Photographer Ross Halfin Recounts Story Behind Classic Cliff Burton Photo | Revolver

Photographer Ross Halfin Recounts Story Behind Classic Cliff Burton Photo

Image of late Metallica bassist is among rarities in deluxe 'Master of Puppets' reissue box set
metallica cliff burton ROSS HALFIN, Ross Halfin
Cliff Burton
photograph by Ross Halfin

Metallica are set to reissue their legendary 1986 album Master of Puppets as a deluxe box set on November 10th. One of the package's many, many highlights is a 108-page hardcover book, chock-full of previously unseen essays and photos from iconic rock photographers including Ross Halfin, who captured the classic image of the band's late bassist, Cliff Burton, shown above.

"Back then, one of the hardest things was to take pictures live," Halfin says of his Burton photo, shot amidst the band's Damage, Inc. tour on July 21, 1986, at the Pine Knob Music Theatre in Clarkston, Michigan. "Early on Metallica had no light show, and I always hated using a flash. Everything looked flat with no vibe, and the main thing I tried to get from Metallica was the 'vibe.' Cliff would spend the whole show headbanging, just a mass of hair with no face.

"So in Pine Knob, I had him agree to stop in a couple of songs. I raised my hand and he stopped, just standing there, grinning and smiling and laughing to himself ... I've had people write to me and say he looks 'so happy.' If only they knew that, at last, he was 'posing' for my camera ... kind of. At the Pine Knob show, I finally did get him to pose with his bass between a couple of tour buses. By this time we got on really well and I think he trusted me — well, he must have, as he would finally do what I asked."

In addition to the aforementioned book and album (remastered on both vinyl and CD), Metallica's deluxe Master of Puppets reissue contains concert recordings from 1984–85 (including a live album on cassette), interviews, demos, rough mixes, a DVD containing live footage and interviews, two unreleased covers (of Diamond Head's "The Prince" and Fang's "The Money Will Roll Right In"), buttons and more. Go here to pre-order.

Metallica have revealed several rarities from the package in the weeks leading up to its release: a rare "Battery" performance video from 1985, a hard-to-find live version of "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and most recently, a demo version of the title track.

Below, watch Metallica's Kirk Hammett unveil his "It's Alive!" horror-movie art exhibit and tour the Salem Witch Museum: