Though San Francisco-born musician Cliff Burton was only part of the metal scene for three years - from 1983 to 1986 - the influence he wielded over other musicians - and in fact, the entire genre - is still felt all these years later. As a member of Metallica, the band that grew from garage to stadium, Burton's presence would forever stamp the group with a passion and fury and resonance all their own.
No one writing today is more capable than author Joel McIver of interpreting and presenting this complex character. McIver is considered by fan and critic alike as the voice of all things metal and absolutely of all things Metallica-related. In 2004, the Englishman wrote Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica, the bible for Metallica-heads everywhere. Now, with this definitive portrait of the legendary bass player, he completes the picture.
Like all of McIver's books, this one is founded on extensive research and durable and profound insights. To Live Is to Die, its title taken after the last song Burton wrote for the band, comes at the reader on many levels. If you're a musician, the text deals with Cliff's style and technique and the way he whipped and tortured his bass like no one before or after him. If you're simply someone who was intrigued by the Burton persona, the story of his life as a musician is fully documented.
In the introduction, McIver writes,
"To Live Is to Die is a celebration of Cliff's personality and achievements as well as his dexterity as a musician. In writing this book, I'm laying my own tribute on the Burton altar. I hope it meets the very high standards of excellence, personal and musical, that he established."
So, we find out that the author is not only the writer of the words but a fan of the man - the best of both worlds. If there are any other books out there on Burton, ignore them. This is the only one you'll need.