Five Reasons Metallica's Cliff Burton Had to Pass On

BY Keith CarmanPublished Apr 12, 2010

Before you go off all half-cocked and call us every name in the book, realize a few things. We know this is a testy article and we're not saying that anyone should die, let alone a certain band member over others, right Lars? We're just being realistic in a weird way, pointing out that in order for Metallica to survive over the past three decades, there was only one option. Sadly, it was the loss of bassist Cliff Burton, R.I.P.

And why did he have to go? Let us break it down in convenient list form:

For Metallica to bring metal to the masses.

Were it not for the loss of Burton, metal would probably still be an underground culture. As depressing as this is to admit, Metallica pretty much single-handedly turned the genre into a financial powerhouse and behemoth that isn't going away any time soon. If Burton were still here, the band would most likely continue to be releasing solid records but only a fraction of us would know. Although, as basic physics teaches us, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so with the explosion of Metallica came the fallout of all those shitty metal-influence bands clogging up radio waves.

So Jason Newsted could offer the world something more than Flotsam & Jetsam.

Jason Newsted is basically the coolest thing Metallica have had going for them since Burton's untimely departure (Rob Trujillo is nifty but he was still better in Suicidal Tendencies), and he's been responsible for some truly great Metalli-moments at that. Nobody can claim to hate Garage Days Re-Revisited or his part in Some Kind of Monster, which aside from former Metallica member/Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine's presence is the only thing that white elephant has going for it. Without Newsted's surge in popularity, we also wouldn't have the resuscitation of Voivod's career, which is clearly much cooler than, well, you know who's ongoing debacle. Of course, we wouldn't have had Echobrain either, but we digress.

So the world would finally recognize how cool the Misfits were.

Misfits founder/vocalist Glenn Danzig owes a lot to Metallica and vice versa. Hell, metal as a whole is indebted to the Evil Elvis. Still, a lot of it hinges on Burton. He had a tattoo of the Crimson Ghost when neither skin art nor the Misfits were socially acceptable (not that he cared) or popular. Moreover, he forced the rest of the Metallicats - and later many millions of fans - to realize Glenn Danzig's brilliance, prompting them to record cover versions of some of their coolest songs and that would arguably be their best work to date. And let's face it, only the Misfits, the Ramones and Motörhead are responsible for ensuring that both punks and metalheads can get along anyway.

Metal journalists/purists wouldn't have anything to gripe about if Burton were still here.

How many of us have founded our careers on bitching about Metallica sucking since Burton's departure? In retrospect, even ...And Justice ror All is pretty bloated and weak. If Burton were still alive, Metallica would ostensibly still rule and we'd have nothing to mock, hate or write really stupid lists over.

Cliff Burton was the cool one.

Look back. Hell, look at today. Lars is a weasel, Kirk seems spineless and James is just a dick. He didn't become the cool guy in the band until Cliff was gone and even they will probably tell you that. In every interview since, they all point out how they revered the dude like he was a heavy metal Jesus and, depending on your religion (mine being metal), for Jesus to save mankind, he had to go. Aside from potentially losing their singer and therefore their voice, it almost stands to reason that if Cliff Burton didn't go, nobody would have given a shit what happened to Metallica after that fateful night.

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