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James Hetfield Recalls “Unforgettable” First Practice with Cliff Burton

In another new new video promoting Metallica's new Back to the Front book, James Hetfield remembers the time the band jammed with Cliff Burton for the first time.

"I will never forget that day in the living room where we first jammed with Cliff," Hetfield says in the clip, which you can check out below.

"I remember 'Seek and Destroy,' just hearing Cliff doing that [sings bass line]. It was like, 'Whoa! Whoa! Alright! We have a bass player. [Laughs] Or we have another guitar player who plays bass. [Laughs]"

Burton, the band's beloved bassist, died at age 24 in bus crash during the 1986 European leg of Metallica’s Master of Puppets tour.

“I still miss Cliff, no doubt. I’d love to see him again at some point,” Hetfield says in a previous clip. “So seeing photos that I haven’t seen before, especially where we’re together, that is awesome. To get another piece of him back into my heart is great.”

“Very emotional memories seeing Cliff,” Kirk Hammett adds. “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.”

Back to the Front will be available September 13.

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.