Under the covers
On September 27th, 1987, Metallica were travelling on their tour bus after a gig in Sweden. Shortly before 7am, with the whole crew asleep, they were awoken as the bus veered left to right, throwing the band members around like ricocheting pinballs. The bus then flipped over, landing on its side, as bodies crashed and thudded against smashed glass and broken furniture. There was confusion and chaos and screaming all around as band members crawled out from the bus in the still, dark morning, yelling one another’s names to locate people. Gradually people were found and marked safe and well, with the exception of their bass player, Cliff Burton. Burton was trapped under the bus, his legs poking out. He had been hurled from the top bunk through the window, out onto the roadside verge before the falling bus then landed on him, crushing and killing him. Only hours earlier, Burton and guitarist Kirk Hammett had drawn cards to determine who could pick the best bunk to sleep in. Burton drew the ace of spades, the obvious top card for any metal band, and decided to pick Hammett’s own bunk to sleep in that night. Hammett cleared his things and moved elsewhere.
The driver of the bus said he had hit black ice and lost control of the vehicle. Metallica’s frontman, James Hetfield, was unconvinced and paced the road up and down in nothing but his underwear searching for ice. He didn’t find any. Suggestions of alcohol or drug use by the driver have been made over the years, as well as that the crash site was representative of that of someone who fell asleep at the wheel. The driver was later cleared of any misconduct and the band have remained without a concrete answer ever since.