Metallica announced the news on Twitter, writing, “It’s official! The Board of Supervisors from Alameda County has just proclaimed February 10th, 2018, which would have been Cliff’s 56th birthday, ‘Cliff Burton Day.’ Thanks to all of the fans who got behind this initiative. We love that he remains so revered.”
Burton was born and raised in the Castro Valley, which sits south of Oakland. As the Alameda County proclamation notes, Burton began playing music at age six, moving from piano to bass after the death of his brother Scott. In high school and beyond, Burton formed and played in an array of bands, slowly building a reputation for himself in the Bay Area and beyond.
Eventually, Burton garnered the attention of Metallica co-founders, James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, and in 1983 the metal outfit released their debut, Kill ‘Em All. The album notably features the track, “(Anesthesia) – Pulling Teeth,” an instrumental bass solo featuring just Burton and Ulrich on drums. Metallica would release two more albums with Burton, 1984’s Ride the Lightening and 1986’s Master of Puppets, before the bassist died tragically in a bus crash while the band was on tour in Sweden.
Last year, Metallica marked the 30th anniversary of Master of Puppets with an expansive reissue that included audio from their last show with Burton. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ulrich spoke Burton’s legacy and revisiting that final show, saying, “I move so fast through a lot of the stuff that I never slow down long enough to reflect. And occasionally, when you sit with some of the stuff at 2 o’clock in the morning, you go, ‘Wow.’ When you sit there and listen to the last two songs or look at the pictures from the last show with him, it stops you in your tracks as you deal with it.”