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"Fade to Black"
Single by Metallica
from the album Ride the Lightning
Released 1984
Recorded Sweet Silence Studios Copenhagen, Denmark, 1984
Genre Heavy metal
Length 6:56
Label Megaforce, Elektra
Writer(s) James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton, Kirk Hammett
Producer Eduardo Cardenas, Flemming Rasmussen, Mark Whitaker
Metallica singles chronology
"Jump in the Fire"
"Fade to Black"
"Creeping Death"
Music sample
Fade to Black

"Fade to Black" is a song by heavy metal band Metallica from their second album, Ride the Lightning (1984). It was ranked as having the 24th best guitar solo ever by Guitar World readers.[1] It is one of Metallica's best-known songs.

The song is featured as a playable track in the video game Guitar Hero: Metallica.

The song peaked at #100 on Swiss Singles Chart in 1984 [2].


In an interview with drummer Lars Ulrich on the set of the production "MTV Icon: Metallica" in 2003, he recalls how he and bandmate James Hetfield were obsessed with death at the time the album and song were produced.

The lyrics suggest a man contemplating, then eventually committing, suicide. It begins with an acoustic guitar introduction and becomes progressively heavier as the song goes on. James Hetfield commented on the song in a later interview,

"That song was a big step for us. It was pretty much our first ballad, so we knew it would freak people out... Recording that song, I learned how frustrating acoustic guitar can be. You could hear every squeak, so I had to be careful. I wrote the song at a friend's house in New Jersey. I was pretty depressed at the time because our gear had just been stolen, and we had been thrown out of our manager's house for breaking shit and drinking his liquor cabinet dry. It's a suicide song, and we got a lot of flak for it, as if kids were killing themselves because of the song. But we also got hundreds of letters from kids telling us how they related to the song and that it made them feel better."

Since its release, "Fade to Black" has been a fixture in Metallica's live performances. It was also the last song that Metallica performed live with former bassist Jason Newsted before he left the band. Newsted's last gig was at the VH1 Music Awards on November 30, 2000. It was one of his favorite Metallica songs, and was said to be of great sentimental value to him, although it had been written before he had joined the band. His previous band, Flotsam And Jetsam, performed a song called "Fade To Black" on their 1986 album Doomsday For The Deceiver before he left to join Metallica.

While on the GN'R-Metallica Stadium Tour on August 8, 1992, James Hetfield accidentally stepped into the path of one of the chemical flames that had been rigged to shoot from the lip of the stage while playing "Fade to Black". Hetfield's guitar protected him from the full force of the blast; however, the fire engulfed his left side, burning his hand, arm, eyebrows, face and hair. He suffered second and third-degree burns, but was back on stage 17 days later, although his guitar duties were delegated to former guitar tech and Metal Church guitarist John Marshall for four weeks while he made a full recovery.



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Metallica - Fade To Black". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 


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