. Metallica’s lead guitarist who replaced Mustaine, Kirk Hammett, was one of them. Let’s find out his words about the late musician.

Kirk Hammett Regarded Cliff Burton As An ‘Anomaly’

While spending a lot of time with Burton and observing how he created these sounds, Hammett couldn’t understand the secret behind his ability to come up with basses and some guitar sounds. During one of his previous interviews, the guitarist defined him as an anomaly that was impossible to figure out.

He added that Burton worked on guitar-centric runs and carried an acoustic guitar. Hammett highlighted that he was very good at playing harmony parts with his guitar, and also Burton sang most of them, including The Eagles.

Hammett shared his ideas, saying:

Cliff was a total anomaly. To this day, I’m still trying to figure out everything I experienced with him. He was a bass player and played like a bassist. However, a lot of guitar sounds came out of it. He wrote a lot of guitar-centric runs. He always carried around a small acoustic guitar that was down-tuned.

I remember when I picked it up and was like, ‘What is this thing even tuned to, like C?’ He explained that he liked it because he could bend the strings. He would always come up with harmonies on that acoustic guitar. I would be sitting there playing my guitar, and he’d pick up his bass and immediately start playing a harmony part. He would also sing harmonies. I remember The Eagles would come on the radio, and he would sing all the harmony parts, never the root.”

Unfortunately, Hammett and Burton couldn’t continue creating and performing together for a long time because of a tragic and unexpected accident. The band started their Damage, Inc. Tour on March 27, 1986, and it ended on February 13, 1987, to promote the third studio album, ‘Master of Puppets.’ Metallica members were devastated by Burton’s death due to the bus accident on September 27, 1986, while they were on the road for one of their concerts in Sweeden.