The Call From Metallica

My connection to Metallica started in 1981 when a skinny kid from Castro Valley, who only wore bell-bottom jeans, met me at Chabot College in Hayward. His name was Cliff Burton and he was keen to have me photograph his new band called Trauma. We had many similar interests and loved the same classic hard rock bands of the era such as; Thin Lizzy, Rush, UFO, Judas Priest, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Ramones! I’ll never forget that monumental evening at The Old Waldorf in San Francisco late in 1982 when these metal maniac misfits called Metallica, from LA, came up to play a scorching set of hell bent numbers at Heavy Metal Monday Night. That’s where Cliff revealed to me that these “insane dudes” want me to quit my band and join theirs! “But, there’s no way that I’m going to LA, they are gonna have to come up here to live, it’s my way or the highway!” Within no time they settled in to a bare bones crash pad in El Cerrito to test their wills on drinking binges and headbanging jam sessions. The rest is history…

The guys really got a kick out of my skill to capture such quality live concert snaps of their high speed, rip-roaring club shows, despite the fact that I had to stay on my own two feet while caught up in the tug-of-war throng of the extra raging sweaty crowds of headbanging fanatics. Cliff was hoping that I’d jump in the back of their infamous rental truck to join them back east to New Jersey for their first recording sessions and ensuing showcase performances. I had to give it a miss, as school finals were coming up. My concert shots of the boys were soon to be imprinted on 4 of their first 5 vinyl albums starting off with Jump In The Fire, then Whiplash, Creeping Death and Ride The Lightning. It really felt like Metallica hit the big time when they played the Day on the Green Stadium show in Oakland, California. I remember Cliff Burton smiling throughout, having the time of his life! It just wasn’t fair that Cliff would be crushed and killed in a tour bus accident when everyone was sleeping early morning on Sept. 27,1986 in southern Sweden. He was just 24, but retains a legendary status in the history of heavy metal music!

Fellow familiar pioneers who were invited for the all expense paid weekend to party privately with Metallica included; Tony Isabella booking agent of the Old Waldorf and Wolfgangs clubs, Ron Quintana of KUSF Radio and founder of Metal Mania fanzine, heavy metal beat writer Brian Lew, Harald Oimen the craziest photographer of all, guitar tech, super-sub John Marshall, and KJ Doughton who was Metallica’s first fan club director and biographer. We got to party all night privately at the House of Blues with our Metallica buddies James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammet, and Robert Trujillo along with their families, their full management team and record label executives and a few other noteworthy rock legend; Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Wood and Flea. The Induction night sent thrills down my spine and on the flight home we unaminously agreed that Metallica remembered us dearly with their heavy metal hearts and truly appreciated our efforts and everlasting friendship.