Cliff Burton’s father donates Metallica royalties to fund scholarship

Cliff Burton
Cliff Burton

Ray Burton, the father of Cliff Burton, has revealed that he donates the royalties he receives from his son’s work in Metallica to a music scholarship programme at Cliff’s old high school.

Bassist Cliff tragically died at the age of 24 when Metallica’s tour bus crashed in Sweden in September, 1986. He played on the band’s first three albums: 1993’s Kill ‘Em All, 1984’s Ride The Lightning and 1986’s Master Of Puppets.

As a result, Ray receives royalty cheques from the trio of records, but rather than keep the money, the 93-year-old uses the cash to help young musicians.

He tells Alphabetallica (via Metal Injection): “From the royalties that I get, I give a scholarship to the high school he went to – the Castro Valley High School for music. So the kids that have won it thank me for it.

“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.”

Reflecting on the first time his son received royalties from sales of Kill ‘Em All, Ray says: “I had absolutely no idea what that album meant. We realised that things had a possibility of really getting big when Cliff got his first royalty check. I think it was $1500.

“He said, ‘Mom and dad, here’s my first cheque. Come on, I’ll take you out to dinner tonight.’ We went to dinner to his favourite 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.”

Speaking last year on the 30th anniversary of Cliff’s death, Ray said he was delighted to see Metallica thriving decades after his son’s death.

He said: “I admire James, Lars and Kirk for carrying on all of these years. They’ve stayed together and have done a very good job of entertaining. They have done an absolutely magnificent job.”

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Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.