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Kirk Hammett: Cliff Burton “Freaked Out” When Rush’s Geddy Lee Came to See Metallica Play a Show

"He started pacing, he started smoking pot, and he was, like, 'Oh my God! Geddy! Geddy Lee!'"

cliff burton geddy lee rush metallica
Metallica’s Cliff Burton (via Metallica.com) and Geddy Lee (photo by Andrew MacNaughtan

    Metallica have often cited the music of Rush as an inspiration for epic songs such as “Master of Puppets” and “Orion.” Late Metallica legend Cliff Burton especially idolized the progressive rock band, particularly fellow bassist Geddy Lee.

    During a recent Q&A session alongside photographer Ross Halfin and Metallica fanclub magazine editor Steffan Chirazi, guitarist Kirk Hammett reflected on the time when Lee came to see Metallica play.

    “Geddy Lee showed up at one of our shows on the Ride the Lightning tour,” Hammett told the audience at the San Francisco Elk Lodge as part of the Q&A for Metallica’s 40th anniversary celebration last month. “We played Toronto, and all of a sudden we got a message backstage that Geddy Lee was in the audience. And Cliff Burton just freaked out.”

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    Hammett continued: “He started pacing, he started smoking pot, and he was, like, ‘Oh my God! Geddy! Geddy Lee!’ He could not settle down; he was so nervous and just happy at the same time that Geddy Lee was there. And then [another time] Ross tells him that Geezer Butler [of Black Sabbath] is out there one night. Same thing — he starts pacing around, super nervous, grab[s] a beer.”

    Lee nearly produced Metallica’s landmark 1986 album Master of Puppets. The role would instead fall to Ride the Lightning producer Flemming Rasmussen; though Lee did confirm the long-standing rumor that he almost helmed the boards for the LP.

    “There was some discussion with [drummer Lars Ulrich], back in the day, about working with them,” Geddy told Vice in 2015. “This was before Master of Puppets came out, I think. There was talk, you know. I was friends with their management, and I met Lars back in England. I remember going to see them here in Toronto when they played at the Masonic Temple. That’s when the original bass player [Cliff Burton] was still happening. You know, before that tragedy. And, you know, we talked about it, and I liked their band a lot at that time. But it just never came together.”

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    Watch the Q&A with Halfin and Hammett and hear a clip of Metallica playing “Whiplash” from the 1985 Toronto show below.

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