Metallica ....who cares.....then and iron maiden amazing ......lars does okay for a tub smasher .......they have lasted this long..... who cares if he is basic or not legend but he has done fine .......keep going
The famous, yet sometimes controversial drummer of Metallica, Lars Ulrich, is a prime example of how persistence can truly pay off even under difficult circumstances. From an unfulfilled dream, and initially not even having what it took to play with his future bandmates, to struggles with confidence that then persisted for some time in his career, he had major personal issues to overcome, not to mention other devastating events like the loss of loved ones and failed marriages.
Though ultimately, Ulrich dealt with everything thrown his way to have an incredibly successful career and become a heavy metal god. Even when the dark moments were especially severe, he weathered the storms to emerge a stronger person. Below are the most tragic details from these moments of the life of someone who set out to impact the rock world in his own way and certainly did so, regardless of the adversity he faced.
He Failed To Become A Pro Tennis Player
Years before Lars Ulrich became a founding member of one of the greatest metal bands of all time, the Metallica drummer aspired to a much different career as an athlete. However, once the Danish immigrant made the move to the United States with his family, he experienced a rude awakening. In an interview with Metal Hammer, Ulrich said, "In Denmark I was ranked high enough to be one of the best tennis players in the country, but there's only 5 million people there. When we came to Newport Beach, I wasn't good enough to get on the tennis team at Corona del Mar High School. I wasn't one of the best 10 tennis players in the street that I lived on!"
The realization caused Ulrich to drastically shift his focus away from pursuing the same profession as his father, Torben. But the failure just made him more motivated to succeed as a musician and create songs inspired by bands he admired, such as Iron Maiden and Motorhead.
He Was A Terrible Drummer In The Beginning
Once Lars Ulrich accepted the fact that a career as a pro tennis player was not in his future, he devoted his time and energy into drumming. However, there was a major problem with this plan at first because the other musicians who would later form Metallica were far from impressed with his skills. In his book, "Justice for All: The Truth about Metallica," Joel McIver explains how James Hetfield and Ron McGovney lost their drummer, Jim Mulligan, and held auditions to replace him in 1981. Ulrich was one of the individuals who answered the call to try out, which the duo must have regretted at the time. McGovney recalled, "I thought Lars was the worst drummer I had ever heard in my life!" The bassist then elaborated, "He couldn't keep a beat, and compared to Mulligan, he just couldn't play. So, I told James, 'This guy sucks, dude.'"
Hetfield completely agreed with his bandmate, as he later revealed to Playboy, "Lars had a pretty crappy drum kit, with one cymbal. It kept falling over, and we'd have to stop, and he'd pick the f****** thing up. He really was not a good drummer ... When we were done jamming, it was, 'what the f*** was that?'" But to Ulrich's credit, it didn't take long for him to become dramatically better as a musician, which greatly impressed Hetfield the next time the duo played together.
James Hetfield Discriminated Against Him As A Foreigner
The first time James Hetfield jammed with Lars Ulrich before the two formed Metallica, it didn't go well to say the least. On top of the criticisms of the drummer's ability to perform that he shared with Ron McGovney, Hetfield was also turned off by the striking cultural differences of the recently arrived Dane. The future frontman told Playboy, "There were so many different things about him. His mannerisms, his looks, his accent, his attitude, his smell. He smelled — he smelled like Denmark, I guess. They have a different view on bathing. We use soap in America" (via "Justice for All: The Truth about Metallica").
Yet, the relationship between Hetfield and Ulrich changed completely after the second time the two met in which the latter proved to actually be a decent drummer. The musicians then quickly became good friends right before the creation of their epic metal band.
The Other Band Members Considered Kicking Him Out Of Metallica
In 1981, Lars Ulrich became a founding member of Metallica, along with James Hetfield, bassist Ron McGovney, and lead guitarist Dave Mustaine (per AllMusic). Yet, major shake ups to the lineup occurred early on when both McGovney and Mustaine were replaced by Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett. To most casual observers, the issues behind-the-scenes ended there, but apparently the drama had continued and nearly led to Ulrich's exit as well.
When Scott Ian, the frontman of Anthrax, was on tour with Metallica in 1986, he was friends with all four of them. So, Ian was then sad to learn that the other members of the band were going to replace Ulrich as soon as possible. However, Burton's shocking death shortly after stopped that from ever happening, and the story remained mostly unknown until Mustaine was asked about it by Rolling Stone years later. The guitarist then revealed, "That's what Scott told me. He said that when Metallica got home, that James, Cliff and Kirk were going to fire Lars."
