Serial killer Richard Ramirez was pissed off that he missed Metallica playing San Quentin Prison, as he was on death row

(Image credit: LAPD / Press)

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett has revealed that late serial killer Richard Ramirez, aka The Night Stalker, was a fan of his band, and that Ramirez was most upset when he was unable to attend the quartet's May 2003 gig at San Quentin Prison as, at the time, he was on death row in the prison awaiting his punishment for 13 murders, 5 attempted murders, 11 sexual assaults and 14 burglaries.

Hammett spoke about Ramirez to earlier this week. Asked 'Who’s been the most unexpected person who’s turned out to be a Metallica fan?' the guitarist answered “Richard Ramirez."

"When we played San Quentin Prison, he was on death row and could hear us," Hammett revealed. "The guards who were responsible for watching him said Richard Ramirez was pissed off and pacing his cell because he wasn’t allowed to see us.

"He gave the guards his subscription copy of a magazine with us on the cover and on the mail-tag it said: ‘Richard Ramirez, San Quentin Prison.’ So that’s my little token from Richard Ramirez. Not to glorify the guy – he did some horrible crimes."

In the interview, Hammett also raised the possibility that he might have bumped into Ramirez socially before the serial killer was captured in 1985.

"He hung out in Richmond California, and I wonder sometimes if me and the guys from Exodus were at the same parties as him back in the day," he mused.

Last year, video director Emmett Malloy spoke to Metal Hammer about the unique experience of shooting the video for St. Anger inside San Quentin in 2003.

"We had to sign a ‘no hostage’ policy," Malloy revealed, "which means that the guards aren’t obliged to rescue you if you’re taken hostage by a prisoner, which was different! I scouted out the Maximum Security area before shooting, which felt like being in The Silence Of The Lambs, with people screaming passages from the Bible.

"I knew that the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, was in there, and I was thinking, Why the fuck am I doing this? I remember during shooting some naked dude pushed right through me to get to the showers, so that was another reality check! The band felt the weight of the day, and we did too. I remember Lars [Ulrich], beforehand, was scared that he’d be identified as ‘The Napster Guy’, and I was like, Dude, I think these guys might have bigger concerns than music piracy!"

Richard Ramirez died on June 7, 2013, from cancer-related illness, after 23 years on death row.

Kirk Hammett released his first solo record, Portals, on the Metallica’s own Blackened Recordings label on April 23. 

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.