Metallica is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California. The band’s fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship placed them as one of the founding “big four” bands of thrash metal, alongside Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer. Metallica was formed in 1981 when James Hetfield responded to an advertisement posted by drummer Lars Ulrich in a local newspaper. The band’s current line-up includes founders Hetfield (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Ulrich (drums), longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. Lead guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton, and Jason Newsted are former members of the band. Metallica collaborated over a long period with producer Bob Rock, who produced all of the band’s albums from 1990 to 2003 and served as a temporary bassist between the departure of Newsted and the hiring of Trujillo.
The band earned a growing fan base in the underground music community and won critical acclaim with its first four albums; the third album Master of Puppets (1986) was described as one of the most influential and heaviest thrash metal albums. Metallica achieved substantial commercial success with its eponymous fifth album—also known as The Black Album—which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. With this release the band expanded its musical direction, resulting in an album that appealed to a more mainstream audience. In 2000, Metallica was among a number of artists who filed a lawsuit against Napster for sharing the band’s copyright-protected material for free without consent from any band member. A settlement was reached and Napster became a pay-to-use service. Despitey Night Live. In August 1987, an all-covers extended play (EP) titled The $5.98 E.P.: Garage Days Re-Revisited was released. The EP was recorded in an effort to use the band’s newly constructed recording studio, test Newsted’s talents, and to relieve grief and stress following the death of Burton. A video titled Cliff ‘Em All commemorating Burton’s three years in Metallica was released in 1987; the video included bass solos, home videos, and pictures.
…And Justice for All (1988–90)
Metallica’s first studio album since Burton’s death, …And Justice for All, was released in 1988. The album was a commercial success, reaching number six on the Billboard 200, and was the band’s first album to enter the top 10. The album was certified platinum nine weeks after its release. Newsted’s bass on the album was purposely attenuated as part of the continuous “hazing” he received, and his musical ideas were ignored—though he received writing credit for the track “Blackened”. There were complaints about the production; Steve Huey of AllMusic said Ulrich’s drums were clicking more than thudding, and the guitars “buzz thinly”. To promote the album, Metallica embarked on a tour called Damaged Justice.
In 1989, Metallica received its first Grammy Award nomination for …And Justice for All in the new Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrument category. Metallica was the favorite to win but the award was given to Jethro Tull for the album Crest of a Knave. The award was controversial with fans and the press; Metallica was standing off-stage waiting to receive the award after performing the song “One“. Jethro Tull had been advised by its manager not to attend the ceremony because he was expecting Metallica to win. The award was named in Entertainment Weekly ’s “Grammy’s 10 Biggest Upsets”.
Following the release of …And Justice for All, Metallica released its debut music video for the song “One”, which the band performed in an abandoned warehouse. The footage was remixed with the film Johnny Got His Gun. Rather than organize an ongoing licensing deal, Metallica purchased the rights to the film. The remixed video was submitted to MTV with an alternative, performance-only version that was held back in case MTV banned the remixed version. MTV accepted the remixed version; the video was viewers’ first exposure to Metallica. In 1999 it was voted number 38 in 1999 in MTV’s “Top 100 Videos of All Time” countdown; it was featured in the network’s 25th Anniversary edition of ADD Video, which showcased the most popular videos on MTV in the last 25 years.