Original Metallica Bassist Ron McGovney’s Twitter is a Treasure Trove of Early Metallica Info

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The best heavy metal comes from the most humble beginnings. The hallmark exuberance and fury of the early scene is a reflection of youthful alienation.

This is music for the freaks, by the freaks. No matter how high a band’s star rises, it’s important to know where they came from.

In June of 1981, teenage friends James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner started Leather Charm after the breakup of their previous band, Phantom Lord.

While Hetfield handled vocal duties and Tanner manned the guitar, the pair recruited drummer Jim Mulligan and bassist Ron McGovney to complete the band. When Tanner left the band soon after its formation, they recruited Troy James to fill the void. They worked on a number of original songs and rehearsed a prolific set of covers from the new wave of British heavy metal, but the band fell apart before it could get off the ground. 

Although the four-month existence of Leather Charm might have seemed inconsequential, it wound up being the seed of a movement that would change the world. In October of 1981, James Hetfield began working with drummer Lars Ulrich on a new project. With the inclusion of Hetfield’s former Leather Charm bandmate Ron McGovney on bass as well as Panic guitarist Dave Mustaine, the first show-playing lineup of Metallica was born. The band’s first gig was in Anaheim, California on March 14th, 1982, and was followed by another show opening for NWOBHM legends Saxon shortly thereafter. Metallica spent the rest of 1982 rehearsing covers and original material at McGovney’s parent’s place, recording the Power Metal demo as well as the live demos No Life ‘Til Leather and Metal Up Your Ass.

Although they were friends, McGovney felt at the time that his musical contributions were not being respected and that his bandmates were using him for money, transportation, and connections. Due to growing tensions, he quit in 1982 and was ultimately replaced by Trauma bassist Cliff Burton.

On December 10th, 2011, McGovney joined the current members of Metallica as well as Dave Mustaine and early studio guitarist Lloyd Grant on stage to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary. Two years later, he again joined Mustaine on stage during a Megadeth concert in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ron McGovney’s Twitter account is an amazing resource for early Metallica ephemera. You can check out some choice cuts below.