Kirk Hammett

Kirk Lee Hammett (born November 18, 1962) is an American musician who has been lead guitarist and a contributing songwriter for the heavy metal band Metallica since 1983. Before joining Metallica he formed and named the band Exodus. In 2003, Hammett was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. In 2009, Hammett was ranked number 15 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.


Hammett was born on November 18, 1962 in San Francisco, and raised in the town of El Sobrante, California. He is the son of Teofila "Chefela" (née Oyao) and Dennis L. Hammett (a Merchant Marine). His mother is of Filipino descent and his father was of part Irish ancestry. He attended De Anza High School in Richmond, California. While attending De Anza High School, he met Les Claypool of Primus, and they remain close friends.

Hammett has a well-known passion for horror movies; that stretches back to the late Sixties. After spraining his arm in a fight with his sister at the age of five, Hammett’s parents placed him in front of the television. It was during this time that he first watched The Day of the Triffids. After that, Hammett found himself drawn to his brother’s Frankenstein figures, and it wasn’t long before he was spending his milk money on horror magazines. For the better part of the next decade, Hammett dove deep into the horror scene.

Hammett began showing an interest in music after listening to his brother Rick's extensive record collection (which included Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and UFO). It was then that Hammett's whole life shifted and he stopped collecting horror magazines, and began selling his magazines to buy music records. This all led him to properly picking up the guitar at the age of fifteen. Hammett's first guitar was (in his own words) a "wholly unglamorous" Montgomery Ward catalog special, which was accompanied by a shoebox (with a 4-inch speaker) for an amp. After purchasing a 1978 Fender Stratocaster copy, Hammett attempted to customize his sound with various guitar parts, before eventually buying a 1974 Gibson Flying V. Hammett also took a job at Burger King as a youth, which he quit as soon as he had saved enough money to purchase a Marshall amplifier.

Hammett's musical interests eventually drew him into the fledgling thrash metal genre. In 1979, he formed the band Exodus at the age of sixteen, along with vocalist Paul Baloff, guitarist Gary Holt, bassist Geoff Andrews, and drummer Tom Hunting. Hammett named Exodus after the Leon Uris novel of the same name, and played on the band's 1982 Demo. Exodus was an influential band in the Bay Area thrash movement
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