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Anthrax’s Scott Ian Reflects on Cliff Burton’s Death During Chris Jericho Podcast

Anthrax Scott Ian
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Metallica and Anthrax are not only part of ‘The Big 4,’ but also came up through the metal ranks at the same time. Their shared history dates back to the ’80s, and sadly Anthrax were there with Metallica during the most traumatic and tragic event of their early career — the death of bassist Cliff Burton.

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian spoke with Fozzy‘s Chris Jericho for his ‘Talk is Jericho’ podcast about that period and what it was like learning of Burton’s death and supporting Metallica during their grieving.

Ian says that the band found out in the morning after the accident, having left their show early to travel to the next venue. He recalls arriving at the hotel and being told by a promoter. “I remember getting off the bus and walking into the lobby and I saw our tour manager and he was talking to some guy … and he said, ‘This is so-and-so, the promoter of the show tonight’ and then he told me. He was like, ‘There was an accident last night. Metallica’s bus crashed and Cliff Burton was killed in the accident. Lars was hurt and everyone else is kind of on their way here now. But Cliff died.’”

The guitarist says he was kind of groggy at the point the conversation took place, and it took a moment for the information to set in. “There was just no way that Cliff was dead. Any other thing seemed possible to me,” said Ian. “It’s my friend and it just seemed so unreal … It was too much to process. I was 22 years old, living the dream and you think you’re Superman. You really feel invincible out there and then somebody tells you this. It just seems so unbelievable.”

Ian says that eventually Kirk Hammett and James Hetfield were brought to the hotel, but Hetfield was “inconsolable.” “It was hard and he was a mess and it turned into he would just start flipping the f— out and it ended with Frankie and Charlie taking him out of the room so he wouldn’t smash things and outside onto the street just to get him some air and walk him around,” says Ian. “It was a bad scene and words really can’t describe how dark it was.”

The guitarist says that after arranging a flight home to New York, he literally went home long enough to shower and pack a bag for a flight out to San Francisco to join his Metallica friends at the funeral. He adds, “Even in the midst of all that, never once did those guys think of stopping. That was never a question, like, was this the end of Metallica?”

Ian adds, “The last thing Cliff would have wanted would have been for the music to stop. His life was music, so the last thing that dude would have wanted would be for those guys to say, ‘That’s it, we’re calling it a day.’”

Ian goes into further detail about the early days of palling around with Metallica, his reaction to Jason Newsted joining the band and more during the podcast. Check out the full ‘Talk Is Jericho’ Podcast via the PodcastOne.com website.

Anthrax’s Scott Ian Talks Cliff Burton’s Death (via ‘Talk Is Jericho’ Podcast)

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