100 Greatest Guitarists: David Fricke's Picks

11

Kirk Hammett

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On any given night, at least half the parking lots in America have a car with the windows down, the speakers cranked and a couple of dudes sitting on the trunk playing air guitar to Kirk Hammett solos. Hammett is so steeped in metal history that he reportedly paid for his first guitar at fifteen with ten dollars and a copy of Kiss' Dressed to Kill. Metallica's dense thrash redefined hard rock more completely than any band since Led Zeppelin. Hammett's lead guitar is the emotional heart of the music, from acoustic angst ("Fade to Black") to badass flailing ("Master of Puppets"), and, in "One," the sound of a guitar tapping out a cry for help in Morse code, over and over, until the parking lot closes down.

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