No one’s death will be as important to heavy metal history than that of Cliff Burton, bassist for the most legendary line-up of Metallica. Cliff was the heartfelt, soulful hippie-punk of the band during their young thrash years, and when he was killed in a bus accident in Sweden on September 27th, 1986, Metallica were sent into an emotional spiral which colored their later work for decades. But since today would’ve been his 59th birthday, it’s only fitting that a party be thrown in his honor — which is what’s happening tonight on Twitch, as many of those close to Cliff will be holding a special Cliff Burton Day event.
Tonight at 7pm PST/10pm EST, those close to Cliff will host a party of sorts via Twitch in which they honor the music and legacy of one of metal’s most loved individuals. Hosting the livestream will be TV and film director Nicholas Gomez, with guests including “Metal” Maria Ferrero, one of the founding employees at Megaforce Records who helped launch Metallica’s entire career; Corrine Lynn, Cliff’s former girlfriend; and Sean Killian, vocalist for Bay Area thrashers Vio-Lence and former bandmate of both Cliff and Metallica frontman James Hetfield.
Fans interested in celebrating Cliff’s legacy can do so via Gomez’s Twitch site.
Only earlier this year, Metallica experienced another tragedy with the death of Marsha Zazula, one of the founders of Megaforce Records back in the ’80s. Alongside her husband Jon Zazula, better known in the metal community as Jonny Z, Marsha helped set up Rock N’ Roll Heaven, a New Jersey record store that quickly became a hub for the burgeoning heavy metal scene on the east coast. When she and Jonny first heard Metallica’s demo No Life ‘Til Leather, Jonny started Megaforce Records specifically to release their debut album, 1983’s legendary Kill ‘Em All. With no music industry experience, Jonny flew the band to the east coast to record that album, and was infamous for setting up their earliest east coast tours, as well as bringing acts like Venom and Raven to the United States to play their first east coast dates.
“…the best part of my life was the 40 years I spent with Marsha,” Jonny Z told Kerrang! last year when discussing his book Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music.l The Madness. “Imagine telling your wife after hearing this cassette that you were going to a phone booth to call this band, and you’ll bring ‘em over here and make ‘em a part of your life?”
Words by Chris Krovatin