Music, Song, Thoughts

Happy Birthday Cliff Burton

I remember picking up my first Metallica album and listening to the melodic mastery of the bass by Cliff. The most iconic being (Anesthesia) – Pulling Teeth (instrumental) from the album Kill ‘Em All. To today, I still listen to the albums that Cliff was on more than the others, nothing beats relaxing to his jams after a hard day or to relax yourself from stress.

Clifford Lee “Cliff” Burton was an American musician, best known as the bass guitarist for the American heavy metal band Metallica. Burton joined the band in 1982 and performed on its debut studio album, Kill ‘Em All.  – Wikipedia

Memorial stone near the crash site.
Memorial stone near the crash site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Born: February 10, 1962, Castro Valley
Died: September 27, 1986, Ljungby

“When a man lies he murders some part of the world
These are the pale deaths which men miscall their lives
All this i cannot bear to witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home”
– Cliff Burton: “To Live Is To Die”

(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth (Instrumental) Cliff Live Version

(Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth (Instrumental) Album Version

Here is a small sample of Cliff working his magic.

For those that play

The Aria Pro II Cliff Burton Signature Bass is available for sale. It was officially launched at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, California on January 24-27. It is an exact replica right down to the sound.

Burton Bass Signature Launch

Metallica was en route on a road between Stockholm and Copenhagen, to their next gig that was scheduled for September 27th, 1986. Earlier that night the band drew cards for the assignment of the bunks on the tour bus. As fate would have it, Cliff drew the ace of spades and chooses Kirk Hammett’s bunk. Around dawn, the bus driver lost control of the bus and over corrects with the steering wheel to get back on the road. The bus begins to skid out of control and rolls several times before coming to a halt. Cliff was ejected and pinned underneath. The band disembarks to find Cliff motionless. Later a crane was brought to the scene to lift up the bus, the band hoped Cliff could be saved. However, after lifting the bus up, it slipped back down. According to Mick Hughes, Metallica’s sound engineer, no one was sure if Cliff was still alive at that point.

The “Report Of The Death Of An American Citizen Abroad” lists the cause of death as “compressio thoracis cum contusio pulm”, attested by Dr. Anders Ottoson, licensed physician. The bus driver claimed that he hit a “patch of black ice”. James Hetfield has since stated the infamous black ice was never found. The police report stated the air temperature at the scene was 37 degrees. However, there was no mention of ice the road. Cliff’s passport, E 159240, was cancelled and returned to his parents.

His body was flown back to the United States. His funeral was held on October 7th, 1986 at Chapel Of The Valley in his hometown of Castro Valley, CA. He was cremated, and his ashes were spread at a place where he spent a lot of time at, the Maxwell Ranch. One of those in attendance was his friend, Dave DiDonato. This is his account of the scene. “We (several people and family) stood in a large circle with Cliff’s ashes in the center. Each of us walked into the center and took a handful of him and said what we had to say… Then he was cast onto the Earth, in a place he loved very much.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.