Metallica’s Robert Trujillo: “Cliff’s approach was, ‘I’m gonna play what I feel, and if you don’t like it, screw you!’”

Cliff Burton (left) and James Hetfield perform onstage with Metallica
(Image credit: Pete Cronin/Redferns)

Born on February 10, 1962, in Castro Valley, California, Cliff Burton had three years in Metallica, recording three groundbreaking albums.

1983’s Kill ‘Em All, featured jaw-dropping bass guitar solo (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth, which stamped Burton's identity firmly on the emerging thrash metal movement. Ride the Lightning, released a year later, saw Cliff at his best on Call of Ktulu and For Whom the Bell Tolls, while Metallica fans would argue that his creative peak came on 1986’s Master of Puppets.

“Cliff was absolutely amazing for Metallica,” said Robert Trujillo, Metallica’s bass player since 2003. “His ideas, his presence, and where he was taking the bass and taking metal, were so special. And his stage presence – he was such a physical player. He played what he felt, and that was the bottom line. His approach was, “I’m gonna play what I feel, and if you don’t like it, screw you!'”

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.

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