Once Ian released his book, "I'm the Man," the rumor was confirmed, but the singer claimed he was far from the only one who knew about it. Ian told 94.3 KILO, "That story's actually been out there for a long time. I'm not outing this. That would never be my intention." He then described how surprised everyone else on the tour was at the news because the four seemed like a solid group, which could mean that Ulrich would have been blindsided by the decision as well.
The Death Of Cliff Burton
Like all the members of Metallica, the tragic, sudden passing of Cliff Burton in 1986 was an extremely traumatic experience for Lars Ulrich. The band was touring in Sweden when their bus crashed in the middle of the night and the four were sound asleep. Even though the huge vehicle slammed onto its side, James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett managed to survive the accident relatively unscathed, while Ulrich only broke his toe, according to Joel McIver in his book, "Justice for All: The Truth about Metallica." On the other hand, the three were horrified to discover that Burton had been thrown from the bus and crushed underneath it.
Decades later, the drummer stressed that memories he had with Burton will always be a part of him and the anniversaries of his bandmate's death are especially painful. Ulrich told Metal Hammer, "He's continuously a part of our legacy. There are days when I still think about him. Today is a, I hate the word 'anniversary,' but today is a more relevant Cliff Day because of the date." Ulrich then added, "I'm always aware of the date." And ended with the heartbreaking statement, "I'm thinking about him all the time."
His Personality Irritated Bandmates And Their Producer
It's likely that viewers of the 1992 documentary, "A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica," would notice that Lars Ulrich's approach to recording music was sometimes not appreciated by his fellow bandmates at all. The latest member at the time, Jason Newsted, was especially irked because the way things were done was so different from what he was used to.
The bassist voiced his frustration to The Guardian and said his new bandmate kept, "Insisting on one more take and changing the snare head every take." He then added, "On the 60th take of 'Nothing Else Matters,' it's like: 'Come on, man! What the f***, dude?' I love Lars to pieces, but I don't see why we have to do it 70 times. Can we just f****** play the music?"
Likewise, producer Bob Rock became so frustrated by Ulrich and the other band members that the "Black Album" was almost the last one he helped create. When talking with MusicRadar, he admitted, "It wasn't a fun, easy record to make." He continued, "I told the guys when we were done that I'd never work with them again. They felt the same way about me." Of the many disputes they all had with each other at the time, one of the most heated between Rock and the drummer was the argument over what song should be the top single, "Enter Sandman" or "Holier than Thou." Yet despite the disagreements, the producer went on to work with Metallica on several more albums in the following years.
The Death Of Lone Ulrich
Lars Ulrich's parents, Torben and Lone, were always loving and supportive of their only son, which made the tiny family very close. So, when his mother passed away in 1998, the drummer was absolutely devastated. In his book, "Justice for All: The Truth about Metallica," Joel McIver explains that for some time Lone had been suffering with a severe case of cancer until she could no longer fight it and eventually succumbed to the terrible disease.
Ulrich spent as much time as possible with his mom and dad where they were staying in Southern California before the end, so he was nearby up north in San Francisco on the tragic night. But Metallica was on the verge of kicking off its next tour and had just put on a rehearsal show for MTV the night before. Ulrich then rushed home to be with his father, and the band delayed their trip to New Zealand and Australia for a few weeks in support of their drummer, as reported by MTV News.
The Music Company Failed
In 1998, Lars Ulrich established a substantial side project with Metallica's former tour accountant, Tim Duffy. This new record label called the Music Company was an imprint of the major studio, Elektra, and signed several bands that the drummer saw potential in, such as the Brand New Immortals, DDT, and Goudie, yet none of these groups managed to gain a large following. On the other hand, Systematic, a signing out of California with the former drummer of Slayer, Paul Bostaph, managed to find more success. In two years, the band sold almost 70,000 copies of their debut album, "Somewhere in Between," as reported by MTV News.
Even before Systematic was brought into the fold, Ulrich was confident that the small company would do well in the industry. When he announced that Metallica was taking a much-needed break in early 2000, the drummer said that he would be kept busy running his label, according to Joel McIver in his book, "Justice for All: The Truth about Metallica."
