The day I became a metalhead for life

I can pinpoint the day that changed my life forever after hearing Metallica for the first time. In 1984 I was a musically impressionable 14 year old whose only real outlet for new music was the radio and whatever my friends were listening to. I went to my first concert seeing Van Halen and then a few months later my second show was Ozzy and Mötley Crüe. Later that same year, after turning 15, my friends and I had went to see Billy Squire and Ratt play and then Ronnie James Dio with Dokken opening. My first calendar year of concerts was pretty well stacked with the heavyweights of hard rock at the time but little did I know that in the not too distant future I would get a job as a prep cook in a seafood restaurant and meet a dude nicknamed “Captain” who would set me down the path the become the metalhead that I am today.

The day was March 3rd, 1986. I remember it was freaking pouring that night when I got off work at the restaurant. One of the ‘older’ dudes I worked with (Captain was probably like 25, 30 at most) offered to give me a ride home so I was not riding my bike home in the rain. Soon as we got in the car he sparked up a fat joint and asked if I knew that Metallica had released their new album today? He said he had stopped off to get it before coming in to work that day and did not have a chance to listen to it on the way in. I told him that I had heard of them but never listened to any of their music.

I had heard of Metallica from reading the various music magazines I had some of the pull out centerfolds affixed to my bedroom walls. Receiving absolutely zero radio airplay back in those days the band had slipped through the cracks that I or my friends had not listened to them them yet.  Thinking back on it as I write this I guess it had to be a combination between me thinking that by the look of the guys in the band in the magazines they were probably too heavy for my taste and my lack of funds. Prior to the seafood restaurant job my only source of funds for cassettes and concert tickets was mowing yards and during my visits to the local record store 99% of the time I already had an intended purchase in mind.

Captain opens the cassette from its wrapper and pops it into the tape deck. Metallica’s “Maser of Puppets” release starts playing the soft, inviting sounds of an acoustic guitar plucking with what I have always associated as a matador style flamenco Spanish sound. Just as those first few tokes were gripping hold of the relaxation sensory nerves in my brain ‘Battery’ rips away from the acoustic guitar and just absolutely shreds my ears with this wall of sound that I immediately instinctively start nodding my head up and down. Holy shit this is freaking awesome!

Unfortunately I did not live that far away and only made it about halfway through the second and title track before we got to my house. Captain could tell that I was definitely digging the sound and since he had the new cassette to listen to he let me borrow Metallica’s previous release, “Ride the Lighting”. Quite high from the ride home I remember cleaning up from work then sitting down to listen to “Ride the Lightning” and was just totally blown away by what I was hearing. I brought it with me the next morning when my buddy Timbro came over and picked me up for school. Soon as school got out Timbro and I went straight to the record store and got our hands on every Metallica release we could.

After digesting as much Metallica as we possibly could over the next few weeks, Timbro picked me up one day for the beach and popped in a Slayer cassette and holy fricking moly it was metalhead game on from there on out. 1986 turned out to be quite a glorious year to find my way down the path to become the Chief Metal Officer (of and that I am today. I addition to “Master of Puppets”, two other thrash metal genre defining albums were released with Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” and Megadeth’s “Peace Sells… but Who’s Buying?” of which I literally wore out the cassette that I had of “Reign in Blood” and ended up replacing all three of those cassette purchases with the CD version.


1988 brought us to our first time seeing Metallica live and now all these years later I have seen Metallica eight times in seven different cities across four states. Throughout the years I have always professed that “Master of Puppets” was one of the defining albums of my and the thrash metal generation. Still to this day I hold their first four albums in the highest regard but in full disclaimer here “…And Justice for All” has evolved to be my all-time front to back favorite release from Metallica.

To this day I still do not know Captain’s real name, but wherever he may be today, Captain, I salute you!