For Metallica 86 was a special year with the release of their album “Master of Puppets” in March of the Year. The time was recently a topical news item with the whole “Eddie Munson Thing” debate over a rock icon scene in the popular tv series “Stranger Things”.

Metallica 86 The Year of Master of Puppets Memories

Each generation has its Profound musical statements and artists and the generation that experienced the launch of the album “Master of Puppets” in 1986 had very special musical memories including myself.

0327cca400904e5aef269680e692d612.0 Metallica 86 The Rise of the Puppets

1986 for me was a particularly amazing year. Metallica in 86 had progressed from “Kill Em All” and “Ride the Lightning”. Never resting their creative force, they tapped into the deepest Masterpiece “Master of Puppets” and hit the road to support it. The Summer leg of that tour was being paired up with Ozzy Osbourne during his “Ultimate Sin” tour.  I went to see Ozzy but left a Metallica concert which has been an impactful musical memory from the Ozzy and Metallica on Tour in 1986 the year was also the year of Metallica 86 Damage Inc Tour. 

f53ce959ee9e8b0dfbf1bf4f2df416b3.0 Metallica 86 The Rise of the Puppets

July 17, 1986, at The Ohio Center in Columbus, was the defining moment for me as a Metal enthusiast. Being quite new to rock concerts at the time as my first concert was in 1984 for RUSH, and 1985 was my first Stevie Ray Vaughan show so my intro to the power of great live acts was already rolling. I had no idea what was about to happen since I had not yet been to a Metal concert.

I was 14 years old and all I knew was there was a ticket available for Ozzy and Metallica in 1986, and Being an Ozzy and Black Sabbath fan already as well as having some familiarity with Metallica I was on it. Yes. I’ll have that! 

Clips for the Ozzy-Metallica Tour 1986

I didn’t realize the seat I had was 2nd row just left of center and due to the stage size Metallica was forced to play right at the lip of the stage due to the size of Ozzy’s setup. This means I was about 10 ft away from the Marshall Stacks and drum riser. A simple black curtain behind that. This Was the area they were given to work in. House lights dim, the intro is playing and like a cannon going off  “Battery” had enough force and volume to literally recoil the human body.

Battery (Remastered)

Metallica Full Show @ New York City 1986 (w/ Cliff Burton)

All I see for a moment is James Hetfield’s hair just flying. Gaining my clarity I now am between James and Kirk Hammett with a clear shot of Cliff Burton and Lars. By song two we are getting a sweat on us. Roughly 23 shows later we Lost Cliff Burton in September of that year. 

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Cliff Burton Bass Solo ‘Metallica 86

The Band has spoken many times about how Cliff was a driving force that informed their music and he was more often than not the Magic involved in any given piece as he had a sense of melody and orchestration, much Like Mick Ronson, he was the secret weapon. He drew no musical boundaries. I consider myself so fortunate to have seen him live and in my face. The experience of that night in my mind is total recall. I can stop and think and truly transport myself back to photographic memory. It was a gift from the Metal Gods. 

The tour had its issues before this as Hetfield had a skateboarding accident and had to have guitar tech John Marshall play guitar. Evansville, Indiana was canceled. This situation continued through Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Charleston, Columbia, Hampton, Cardiff Wales, Bradford, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham, London, Lund, and Lillestrom Norway. James returned to the guitar in Stockholm, Sweden. Ironically the Last show with Cliff.

Metallica The Tragic Death of Cliff Burton

The Story of Master of Puppets

One thing that divided the Old School Fanatics from the “Black Album” new fans was the sense of respect for the audience, the venues, and themselves. It may have been a Party in the Parking lot, but in the show, there was a certain collective atmosphere.

That show I was witness to in 1986 had only one incident and it was Righteous. At the end of the set, Lars threw a drumstick to the crowd, and a young man in a wheelchair caught it. He was right behind our group to our left. Some Punk took it away from him.

Well about 10 of us on either side of him saw it and absolutely beat down the idiot and returned the stick to the young man. Security saw it too, and let us beat him down. They didn’t interfere, they waited until we were satisfied, then ejected the now bloody fool from the venue. I Love Old School Metal Militias. 

Master of Puppets is an Iconic album I never tire of and have listened to it many times a year since 1986.  Its the subject matter, the combination of Cliff’s Orchestral mind and the balance of Thrash and Melodic sensibility as well as songs like “The Thing That Should Not Be” and “Sanitarium” proving the music didn’t have to be 200 miles an hour to make an impact drew a line that said, “We are Metallica, we do what we want.”

The lack of airplay didn’t matter, The shows and relentless touring continued after Cliff’s untimely Death proved it had songs that resonated no matter the band members. Cliff would certainly have wanted them to continue and Jason Newstead took up the ride of his life. 

Nothing to stop them, “Master” would go on to become the timeless work that opened doors for not only Metallica but for all Metal bands who dared to deviate from what was expected of them. It’s a testimonial of Freedom, a Rage against humanity’s acceptance of ill deeds. It’s simply one of the best records made by any band ever true scorching metal.  

Metallica Full Show @ Quebec, Canada 1986 (w/ Jason Newsted)

By Jimmy Flemming

Jimmy Fleming is a Dystonia advocate and Guitarist from Ohio. He authored and co wrote interviews on over 100 articles about guitar and bands on Guitardoor Listen to his latest music and full biography on his website.

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