On this day in musical history, in 1983, thrash metal band Metallica invited a replacement for Dave Mustaine. The LA-based band had originally chosen Dave Mustaine as their lead guitarist, based on of how impressive his gear was according to some. They had recorded an album’s worth of demos, but the rest of the band had kicked him out right before. By all accounts, he had a serious alcohol problem and was often overly violent. Mustaine did not take this news well, saying it came out of nowhere. His name is still relevant to metal history because he then formed his own band Megadeth and being a part of the “Big Four” of thrash along with his ex-band Metallica.
The other members of Metallica (James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Cliff Burton) had now found themselves close to finally recording their first album but without a lead guitarist. They remembered a lead guitarist from a band that they had played with back in San Francisco a few months earlier. So they call up Exodus’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and asked him to join them for the recording of their first album Kill ‘Em All. He thought it was an April Fool’s joke. As soon as he found out how serious they were, he flew out to New York and jammed with the band. The chemistry was immediately found and they knew he was the fit.
Kill ‘Em All is an album filled with crushing music. Before Metallica went on to ambitiously complex arrangements, they just wanted to be loud, tight, and destructive. The classic “Seek & Destroy” song is the definitive thrash metal song that kids in the 80’s couldn’t stop head banging to. All the solos heard on the album are played by Hammett but were written Mustaine. Mustaine is also bitter about the fact that Hammett got famous playing his music, but hey, Megadeth!
This record aside, Kirk Hammett is an obsessive guitarist who over the years has crafted scorching solos, catastrophic riffs, and beautiful harmonies. He had studied under virtuoso Joe Satriani and is always studying his favorite instrument. All aspiring guitarists could learn a lot from listening to his playing, from the effectiveness of simple riffs, to the athleticism required to play his guitar tapping solos. For everybody, head banging is just as great.