Metallica have expressed a sense of loss following the death of Ray Burton, father of the band’s late bassist Cliff Burton, saying in a statement that they felt “incredible sorrow.” Ray’s daughter Connie revealed Sunday via Facebook that her father died last Wednesday. The metal quartet confirmed his age as 94, and Ray’s stepdaughter Casey stated in a tribute video that he died of pneumonia.
“For 38 years, we were lucky enough to have the energy, wisdom and light of Ray in our lives,” Metallica wrote in a statement on their website. “His eternal youth with his drive, positivity and relentless smile were both incredibly powerful and stirringly honest.”
They continued, “From coast to coast and overseas too, Ray’s beaming face would regularly greet us, offering warmth and anchor to our travels, and when it came to the entire Metallica family, band, crew and fans, he viewed us all as his own. That he has passed away leaves an indefinable feeling of sadness and loss, but equally, we know Ray wouldn’t want us ‘moping around on our darn keisters’ for too long.
“So, in honor of him, and the kind of man he was, we also want to truly celebrate the 94 years of life Ray gave everyone, knowing in certainty that a glint of his light, wisdom, and energy will always be with us all wherever we go,” they wrote, concluding, “We love you Ray, rest in peace.”
The group’s four band members — singer/guitarist James Hetfield, guitarist Kirk Hammett, bassist Robert Trujillo and drummer Lars Ulrich — each wrote individual tributes to Ray. Hetfield styled his as a poem.
“Mr. Ray Burton is a hero of mine/In earthly form, his end of the line/He weathered many a difficult storm/A strong compass, true and gracefully worn,” he wrote. “To his last breath, I’ve not met a more positive man/And to his son there was not a more loyal fan/So he leaves the material world to be with his sons and wife/I feel so very blessed to have had him grace my life/In earthly form, his end of the line/Mr. Ray Burton is a hero of mine.”
In the tribute video, Burton’s stepdaughter Casey detailed the illness that ultimately took his life.
“He got a cold, and I took him to the hospital, and for seven days I stayed by this side hoping that he could recover,” Casey said. “He’s a really strong guy – he’s always recovered – but unfortunately he’s lived on 35 percent of his heart for the last several years. And we knew someday his poor little heart would not be able to keep up, and this time it wasn’t. On Wednesday evening, he passed away surrounded by my family.”
She noted Ray’s love for Metallica members past and present: “James, Lars, Kirk, Jason [Newsted] and Rob [Trujillo], and Dave [Mustaine].”
Casey also recognized Trujillo, Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin and former Faith No More guitarist Jim Martin for “being beside [her] for the last seven days and for giving [her] the support [she] needed in the hospital.”
Ray Burton remained a fixture in the Metallica family after his son’s tragic death in a bus accident in 1986. He attended many of the band’s concerts over the years, including their September S&M2 performance with the San Francisco Symphony, which included Scott Pingel’s upright bass version of Cliff’s solo “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).”
“He told me he was weeping during my solo,” Pingel told Ultimate Classic Rock. “Of this whole experience, that was the most powerful, hearing it from the father [and] what it meant to him.”