On September 27, 1986, on a desolate road in Sweden, Metallica's tour bus went off the road and 24-year old Cliff Burton's short life came to an end. Although his time in Metallica was short - just three years - he left a lasting influence on the future of the band, and those around him. Cliff Burton was the creative force behind the first three Metallica records: Kill 'Em All (1983), Ride The Lightning (1984) and Master Of Puppets (1986). Those three albums helped to form the blueprint for modern heavy metal music.
In To Live Is To Die, author Joel McIver tracks the life of the amazingly-talented Cliff Burton through those that knew him well: family members, close friends, his girlfriend and bandmates. We find out that Cliff loved ZZ Top, Bach and R.E.M., that he still practiced bass 4 to 6 hours a day (even when the band started to become successful) and that he was about as humble as you can be when you suddenly become a rock star (a title that Cliff hated). There are times where McIver goes into detail about specific bass parts to songs, and techniques that are akin to bass players. I am a musician and a bass player, and it led me to grab my headphones to analyze those specific parts. Very cool.
Through testimonies from various bands like Cradle Of Filth, Trivium, Opeth, etc., we see just how much of an influence Cliff's musical talent had on future generations of musicians. You do not have to be a fan of Metallica or even heavy metal to appreciate this book. It's the first book to focus exclusively on Cliff Burton and the legacy he left behind. Included are twelve pages of photos, along with a brief foreword by Metallica's Kirk Hammett.
Published by Jawbone Press in June 2009
Softcover / 272 Pages
If you're a vinyl enthusiast, check out our feature on the Spin Clean Vinyl Record Cleaning Machine (click image below)