Your Guide To Our Rare Metallica Posters

In our Metallica issue we’re giving away a ton of FREE Metallica posters including a bunch of rare gig posters and backstage shots. But what makes them so special? Here are the stories behind them…

Homemade Poster advertising Metallica’s First Ever Gig

Metallica played their first ever show on March 14, 1982 at the 150 capacity Radio City club in Anaheim: they were paid $15 for their appearance. The band played a nine song set, featuring just two original songs – Hit The Lights and Jump In The Fire – and seven NWOBHM covers. “Went down pretty good,” Lars Ulrich noted in his gig diary. “Very nervous. Played so-so.” The second show advertised on this poster, scheduled for March 26, never actually took place, as the band were busy practising for two shows supporting Saxon at LA’s famous Whisky A Go Go club on March 27.

Jump In The Fire poster

A rare promo poster for the band’s first UK single, released via Music For Nations on January 20, 1984. The ‘live’ tracks featured on the single’s B side, were actually studio recordings overdubbed with ‘fake’ crowd sounds. Death to false metal!

** Venom Tour Poster**

For their very first European tour Metallica hooked up with another Geordie trio, the already infamous Venom, on the latter’s Seven Dates Of Hell tour: this poster advertises date three of the tour, at the Hemmerleinhalle in Nuremberg, Germany. Oddly, the Seven Dates Of Hell tour featured only six shows. Two weeks after this show, Metallica began work on their second album, Ride The Lightning.

James Hetfield onstage at the Aardshock Festival

This photo of James Hetfeld was taken on February 11, 1984 at Metallica’s very first festival appearance. On the night, introduced as “The heaviest band in the world”, Metallica played an 11 song set, including the title track of their forthcoming second album. Audio of the gig can be found here:

Cliff Burton onstage in Belgium, 1984

Metallica’s appearance at the Heavy Sound Festival in Poperinge, Belgium on June 10, 1984 was significant in that it was the first time the American band got to share a stage with their heroes Motörhead, who headlined the seven band bill above Twisted Sister and Mercyful Fate. Just three years earlier, Lars Ulrich had sat in a West London rehearsal room while Lemmy’s band pieced together the song Iron Fist, an experience which led directly to him calling James Hetfield to form his own band.

Cliff and James onstage at the Breaking Sound festival, 1984

Another European festival show, Metallica’s appearance at the Breaking Sound festival at La Rotonde in Le Bourget, France on August 29, 1984 is most memorable for being the quartet’s first ever gig alongside Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crüe. A tiny snippet of Metallica’s show, featuring the band playing the set’s opening song Phantom Lord, can be viewed here:

Backstage in Los Angeles, 1983

1983 saw Metallica’s first ever national tour, a co-headline trek with Geordie metallers Raven billed as the Kill ‘Em All For One tour, took place in the summer months of 1983. The band’s return to Los Angeles, on August 30, was kinda a big deal, a homecoming of sorts for James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich who had left the city to move to San Francisco six months earlier. For the very first time, this gig saw the city of Angeles show Metallica some genuine love, hence the post-gig backstage celebrations.

‘Alcoholica’ photo session

Ahead of their debut appearance at the August 1985 Monsters of Rock festival at Donington, Metallica booked a photo session in London with snapper Pete Cronin. This classic shot sees the quartet playing up to their infamous ‘Alcoholica’ nickname. We imagine James Hetfield cringes somewhat when he sees this photograph now.

Lars at Donington Park, 1985

On August 17, 1985, Metallica were sandwiched between Ratt and Bon Jovi on their very first Donington Monsters Of Rock bill (with headliners ZZ Top, Marillion and Magnum completing the line-up), a fact which prompted one of the finest ever speeches delivered at the spiritual home of metal. “We’re Metallica, and I have to tell you something from the start,” James Hetfield told the 55,000 people present. “If you came here to see spandex, and fucking eye make-up and all that shit, and the words ‘Rock ‘n’ roll baby’ in every fucking song, this ain’t the fucking band.” Ouch.

Crash Course in Brain Surgery art print

Metallica first became aware of the work of artist Brian ‘Pushead’ Schroeder thanks to his work with US punk bands such as the Misfits and Necros, alongside his contributions to Thrasher magazine. In 1986 they commissioned Pushead to create artwork for their Damage Inc,. tour, initiating a relationship which continues to this day. This artwork actually featured on an ultra-rare Metallica promo item, a surgical smock, released in 1987: only 300 were ever made, and the item was solely available to MetClub members.

Rare 1986 US Tour Poster

Lars Ulrich is on record as describing Metallica’s arena tour supporting Ozzy Osbourne in the spring of 1986 as “the funnest time of my life.” Given 50 minutes a night, the quartet were in full-on ‘Attack!’ mode every night… and then in full-on ‘Party!’ mood afterwards. “That was the sex, drugs and rock and roll tour,” Ulrich later reflected. “We were 22 back then and drank a bottle of vodka a day.” Good times.

Shortest Straw artwork

Another Pushead original design, used as the inspiration for Metallica’s Shortest Straw… T-shirt. Even more rare is the bespoke Shortest Straw shot glass and decanter set made available to MetClub members in 2008: only 179 of these bad boys were ever crafted.

There are only a few days left to head down the shops and pick up Metal Hammer issue 267 so GO GO GO!

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.