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To Live Is To Die: The life and death of Metallica's Cliff Burton Paperback – June, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joel McIver is the bestselling author of Justice for All: The Truth About Metallica which has been translated into 9 languages. He has written for Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Metal Hammer, Classic Rock, and he is the occasional guest on BBC. He is currently the editor of Bass Guitar magazine. Classic Rock magazine has called him "by some distance Britain's most prolific hard rock/metal author." He wrote the official biography of the world's biggest death metal band, Cannibal Corpse and co-wrote Megadeath's bio from bass player David Ellefson.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jawbone Press; Original edition (June 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190600224X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906002244
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #272,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joel McIver (born 1971) is a British author. The best-known of his 25 books to date is the bestselling Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica, first published in 2004 and appearing in nine languages since then. McIver's other works include biographies of Black Sabbath, Slayer, Ice Cube and Queens Of The Stone Age. His writing also appears in newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian, Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Rolling Stone, and he is a regular guest on music-related BBC and commercial radio.

In the introduction to Neil Daniels' 2009 book All Pens Blazing, veteran writer Martin Popoff described McIver as "probably the top [rock] scribe in the world". In a book review in April 2012, Classic Rock magazine labelled McIver "by some distance Britain's most prolific hard rock/metal author".

As well as writing his own books, McIver also co-writes the autobiographies of rock musicians. The first of these was the memoir of sometime Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes, published in May 2011. McIver is also the co-writer of books by Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy) and Megadeth bass player David Ellefson, both of which were published in late 2013.

Contact Joel via www.joelmciver.co.uk or www.facebook.com/joelmciver.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Well, it has taken nearly 23years, but Clifford Lee Burton has finally gotten some of the respect he deserves, a book dedicated to his life, thanks to Joel McIver. All these years, we only had the Cliff 'Em All Video and brief commentary that you would see on Metallica documentaries. Sadly enough, Cliff was just a mere side note and almost always glossed over, which gave the newer Metallica fans a false sense of how the band developed their style and attitude, which in return, outraged the old fans. The book did a good job detailing Cliff's days before he joined Metallica, with his musical training that was inspired by the death of his older brother and the support he had from his parents Jan and Ray Burton. The book also touches on his bands prior to Metallica, which were Easy Street and most notably Trauma. McIver details all of the tracks that Cliff played on, with moderate bass detail from Kill 'Em All through Master of Puppets. The only omission would be the Creeping Death 12" single, in which Am I Evil? and Blitzkrieg were on the B-side. A lot of the quotes from Cliff and other people, I had heard many times and could practically finish the sentence, but there is very little to go on, being that Cliff didn't do many interviews. I only wished there were more recounts from people and bands he had toured with. I also found some date inconsistencies in the book. It was refreshing to hear some of the more recent recounts from people like Ron Quintana, Harold O, Brian Slagel, Fred Cotton and some of his earliest friends. To me, the memories and testimony from Corinne Lynn, Cliff's girlfriend, is what made the book special.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cliff has always been my favorite member of Metallica and, given his untimely death early in the band's career, coupled with his not giving many interviews, he's always been a bit of a mystery man as well. Cliff needed a book written about him, and I'm glad this author took on the task. The book's heart is in the right place as it pays righteous dues to the influence Cliff had within Metallica and to his cool, focused personality, all the more awesome given his young age. The author clearly did his homework and spoke to a good many people, including not only Metallica members and associates, but also Cliff's friends and bandmates from pre-Metallica days and his girlfriend Corinne Lynn. Besides the personal details, the author also goes into some educated detail about Cliff's bass playing, while making an effort (as he explains) not to go overboard with the geek stuff.

All in all, a great subject and not a bad book. So, why only three stars? Couple things. Although the personal stories about Cliff from those who knew him well are the best parts, the book often devolves from being the story of Cliff to being the story of Metallica generally. I realize some background is necessary, but there's a bit too much at times - it seems almost like padding in spots to make the book long enough. Example: There's an account of how, after Metallica's first big US stadium show, James Hetfield and a friend got really drunk, threw food at audience members, trashed the dressing room, and later wrote obscenities on the seat of another friend's white pants. This story goes on for pages, and the only thing it has to do with Cliff is that (as the author recounts in like, two lines) Cliff refused to participate in the food throwing and trashing. Multiply that by about two or three stories per chapter.
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I'm a huge Metallica fan from way back in the day, and I saw Cliff on the Puppets tour. Cliff was definitely charismatic and stood for the "doing it on our terms" attitude that characterized Metallica in the early days. That said, I've always thought people attributed too much to Cliff in response to his untimely death. McIver's book has me seriously reconsidering that. I'm not a musician, and I find bass particularly hard to pick out and appreciate. McIver, though, is an accomplished bass player himself and brings that to bear in his analysis of Cliff's sonic contributions to the songs from Metallica's greatest albums. No doubt Cliff helped shape Metallica's classic sound, and maybe just maybe, they wouldn't have made some of their later bad moves if Cliff was still with them. In sum, this book is definitely worthwhile if you want a clearer view of what Cliff contributed personally and professionally to some of the greatest music of all time.
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Format: Paperback
Reading it halfway through, I must say that this book is a joy to read for all metalheads out there, yet most importantly for music lovers of various tastes. Citing Flea's precise adjectives, the 'deep, wicked and virtuosic bass player' persona reflected out of Cliff Burton's (bass) musical genius is well inspected,documented, as well as revised by a truly committed author like Joel McIver in his metal literary works. This is immensely reflected in this biographic work, exposing the personally wise, intellectual, honest, hence diligent character of Cliff Burton, from his humble upbringing in the 'hippie' Castro Valley surroundings (owing to his supportive parents), through his committed musicianship in mastering and revolutionizing the art of metal bass guitar shredding, and his influential role and impact as the 'mediating', yet 'pioneering' point of reference which innovated Metallica's music in their prime, from 1983's 'Kill'Em All', up to the 1986 masterpiece 'Master of Puppets'.Cliff exposed such persona through mastery of musical theory, to Lars, James and Kirk, innovating Metallica's sound up-to-date. Likewise,the way how McIver's description of Cliff's character is seen is well-focused, pin-pointing specifically upon his unique DIY attitude and overall philosophy of life. This is seen through a committed author like McIver delivering close interviews ranging from Metallica's bandmates, recording producers and road crew, up to his distant and close friends, altogether with his parents, Ray and Jan. The book closes with a detailed review of his untimely death and McIver's predictive-visionary evaluation of the possible contribution and impact of such a bass genius in post-Cliff Metallica till today.Read more ›
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