Search this site:


To Live Is To Die – The life and death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton

Label: Jawbone
Format: Book
Released: 2016
Reviewed By: Rich Catino
Rating: 10/ 10

Just in time to benefit by the attention from the new Metallica album “Hardwired”, revised and updated in 2016, this second edition aptly includes an appropriate forward by bandmate Kirk Hammett, and afterward by fellow peer Frank Bello of Anthrax. Divided into sixteen chapters, the book is a well told story of the late Metallica bassist, from his teen years, influences, his pre Metallica band Trauma, and time with Metallica (1982-86), and his untimely death in 1986. The book includes many quotes from his bandmates Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, and Lars Ulrich, the bassist Cliff would replace - Ron McGovney, NJ Rock n Roll Heaven music store owner Johnny Zazula (who also shopped their “No Life Till Leather” demo), peers like Gary Holt (Exodus), Dave Ellefson (Megadeth), among many others. There is also a section called “in others words” with comments from those he influenced like musicians Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth and Alex Skolnick from Testament, to William Irwin the ditor of “Metallica and Philosophy: A Crash Course in Brain Surgery”.


So what are a couple things I learned about this often quiet man?- who surely made up for it with his stage performance and playing. Cliff was an individual, as described by his bandmates, as they say would often bust his balls about his fashion sense and hippy-esque style. Cliff taught Lars and James about music theory, and expanded the guys knowledge of time signatures, and how to incorporate more melody into the songs. He changed the bass line to ‘Jump In The Fire’ from the No Life 'til Leather’ for “Kill Em All” to something a little more funky. Author Joel Mclver even includes comments on how and what Cliff played in all the songs on “Kill Em All”, “Ride The Lightning”, and “Puppets”. Cliff is quoted, “The Thing That Should Not Be’ is part of the ‘Call Of Ktulu’-like mythos, and he was also a horror fan, like Kirk. Guitar tech, and fill in for Hetfield a few times over the years when he had an injury, John Marshall talks a lot about his memories of the tour bus crash that took Cliff’s life way too soon.

Includes only a handful of pictures,still a great read, very thorough, very recommended.

© 2020 MetalAsylum.net