Inside Metallica icon Cliff Burton’s tragic death after freak bus accident

Heavy metal band Metallica have sold millions of albums across the world since they began their career over 40 years ago.

However, during their early days, one night on tour changed their lives forever after a tragic accident killed their first bass player, Cliff Burton.

Cliff Burton died 35 years ago on September 27 1986, during a tragic accident while on tour, with the band members revealing what happened in the VH1 documentary Behind the Music.

On that night, Kirk Hammett and Cliff Burton had played a game of cards to decide where they were going to sleep, with Cliff sleeping in the back of their tour bus following the game.

However, while on the road that night, their tour bus flipped over, with guitarist Kirk Hammett saying, "I heard everybody screaming… except for Cliff."

Cliff, who had been asleep at the back of the bus, was thrown out of his bunk's window and as the bus flipped, it had landed on top of him.

It is reported that when the bus was lifted following the accident, the crane dropped the vehicle for a second time on the bassist.

Kirk said, "After that I was in such shock that everything for the next three or four hours I can't even remember."

The accident had been blamed on black ice by the driver, and years later, an investigation cleared the driver of any wrongdoing.

The band returned to America shortly after and Cliff Burton was cremated in his hometown of California.

Fellow Metallica band members James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich had first spotted Cliff Burton at the legendary rock club The Whiskey a go-go on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip in 1982, where rock megastars including Guns 'n' Roses and Motley Crue would also play throughout the eighties.

Cliff's own teenage years had been filled with tragedy, when at the age of 13, his older brother died from a cerebral aneurism.

Following his brother's death, Cliff took up playing bass and would play for over six hours a day, with friends saying that he did so, to make sure he was the best bass player he could be for his brother.

With Metallica, Cliff played bass on their first three albums including the legendary Master of Puppets, which was released in the year he died.

Following the death of Cliff Burton, Metallica hired bassist Jason Newstead, who played with the band from 1986-2001 on records including 1988's And Justice for all… and their self-titled 1991 album, featuring rock anthems Enter Sandman and Nothing Else Matters.

In April 2009, Cliff Burton was posthumously inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, alongside his Metallica band members.

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