April 1, 1983, San Francisco, California. A phone rings; "Hi, Kirk? This is Metallica, we just fired our lead guitar player, and we need a new one. Interested?"
Things didn't exactly happen quite that way, but Kirk did play his first show with Metallica fifteen days later in New Jersey. Metallica's then road manager, Mark Whittaker, once managed Kirk's band Exodus. When it became time to switch lead players, Mark was quick to suggest Kirk.
Hammett's playing brought Metallica into an era of more melodic and controlled guitar work. He's been in the band ever since that day in 1983, which surprisingly was less then a month after he and his former band, Exodus opened for Metallica.
Kirk grew up in the Bay area town of El Sobrante and began playing guitar at age 15. His first guitar was a Montgomery Ward catalog special and his first amp a shoe box with a 4 inch speaker. A few years later Kirk "graduated" to a 1978 Fender Stratocaster. Always searching for his sound, Kirk managed to "Frankenstein" the guitar with different pick up and amp combinations. Eventually he traded up to a 1974 Gibson Flying V (just like Michael Schenker's!) That Flying V is still part of Kirk's collection, and still pops up on Metallica's albums.
With his new Flying V, Kirk started playing with other people. This led to a whole other problem: money. A short stint working at Burger King fixed that as it earned him enough cash to buy his first Marshall amp. Around that time, Kirk co-founded Exodus with Paul Baloff. They were the support act for Metallica twice: on November 29, 1982 and March 5, 1983.
After the call from Metallica, Kirk scraped up enough money for a flight to the east coast. He found himself outside his native California for the first time, on the other side of the country and in a new band. Oddly enough, the band never really asked Kirk to join, it wasn't until the recording of Kill 'Em All that he felt confident he was in. After Kill 'Em All and the tour that followed, he took lessons from Joe Satriani and learned the virtues of jazz, blues, classical and Hendrix. Currently, Kirk can be found in the Bay area, with his wife Lani and dog Darla.
What are Kirk's vitals?
Kirk Lee Hammett was brought back to life in San Francisco, California, on November 18th, 1962; he is 5'7" and 134 lbs.
Is Kirk married?
Kirk married Lani on January 31, 1998 in Hawaii.
What guitar equipment does Kirk use?
Various ESP, along with various vintage guitars, uses Dean Markely strings. Mesa Boogie Amps.
What does he drive?
LandCruiser, Mountain Bike, 1955 Dodge Coronet ("Kirkstine")
Has Kirk recorded for anyone besides Metallica?
Kirk's old Exodus demo's have been seen floating around, he has also recorded a track with Les Claypool and Mike Bordin set for possible future release (by Primus?), he has produced demo's for Death Angel, he has recorded solo's for Pushead's band Septic Death, you can also find him on the Spawn soundtrack playing guitar on the Orbital song called "Satan" (along with the re-mix of For Whom The Bell Tolls).
What's that under his lip?
That's a labret, a piercing just under his lower lip.
What does Kirk like to drink?
Kirk likes Martini's, Sky vodka and green tea.
The liner notes say: James-guitar and Kirk-guitar. What does Kirk do?
Kirk's duties on the albums are mostly for the full-blown lead guitar solos, On the new albums Load and ReLoad, Kirk's role as guitar player has expanded to playing a more important role in the overall sound.
Which sports teams does he follow?
Kirk is quoted as saying: "I hate sports!" (or "Whatever teams James and Lars don't like")
What are Kirk's favorite foods?
Sushi, Mexican food, pasta, Indian and Thai food.
Was Kirk in any bands besides Metallica?
Kirk was a founding member of San Francisco's Exodus.
What does like to do in his off time?
Kirk Hammett likes to mountain bike and collect horror movie related stuff, along with piercing assorted body parts.
Does Kirk have a tattoo?
Kirk's tattoo was a present to himself for Christmas 1995, it reads: "Made in SF 11-18-62." It's wrapped around his belly button. He also has hot rod flames on his thighs.
Why is Kirk's right hand wrapped during live shows?
That is Kirk's picking hand, which he does hit pretty hard playing his guitar. The tape cover the lines in his palm that break open as he plays.
Is Kirk a vegetarian?
Yes, Kirk is a "lacto-ovo" vegetarian.
What ethnic background is Kirk?
Kirk is part Filipino.
Who does he credit as his influences?
Jimi Hendrix, UFO, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Joe Satriani, Warren Haynes, Adrian Belew, Freddy King and Buddy Guy.
Two things Kirk owns that you might not have known about..
Kirk owns a stuffed, two headed sheep and a stuffed monkey... we won't talk about what the guy at the morgue acquired for him.
What are Kirk's favorite cigars?
Kirk likes Habanos 94, a Cuban cigar not available in the USA, he also like Fuente y Fuente Opus X as his favorite available in the USA, he can also be found puffing on Cohiba and Lars Tetens.
What jobs has Kirk worked?
Kirk once worked at Burger King and as a dishwasher.
What happened to Kirk's Porsche?
Lost in a bet.
Marital status: Happily married to Lani
Drives: Land Cruiser, mountain bike, '55 Dodge Coronet
Drinks: Martinis, Sky Vodka, green tea
Eats: Sushi, Mexican food, pasta, Indian food, Thai food
Sports teams: None ("I hate sports!")
Before Metallica: Played in Exodus, drank a lot
Likes: Mountain biking, tattoos, piercing, collecting old horror-movie stuff, cigars, philosophy, H.P. Lovecraft, Taxidermy, Pinball
Listens to: Jimi Hendrix, UFO, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, John Coltrane, Government Mule, Chet Baker, Prez Prado, Alice In Chains, David Bowie, U2, King Crimson, Robert Johnson, Radiohead
Heroes: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Jimi Hendrix, Chet Baker, Diane Arbus, John Coltrane, Charles Bukowski, Edward Munch, Joel Peter Whitkin
First concert: Day on the Green with the Eagles, Steve Miller, Heart, and Foreigner
Describes self as: Smelly, ugly, happy, obsessive, progressive, curious