KIRK HAMMETT Biography - Musicians


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Name: Kirk Hammett                                                                     
Birth name: Kirk Lee Hammett                                                           
Born: 18 November 1962 San Francisco, CA, U.S.                                         
Genre(s): Heavy metal, Thrash metal, Hard rock                                         
Occupation(s): Musician, Songwriter                                                     
Instrument: Guitar                                                                     
Kirk Lee Hammett (born on November 18, 1962) is the lead guitarist and                 
songwriter in the band Metallica and has been a member of the band since 1983.         
Respected among his peers for his guitar style, in 2003 he was ranked 11th in           
the Rolling Stone's The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.                           
Born in San Francisco to a Filipino mother and an Irish Merchant Marine father,         
he later attended De Anza High School in El Sobrante, California when his family       
moved to the East Bay where he met Les Claypool from Primus. As a child and             
teenager, he showed great interest in his older brother Rick's extensive               
collection of guitars, Rickenbacker Basses and hard rock records, including             
material by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Status Quo, The Rolling Stones, Jimi           
Hendrix and UFO. One of his biggest influences was Jimi Hendrix, and Hammett was       
quoted as saying he wanted to be Jimi. He has also performed parts of Hendrix's         
songs during his guitar solos. He took up the guitar for the first time at the         
age of fifteen, beginning with a Montgomery Ward catalog special and little more       
than a shoebox with a four inch speaker for an amplifier. After picking up a           
1978 Fender Stratocaster, Hammett attempted to customize his sound with various         
guitar parts, eventually falling for a 1974 Gibson Flying V. He also took a job         
at Burger King to raise money for a Marshall amplifier.                                 
Hammett's musical interests eventually drew him into the fledgling thrash metal         
genre. In 1980, he formed the group Exodus with vocalist Paul Baloff, guitarist         
Gary Holt, bassist Geoff Andrews, and drummer Tom Hunting. He played on Exodus'         
1982 Demo. Exodus was a crucial early player in the Bay Area thrash movement.           
Hammett was invited to join Metallica following the dismissal of the band's             
original lead guitarist Dave Mustaine for his known abusive & violent behavior         
in 1983. This was prior to the release of Kill 'Em All. At the time Hammett was         
taking private guitar lessons from the now-famous Joe Satriani. In 2002, he             
became the first inductee into Guitar World magazine's "Hall of Fame". He has           
recorded and toured with Metallica for 25 years.                                       
Though he is primarily Metallica's lead guitarist, Hammett has written and             
contributed riffs for Metallica songs since the mid-1980s (particularly in the         
1990s during the Load era). One of these riffs, used in "Enter Sandman", was           
written in a hotel room at 3:00 am, and became one of Metallica's most popular         
songs. It was the first track and first single on Metallica's self-titled "Black       
Album" and was ranked 399th on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of       
all time. Also the riff for "Creeping Death" was originally an Exodus riff that         
Kirk took with him to Metallica. Kirk has often been criticised for his                 
extensive use of the wah-wah pedal in his solos, but he insists, "The wah-wah is       
an extension of my personality". He also once said, "They'll have to cut off my         
leg if they want me to stop using the wah-wah pedal." He sometimes adds                 
harmonies to his solos, as seen on "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "Disposable             
Heroes" and "The Thing That Should Not Be". Kirk wanted to have guitar solos on         
Metallica's 2003 album, St. Anger, but drummer Lars Ulrich and producer Bob Rock       
thought that the solos did not sound right in the songs. He later himself               
admitted, "We tried to put in solos but they sounded like an afterthought so we         
left them out".