Kirk Hammett: How I Joined Metallica

"I couldn't figure out why they were laughing! Am I playing the song wrong or something?!"

Ultimate Guitar
Kirk Hammett: How I Joined Metallica

Kirk Hammett remembered the time he joined Metallica back in '83, telling Matt Pinfield (transcribed by UG):

"When it came time for Metallica to leave California and go to New Jersey to make an album, everyone in the scene knew - they were gonna be the very first band [from the scene] to actually go in a studio and make a record.

"Everyone bid them farewell, there was a huge party for them, and that was it, they left.

"Literally four or five days later, I got a phone call from Metallica's sound person, who also happened to be Exodus' manager at the time [Kirk is one of the founders of Exodus, he was still in the band at this point] - Mark Whitaker.

"And he says, 'Hey Kirk, these guys are not having a good time with Dave [Mustaine], there are some problems with him personally. They wanna start looking for other guitar players, I played them the Exodus demo and they liked what they heard. So they're interested in trying you out, I'm gonna send you the 'No Life 'Til Leather' demo.'

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"I said, 'I already have it.' 'Learn the songs.' 'I already know a few of the songs.' 'Great, learn the rest of 'em.' [Laughs]

"Five days later, I was on a plane from San Francisco to New York and check this out - back then, you were able to check in a Marshal cabinet and a Marshal head into luggage. [Chuckles] Different times...

"I'll never forget it - Mark Whitaker and Cliff Burton came to pick me up at the airport. It was them because James and Lars were too busy sleeping.

"I see Mark, he's like, 'Where are your bags?' And I point, and there's the Marshal cabinet having trouble getting through the little opening on the conveyor belt. So Mark jumps on the conveyor belt, tilts it back on right side up, it goes through the opening and we grab it!

"Into the van and off I go to meet the guys at the music building in Jamaica, Queens."

The guitarist continued: "By the time I got there, it was past 6:30 in the evening, and those guys were just waking up. I thought to myself, 'Well, these guys are already on a rock 'n' roll schedule...'

"I set up my amp and they were shaking the sleep out of their eyes going, 'What songs do you know.' I said, 'I think I know all of them.'

"The first song we played was 'Seek and Destroy.' We started playing it and it was really confusing for me 'cause James and Lars kept looking at each other and laughing - I couldn't figure out why they were laughing! Am I playing the song wrong or something?!

"After the song, they're looking at me like, 'OK, what other stuff do you know?' We eventually cycled through all the songs and they went, 'Great, we're gonna rehearse a few more times, we have a show on Friday - do you think you can do it?'

"I said, 'Yeah, I think I can do it.' And that was that..."

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And speaking of early Metallica songs, the band just presented official footage of "No Remorse" performance from last month's stop in Mexico City. Goods below.

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19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Why don't you tell my why they laughed?._. But I guess it is something like when you get rid of your totally stupid ex-girlfriend and dating a new and nice girl.
    I often laugh with my bandmates when we jam with someone new and it feels like we've been playing together for years. It's more out of awe than actually finding something funny
    giggling cuz Lars kept telling James how much of a crush he had on Kirk , it explains all those weird pics those 2 did
    Seemed like an easier process than any other "try out" they've ever had. Pretty cool to have that kind of connection. Must be nice haha.
    Mustaine's style was so close to what it would become just a few years later, cool to hear how Mustaine era Metallica sounded.
    Watching the old video of Seek again, all i can think is "Who knew 35 years later, Dave Mustaine would be ripping off Kirk's stage clothes".
    It's annoying how in all the footage I've seen of Lars the last couple of years, he has hat on. We know he's bald, there's no point in covering it. How egotistical and vain can he be?
    Well, he pretends to be a great drummer, and he is seriously the most overrated drummer in all of rock/metal music. So I would say hiding his bald head is actually pretty modest.
    just how exactly is he pretending to be great?  I don't hear him anywhere stating he's better than anyone.  All he is doing is playing in a band, no need hang any negativity on him just because he's not your favorite. 
    Well, he plays in one of the greatest bands on this planet, so I guess he must have done something better than you.