Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has made an interesting revelation about his late bandmate, Cliff Burton. Although Burton was renowned for his bass prowess, he was humbled by the presence of another bass player.
“Geddy Lee showed up at one of our shows on the Ride the Lightning tour,” Hammett revealed to an audience at the San Francisco Elk Lodge, which formed part of the Q&A for Metallica’s 40th-anniversary celebration. “We played Toronto and all of a sudden we got a message backstage that Geddy Lee was in the audience. And Cliff Burton just freaked out.”
“He started pacing, he started smoking pot, and he was, like, ‘Oh my God! Geddy! Geddy Lee!’ He could not settle down; he was so nervous and just happy at the same time that Geddy Lee was there”. When Black Sabbath songwriter Geezer Butler arrived on another occasion, Burton was every bit as nervous as he was greeting the Rush frontman.
It’s possible to discern from ‘Orion’, which features an instrumental passage from Burton, a homage to Rush. Lee is also a widely acclaimed bass player. In an interesting twist of fate, the Rush bassist claims that he nearly produced Metallica. “There was some discussion with [Lars Ulrich], back in the day, about working with them,” Lee revealed to Vice in 2015. “This was before Master of Puppets came out, I think. There was talk, you know. I was friends with their management, and I met Lars back in England. I remember going to see them here in Toronto when they played at the Masonic Temple. That’s when the original bass player was still happening. You know, before that tragedy. And, you know, we talked about it, and I liked their band a lot at that time. But it just never came together.”
Rush drummer Neil Peart died in 2020. Lee says he has no intention of reforming the band with another drummer. “That’s finished, right? That’s over,” Lee told Rolling Stone. I still am very proud of what we did.”
Lee confirmed that neither he nor lead guitar player Alex Lifeson knew what their immediate plans were. Lee suggested that Peart’s death could be it for both of them. “But the music of Rush is always part of us. And I would never hesitate to play one of those songs in the right context. But at the same time, you have to give respect to what the three of us with Neil did together.”