Wednesday, April 18, 2012


In March 1985, Metallica returned to The Bay Area on the Ride The Lightning Tour and played 3 triumphant hometown area shows in Palo Alto and 2 nights in San Francisco.

Umlaut attended all 3 shows and much to my surprise the mainstream San Francisco Chronicle reviewed one of the San Francisco shows. However, it was a very back-handed review done by the paper's venerable old hippie "music critic" Joel Selvin. Selvin condescendingly compared Metallica to Blue Cheer, who he called a "joke band". In reality, Blue Cheer were one of the first heavy bands to emerge out of the 60's and were without question one of the first Heavy Metal bands. I've never liked Joel Selvin.

[click for larger image]

Along with the review, The Chronicle printed a live shot from the show that I cut out and tacked to my bedroom bulletin board. It showed Kirk onstage in front of the frenzied San Francisco crowd and a hapless punter wearing a Metallica t-shirt rolling at his feet. Eventually the clipping faded and was thrown away. Years later my friend Big Wayne found the review and photo in a library's newspaper archive and sent me a blurry low-res digital copy of them.

I've always loved this photo because it captured the mayhem of those early Metallica shows just as they were starting to conquer the world with their Heavy Metal. It's one of the most definitive photos from the original Bay Area Metal Scene IMO.

Anyway, fast forward to 2012 and I mentioned that I always wanted a print of this shot... and someone suggested that I simply find the photographer and ask. DUH!! It took 27 years for someone to suggest the obvious! Anyway, long story short, I did a Google search for the photographer and contacted him via his website. Amazingly, he responded to me right away! He told me that I should contact the photo editor at the San Francisco Chronicle because they owned the photo and he gave me the contact info for the person.

Amazingly, the photo editor also responded to me right away and said to give him some time to look into my request; evidently The Chronicle never gets requests for concert photos. Long story short, around 3 weeks after my initial contact I received this in the mail from The Chronicle today:

Of course, I offered to pay for the print but The Chronicle sent it to me gratis. How cool is that!? A big THANKS to the photographer and the photo editor of The Chronicle for helping me come full circle with 1985. Pretty fucking cool, right? It's pretty amazing to finally see this shot, which has been iconic in my mind for 27 years, via a pristine print instead of pixelated on newsprint. Time travel does exist.

"Flash before my eyes..."