What attracted me to Metallica when they first hit the ears of kids my age was Cliff Burton. e did not know at the time that Metallica was going to be a juggernaut. The group spoke to us, we felt they were one of us. They were not part of the rock and roll machine yet. Cliff Burton was the guy in the group that dressed like us. When he died it seemed like a piece of us died with him on that eventual day. The group soldiered on to greater heights. His bass playing solidified the foundation of the group with his next two replacements. Joel McIver’s To Live is to Die: The Life & Death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton is once exhumed with new material to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Metallica’s first album, Kill ‘Em All. We were blessed with the first three albums with Cliff Burton. Who knows what the future would hold for the group if he were still alive? He died way too young.
Today, Metallica is known as consummate musicians, but it wasn’t always that way. Their early career is marked by a gradual evolution from garage thrash to sophisticated, progressive heights – an evolution driven by their bass player, Cliff Burton, who pushed the band to new heights with his songwriting ability and phenomenal bass skills across the band’s first three albums, including their undisputed masterpiece, Master Of Puppets.
Published to coincide with the release of Metallica’s first new album in seven years – and the 40th anniversary of their landmark debut, Kill ‘Em All – this updated edition of Joel McIver’s essential biography tells the full story of the life and career of Cliff Burton, their founding bass player, who died tragically young but continues to have a profound impact on the band and the entire landscape of heavy metal.
Cliff’s life was short but influential; his death at the age of 24 in a tour bus crash on a Swedish mountain road was sudden and shocking. Following his passing, Metallica went on to huge global success, but by their own admission, they never pushed the creative envelope as radically as they had done during the first four years of their career.
The cult of Burton grows year after year, and so too does the list of bassists acknowledging his influence in metal and beyond. This revised and updated edition of To Live Is To Die adds a new chapter on Cliff’s enduring legacy as well as a preface from Testament bass master Steve Di Giorgio.
Joel McIver is the author of 35 books on music. As well as writing biographies of leading figures in rock and metal, he has co-written the memoirs of a number of musicians, including members of Deep Purple, the Spiders From Mars, and the Sex Pistols. He was the editor of Bass Guitar and Bass Player magazines for a decade and often appears on radio, podcasts, and TV.