The Metalhead Serial Killer Who Was Mad He Couldn’t Go to Metallica’s ‘St. Anger’ Video Shoot

Los Angeles Police Department, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Kreepin Deth, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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Heavy metal takes all kinds. When it comes down to it,  the driving propulsions and cathartic release of extreme music are bound to attract extreme personalities. All things considered, some of these personalities are more extreme than others.

Here’s a case in point: Late serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker, was a devoted headbanger. He infamously left an AC/DC hat behind at the scene of one of his crimes and was obsessed with the line “Jack The Knife” from Judas Priest’s “The Ripper”. While that’s all common knowledge, his devotion to Metallica has been less widely reported.

In an interview with NME, guitarist Kirk Hammett revealed that the mass murderer was not just a Metallica fan but that he was extremely upset when he couldn’t attend the band’s May 2003 recording of the “St. Anger” video at San Quentin Prison because he was on death row, awaiting execution for 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.

Hammett said: “When we played San Quentin Prison, he was on death row and could hear us. The guards who were responsible for watching him said Richard Ramirez was pissed off and pacing his cell because he wasn’t allowed to see us.

“He gave the guards his subscription copy of a magazine with us on the cover and on the mail tag it said: ‘Richard Ramirez, San Quentin Prison.’ So that’s my little token from Richard Ramirez. Not to glorify the guy – he did some horrible crimes.

“He hung out in Richmond California, and I wonder sometimes if me and the guys from Exodus were at the same parties as him back in the day,” he wondered, regarding his old band and possible social connections with the Night Stalker.

St. Anger video director Emmett Malloy spoke to Metal Hammer about his experience with shooting the video inside of the infamous prison:

“We had to sign a ‘no hostage’ policy, which means that the guards aren’t obliged to rescue you if you’re taken hostage by a prisoner, which was different! I scouted out the Maximum Security area before shooting, which felt like being in The Silence Of The Lambs, with people screaming passages from the Bible.

“I knew that the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, was in there, and I was thinking, Why the fuck am I doing this? I remember during shooting some naked dude pushed right through me to get to the showers, so that was another reality check! The band felt the weight of the day, and we did too. I remember Lars [Ulrich], beforehand, was scared that he’d be identified as ‘The Napster Guy’, and I was like, Dude, I think these guys might have bigger concerns than music piracy!”

After 23 years on death row, Richard Ramirez died of cancer June 7, 2013.

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