There is no denying it, Kirk Hammett is a metal head through and through. It is not really surprising that his interests gravitated towards metal music. Given that through his early childhood and teenage years, his interests shifted from horror movies to Led Zeppelin, his commitment to heavy metal music seems almost like the predictable next step in his evolution.
Before Hammett’s time with the popular Metallica heavy metal band, he formed a local metal trash band called Exodus. He has also been named in several magazines and publications as one of the greatest guitarists in the history of the American music.
Kirk Hammett’s Bio, Age
Kirk Lee Hammett was born in San Francisco on November 18, 1962, and spent his childhood in El Sobrante, California. While at De Anza High School, he met Les Claypool who became his lifelong friend and fellow rock head.
Hammett’s passions shifted around for a little bit before he focused on music. At the age of five, he got into a fight with his sister and sprained his arm in the process. Perhaps in a bid to “scare” him back to his senses and shift his focus from his sister, his parents set him in front of the television. It was during this period, after watching the 1960s horror classic The Day of the Triffids that young Kirk’s fascination with all things scary began.
He began to play with his brother Rick’s Frankenstein figures and soon started spending his own money to purchase horror magazines. After almost a decade immersed in the world of horror, another of Rick’s belongings caught his attention – his music collection. Here he discovered legends like UFO, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix.
Kirk started to sell everything in his horror collection to purchase music records. When he was fifteen years old, he focused on learning to play the guitar and bought a substandard Montgomery Ward. He soon upgraded to a 1978 Fender Stratocaster copy and subsequently, a 1974 Gibson Flying V. He even took up a brief employment at Burger King. As soon as he was able to purchase a Marshall amplifier, he quit the establishment.
His Time With Exodus and Metallica
In 1979, while Kirk Hammett was just 16 years old, he took his passion for music further, forming his own thrash metal band. It also included Paul Baloff, Gary Holt, Geoff Andrews, and Tom Hunting. They became quite a force to reckon with in the Bay Area thrash movement.
In 1983, luck shone on Kirk when he got a call from Metallica to come and audition to replace their just-fired lead guitarist, Dave Mustaine. He was still taking guitar lessons at the time, however, he borrowed some money and flew to New York for the audition. His performance was so impressive that they offered him the position on the spot.
As at 2016, Hammett and Metallica have released ten studio albums. Their first was released in 1983 titled Metal Up Your Ass. Since their debut album, Kirk has gotten more involved in the group’s musical development. For their second album Ride the Lightning, he was he incorporated a riff he had written while he was still with Exodus. His riffs have been used in tracks like “Creeping Death”, and “Enter Sandman”, the first track in their eponymous album Metallica.
In 1986, while the band was on a support tour in Europe, Kirk Hammet escaped death when a misunderstanding saw him give up his sleeping bunk at the back of their tour bus to bassist Cliff Burton. Early the next morning, the band experienced a freak accident that saw Cliff thrown through the window of the tour bus and subsequently crushed under its weight. Although he is thankful to be alive, Hammett says the experience still haunts him to this day.
The rocker found time to attend college between 1991 and 1996. This was the period between their fifth and sixth studio albums, Metallica and Load. He graduated from San Francisco University with a degree in Film and Asian Arts, and a new found love for jazz music and blues. This new influence showed in his improvisations and solos on Load, Reload, and the two albums after them. He has since refrained from adopting most of those influences in the band’s music in order to maintain their integrity as a heavy metal rock band.
Kirk Hammett’s band have shown periods that make fans believe that they are a family and not just another band. In 2001, during the recording of St. Angers, the group halted recording to allow time for their front-man James Hetfield to undergo rehab for his alcohol problems.
Kirk who has expressed interest in doing a solo album released his first publication Too Much Horror Business with Abrams Image on October 1, 2012. It was essentially an exhibit of all the horror memorabilia he had garnered over 30 years. The 228-page book included everything from costumes from popular horror movies to movie props and horror-themed toys.
In April 2009, Kirk Hammett, Cliff Burton and other past and present Metallica bandmates were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The rocker has also suffered substance abuse at some point in his career. He experimented with cocaine and heroin but finally decided to wean himself of the habit because he did not like its attendant depression. Hammett says that his comic book and horror addiction are a better alternative to his drug addiction and help him stay on track and off drugs.
Family, Kids, and Wife
Kirk’s parents, Dennis Hammett and Teofila Hammett have foreign ancestries. His father, Dennis is part Irish and his mother Teofila has Filipino heritage. He also has a brother named Rick and a sister whose name is unknown.
Kirk Hammet has had several relationships in his time, however, he has gone to the altar on two occasions. In 1987, he married his first wife, a woman named Rebecca. Three years later, in 1990, they ended the marriage. This happened while Metallica was working on their self-titled fifth album. In 1998, he got married to his second wife, Lani. This has proven to be a more compatible union as they have been together since then. Kirk and Lani have two children. His first son, Angel, was born in September 2006, and his second son, Vincenzo, came in June 2008.
Is Kirk Hammet Gay?
Over the years, some pointers to Kirk’s homosexual orientation have come out. They include themes of gay porn in the band’s The Black Album (Metalica). Also, pictures have surfaced of drummer Lars Ulrich kissing other members of his band mostly on the cheek, but with tongues out too. Among them all, Kirk seems the most comfortable with the poses. However, Ulrich says it is all just joking around and Hammett has not said or done anything to substantiate the rumors.
Kirk Hammett’s Height and Other Facts
- The guitarist stands at 1.72 m (approx. 5 feet 8 inches)
- He frequently performs palm muting and fast picking techniques. As a result, he always tapes his picking hand to protect his skin
- He appeared as one of the major characters on Neversoft’s musical game Guitar Hero: Metallica
- Kirk had his friend from high school and fellow metalhead Les Claypool audition to fill Cliff Burton’s spot after the latter’s death.