41 Years Ago - Kirk Hammett Auditioned for Metallica

Publish Date
Tuesday, 2 April 2024, 9:52AM

Hard to believe that someone as good as Kirk Hammett had to audition for anything but on April 1st in 1983 Mark Whitaker, Hammett’s manager, gave him a bell and asked if he wanted to audition for the band.

Figuring the call was an April Fool’s prank (can you blame him) Hammett responded, “Yeah, right” and then hung up. Whitaker called back and explained Metallica manager Jonny Z wanted him to call Hammett since he was close to both bands. When Hammett asked why Metallica wanted to replace Dave Mustaine, Whitaker said, “He f---ing sucks, man,” according to the biography "Birth School Metallica Death, Vol. 1," by Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood. “His tone sucks, his playing… He’s a f---ing drunk.”

Hammett wasted no time, getting his hands on a copy of Metallica’s demo No life ‘Til Leather and started learning all the songs on there.

A week later, Hammett flew from San Francisco to Newark, N.J. During the flight, he was  supposedly nervous because he had packed up his amplifier and Marshall head in a box. They were wrapped in towels and tightly duct-taped, but he was still worried about them getting damaged or stolen. He felt better about his guitar, which was packed away in the overhead compartment (Jetstar and AirNZ would never). When the plane touched down on the runway, Hammett met Whitaker at the airport and retrieved his gear. Then it was off to the Music Building where Hammett smashed his audition out of the park. All that was left for Metallica to do was to break the news to band co-founder and songwriter Dave Mustaine. We can only imagine being a fly on the wall for that conversation…

11 Albums, 10 Grammys and a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame induction later, safe to say the band made a good call there.

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