Ray Burton, the father of Metallica legend Cliff Burton, has died aged 94

Robert Trujillo, Ray Burton, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted and Lars Ulrich at Metallica's 2009 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony
Robert Trujillo, Ray Burton, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted and Lars Ulrich at Metallica's 2009 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony (Image credit: Getty)

Ray Burton, the father of late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, has died at the age of 94.

Metallica confirmed the news on their website (opens in new tab), saying: “It is with incredible sorrow that we said farewell to Cliff’s dad Ray Burton last week. 

“For 38 years, we were lucky enough to have the energy, wisdom and light of Ray in our lives. His eternal youth with his drive, positivity and relentless smile were both incredibly powerful and stirringly honest. 

“From coast to coast and overseas too, Ray’s beaming face would regularly greet us, offering warmth and anchor to our travels, and when it came to the entire Metallica family, band, crew and fans, he viewed us all as his own. 

“That he has passed away leaves an indefinable feeling of sadness and loss, but equally, we know Ray wouldn’t want us ‘moping around on our darn keisters’ for too long. 

“So, in honour of him, and the kind of man he was, we also want to truly celebrate the 94 years of life Ray gave everyone, knowing in certainty that a glint of his light, wisdom and energy will always be with us all wherever we go. We love you Ray. Rest in peace.”

Bassist Cliff 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 (opens in new tab), 1984’s Ride The Lightning (opens in new tab) and 1986’s Master Of Puppets (opens in new tab).

In August 2017, Ray revealed that he donated the royalties he received from his son’s work in Metallica to a music scholarship programme at Cliff’s old high school.

He told Alphabetallica: “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.”

Speaking in 2016 on the 30th anniversary of Cliff’s death, Ray said he was delighted to see Metallica thriving decades after his son’s passed away.

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.”

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.