How Cliff Burton Made James Hetfield Pass Out
via CharlesBerthoud / YouTube
Legendary bands often have stories that add a humorous touch to their journeys. Metallica, one of the most iconic bands in the history of heavy metal, has its fair share of amusing anecdotes.
Recently, Kirk Hammett, Metallica’s guitarist, shared a lighthearted tale on Metal Mayhem ROC, recounting the time when James Hetfield passed out from a joint shared by Cliff Burton.
Hammett reminisced with the interviewers, saying:
“Do you remember that time we were all down in the kitchen, and Cliff was smoking a joint, and he passed it around to everyone? We all took a little bit, including James [Hetfield], and then James passed out on the kitchen floor, and we couldn’t get him to move into the bedroom.”
The guitarist went on to reveal the aftermath of this unique incident:
“We piled chairs on top of them, and then later on, I remember he woke up the next day, and he had this mark on his face. I said, ‘What happened, man?’ He goes, ‘Oh, I was using one of the armchairs as a pillow.’ I was like, ‘What!?’”
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Adding an extra layer of playfulness to the band’s camaraderie, Hammett described a tradition where if someone dozed off or passed out, chairs would be piled on them.
He shared an amusing story of when Lars Ulrich fell asleep, and they adorned him with chairs. They even placed a tomato slice on his ear, leading to a brief awakening before he dozed off again.
“But it was a thing we used to do a lot back then. Whenever someone passes out, we pile chairs on top of them because they wake up and then try to sit up; they sit up into a pile of chairs. The funniest thing. Oh my God. We would just wait for that person to wake up, and it was always hilarious.”
Reflecting on the camaraderie within Metallica, Hammett shared humorous insights into their playful traditions.
However, he also acknowledged the unique challenges of working with Hetfield in another interview, describing how James could surprise everyone with extraordinary musical moments:
“James… I love him. I love him as a musician. I love him as a brother, but it’s hard to be in a band with him. Because sometimes, he shows up, and he’ll play something like, ‘Where did that come from? I’ve never heard anyone play something like that.’ And it’s still coming.”
Despite the challenges, Hammett expressed deep admiration for Hetfield’s natural musical talent, acknowledging his ability to effortlessly create complex guitar parts. The blend of camaraderie and musical surprises has undoubtedly played a role in shaping Metallica’s legendary journey.
Watch Kirk Hammett share more insights in the interview below.