The mayor of San Francisco has hailed Metallica as “extraordinary musicians and people”, who’ve “touched people's lives for generations”, as the city declared December 16 ‘Metallica Day’.
Mayor London Breed described the band, who formed in Los Angeles in 1981, as “part of the fabric of the community.”
"When you talk about San Francisco, you talk about cable cars and then you talk about Metallica," she said. "And on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco, I want to officially declare today Metallica Day."
Drummer Lars Ulrich paid his own tribute to his adopted hometown, saluting San Francisco as a city with a tradition of embracing outsider art.
"We didn't start in San Francisco," said Ulrich. "We started in Southern California. And we came up to San Francisco, the first time, in 1982, in September, and played at the Stone and subsequently played at the Old Waldorf a couple of times…
"We had done six, nine months in Los Angeles, and we did not belong. The reason we all wanted to be in a band was to fit into something greater than ourselves, and we absolutely did not fit into anything in Los Angeles, Sunset Strip, Hollywood, any of that. We felt like complete outsiders. When we came up here… we were embraced and we were taken in and we felt so welcomed and so loved up here.
"There was a sense of music community for people like ourselves who felt like outsiders, who liked things that were not in the mainstream, and that was has obviously been a significant part of San Francisco's history. So coming up here in 1982, standing on the shoulder of the history of the culture, the Beat poets and the hippie movement and the music and Bill Graham and everything that San Francisco represented, we were just embraced instantly. We felt so welcomed, so loved and we felt finally like we belonged someplace. And it's been 39 years of feeling that sense of belonging, to not just a geographical place — San Francisco, the Bay Area, Northern California, whatever you wanna call it — but it's also a state of mind. You belong to what San Francisco represents.
"We have been so proud to shout from every rooftop all over the world, at every press conference, in every mic that's been shoved in our faces for the better part of 40 years how much San Francisco gave us an identity and gave us, like I said, a sense of belonging," the drummer said. "And we fly the flag proud for San Francisco and the Bay Area all over the world on our T-shirts. We are so proud of our connection to everything that San Francisco represents and to all the wonderful people, to, obviously, the great physical and geographical elements here and the history and the cable cars and the Giants and the Warriors and the list goes on.
"Those of you who know our story know that we've been fortunate enough to travel all over the world - we've played all seven continents - and there are many, many wonderful places on this planet where music, compared to when we started - Latin America, Southeast Asia, places that you wouldn't expect 30, 40 years ago that you could bring rock and roll to - that have now also embraced us. But our hearts and our souls and our sense of belonging will always be San Francisco. And Metallica and San Francisco will always be two words which are synonymous with each other."
This weekend, to share their 40th anniversary celebrations with the world, Metallica will livestream two gigs from San Francisco’s Chase Center (opens in new tab) through the Coda Collection via Amazon Prime.
The gigs on December 17 and 19 are part of the Metallica celebrations planned in San Francisco. The full list of free activities, which includes a gallery show of Ross Halfin’s photographs of the band, a trivia quiz hosted by So What editor Steffan Chirazi, and assorted events revolving around flogging Blackened whiskey, are listed on the band’s website. The quartet are also teaming up with Amazon Music for The Metallica Takeover, a guest-hosted station where they'll share the stories behind various Metallica anthems.