‘The Metal Gods Were Looking Out’ When Scott Ian And Cliff Burton Were Arrested

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Cliff Burton left an indelible mark on heavy metal and music as a whole.

Talented beyond human comprehension and equipped with seemingly infinite kindness and humility, the death of the legendary Metallica bassist created a void that can never truly be filled.

With the 37th anniversary of Cliff’s passing last week, we’re reminded of a funny and sweetly sentimental anecdote that Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian once shared (as reported by Metal Hammer):

“I first met Cliff at the Music Building in Jamaica, Queens in late 1982. We had a rehearsal room there and Metallica were there to record Kill ’Em All. They didn’t know they were also going to be sleeping in this room which was a squat in a shitty old building.

“My first impression of Cliff was he looked like he should be in Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I think I asked him where he could even get bell-bottom jeans that wide in 1982.

“That said, we quickly hit it off. He had a great sense of humour and was absolutely the most original human I had ever met. They were all so different as people but in the context of a band, they were as one. Their souls were on display in every riff. 

“Cliff was the most musical, he spoke with his ideas. He had an aloof, laconic attitude and style, not antisocial at all, just his own vision of things that was uncompromisable. 

“I remember getting arrested together in London in March, 1984, in a Tube station on suspicion of having drugs. We spent the next six hours in cells while they tested the cold medicine they found in Cliff’s jacket. The police took Cliff back to the flat to search it.

“I sat in my cell in my underwear thinking we were done for, visions of Midnight Express running through my brain because there was weed at the flat.

“The police didn’t find it, The metal gods were looking out for us that day.”