Metallica in the 1980’s #metallica #metal

Starting off in garages and playing music most media outlets ignored, Metallica forged a career born of of hard work, a never quit attitude and a bond of closeness with their fans.

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980’s and being immersed in the music scene of the time through my tenure as a unpaid intern at a local rock radio station, you get to see and hear a great deal. One of the things you realize right away is that despite what many will tell you about being true to the music, money poisons a great many things, as do the attitudes of those around you, which can be far more conservative than they would have you believe.

Heavy Metal, a genre now regularly played on Classic Rock radio, was considered low class and unworthy by many in the business. Some bands would get played, but only if it was melodic enough not to scare away advertisers. Hair got bigger, men got prettier and once rough and tumble acts became part of the major label money-go-round, pandering their sound to attract any other demographic than their hardcore base.

Metallica, Los Angeles, 1982, original line-up: (l-r) Bassist Ron McGovney, vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich and lead guitarist Dave Mustaine. Only Hetfield and Ulrich remain with the band. Photographer unknown.

Independent Metal bands were almost always never played. Occasionally, an enterprising DJ might play them once on some lame-ass program usually entitled “Metal Shop” that broadcast in the middle of the week and only after 10 p.m. Why? Advertisers didn’t know how to market to them, plain and simple. Metal fans were considered low class, white trash drug users that could only be sold one thing by corporate America: beer. Other attempts to win over teen boys, like scantily clad women in videos, didn’t work for the fans of underground metal.

Kirk Hammett, 1986, photographer unknown. Hammett would replace Mustaine in 1983, and has been with the band ever since.

What mattered was the music, first and foremost to the band and their fans that spoke to their situations, not the fantasy realms of wizards, sex-starved women or fast cars often mined in popular music of the day. Today, we will revisit an era sonically where the seemingly impossible happened: a scrappy, unknown band that wanted to play music their way and couldn’t get attention from mainstream media that became one of the most successful bands in history: Metallica.

Metallica’s second bass player, Cliff Burton, 1985. Burton would die in a bus crash while the band was on tour in Europe in 1986. Photo by Pete Cronin/Getty Images.

Critics panned them, Punks hated them, hair metal bands made fun of them, major labels never knocked and radio and MTV ignored them. They instead took it to the fans, first on cassette demos recorded in garages and traded among the faithful, to playing anywhere, anytime and winning people over one show at a time. Their no-nonsense attitude and cultivation of outsiders needing a place to call their own eventually made them a die-hard fan favorite, learning how the game was played and making it work for them without selling out.

Jason Newstead, who was Metallica’s bassist from 1987 through 2001. Photographer unknown.

Things would change for the band after this period; however, this is the time where everything seemed possible, because the band and their fans made it so. Metallica spoke to a new generation of young people who were part of a society that wanted to control them, use them and spit them out without mercy. This was serious music for serious times that has not only aged amazingly well, some of it may be even more relevant today than it decades ago.

First Part First Hour

  • Battery, 1986, Master of Puppets
  • Dyers Eve, 1988, …And Justice For All
  • One (radio edit), 1989, single A-side
  • Breadfan, 1988, “Harvester of Sorrow” EP, “Eye of the Beholder” Single B-Side and “One” Japanese EP
  • Fade to Black, 1984, Ride The Lightning

Second Part First Hour

  • Harvester of Sorrow, 1988, .And Justice For All
  • Leper Messiah, 1986, Master of Puppets
  • Trapped Under Ice, 1984, Ride the Lightning
  • Ride the Lightning, 1984, Ride the Lightning

 Finale First Hour

  • Damage, Inc., 1986, Master of Puppets
To download this program, please click on the three dots on the the right side of the player.

 First Part Second Hour

  • For Whom The Bell Tolls (live), 1989, “One” Japanese EP
  • Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (live), 1989, “One” Japanese EP
  • The Wait, 1987, $5.98 EP/$9.98 CD: Garage Days Re-Revisited
  • Blitzkrieg, 1984, “Creeping Death” EP
  • Phantom Lord (alternate studio recording, live audience dubbed in), 1984, “Jump In The Fire” EP
  •  Last Caress/ Green Hell, 1987, $5.98 EP/$9.98 CD: Garage Days Re-Revisited

 Second Part Second Hour

The second part of this program is most of the “No Life ‘Til Leather” 1982 fan traded cassette with this tracklist as most fans originally had it.  All of these tracks, in slightly different versions, would eventually appear on Kill ‘Em All in 1983.

  • Hit the Lights
  • The Mechanix
  • Motorbreath
  • Seek and Destroy
  • Metal Militia
  • Jump In the Fire

 Finale Second Hour

  • Whiplash (live at the Metro, Chicago, IL), recorded 1983, released 2016 on the expanded version of Kill ‘Em All.
To download this program, please click on the three dots on the the right side of the player.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner

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