The Band That Inspired Metallica’s Lars Ulrich To Pursue a Career In Heavy Metal

Lars Ulrich: Ralph Arvesen, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
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There was almost a chance that Lars Ulrich could have grown up to become a professional tennis player and not a legendary metal drummer.

During a recent chat with Classic Rock, the drummer talked about how his initial big goal in life was to become a tennis player. He worked at this goal for quite some time; however, his interest in pursuing a sports career would not last. Over the years, Ulrich began to develop a deep desire for a career in music (and obviously, we know how things turned out for him).

So, what changed? Well, a big event that altered the course of his life was a concert he attended when he was nine years old. This particular concert featured one of heavy metal’s most legendary bands, and upon seeing them live, a fascination was planted within Ulrich that grew over time and would eventually inspire him to become a heavy metal drummer.

That band that had this profound impact on the future Metallica drummer is none other than Deep Purple. Speaking about that time when he first saw the band as a child, Ulrich says:

“I was just infatuated. Not just with the music but the event: the people, the volume, the reverberation, the light show, the whole thing.”

The following day, Ulrich was still incredibly jazzed by what he experienced; he headed to the record store and picked up the only Deep Purple album he could find – Fireball. Per Ulrich: “I started with that and I didn’t look back.”

Years later, as his itch to create music continued to grow, Ulrich would ask his grandmother for a drum set. Specifically, he wanted a set that was similar to what Deep Purple’s drummer Ian Paice had. “I got one that was the same set-up as Ian Paice,” says Ulrich.

Then eventually, the day came when Ulrich dropped the idea of becoming a professional tennis player. That experience of seeing Deep Purple live had fully blossomed into a drive to become a heavy metal musician. Prior to forming Metallica, and before ultimately leaving the world of tennis, Ulrich said he “started looking for people to fulfil this NWOBHM fantasy that [he] had.”

Come 1981, Ulrich formed Metallica and the history of metal and music would change forever.

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