Long before Metallica became a Heavy Metal juggernaut, selling albums by the millions and whose name is spoken with reverence by generations of fans around the world, there was young Danish expatriate Lars Ulrich, armed with nothing more than a big dream, and not even a “full drum set” – or so Lloyd Grant tells Metal Hammer.
We don’t often hear the name Lloyd Grant, but this Jamaican-born guitarist played an important role in the beginnings of Metallica.
Some of you may know him as the author of the solo for Hit The Lights, the very first track Metallica recorded which was released on Metal Blade’s debut record, the 1982 compilation album Metal Massacre. .
More importantly, Grant is also the first person Lars started jamming with seriously upon arriving in the United States, and for a time the two musicians shared the dream that would become Metallica.
Reminiscing about their first meeting, Grant said: “Lars was already quite an interesting guy when I first met him. He knew exactly what he was looking to do, even though he was still living with his parents at the time. I was just trying to get into a good band, especially a band that would play in the area.”
When asked to describe the impression young Lars Ulrich made when they met, Grant replied: “The first time I met Lars he didn’t have a full drum set. He had this improvised kit waiting for a full set of drums to arrive from Denmark or wherever, so it was kind of fun to play with him at first, even though he sounded pretty good. I would go to his house and listen to records before we played, and he would make copies of what I really liked. We would talk about it a bit, and the next time we would try to play the songs we had heard.”
“Before Metallica became a band, Lars was already investing all his time in eventually making music. He went to the record store several times a week to see the new releases arriving from Europe, to listen to them but also to study them. Even when he went on vacation to Europe, he ended up going to see bands – I couldn’t believe it, he saw the bands that we both listened to.
The two men immediately bonded over their common love for metal. Grant says he was very drawn to “what came from England” and that through Lars Ulrich he discovered other European bands such as Scorpions, Michael Schenker and UFO, which he added to his repertoire. composed of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple.
The guitarist explains that while the two men didn’t consider their jam sessions to be the work of a “band”, Ulrich was nevertheless desperately trying to create one at the time: “We weren’t a band then – Lars was desperate.”
“He was desperately trying to find people he could play with. We were just two guys looking for like-minded people, not just people who could play but also people we would get along with enough to move in together.”
Shortly after Ulrich, James Hetfield and Ron McGovney met, and the creation of Hit The Lights, the role of Metallica’s lead guitarist was filled by Dave Mustaine, and even after he left to form Megadeth, Lars Ulrich and company already had Kirk Hammett “behind the scenes,” as Grant explains in the interview. Consequently, Grant followed a rather different personal and professional path after unknowingly recording the first song for the future biggest metal band in the world.
Grant still kept in touch with Ulrich after their lives took quite different turns, and he claims the two men corresponded regularly up until the Black Album era: “I stayed in contact with Lars until the Black Album. After that, I got offers for shows when they were in town, or to come to events like birthdays. We’re not in regular contact, but it’s always great to be invited to these events when they happen.”
When asked what it was like to be part of the history of metal’s greatest band, he replied: “It sounds super impressive that my name appears in the same lineage as Metallica’s history. It’s quite interesting, but obviously at the time we couldn’t predict the future, so nobody knew what was going to happen!”
Metallica – Hit The Lights (1st Metal Massacre) with Lloyd Grant:
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Metallica with Mustaine, Grant and McGovney – Hit the Lights (Live in Frisco, December 10, 2011):