Kirk Hammett appeared as a guest on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" radio show yesterday. During the program, the Metallica guitarist revealed that the immortal riff on "Enter Sandman" was inspired, at least partially, by grunge pioneers Soundgarden. The Big Four shredder went on to single out the group's sophomore album — 1989's Louder Than Love — as the primary catalyst for the song's conception in 1990, and provided the following summary of his big eureka moment.
"It was about two or three o'clock in the morning. I had just been listening to Louder Than Love, the [second] Soundgarden album," Hammett recalls. "It was when Soundgarden [was] still somewhat underground and [was] on an independent label. I just love that album; it's a great Soundgarden album. And I heard that album, I was inspired, I picked up my guitar, and out came that riff."
Asked if the late Chris Cornell and Co. were ever informed of their role in inspiring one of the most instantly recognizable guitar riffs of all time, Hammett demurred. "It doesn't sound like a Soundgarden riff," said the guitarist. "It doesn't sound like a Soundgarden song; I was inspired by Soundgarden for sure, without a doubt – but I moved on to create something completely different."
Listen to Hammett's full "Toucher & Rich" interview below. The "Enter Sandman" discussion starts at the 1:47 mark.