Though unfortunately, his time as a studio head did not last long and the lack of sales forced him to end the company in 2002. While Systematic was able to make the switch to the much larger label, Elektra, Ulrich was unable to do the same for the other bands he tried to promote and simply had to let them go.
He Suffers From Hearing Issues
Due to his decades of performing as a heavy metal drummer, Lars Ulrich has had serious hearing issues for quite some time. Mostly because he failed to use any protection early in his career, he first noticed how serious the problem had become due to a severe case of tinnitus that began while on tour in 1988. The ringing became so intense that he would wake up hearing sounds that weren't really in the room and mistake it for the TV. He told CNN, "When I realized that I was doing that frequently, actually getting up to turn the TV off that was not on to begin with, I realized that maybe I had some issues."
Not only did the near-constant noise in his head never really go away, but even worse was that it was followed by some hearing loss as well. Once Ulrich began to wear protection, the deterioration nearly ground to a halt, however, considerable damage had already been done. The drummer added, "If you get a scratch on your nose, in a week that'll be gone. When you scratch your hearing or damage your hearing, it doesn't come back. I try to point out to younger kids ... once your hearing is gone, it's gone, and there's no real remedy."
He's Been Divorced Twice
Lars Ulrich may be a rock star in a badass heavy metal band, but that doesn't mean that he's immune to heartbreaks. In fact, the drummer has experienced two divorces that must have been rough. For the first separation from Debbie Jones in the late 1980s, as per the Mirror, Ulrich was certainly not alone since the other members of Metallica were pretty much going through the same thing. Kirk Hammett described what it was like for him and his bandmates when he told Playboy, "I was an emotional wreck. I was trying to take those feeling of guilt and failure and channel them into the music, to get something positive out of it. Jason and Lars were too, and I think that has a lot to do with why the 'Black Album' sounds the way it does."
Then in 2004, Ulrich went through his second divorce with Skylar Satenstein. Yet possibly because it had happened to him before, the drummer didn't seem too upset afterward as he told the Des Moines Register, "It was a little tough in the beginning" (via Blabbermouth.net). He also added, "I'm getting used to single parenting, getting used to kind of a different way of just looking at things."
The Passing Of Timi Hansen And Michael Kamen
Lars Ulrich has worked in the music industry for his entire adult life, so the rock star has formed several solid relationships with others in the line of work, especially through Metallica. Sadly, two of those notable individuals passed away over the years and both of their deaths greatly affected the drummer.
When the life of the Danish bassist for King Diamond and of Mercyful Fate tragically came to an end in 2019, the loss was especially difficult for Ulrich. On Instagram, the artist paid tribute to the man who had been so influential to his career and said, "Incredibly saddened to hear the news of Timi Hansen's untimely passing. He was not only a close friend of mine and a close friend of the band's, but he was part of a musical force that helped shape Metallica's sound, direction & desire to be in a hard rock band."
Years earlier, Metallica had also lost the classical composer Michael Kamen, who had the brilliant idea of forming a collaboration with the popular metal band. Twenty years after this epic team-up, Ulrich wrote a statement to honor the talented musician who sadly passed away in 2003. The drummer said, "His love of life and his appetite for shaking up conventions will always be something I'll take with me and cherish.. A very precious few years" (via Instagram).
He's Continued To Receive A Lot Of Criticism For His Drumming Over The Years
Long ago, Lars Ulrich may have failed to show James Hetfield that he had what it took to become a rock star at first, but at this point, he has more than proven himself as the founding drummer of an epic metal band. However, for as much as he is loved and respected in Metallica, there are still those who have been very vocal about what they perceive as his poor skills over the years. So much so that he revealed to the fan club magazine So What!, there have been some interviewers who bring it up and told him, "'When people say Lars Ulrich is a s***** drummer, I defend you.'"
In the same interview, the veteran musician admitted that earlier in his career, the criticism and insults used to get under his skin when he said, "20 years ago, it would've been, 'Oh, my God, somebody said something bad,' or, 'That person said a nasty comment in the comments section,' or whatever" (via Blabbermouth.net). Similarly, in response to Rhythm when it was brought up, he replied, "It used to, back in the day — and I spent a lot of time overcompensating for that on the early records."
Interestingly, Ulrich also made the surprising, but candid admission, "I'm not a particularly accomplished drummer." But he then stressed that his strength is his ability to work so well with Hetfield, and there's no one in the world better at that, which gives him all the confidence he needs to ignore the haters.
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