METALLICA is a mega-band of heavy metal from 80s and 90s, whose name became a face of heavy metal for many fans and musicians. There are only few bands in the history of rock that reached such height as Metallica, and I doubt that today someone else has such fame and popularity as them. In short fifteen years this band turned from a bunch of basement amateurs into a national sensation. Most importantly Metallica never compromised their music for anyone in show business. Their music always was their self-expression, their faith. In this story, I will try to tell how Metallica began.
Metallica’s beginning as many other things in this world owes to someone being at the right place in the right time. I’m talking about one of the founders of future legend – its drummer, Lars Ulrich, who was born in faraway Denmark. This fact is interesting, because only two famous performers of heavy metal were ever born in Denmark: King Diamond and Ulrich himself. Lars was born in a suburb of Copenhagen on December 26, 1963 in family of famous at that time tennis player, Torben Ulrich. Due to this, problem of Lars’s profession was solved at early age. At the beginning little Lars constantly traveled all around the world with his dad to different championships and tournaments, and later took up tennis himself. By the time Lars was ten, he was in the top ten of Danish junior league, and would only keep advancing. Both Lars and his father were thinking that his future was set as a tennis star. However, that soon changed. In February of 1973 young Lars accidentally wound up at a concert of Deep Purple. He was taken there by his father’s friend – old hippie and fan of hard rock. Lars himself had little interest in that kind of music. What he saw, however, turned his world upside down. A week later, Lars brought home his first vinyl disc – album Deep Purple ‘71’ ‘Fireball’. Lars also got into Sweet, Uriah Heep, Slade, Thin Lizzy, and Black Sabbath – all the British rock-elite. Black Sabbath’s concert in 75 inspired other people too, so Copenhagen at the time had plenty of teenagers jumping with some heavy music and trying make guitarists of themselves. Lars, on the other hand, chose a very different instrument for himself – the drums. More and more often you could see him spending time with two sticks and a bunch of boxes instead of his tennis racket. Lars finally got real drums for his 13th birthday after bugging his grandmother for several months. One time going around his favorite of music stores, Lars found out “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” or “NWOBHM” that changed his life again. In fall of 79 Lars finally met a real, live rocker – drummer of Motorhead, Phil Taylor. Lars’s parents at the same time were trying to find a way to deal with their son’s growing music obsession. They decided on moving to America, where they were sure, it would be easier for Lars to concentrate on sport and continue his promising career in that field, because of all the different tennis tournaments going on in there. So in the middle of 1980 the whole family moved across the ocean to California. Their new home became a place called New-Port Beach, several miles to the south of Los-Angeles. Lars’s parents sold his drums in Denmark before the move and made him start on tennis again. That didn’t work, however. Two months after the move, Lars got himself his own drums, and this time there was nothing his parents could do to keep him away from them. Lars had a problem with America, though: nobody even heard about the music he was so crazy about. There was nothing heavier than Van Halen on the west coast at that time. It is easy to understand how lonely Lars was in his passions. Everyone considered him completely crazy and hopelessly focused on his drums and foreign heavy metal. In the beginning of 1981, however, Lars got lucky – he finally met a common thinker, a guy named Jeff Warner, who played the guitar and also liked British rock. Right after they met, both agreed to devote all their free time to heavy metal. In the end of February they met Lloyd Grant, a skilled black guitarist, who was ten years older than Lars and Jeff. Even though it didn’t cause any trouble, after several weeks of training together, the three broke up. Lars and Lloyd had some purely communication problems, and Jeff, disappointed by what happened, left too.