BOSTON (CBS) — For more than 30 years, Metallica has been arguably the biggest band in the world. And there’s no more famous Metallica song than “Enter Sandman.”
Guitarist Kirk Hammett, who wrote the opening riff to the song, joined Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning and shared where he found the inspiration for writing that song back in 1990.
“I have a very specific memory,” Hammett said. “It was about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning and I had just been listening to ‘Louder Than Love,’ a Soundgarden album. This was when Soundgarden still was somewhat underground, on an independent label. I just loved that album. It’s a great Soundgarden album. I was inspired. I picked up my guitar, and out came that riff.”
Hammett said it didn’t end up sounding like a Soundgarden song, but that’s where the inspiration came from. And he knew pretty quickly that there was something to the riff.
“Well I knew it was a cool riff, for sure. You kind of get an idea if a riff is cool, because when you play it, if it’s a cool riff, you can just instantly groove on it. So yeah, this is pretty cool, this is a good feel, it’s a good sound, this is a good combination of notes,” he said. “When Lars [Ulrich] heard the riff he said, ‘Repeat that first part four times.’ And I did. And he said ‘There you go.'”
Toucher & Rich couldn’t let a conversation with a member of Metallica go by without discussing the wild partying days of the ’80s and ’90s.
“When we started doing arena tours, that’s when all the debauchery really kicked into higher gear,” Hammett recalled. “I remember we would pick the opening bands for their music but we would also pick the opening bands according to how fun they looked like they would be when we all went out at night after the show. So that was part of the criteria.”
And when it came to hazing these opening bands, Metallica was always known to play pranks. Hammett shared one of his favorites.
“Queensrÿche is like 1989 or something on the ‘And Justice For All’ tour, it was their last show. And so on their big hit, ‘Silent Lucidity,’ we sorted it out so that there would be all these male strippers behind them,” Hammett said. “So when they started playing that song, we told the lighting guy to light up the male strippers behind them. So we were watching, the lights went on, they started playing their song, and the whole audience just started reacting — in a very, very positive way. As for the band, because they didn’t realize what was behind them, they just thought, ‘Oh this song must be really popular here.’ What they didn’t know was that we had like six male strippers bumping and grinding behind them. And it was hilarious. I remember I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my face.”
Hammett was on the show to help promote “It’s Alive!” — an exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum featuring a collection of classic horror and sci-fi movie poster. Check out more information at pem.org, and listen to the full interview above!