This Day in Metal: September 27th 1986 Cliff Burton Passed Away
On This Day in Metal, September 27th 1986 Metallica's basssit Cliff Burton passed away.
In the early morning hours of September 27th 1986 shortly before 7AM, the band members were awakened abruptly when the bus began to careen from side to side. The driver later told authorities that he lost control of the bus after hitting a patch of black ice. The bus left the road and flipped over on its side, and Burton – who had been asleep in the preferred top bunk – was thrown through the window. As the bus came down, it landed on top of the 24-year-old musician.
Reportedly, attempts were made to rescue him from underneath the bus by lifting it with a crane, but the crane slipped, and the bus crashed down on top of Burton a second time. Band members and onlookers have given different accounts of whether Burton died upon first impact or when the bus came down again, but the promising young star died at the scene.
Metallica front man James Hetfield has said he walked up and down the road in his socks and underwear looking for black ice and found none, and the musicians have speculated off and on over the years about whether drinking or drugs could have played a role in the accident, or whether the driver fell asleep at the wheel. An investigation cleared the driver of any wrongdoing.