Today, as many of you may know would have been Cliff Burton's 50th birthday had he not lost his life in a tragic bus accident in Sweden on September 27 of 1986. Cliff climbed to fame as Metallica's original bass player (if you don't count Ron McGovney's short-lived tenure with them) and since his death, they've struggled to find a solid replacement until 2003 when Rob Trujillo stepped into the frame. But although the band moved on without him, he has not been forgotten.
This day stands a sad reminder of how much time has passed since that accident, and must make you think about where Metallica might have ended up had he not died. The accident happened before my time, but I remember the first time hearing the name Cliff Burton. I was in grade 5, and I'd borrowed their CD 'Kill 'em All' from a friend who had stolen it from his big brother who was just about the biggest Metallica fan I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I got to the song (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth and he told me all about Cliff, and the accident that claimed his life.
His father put out this video last year on the 25th anniversary of his death, and I think that there was one particular quote that sort of encapsulates Cliff's life mantra and gives us, those who loved him during his life and after his death, an idea of how to properly pay tribute to him:
"I'll miss him, but I can just picture Cliff, as I've told my family, if we get too sentimental about the sad thing that happened to him, he would say to me, 'Knock that shit off dad. Let's have a drink, where's the next gig going to be, or where's a bar nearby where we can go out and jam?'"
So grab a drink - I don't care if you don't drink, make an exception today - turn on 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' and rock the fuck out. Happy birthday, Cliff. We miss you.