Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cliff Em All, Eternal

this originally ran on the Midwest Metal MySpace blog back in's been updated for 2009

Today marks the 23rd year since Mr. Cliff Burton's human shell left the Earth. Fucking 23 years?!? I can remember getting the call from a friend breaking the news to me and it instantly did not compute. In fact, I remember vividly refusing to believe it. Instead my brain registered ex-Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr had passed but that only lasted a minute or two, it was true and what the fuck was replaced with why?

That was Sunday when we heard and at the time Chicago had two Metal radio stations WVVX and Z-Rock and we all tuned into them that night as both aired tributes to the man. I do remember the 'VVX one especially as the DJ Scott Loftus spoke about the band and it was fucking unreal. 'VVX was playing a tribute to a band they had helped so much in then their biggest year to date.

The tone of his voice was surreal and while I no longer have the tape, Scott's voice from that night is still somewhere in my head. I was only 10 when Randy Rhoads passed away and at that time was more interested in baseball but Cliff, this was our guy, our time and essentially the world's loss. Cliff was one of us and he was well on his way to achieving the ultimate musician's goal (to live off his music on his/their own terms) when it was all taken away from him at the age of twenty-four.

Twenty-Four! To a 15 year old 24 was a lifetime away and seemed rather "old" at the time, but this wasn't lost on me when I had reached that age.

Now in the fourteen years I've lived past that age I realize how young Cliff was and how his life hadn't even begun. Yeah, he lived a "full life" as far as the music world is concerned, the recording and touring and that may seem like a "lot" especially when he was able to see the World and not everyone gets to do that. But think about it, it was all done in the span of three years/thirty-six months…not too full, huh?

In fact, Cliff was still living with his parents in September of 1986 though earlier that same year Metallica management (Q-Prime) told the guys they'd "probably" be able to afford their own homes sometime that very year.

Knowing what we know now, the immense and massive popularity of Metallica (currently the 7th biggest selling band of all time with some 100 + Million records sold) he missed out on so much.

The speculations of what Metallica would have gone on to do with Cliff are endless but that's not why I'm writing this today. I'm here to honor a son, a brother, a bandmate, a musician, a spirit and an undeniable influence. I haven't got much more to say, funny as for the past 23 years I'd be able to spout off at the mouth to anyone within an earshot of the man's greatness. But today, I'll just quietly (vocally) reflect on what he left us. The immortal music and the memories that will always go hand in hand with them.

Thanks Cliff.