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Cliff Burton

Birth name Clifford Lee Burton
Born February 10, 1962(1962-02-10)
Castro Valley, California, U.S.
Died September 27, 1986 (aged 24)
Ljungby Municipality, Sweden
Genre(s) Thrash metal, speed metal, heavy metal
Occupation(s) Musician, Songwriter
Instrument(s) Bass
Years active 1981 - 1986
Label(s) Megaforce, Elektra
Associated acts Agent of Misfortune, EZ-Street, Metallica, Trauma
Website Official Metallica website
Notable instrument(s)
Rickenbacker 4001
Aria Pro II SB-1000


Memorial stone near the crash site.During the European leg of the Damage Inc. tour in support of Master of Puppets, the band had complained that the sleeping cubicles on their tour bus were unsatisfactory and uncomfortable. As a minor solution the members drew cards for the most comfortable bunk.[10] On the evening of September 27, 1986, Burton had won the game with an Ace of Spades. The card game was the last conversation Burton was to have with anyone. He was asleep when, according to the driver, the band's tour bus ran over a patch of black ice, skidded off of the road, and flipped onto the grass in Ljungby Municipality, near Dörarp in rural southern Sweden.[11] Burton was thrown through the window of the bus, which fell on top of him and killed him.[11] A winch that was lifting the bus off him snapped, causing the bus to crush him a second time. James Hetfield later stated that he first believed the bus flipped because the driver was drunk, or at least negligent, and had walked long distances down the road demanding this "black ice" be shown to him. However, drunk driving was never proven, and the driver was determined not to be at fault for the accident.[12]

Burton's body was cremated, and his ashes were scattered on the Maxwell Ranch.[10] At the ceremony, the instrumental "Orion" from the album Master of Puppets was played. Burton hadn't played the song live, and Metallica did not perform it until June 3, 2006 at Rock Am Ring Festival, Nurburgring, DEU (when they performed the album in its entirety to mark the 20th anniversary of its release). Until then, only sections of the song had been used as part of their performance. During the 1990s, Burton's successor, Jason Newsted, would often use the bass line as part of a medley.

After Burton's death, Metallica released the tribute documentary Cliff 'em All, a video retrospective of Burton's time in the band. It is a collection of live performance footage shot by fans, some professional filming and TV shots that were never used, and some personal photos. Metallica's first album of original material after Burton's death, ...And Justice for All, contained Burton's last writing credit, the mostly instrumental track "To Live Is to Die". Metallica sometimes plays the middle part of "To Live Is To Die" at a slower tempo as a tribute for Cliff Burton.[16] Burton wrote the single stanza of lyrics for the song, which Hetfield ended up reciting:

"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?"
"Cannot The Kingdom of Salvation take me home" is written on Cliff Burton's memorial stone.

The most well known non-Metallica tribute to Burton is the song "In My Darkest Hour" by Megadeth.[17] According to Mustaine, after hearing of Burton's death, he sat down and wrote the music for the song in one sitting. The lyrics, however, are unrelated to Burton's death. The band's frontman Dave Mustaine was Metallica's lead guitarist in the early days and knew Burton quite well, and maintained good relations after Mustaine parted with the band in 1983. Mustaine was quoted as saying the song was inspired by Burton's passing.[18] He claimed that neither Hetfield nor Ulrich had informed him of Burton's death and he only found out when Metallica's manager called him.[18]

On October 3, 2006 a memorial stone was unveiled in Sweden near the scene of the fatal crash.

Thrash metal band Anthrax dedicated their Among the Living album to him, as did Metal Church with The Dark.

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