Cliff Burton (how quickly time flies)

I realized this morning that I’d completely forgotten to mark the anniversary of Cliff Burton’s death. Has it really been 23 years? God, where does time go?

The cliche is that baby boomers will always remember where they were when they heard about the assassinations of, say, John F. Kennedy or John Lennon. I don’t know if that’s true, but I remember everything about the moment I was told Cliff Burton had been killed in a bus crash in Sweden. I was in my high school cafeteria (I was 15 then) and a kid I knew but didn’t exactly like charged up to me and said, “what are you gonna do now that your favorite band got killed?”

As I learned later that day from MTV, the kid was telling the truth. Burton had been killed when Metallica’s tour bus skidded on a patch of ice and overturned. It was a terrible blow, I remember: Perhaps it sounds stupid, but “Ride The Lightning” had been the only thing that had gotten me through my horrible high school existence in 1985. When “Master of Puppets” was released the next year, I thought it was greatest album I’d ever heard. Like “Lightning,” “Master” was an album I connected with emotionally. I spent most of that day playing “Master” and staring at the Metallica poster on my wall.

Of course, Metallica didn’t break up … but it’s certainly accurate to say they were never the same after Burton’s death.

Anyway, I missed the anniversary this year, but let’s remember Burton with a high-quality shot of the band playing “For Whom The Bell Tolls.” Rest in peace, buddy.


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