The tour behind Metallica’s Master of Puppets was intended to be legendary in the world of metal. Fresh off of blowing Ozzy Osbourne off the stage on their previous tour, the thrash legends were quickly becoming one of the biggest bands in the metal underground, with Anthrax coming along with them on their infamous tour overseas that ended with Cliff Burton’s tragic bus accident.
Even if Cliff survived though, there’s a good chance that Metallica would have ended up losing a member by the time the tour was winding down.
During a few breaks on the tour, Scott recalled in his biography I’m the Man that the band was looking to fire Lars Ulrich once they got back to the States. While replacing someone like Lars sounds absolutely ridiculous coming off of such a colossal album, it starts to make a lot more sense when you think about where they were at the time. Per Scott Ian:
“The story was that [Metallica] had made a plan that they were gonna make a change and get a new drummer. We were all kind of blown away by that, because it was the four of them. It was just, like, ‘Wow! Really?’ And they were, like, ‘Yeah. When we finish this tour, we’re gonna find a new drummer.’
What could I do, just as a guy that’s friends with all of them? That’s a bummer for Lars, that sucks, and at the same time, you hope that your friends can continue on and do what they want to do with themselves. Obviously history turned out differently for that band, and they went on to become one of arguably the biggest bands on the planet.”
“It’s certainly not something that I was ever aware of… But I can tell you that there’s been other times as we’ve cruised along where there’s been some friction with this band member or that band member, and where things were a little awkward with this particular guy, or whatever.
When you have a collective entity like Metallica, that’s been together for 35 years, there are different times on that journey where the idea of what to do next in a particular sticky dynamic has brought upon different options of different potential resolutions.
There were times when Kirk was kinda floating out there, and there were a couple of times when Hetfield was kinda floating out there, and there were different times when I was kinda floating out there, so it was very possible. I’m sure Scott Ian knows something that I don’t, and I’m fine with that. It was just not something that was ever on my radar.”
All of those inter-Metallica hangups with Lars seemed to end after the infamous bus accident that took the life of bassist Cliff Burton, making the surviving bandmates feel like more of a unit and wanting to keep the band alive however they could if only for Cliff’s sake.
Looking back on what’s happened in the years since though, Lars, might be the reason why Metallica is still here today, doing everything he can to keep the band’s name in the public eye and almost acting as the de facto rock star of the group.
He might not have been the most competent drummer to ever pick up two sticks in the Bay Area, but Lars seems to be the savvy businessman behind Metallica, doing everything he could to make sure they remained the biggest heavy metal band the world had ever seen.