Metallica is an American metal band formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California, United States when drummer Lars Ulrich posted an advertisement in The Recycler. Metallica’s line-up originally consisted of Ulrich, rhythm guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield, and lead guitarist Dave Mustaine. Mustaine was later fired due to problems with alcoholism and drug addiction - he went on to form the band Megadeth. Exodus guitarist Kirk Hammett took his place. Metallica has been through several bassists, including Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton (who died in a bus crash while the band was on tour), and Jason Newsted. The current bassist is Robert Trujillo, who joined in 2003.
Metallica’s early releases included fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship that placed them as one of the “big four” of the thrash metal sub-genre alongside Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax. The band earned a growing fan base in the underground music community and critical acclaim, with the 1986 release Master of Puppets described as one of the most influential and “heavy” metal albums. The band achieved substantial commercial success with Metallica (1991), which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. With this release the band expanded its musical direction resulting in an album that appealed to a more mainstream audience.
In 2000, Metallica was among several artists who filed a lawsuit against Napster for sharing the band’s copyright-protected material for free without the band members’ consent. A settlement was reached, and Napster became a pay-to-use service.