After the album “Master of Puppets” release, Metallica would tour the United States alongside veteran rocker Ozzy Osbourne, later moving to Europe. On September 26, 1986, Metallica offered a recital in Stockholm, Sweden. Metallica would close that performance with the songs “Blitzkrieg” and “Fight Fire with Fire”. Nobody imagined that they would be the last songs that Cliff Burton would play live in his life.
At 06.15 am on September 27, 1986, the bus carrying Metallica to Sweden suddenly began to skate out of control and rolled several times before capsizing on the side of the road near the Swedish town of Ljungby. Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, and James Hetfield suffered no troubling physical damage, but bassist Cliff Burton, who was sleeping in the bunk originally for guitarist Kirk Hammett, was thrown out of a window and the bus, as it rolled, fell on his body, killing him instantly.
Kirk Hammett would remember that “during that European tour we traveled on a really bad bus. That night, while we were traveling, we played cards with Cliff, and he took out the ace of spades. And since he won the game, he said ‘I want your bunk,’ and I said ‘Ok, no problem, take my bunk. I’ll sleep up front probably even better.’ That same night, at about five or six in the morning, I heard the screeching of tires, a vibration, and then the bus started to roll. I thought we had fallen into an abyss. Everyone was screaming, except Cliff, and I thought immediately: ‘God, something is wrong’; when I got outside, I saw Cliff’s legs sticking out from under the bus. I was in shock, and I don’t remember anything for the next four hours.”
According to the bus driver, the vehicle had allegedly skidded and overturned due to alleged ice sheets on the road, although no one in the gang believed his story. The accident report declared Cliff Burton’s death to be a chest compression with a pulmonary contusion, which was corroborated by Dr. Anders Ottoson, a certified physician. The police report also noted that the air temperature at the scene at the time of the accident was 3.7 ° C. However, no mention was made of any ice sheets on the road. The investigations also determined that the driver was neither drunk nor asleep.
Metallica Icon Cliff Burton’s Legacy and Tragic Death