Flea’s Metallica Induction Speech April 4th, 2009 Cleveland, Ohio


In 1984, sometime I was on tour with my band, in the middle of America somewhere – it was in the middle of 3 and 4 ‘o clock in the morning – we were all crammed into our van, with all our equipment. It was raining outside, [we were] tired, [had] been on the road, and this music comes on the radio. And I couldn’t believe that it fucking existed. It was like I had been living in this normal world, where I knew what everything was that came on the radio, and all of a sudden my mind was being blown, by this beautiful, violent thing that was unlike anything I had ever heard before in my life.


That’s right. I was just riveted to the radio, and all I could do – I was just staring at the radio just saying, “What the fuck? Holy shit!” To Anthony I was like, “Dude! This is amazing!” I was totally floored by this music. I just didn’t know what to make of it. It had loud guitars, some hollering – it was as fast as lightning – but it wasn’t punk rock; it wasn’t heavy metal; but it was precise, and explosive, and heavy, but quick on its feet. It just totally stood by itself, and it was standing boldly. It was aggressive and intense and had this really wild and bizarre rhythm changes, but it still held together as a fucking good song. I was singing along with it by the end. It certainly wasn’t using any conventional pop song pattern that I had ever heard. I don’t know what it was – I didn’t know what it was – but the only thing I knew for sure, is that it was a mighty thing.

That song was “Fight Fire With Fire.” Yeah! And it opened up my mind to the mighty force of nature that is Metallica.

As time went by I discovered the genre of music known as speed metal, thrash metal – whatever you wanna call it – and I heard lots of other bands tapping a similar vein – but none of them come close to putting it all together like Metallica. Some might have more virtuosity, some might be crazier, and some are just really good and interesting bands, but whatever the intangible elements are that make a band the best – Metallica has them. They are for real.

You can put all the best musicians in the world together in a room, create your dream fantasy band, and it doesn’t mean that the sparks will fly when they start playing together. There are divine forces at work that make magic things happen, and in the rare instances when that magic happens in a band, it’s not something that you can add up with regular math. It’s a cosmic chemistry and it is inexplicable.

If it was merely a matter of a list of inserting ingredients to make the amazing band, then anyone could do it. But that is impossible, because it is truly a holy and magical fucking thing, and it only happens when the spiritual powers that be say so. So, if you ask “Why does it rock?” the answer to that question, to quote the great Louis Armstrong, is “If you have to ask, you will never know.”

When Metallica started in 1981, they didn’t really take your typical path to success. I don’t know if massive stardom and selling a zillion records was on their mind when they were getting the ball rolling, but if they were aiming to become one of the most successful rock bands of all time – that they have become – they sure were going about it in a cooky way.

In the world of three minute long catchy pop songs that dominated the radio, these Metallica guys were writing and playing ten minute long songs that blasted your face off. I don’t think they were sitting around wondering how they could be a bunch of fancy rock stars, I think they just wanted to do some rocking. Their motivation was, and is, pure.

The fact that they have connected with the world in the way that they have, is phenomenal. They have become a household name, with music that is anything but mainstream. This is outsider music. And for it to do what it has done, is truly mind-blowing.

One thing I know for sure is that they must be thinking they were going to break into Casey Kasem’s Top 40 Countdown on their debut record, “Kill ‘Em All” – they were really going straight for the hit single with the song “Anesthesia/Pulling Teeth” – I gotta tell you – a five minute long bass solo: it’s a ticket to commercial success. Being a bass soloist myself, that song is one of the great moments in rock history for the electric bass guitar.

Cliff Burton, was an outstanding, superb, deep, and wicked virtuoso of a bass player. In rock music, the majority of bass solos you hear are self-indulgent, overly technical, show-offy and mostly kinda boring. Every Cliff Burton bass solo I’ve ever heard is a soulful, psychadelic, headbanging expression that rocks your world, chips your brain out, and gets the house rocking: a beautiful piece of music played by an awesome rocker of a young man, a masterpiece of a human being. And when I hear him play, I hear a dude that knew his shit; a serious musician who delved into it with all the love and passion that is obvious in his playing.

The worst tragedy that could ever happen to anyone, in my opinion, is that when they die, they never sang their song that was inside of them. They never gave the gift that was inside of them. But the beautiful opposite of that, is that if you pass away, and you know that you sang your song, you gave your gift – which is what Cliff Burton did – then that is the greatest accomplishment that I could ever hope for anybody. The space that he created in the history of music will last forever; no one else can ever fill it – he was one of a kind. And I can never listen to any Metallica record without thinking of him. It is clear that the gift he gave lives on in that band’s music, be he live, or be he dead. And I say God Bless Cliff Burton – he rules.

When I hear Metallica, I get this feeling that they are doing something that they have to do. Like there is this thing in them wound up in them so tight, that they have to let it out, let that thing uncoil – it has to be released: an infinite well of sadness, a hell of a lot of pain and anger, but mostly, a lot of love for the process that they have created for releasing the stuff.

It is always really absurd to me when I hear people speak of heavy music – angry, aggressive music – as being negative, or unhealthy for children, and so on. Firstly, the playing of ferocious music is the healthiest release of anger for the performer of it. It is alchemy; it is a metamorphosis; it is turning something potentially destructive and a source of misery into something beautiful, something rocking, and something uplifting for the band and for the audience.

The tradition of pain and hurt, being a muse for great art, is one of the great rites of passage for any artist, and that which touches us most deeply. Anyone who has ever been to a Metallica show, and banged their head, and thrown up the devil horns, has been a part of something great for humanity. All those kids at a show rocking so hard to the brutal beat of Metallica have come together for those couple of hours in a way as healthy as any spiritual exercise, any group meditation, any loving anything. It is uplifting and it brings people together. I love all music. But I say that Metallica has done as much to bring people together and bring joy into their lives as any hippie, peace and love music ever has.

For the people who give it up and get rocked by Metallica, the world is a lot less of a lonely place. When a person gets rocking to their music, everything else disappears, and that person is just one with the rock. It is an inexplicable, awesome thing, and I bow down to it.

Metallica’s career is a huge, dynamic thing. They have done it all. They have worked their way up from nothing; written and rocked the jams that rocked the world – Metallica is fucking rad! The music is bitching – it is unbelievable! The thing is they continue to rock on. Whatever gets thrown at them, they persevere, and they get stronger. They are a family.


And it is as intense and as inventive as ever. If you’re gonna have a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and if you’re gonna be really disciplined and strict about only ever allowing bands in it, that have been true originals, and that without question, single-handedly furthered the evolution of the art form of Rock & Roll music, that push the envelope of what rock music is, and it inspired countless others, to try and follow their footsteps on the new trail they blaze, then by that strictest criteria, you got to have Metallica in it.

Metallica rules.

Metallica is heavy.

James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammet, Robert Trujillo, Jason Newsted, and Cliff Burton – it is my sincere honor to induct you all into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
{ Nov 18, 2016 - 11:11:26 } Recording session – Pier Den

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image