Metallica was formed in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and singer/guitarist James Hetfield. They hired Ron McGovney to play bass and Dave Mustaine to play guitar and began playing live shows. After recording a demo they secured a record deal, and by this time McGovney and Mustaine had been replaced by Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett. Their first album, Kill 'Em All, was released in 1983.
From The Underground:
After massive touring and underground success, their second album, 1984's Ride The Lightning continued their momentum. They became one of the most influential thrash metal bands. In 1986 they signed to major label Elektra and released what is thought by many to be their best album, Master Of Puppets.
Just as Metallica was becoming the biggest heavy metal band and one of the biggest bands period, tragedy struck. On September 26, 1986, the band's tour bus skidded while they were in Europe. Bassist Cliff Burton was killed.
The Next Phase:
Flotsam and Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted was chosen to replace Burton. Their next several albums earned them that mantle of biggest and most successful metal band on the planet. But there were still a multitude of problems. Ulrich and Hetfield always had their conflicts, but they escalated as the years went on. Hetfield also had a problem with alcohol.
As chronicled in the fantastic documentary "Some Kind Of Monster," Hetfield went into rehab as the band was recording St. Anger. After a several month break he came back and they finished the album. They were also getting therapy to try to repair some of the personal issues. During this time Jason Newsted left the band and was replaced by Robert Trujillo. St. Anger got mixed reviews, but 2008's Death Magnetic was a return to form for the band.
The Band's Sound:
Metallica pioneered the genre known as thrash metal. Hammett and Hetfield's blazing guitars along with Ulrich's warp speed drumming launched a whole new style of music. Their sound has evolved over the years and has gotten more complex. They've explored their softer side with some ballads and even an album with an orchestra, but they still can rock as hard as anyone out there.
Current Metallica Lineup And Their Former Bands:
Here's Metallica's current lineup. Their current side projects and former bands are listed in parenthesis.
James Hetfield - Vocals, guitar (Leather Charm, Obsession)
Lars Ulrich - Drums
Kirk Hammett - Guitar (Exodus)
Robert Trujillo - Bass (Black Label Society, Suicidal Tendencies, Ozzy Osbourne)
Ron McGovney - Bass (1981-1982)
Cliff Burton - Bass (1982-1986) Died in 1986
Dave Mustaine - Guitar (1982-1983)
Jason Newsted - Bass (1986-2001)
1983 Kill 'em All (Megaforce)
1984 Ride The Lightning (Megaforce)
1986 Master Of Puppets (Elektra)
1988 And Justice For All (Elektra)
1991 Metallica (Elektra)
1996 Load (Elektra)
1997 Reload (Elektra)
1998 Garage Inc. (Elektra)
1999 S&M (Elektra)
2003 St. Anger (Elektra)
2008 Death Magnetic (Warner Brothers)
Best Metallica Albums
The top 5 Metallica albums, as selected by About.com Heavy Metal.
Essential Metallica Album:
Master Of Puppets
From the trademark thrash of "Battery" to the instrumental stylings of "Orion," it's a sound of a band on top of their game. The songs are diverse and the musicianship is simply incredible.