Sunday, January 26, 2020


Article by Marc Del Cielo

Ray Burton, the father of the late Cliff Burton has passed away at age 94. In the more than 30 years since his son’s death, Ray was still very much a part of the lives of the other members of Metallica. The band issued a statement on their website and expressed how much Ray meant to them, long after his son’s death in 1986. In joint and individual statements, Metallica praises a man who made people comfortable with his positive energy. Robert Trujillo speaks fondly of a man who would tell it like it was. Metallica considers themselves lucky to have had him in their lives: “From coast to coast and overseas too, Ray's beaming face would regularly greet us, offering warmth and anchor to our travels, and when it came to the entire Metallica family, band, crew and fans, he viewed us all as his own."
So while there has always been a great debate between Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin over the origins of metal, why Ray Burton? Why do I call him the father of metal? Ray was who we looked to when Cliff died. The father that already lost his oldest son never failed to remain a part of the friends who were with him when he lost his youngest son. Always championing his son’s legacy, he never failed to mention his bandmates. Fans of Cliff have always revered Ray Burton. After Cliff’s death, Ray encouraged Metallica’s fans to express their feelings to Jan Burton, Cliff’s mother, going as far as letting music magazines print his home address.
My best memory of Ray was the 1998 VH1 Behind the Music where he recalls Cliff’s puzzlement at why his neck was hurting: “Cliff! What do you mean your neck? You’re bouncing your head up and down all night long and you wonder why your neck hurts?” he says with a smile. So great was Metallica’s respect for the Burton family that the band included Ray and Jan in the hiring of Cliff’s replacement, Jason Newsted. Newsted recalled in a 2017 interview: Jan Burton grabbed me right away, “Once the guys told me, I said you were the one, they know you are the one, please be safe.” It was Ray who joined Metallica and Jason onstage when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. With a beaming smile, he dedicated Cliff’s induction to Cliff’s greatest fan, Jan Burton. Ray Burton was regularly backstage at Metallica concerts and has lent himself to Metallica’s All Within My Hands charity. In 2017 it was revealed Ray had been donating his share of Cliff’s royalties to charity, including a music scholarship to Castro Valley High School, Cliff’s alma mater.
So why is Ray Burton the father of metal? Metallica’s impact on the genre is undeniable. They sell out every arena in the world. They’re at the top of every top metal band poll. They’ve sold 125 million albums worldwide. What Ray Burton did was to become a surrogate father to Metallica, their crew, their fans, and their genre. He was a father to us all.

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