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Kirk Lee Hammett was born on November 18th 1962 in San Francisco, California. He got his first own guitar at the age of 15, when he would buy a Montgomery Ward Strat copy from a friend for ten dollars and a Kiss album ("Dressed To Kill". But he only started really playing it after about six months later. During his adolescence, Kirk was very introverted, as he had moved from San Francisco to a suburb, the East Bay. He suffered a lot from the culture shock, and the music he would listen to -Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix or Cream- set him apart from the other kids even more. But playing his favorite songs like "Purple Haze", "Wild Thing" and "Communication Breakdown" on the guitar made him feel closer to the music he was listening to. Together with John Marshall (from "Metal Church" -he replaced James Hetfield a couple of times when James broke his arm and when he had the accident with the pyrotechnics in Montreal in 1992) he would figure out songs and jam on them. The first real good guitar Kirk bought was a blonde Stratocaster with a maple neck, because of Hendrix. After listening to UFO, with Michael Schenker, he bought a black Flying V, which can be heard on the first three or four Metallica albums. By then, he had formed a band called Exodus, and they would play Thin Lizzy, UFO, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden cover songs, but also original ones. From the money they actually got for playing at garden parties or so they had to pay the PA they rented. Exodus opened a couple of shows with Metallica, and Kirk was very impressed by them, and their original sound. When lead guitarist Dave Mustaine got expelled, after a fight with James Hetfield, Kirk was invited to an audition in New York and he joined the band without thinking twice. Actually he found that he was more suited playing with these guys than with the band he himself had formed! In 1982, a few weeks before Metallica recorded their debut album, "Kill 'Em All", Kirk took lessons from Joe Satriani, from whom he also adapted that 12 hours a day playing routine. "Kill 'Em All" would then mark the beginning of an incredible Metalli-era! ( See the MetallicA History ). In the band, when recording, Kirk used to play only the lead guitar parts ( until "Load" and eventually contribute arrangement ideas. He would compose up to 40 takes for one single solo, recording them on his portable recording machine. Kirk really considers his solos as "songs in the song", and so he would not stop working on them until he is fully satisfied with the result. ( Take for example the "Enter Sandman" solo. It's composed of several takes to give the perfect solo! ) His playing has quite evolved since the early years with "Kill 'Em All". So Kirk admits having overplayed on "...And Justice For All", where he tried to impress everybody and make proof of his virtuosity. But on the "Black Album" and especially on "Load"/ "ReLoad" Kirk dropped some speed in favor of a more bluesy playing style and experimental sounds. His song writing role changed too and he contributed some rhythm guitar work to the last two albums. His influence in the band has considerably grown this last years, as Metallica used to be fairly dominated by the duo Hetfield/Ulrich. But Kirk's charisma has always put him apart and has at least equally contributed to his popularity as his extraordinary guitar playing has. In his private life, Kirk got divorced from his first wife Rebecca (which he married on December 3, 1987) and wed his girlfriend, Lani, on January 31 1998 in Kailua, Hawaii.



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