The first concert we all attended has a lasting impact. For Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, it started a life-long love affair. Little did his nine-year-old self know back then that one day he would be frequenting stages of that magnitude while earning international acclaim.
Ulrich’s first concert coming at such an early age suggests that music constantly surrounded his life. However, in truth, the main reason that he attended the show was because of his father’s celebrity status as a tennis player, which inadvertently put heavy rock on his radar, transfixed him in the process.
Ulrich’s father, who hoped that his son would follow in his footsteps, would soon realise that his fateful decision to drive his son to Copenhagen to witness Deep Purple would be a devastating blow to the world of tennis and a gift to metal. In truth, Lars was never good enough to become a professional tennis player, and he even moved out to Los Angeles as a 16-year-old to chase his sporting ambition. The quality of opposition proved to be too much for Ulrich, and the lure of starting a band while in LA was too irresistible.
“This night is a culmination of two musical journeys,” Ulrich said when he inducted Deep Purple into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “One is mine, the other is that of a band that changed my life and rock and roll. When I was nine years old, my dad took me to see Deep Purple on a cold day in Denmark, on a dark cold Saturday night in February 1973.
“Everything was larger than life, the sound the spectacle, the songs, the musicians, all doing things with their instruments that I had never seen before – and didn’t even know was possible.”
That night has evidently stayed glued in his mind as the drummer later named the band’s live album from the tour, Made in Japan, as one of his favourite records of all time to Rolling Stone, and pontificated on why Deep Purple came into their element in front of a crowd. “It all came together for Deep Purple with the five of them on stage,” he explained. When you see the video footage, you can see they’re all playing off each other. You know when Blackmore’s done soloing, he raises his right hand, that’s the signal for the drummer, Ian Paice, to come into the next part.”
Adding: “Everything’s completely free-from, but it’s not hippie-trippy, space-age, ‘Let’s take mushrooms for four hours,’ or whatever. There’s a cohesiveness to it and it still connects, but every live version’s different. Every concert was different. You never knew how many bars the soloists were gonna take and run with and all that stuff.”
For most of us, the first concert is nothing more than a beautiful memory, and we can only dream of inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame like Ulrich. To allow the Metallica to share such a momentous night of their career demonstrates just how highly thought of Ulrich is in their camp.
Watch his emotional speech below.