Cliff Burton’s Father: What Cliff Told Me When Joining Metallica

An article from Metal Wani


Cliff Burton‘s father Ray Burton remembered the time when his son was joining Metallica, saying on the Alphabetallica Podcast (transcribed by UG):

“That was probably in 1982, something around there, maybe ’83.

“He came to [his mother] Jan and me, and he said, ‘Mom and dad, if you can support me for five years, I’d really appreciate it.’

“We didn’t have all that much, but we could certainly support him. He said, ‘If I don’t make it, I feel that I can become a studio musician.’

“That’s what he proposed to us, and of course we said, ‘You bet! Go out there and give it a try, and we’ll support you the best we can.’ It worked out pretty well.

“Just a shame that it was cut so short.

“Quite often I think about what it would be like if Cliff were alive today. And I can just picture him still playing that kind of music he liked.

“One time I mentioned to him about playing the stand-up bass. He said, ‘Yeah, I thought about that, sometime I’ll take it up.’

“That showed to me that he could think about spreading out in his ability to play music.”

Asked on how much Metallica changed Cliff, Ray replied:

“Cliff didn’t change at all.

“He was quite a humble person, he didn’t like the strutting types that rock and roll musicians get to be when they get popular.

“He just liked to do his wild playing of heavy metal music and he never changed.

“He would see high-school friends on the street or in the restaurant and he would get up out of his chair and go over and greet them.

“He never changed at all in that respect. He was always appreciative of friends. So no, he didn’t change at all.

“He would quite often call and chat with Jan. A couple of times I talked to him, but she was the one that would talk the most to him. They got along just beautifully. That was a nice thing, to have support. He was quite appreciative of that.”


How Cliff Burton Started Playing Bass

 Source: Metal Wani

Cliff Burton‘s father Ray Burton talked about what got this son into playing bass, saying on Alphabetallica:

“When Cliff was 13, Scott – his older brother – died of a cerebral hemorrhage when he was 16.

“Shortly after Scott died Cliff came to his mother and me and said, ‘Mom and dad, I’d like to learn the bass guitar.’ This police comedy [show] that was on at that time, ‘Barney Miller,’ and they started out with a really great bass solo.

“I don’t know how many notes, probably a couple of bars, maybe more. But Cliff just loved it and he wanted to learn to play the bass so he could sound like that music on ‘Barney Miller.’

“That’s where it all started and we got a cheap bass and a cheap amplifier, and it was all uphill from there.”

Focusing on bass lessons that ensued, Ray added:

“[Cliff’s mother] Jen and I gave him guitar lessons from three different instructors.

“The first one lasted only about three months, and he came to us and said, ‘Mom and dad, don’t waste your money anymore, I’m going to quit this guy, he’s not teaching me anything.’

“Same thing with the second one.

“But the third kid, out of the Castro Valley, his name was Steve… God, I can never remember… Steve Doherty!

“He taught him about Bach, classical music, and Cliff just absolutely ate that up. He just thought that Johann Sebastian Bach was God! That kind of baroque music was predecessor of heavy metal. It’s kind of wild, but at the same time very controlled.”