When Cliff Burton met Geddy Lee: “He started pacing, he started smoking pot, and he was like, ‘Oh my God!’”

Bass guitarist Cliff Burton (1962-1986) and guitarist Kirk Hammett pose for a studio portrait during the Damage, Inc. Tour on April 4, 1986. Geddy Lee of Rush attends the 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on April 7, 2017.
(Image credit: Photo by Ross Marino/Getty Images & Theo Wargo/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)

A steady five-decades long stream of ambitious bass-driven songs has made Geddy Lee perhaps the most admired bassist in the land – he was Bass Player’s first ever Bassist of the Year back in 1991. Maybe that’s why, when Geddy was spotted at a Metallica show during the group's Ride the Lightning tour, Metallica’s first bassist Cliff Burton, was humbled, to say the least. 

“We played Toronto and all of a sudden we got a message backstage that Geddy Lee was in the audience,” guitarist Kirk Hammett revealed during a Q&A for the band's longtime photographer, Ross Halfin. “Cliff Burton just freaked out. He started pacing, he started smoking pot, and he was like, ‘Oh my God! Geddy! Geddy Lee!’ He could not settle down; he was so nervous and just happy at the same time that Geddy Lee was there.

“And then Ross tells him that Geezer Butler is out there one night,” Kirk continues. “Same thing – he starts pacing around, super nervous, grabs a beer.”

Kirk picks up the story at 31:50 in the video below.

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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.