Welcome to Maytallica month at Mojo Radio. Last year Metallica closed out their 30th anniversary with a string of December shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Friends old and new joined the festivities to celebrate three decades of the band’s enormous impact on heavy metal, and music as a whole.
At a time when the airwaves were swollen with Madonna, Michael Jackson and Def Leppard, an entire body of rock and roll rebels were looking for their own kind of “punk” movement. Much like the Sex Pistols before them, and Nirvana a decade later, Metallica became the icon for a new generation of discontent youth.
Though Metallica was not the first band to emerge from the burgeoning speed/thrash metal scene, they were the ones who caught the most attention. Other bands like Anthrax, Slayer, Exodus and Megadeth would play a huge part as well, but it was Metallica that became the movement’s defining band.
Formed in 1981 by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, the two moved to the Bay Area, where this new scene was kicking off. After a few kinks were worked out, the early essential line-up would also feature bassist Cliff Burton and Dave Mustaine. This quartet would write some of the band’s most defining works.
Prior to releasing their 1983 debut, Kill ‘Em All, Mustaine would be replaced by then Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett creating what would become the band’s seminal line-up. Metallica’s first five albums are still considered among the genre’s most iconic works.
Tragically, Burton was killed in a tour bus accident in Sweden on September 26, 1986. Burton was considered by many to be the heart of the band. His loss was a devastating blow for Metallica. To fill the bass position they brought in Flotsam and Jetsam’s Jason Newsted.
With Newsted on board the band would see its largest commercial success, including the famed self-titled, “black” album. While many diehard fans considered this to be the band’s “sell-out” record, the disc brought the band to the apex of its popularity.
For the next two decades the band would remain among the most popular metal acts, but their output fluctuated in terms of fan or critical success, with the near universally loathed, St. Anger being the band’s low point. Metallica would make huge news in taking on Peer-to-Peer file-sharing site, Napster. While the group did not personally need the money lost by this still hugely debated issue, they sounded the call for up-and-coming bands being ripped off be freeloading fans.
In 2001, after 15 years with the band, Newsted would leave to pursue other projects. he would later be replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne and Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo, who remains with the band to this day. Though he did not play on St. Anger, the subsequent tour marked Trujillo’s full debut. Producer Bob Rock handled bass duties for the album.
In 2008, the band returned to the forefront of the metal scene once again with the release of Death Magnetic; a record which found the band returning somewhat to its roots. The subsequent tour lasted three years and covered the world. In, 2009, Metallica was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame, including Burton, Newsted, and Trujillo. Original bassist Ron McGovney and guitarist Dave Mustaine were not included.
While the band took a huge risk on its collaboration with Lou Reed on the critical flop, Lulu, the continues to stretch the boundaries of expectations. This year Metallica should be recording the follow-up to Death Magnetic and will stage the inaugural Orion Music + More, which will take place on June 23 and 24, 2012 in Atlantic City, NJ.
On honor of all Metallica’s achievements Mojo Radio is making the thrash legends our May artist of the month. Each Monday night at 7pm PST/10 EST, on the Mojo Nation live concert series we will air a complete Metallica concert.
On Saturday May 26th, we will present the Metallica artist of the month special from 3pm PST/6pm EST to 9pm PST/Midnight EST. Six full metal hours. And keep an eye and ear on the station all months as bonus Metallica specials are sure to pop up.