Lars Ulrich is the drummer of the iconic thrash metal band Metallica. Born in Gentofte, Denmark on December 26, 1963, to father and tennis prodigy Toben Ulrich, Lars began showing an interest in music at an early age, however he was pressured by his father to become a professional tennis player. In 1973, Toben was given a set of five backstage passes to a Deep Purple concert in the very same stadium as one of his tournaments, but one of his friends was unable to go. Toben decided to give the pass to the then eight year old Lars. After the concert, Deep Purple quickly became one of Lars' favorite bands, with Lars having bought the album Fireball the day after the Deep Purple show. The concert had a profound impact on Lars and inspired him to get into making his own music. When Lars was thirteen he begged his grandmother to buy him a drum set, eventually getting a Ludwig kit from her. The gift only piqued Lars' interest in Rock and Roll, and further diminished his aspirations to be a proffessional tennis player.
Lars would eventually move to America under the encouragement of his father to become a tennis player, settling in the Bay Area of California. It was the dawn of the 1980's, and the new wave of British Heavy Metal had Lars mesmerized, becoming especially fond of the band Diamond Head. When Lars heard the band's 1980 debut album Lightning to the Nations, he flew from California all the way to London just to see the band perform live. After seeing the band perform, Lars was left without a place to stay. Luckily, Lars met with the band shortly after the show, and in a desperate attempt to find a bed to sleep on, he told the group about his journey to London from California. Diamond Head's lead guitarist Brian Tatler sympathized with Lars and let him stay at his home in Birmingham. The two musicians would become so close in fact that Lars would tour with the band, sometimes even playing drums for them.
Upon returning home Lars put an advertisement in the Los Angeles paper entitled The Recycler looking for a heavy metal guitarist to play with. For weeks, he recieved no response until one day in 1981 when guitarist James Hetfield answered the call. The two promising musicians formed a band, calling themselved Metallica, and acquired Hetfield's friend Ron McGovney to play bass guitar and guitarist Dave Mustaine to play lead guitar. When McGovney and Mustaine began fighting more and more in practice sessions, McGovney opted to leave the band. They would soon find a replacement, however, in the form of Trauma bassist Cliff Burton. As the band's underground popularity grew and grew, thanks to the distribution of their No Life 'Til Leather demo tape, Mustaine's infamous on-stage antics became more and more outrageous. Mustaine's outlandish behavior hit its climax when he allegedly kicked James Hetfield's dog, leading Hetfield to retaliate by pouring beer into Mustaine's ampliphier.
On the date the band was set to leave to record their debut album, Kill 'Em All, Mustaine was kicked out of the band due to his behavioral problems spurred by his rampant alcoholism. Mustaine ultimately saw this as a betrayal, and formed the successful rival band Megadeth shortly after. Metallica, left without a lead guitar player, quickly sought after Kirk Hammett, guitarist for thrash metal band Exodus to play with them. Hammett agreed, and soon after the band recorded the now-iconic album Kill 'Em All, introduced many to the underground genre of thrash metal.
As the band's popularity increased, eventually breaking into the mainstream with their self-titled 1991 album containing their defining hit Enter Sandman, Lars became known worldwide for his lightning fast drum beats and use of two bass drums. Ulrich also became known as the band's mouthpiece of sorts, handling a lot of the band's press related issues, particularly the death of bassist Cliff Burton shortly after the release of Master of Puppets.
The late '90's saw Metallica changing their style, with the albums Load and ReLoad, in favor of a more hard rock sound. Ulrich was also in the public eye for his much-publicized feud with file sharing program Napster, a service on which users were sharing both Metallica's and other band's songs. Lars led the charge against Napster, ultimately alienating fans and destroying some of the Metallica die-hards that had supported them since the early '80's.
After a five year hiatus, Metallica returned to the studio in 2003 to record St. Anger, an album that sharply divided critics and fans. Many praised the album while others dismissed it for Lars' use of "trash can drums" as snares. The album would seem to be the final nail in the band's coffin, and the brutal recording process was documented in the 2004 film Some Kind of Monster in which Ulrich and Hetfield fought throughout.
Through therapy and rehabilitation, the band returned to fighting form and in 2008 released Death Magnetic, which was widely more well-recieved than St. Anger, with the band returning to their thrash metal roots.
Metallica and Ulrich seem to show no signs of slowing down in these next few years, with their recent induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their current World Magnetic Tour, the band seems better than ever, not letting their ages get in the way of their music and performances.
-We've always known that there's been a need or a want for a band like us. We've fought back and broken through all the bullshit of the business, and now it's great to be able to say 'Fuck off' to the whole business, and 'We did it our way' and blah blah blah. We've always had our own way of doing things..."
- Metallica is the only band I've ever been in. I'm not sure that when it ends in five, ten years, I'm going to put an ad in the paper saying 'Stupid drummer looking for stupid people to play music with.' Metallica is it and I think when that ceases, that's it.
-Today we think about him a lot and talk about him, even joke about him. I often think, now much more than ever, how much of a character and personality Cliff actually was. He was just one in five billion people on this earth, and we will never, ever, even be tempted to come up with anyone like him.
-To me the most boring thing in the world is safe, mainstream heavy metal...I'd rather listen to Madonna.
- One of my few shortcomings is that I can't predict the future.
- They paint fucking white lines in the middle of the road and the cops tell you you can't drive there, but they don't do anything to prevent you like puting nails in the road.
- Cliff was so completely honest to himself and the people around him. He hated all this being-put-on-a-pedestal bullshit.
- I know Cliff, more than anyone else in the band, would have been the first guy to give us a kick in the ass, and wouldn't want us to sit around. It's what he would have wanted us to do.
-We always miss Cliff, but he is kind of on the record …And Justice For All. The song "To Live Is to Die" is really based on a number of riffs that Cliff wrote a couple of years ago. It's kind of cool to have something written by Cliff on the new album.
- I wasn't too angry in the beginning. I was obviously grieving, but the anger started setting in when I realized that it's not new that people in rock-n-roll die, but usually it's self-inflicted in terms of excessive drink or drug abuse. He had nothing to do with it. It's so useless. Completely useless.
-I don't mind people downloading the songs... just not until the albums actually out.