When Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich initially heard that a member of of the San Francisco Symphony was keen to offer tribute to Cliff Burton, the band’s late bassist, at the group’s S&M2 partnership ba few backs, he didn’t know exactly what was coming his way.
The orchestra’s principal bass player, Scott Pingel, headed over to the band’s headquarters and took out an electric bass and a pedalboard and informed the band he’d come up with a tribute to Burton employing pieces of his signature solo, “(Anesthesia)-Pulling Teeth” along with Pingel’s own sensibilities.
During the original “Anesthesia,” Burton went on a rampage like a wild man, beating both blues licks and evergreen melodies out of his instrument with extra grit added and brilliant histrionics.
It was an atypical showpiece on the band’s debut, 1983’s Kill ‘Em All; few bands put bass solos on their records, but it became the iconic moment for the group.
He transformed his bandmates onto the Misfits, the Velvet Underground, and Bach, giving musicality to songs like “Orion” and “Damage Inc.,” among others, up until a freak bus accident took his life on September 27th, 1986.
Pingel recalls playing it for the band for the very first time and watching Ulrich, whom he’d seen at San Francisco Symphony concerts, observing him.
“He had this toothpick inside his mouth and he stares at me, and he’s like, ‘All right. No pressure but let’s take a listen to it,’” the bass player says, “I kind of rushed through it and they loved it, so I realized I was in the show at that point.”
What he didn’t know at the time was that it was not a usual thing for the band to do “Anesthesia.”
Ulrich says the chance of playing with Pingel and the symphony was a real eye-opener. He was not that aware of the Metallica being a massive inspiration to classical musicians.
“Scott has been doing what he’s performing for a long fuc…ing time, and then getting an opportunity to list what role Cliff Burton has played in nurturing him as a musician is fuc..ing insane,” the drummer revealed. “It felt really cool.”