Kirk Hammett was born in 1962 in the Californian East Bay town of El Sobrante. He is the lead guitarist of the Heavy Metal giants ‘Metallica’. Over the course of nearly thirty years Hammett has become one of the most recognized and influential players in the world.
After first hearing bands like, ‘Led Zeppelin’, ‘UFO’ and Jimi Hendrix, Hammett was inspired. He began playing at the age of fifteen on a cheap catalogue guitar that he played using an amp, which he had made himself from a shoebox and a four-inch speaker.
Hammett later progressed to a 1978 Fender Strat but eventually found the guitar and style that he wanted in the form of a 1974 Gibson flying V.
Hammett spent time working at Burger King in order to save up for a Marshall amp and then formed the band ‘Exodus’, an early East Bay thrash metal outfit, along with Paul Baloff. The band was influential locally and started getting some success, supporting ‘Metallica’, twice in 1982 and once in 1983.
In April 1983, following the departure of lead guitarist Dave Mustaine, ‘Metallica’ called Kirk Hammett asking him to audition for the band. Hammett flew to New York to meet the band and although never being formally invited to join, musically they just hit it off together and the rest is history.
Since 1983, Kirk Hammett has played with Metallica, and has constantly updated, and refined his guitar playing. He took lessons from Joe Satriani after the “Kill Em All” tour and has also taken classes at the City College of music in San Francisco, as well as teaching himself classical guitar, jazz and blues. It is this constant reinvention and learning process that he says keeps him fresh and helps him avoid burnout.
Today Kirk Hammett lives in San Francisco with his wife Lani where he collects Hollywood movie memorabilia and still practices guitar daily.