It was the '80s and big hair “metal” bands were all the rage. Metallica carved a different way, though, with intricate song arrangements and a hefty dose of thrash coming through on 1983's Kill 'Em All and 1984's Ride the Lightning.
When Master of Puppets appeared in '86, it was deemed Metallica's masterpiece. Shortly after its release, a tour bus accident killed Burton leaving Jason Newsted to fill his shoes.
The new line-up debuted with 1988's ...And Justice for All which bullied its way into the Top 10 with ease. However, it was 1991's self-titled set that really pushed Metallica into mainstream consciousness.
Singles like "Wherever I May Roam" and "Enter Sandman" aided the album in moving more than seven million units in the U.S. as it topped the charts. Two years of touring also helped things along.
With 1996's Load, Metallica embraced that mainstream mindset. As a result, the album debuted in the number one seat selling more than three million copies in two short months, though not without alienating some of their long-time, hardcore fans. They also signed on to Lollapalooza to seal their deal with the mainstream devil.
When Re-Load came the following year, it sold pretty well despite a less-than-favorable critical reception. The year after that, Metallica issued the two-disc Garage Inc. that was comprised of various rarities and B-sides. One modest single emerged, "Turn the Page."
As they headed toward the new millenium, Metallica released S&M, a live album featuring the San Francisco Symphony and debuting at number two. For 2000, it was No Leaf Clover that added one to the discography.
Come 2001, Newsted departed and Hetfield went to rehab. All cleaned up, Hetfield joined his fellow founders back in the studio for 2003's St. Anger. For the subsequent tour that spanned 2003-2004 and documented in the Some Kind of Monster documentary, bassist Robert Trujillo was recruited.
The band, then, took a bit of a breather prior to the Rick Rubin-produced Death Magnetic in 2008. The back-to-basics set entered the Billboard 200 in the top seat where it stayed for three weeks.
Another two years of touring supported the effort, during which Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That high mark was followed by a departure from Warner Bros. and three EPs in 2010 -- Six Feet Down Under, Six Feet Down Under (Part II), and Live at Grimey's.
The Full Metal Package DVD dropped in 2011, as did a collaboration with Lou Reed title Lulu and the Beyond Magnetic digital EP.
Throughout their career, Metallica has won numerous Grammy and other awards.
Grammy Awards Won by Metallica:
Best Metal Performance – 1990, 1991, 1992, 1999, 2004, 2009
Best Hard Rock Performance – 2000
Best Rock Instrumental Performance – 2001
Best Recording Package – 2009
MTV Video Music Awards Won by Metallica:
Best Metal Video – 1992, 1996
American Music Awards Won by Metallica:
Favorite Artist: Heavy Metal/Hard Rock: Metallica – 1996
Favorite Metal/Hard Rock Song – 1996