Fade to Black (song)
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"Fade to Black" is a song and the first power ballad by American heavy metal band Metallica, released as the first promotional single from its second studio album, Ride the Lightning. The song was ranked as having the 24th best guitar solo ever by Guitar World readers.
|"Fade to Black"|
|Promotional single by Metallica|
|from the album Ride the Lightning|
|Released||September 30, 1984|
|Recorded||February 20 – March 14, 1984 at Sweet Silence Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark|
In an interview with drummer Lars Ulrich on the set of the production MTV Icon: Metallica in 2003, he recalls how he and vocalist/rhythm guitarist James Hetfield were "obsessed with death" at the time the album and song were produced.
The song's lyrics address suicidal feelings. It begins with an acoustic guitar introduction and becomes progressively heavier as the song goes on, similar to their future songs, "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)", "One", and "The Day That Never Comes". James Hetfield commented on the song in a 1991 interview with Guitar World:
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 Guns N' Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour on August 8, 1992, 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 most of his left side, burning his hand, both arms, 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.
"Fade to Black" was the last song to be played on the Los Angeles heavy metal radio station KNAC, which went off the air on February 15, 1995. It would later sign off fellow longtime rock stations 94 WYSP in Philadelphia on September 2, 2011 and Power 97 in Winnipeg on January 29, 2015.
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- Apocalyptica on their album Inquisition Symphony.
- Apoptygma Berzerk on their studio album Welcome to Earth.
- Boy Sets Fire on Crush 'Em All Vol. 1, a two-song split extended play with Shai Hulud.
- Disturbed on their Music as a Weapon II tour, but without the heavier second half of the song.
- Scott D. Davis on his Metallica tribute album Pianotarium
- Sonata Arctica on "Victoria's Secret" and "Takatalvi" singles and for the Metallica tribute album A Tribute to the Four Horsemen.
- Steel Prophet covered the song on their album Genesis (2006).
- The Lemonheads covered the song with an acoustic version as a B side on their 1997 single "It's all true".
- Iron Horse covered the song with a bluegrass version on their October 14, 2003 album Fade to Bluegrass: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica.
- The Alex Skolnick Trio covered the song on their album Veritas.
|Promotional vinyl 12"|
|1.||"Fade to Black" (Vocal/LP Version)||6:57|
- "These Are Fifteen of the Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time".
- "Metallica - Fade To Black". hitparade.ch. Archived from the original on 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2014-10-16.
- "American certifications – Metallica – Fade to Black". Recording Industry Association of America.
- Pareles, Jon (25 September 1988). "Speed-Metal: Extreme, Yes; Evil, No". The New York Times. USA: The New York Times Company. p. 3. Retrieved 14 November 2010.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-11-23. Retrieved 2013-05-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "The Last KNAC Article". Archived from the original on 2013-04-08. Retrieved 2013-08-31.
- "KNAC's Final Fade to Black". Archived from the original on 2015-02-16. Retrieved 2012-11-06.