There are a handful of photos of late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton that everyone in the metal world has seen countless times over. Because of this, there are a few outfits and T-shirts that fans think of Cliff wearing when they imagine him playing, and one of them is definitely his black-and-white shirt featuring the logo of George Romero’s 1978 zombie masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. Now, 35 years after it was lost, Cliff’s original shirt has been returned to his family.
For those who don’t know, Burton died in an accident in Sweden during Metallica’s 1986 tour. The bus carrying the band hit a patch of black ice, spun, and flipped, crushing Burton. The bassist’s death was especially painful because he was the laid-back punk of the band, who were on tour supporting their monumental album Master of Puppets. The tragedy threw the remaining members into a mire of PTSD that it took them years to escape.
So who returned Burton’s shirt? Mike “Puffy” Bordin, drummer of alt-metal legends Faith No More. Burton’s family posted a photo of Mike holding the shirt on their Instagram, writing, “A huge Thank You to Mike ‘Puffy’ Bordin for bringing Cliff’s original Dawn of the Dead shirt back home where it belongs It’s been a roller coaster of emotions and we appreciate Mike and the person who kept it safe for us for 30 plus years. Our only regret is [Burton’s late father] Ray isn’t here to see it.”
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From all of us at The Pit, thank you, Mike. You’ve done something really wonderful.
Not only was Dawn of the Dead a huge influence on Burton, it also changed metal as a whole. In fact, the film made it all the way to the #3 slot on The Pit’s list of the horror movies that most influenced metal music and culture.
“It’s real simple: the zombie apocalypse,” wrote our own Chris Krovatin. “At the end of the day(s), though George Romero introduced that concept with 1968’s haunting Night of the Living Dead, it was with Dawn of the Dead that the end of the world by flesh-eating corpses was truly branded onto the pop-culture subconscious. But it wasn’t just the endless zombie horde that set Dawn apart, it was its setting, with the Monroeville Mall acting as a fortress of pure capitalism for the film’s ragtag crew. This portrayal of mindless consumerism and its eventual downfall at the hands of the downtrodden would heavily inform metal’s nihilistic yet proactive approach. They’re us, that’s all. We’re them and they’re us.”