For years, there have been rumors that Metallica had intended on firing drummer Lars Ulrich back in 1986. In a new interview with Colorado Springs, Colorado radio station 94.3 KILO, Anthrax’s Scott Ian, has confirmed the story is, in fact, true (via Blabbermouth).
The story goes that while on tour in Europe supporting Master of Puppets, Metallica members James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Cliff Burton let slip to Ian that they had plans to replace Ulrich after the tour’s conclusion. “We were all kind of blown away by that,” Ian told KILO, “because it was the four of them. It was just, like, ‘Wow! Really?’ And they were, like, ‘Yeah. When we finish this tour, we’re gonna find a new drummer.'”
However, as fate would have it, a tour bus accident during their European tour would claim the life of Burton. That tragic moment changed the direction of the band, and Ulrich ended up never being dismissed. “Obviously, history turned out differently for Metallica,” Ian said, “and they went on to become, arguably, one of the biggest bands on the planet. So I’m just glad it all… obviously it all worked out for my friends. [It was a] horrible tragedy that Cliff was killed in that bus accident.”
Still, Ian maintained that Ulrich never would have been let go even without the loss of Burton. “I honestly think it wouldn’t have happened. ‘Cause, believe me, I’ve thought about it quite a bit over the years. I honestly think that the tour would have finished and I think cooler heads would have prevailed, maybe, and I don’t think the change would have taken place. That’s what I believe.”
Ian actually mentions the tale in his new autobiography, I’m The Man: The Story of that Guy from Anthrax, though he said the book is not meant to be an “exposé.” He said the story of Ulrich’s near-dismissal is actually something that has been publicly known for awhile. “I’m not outing this; that would never be my intention.”
Listen to the whole interview below.