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Late Metallica bassist’s father gives son’s royalties to scholarships


Photo by Pete Cronin/Redferns | Getty Images

Ray Burton, the father of late, legendary Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, told the Alphabetallica podcast that he’s been donating his son’s Metallica royalties to a music scholarship program for kids at Cliff’s alma mater, Castro Valley High School. Since Cliff’s death in a tour bus accident in 1986, the bassist’s royalties have been sent to his family. Ray explained, “One of the things from the royalties that I get, I give a scholarship to the high school he went to . . . The kids who won it, they invariably write and thank me for. And I think Cliff probably would have done that with his money, because he was not against education by any means. He liked it very much.”

  • Ray recalled how thrilled Cliff was the first time he got a royalty check from Metallica, saying, “We realized that things had a possibility of really getting big when Cliff got his first royalty check. I think it was $1,500. He said, ‘Mom and dad, here’s my first check. Come on, I’ll take you out to dinner tonight.’ ‘Okay, let’s go!’ We went to dinner to his favorite sushi place in Hayward, which is right next door to Castro Valley. That was the first thing that I got that maybe there were bigger things down the road.”
  • Ray added about his son, “He was quite a humble person. He just didn’t like the strutting types that so much of the rock ‘n’ roll musicians get to be when they get popular. He just liked to do his wild playing of heavy metal music. He never changed.”
  • The 92-year-old Ray was onstage on behalf of his son when Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, and still regularly attends Metallica shows, including several stops on the current Worldwired trek.



  • Cliff Burton was born on February 10th, 1962 in Castro Valley, California.
  • He began playing bass at the age of 13 and practiced for up to six hours a day even after joining Metallica.
  • His first band, EZ-Street, also included future Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin and drummer Mike Bordin.
  • He left the band Trauma to join Metallica only on the condition that the members of Metallica relocate to San Francisco from Los Angeles.

SIDE NOTES: According to Loudwire, the three Metallica albums that Cliff Burton played on — Kill ‘Em AllRide The Lightning and Master Of Puppets — sold a combined 420,000 copies in 2016, an impressive amount that could still yield a very sizable amount of royalties.


READ: Get the full story from Loudwire

CHECK IT OUT: Watch a classic 1985 Burton performance on “For Whom The Bell Tolls”at Day On The Green in Oakland

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