Lars Ulrich

Lars Ulrich R[2] (/ˈʊlrɪk/; Danish: [ˈlɑːs ˈulˀʁek]; born 26 December 1963) is a Danish[3][4] musician best known as the drummer and co-founder of American heavy metal band Metallica. The son and grandson respectively of tennis players Torben and Einer Ulrich, he played tennis in his youth and moved to Los Angeles at age 16 to train professionally. However, rather than playing tennis, Ulrich began playing drums. After publishing an advertisement in The Recycler, Ulrich met James Hetfield and formed Metallica.

Lars Ulrich
Ulrich in 2016
Ulrich in 2016
Background information
Born (1963-12-26) 26 December 1963 (age 57)[1]
Gentofte, Denmark
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Drums
  • percussion
Years active1980–present
Associated actsMetallica

Along with Hetfield, Ulrich has songwriting credits on almost all of the band's songs. He was the face of the band during the Napster controversy.

Early lifeEdit

Ulrich was born into an upper-middle-class family[5] in Gentofte, Denmark;[5][6] the son of Lone (née Sylvester-Hvid) and tennis player Torben Ulrich.[7] His paternal grandfather was tennis player Einer Ulrich. His paternal grandmother, Ulla Meyer, was from a Jewish family; as a result, Ulrich's grandfather was persecuted by the Nazis during World War II.[8] Saxophonist Dexter Gordon was Ulrich's godfather, and he is a childhood friend of musician Neneh Cherry.[9]

In February 1973, Ulrich's father obtained passes for five of his friends to a Deep Purple concert held in the same Copenhagen stadium as one of his tennis tournaments. When one of the friends could not go, they gave their ticket to the nine-year-old Lars, who was mesmerized by the performance and bought the band's album Fireball the next day. The concert and album had a considerable impact on Ulrich, inspiring the start of his music career.

As a result of his newfound interest in music, he received his first drum kit, a Ludwig, from his grandmother around the age of 12 or 13.[10] Ulrich originally intended to follow in his father's footsteps and play tennis, and he moved to Newport Beach, California, in the summer of 1980.[11] Despite being ranked in the top ten tennis players of his age group in Denmark, Ulrich failed to make it into the seven man Corona del Mar High School tennis team, contributing to his decision to focus on music.[12]

In the documentary Anvil! The story of Anvil, Ulrich states that witnessing a Y&T show was his defining moment in deciding to become a musician. In 1981, he discovered British heavy metal band Diamond Head. He was excited about the band's style of music after purchasing their debut album Lightning to the Nations, and traveled from San Francisco to London to see the band perform live at the Woolwich Odeon. Ulrich remains a fan of Diamond Head and would later mix their album The Best of Diamond Head.[13] Upon returning to America, Ulrich placed an advert in a local classifieds newspaper looking for musicians to start a band with him. James Hetfield replied to the ad, and Metallica was formed.[14]


Later in 1981, Ulrich met James Hetfield in Downey, California, and they formed the heavy metal band Metallica upon Ulrich securing a spot in a compilation album of local metal bands named Metal Massacre.[15] He got the band name from a friend, Ron Quintana, who was brainstorming names for a heavy metal fanzine he was creating, and Metallica was one of the options, the other being "Metal Mania." Ulrich encouraged him to choose Metal Mania, and used the name Metallica for himself.[16]

He became known as a pioneer of fast thrash drum beats, featured on many of Metallica's early songs, such as "Metal Militia" from Kill 'Em All, "Fight Fire with Fire" from Ride the Lightning, "Battery" and "Damage Inc." from Master of Puppets and "Dyers Eve" from ...And Justice for All. He has since been considerably influential due to both the popularity of his band, as well as his drum techniques, such as the double bass drum in the song "One" (...And Justice for All) and "Dyers Eve". Since the release of Metallica, Ulrich adopted a less focused and simplified style of drumming, and reduced his kit from a 9-piece to a 7-piece.

Between 1998 and 2002, Ulrich tried running a record label, the Music Company. The company was a joint venture with Metallica accountant Tim Duffy. It failed to catch on and folded in the spring 2002.[17] His voice can be heard in the opening seconds of "Leper Messiah" and he also counts to four in his native Danish on the "St. Anger" music video. To unwind after some gigs, Ulrich listens to jazz.[18]

He made his acting debut in the HBO original film Hemingway & Gellhorn, which began filming in March 2011 and was released on 28 May 2012.[19] Ulrich made a brief cameo appearance as himself in the film Get Him to the Greek, as the partner of the character Jackie Q.[20] In 2012, Ulrich was the focus of the documentary film, "Mission to Lars". The film by Kate and Will Spicer concerns their journey with their brother Tom, who lives in a care home in Devon, England and who has Fragile X syndrome, to try to meet Ulrich at one of Metallica's 2009 gigs in California.[21]

In 2017 Ulrich began hosting a show on Apple Music called It's Electric, which has featured conversations with Joan Jett, Noel Gallagher, Dave Grohl and Jerry Cantrell.

Drumming styleEdit

Ulrich in Madrid in 2009

Ulrich's drumming style has changed throughout his career. During the 1980s he was known for his fast, aggressive thrash beats. He would often utilize the double bass technique in Latin breakbeats, which became popular among heavy metal drummers. The best examples of this are found in songs such as "Metal Militia" (Kill 'Em All), "Fight Fire with Fire" (Ride the Lightning), "Battery", "Damage, Inc." (Master of Puppets), "Blackened", "One", "Dyers Eve" (...And Justice for All), "That Was Just Your Life", "All Nightmare Long", and "My Apocalypse" (Death Magnetic).

Even though "Hardwired", "Moth into Flame", "Spit Out the Bone", and "Lords of Summer" have the same double bass technique, the 2016 release of Metallica's Hardwired... to Self-Destruct saw a more aggressive and experimental drumming style from Ulrich. Ulrich uses groove in his drum style, including clean and fast double bass beats in many songs and heavy drum fills. He has been known to drum in sync with the rhythm guitar played by James Hetfield.[22]

Personal lifeEdit


Ulrich has been married three times. His first marriage was in 1988 to Debbie Jones, a British woman he met on tour, but they divorced in 1990.[citation needed] His second marriage was to Skylar Satenstein, an emergency medicine physician, from 1997 to 2004. They had two sons before divorcing.[23]

Following his divorce from Satenstein, Ulrich dated Danish actress Connie Nielsen from 2004 to 2012. They had one child together.[24] He married American fashion model Jessica Miller in 2015.[25]

Interests and philanthropyEdit

Ulrich is a fan of a wide variety of genres, feeling particularly passionate about jazz music. He is inspired by the influential tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who was Ulrich's godfather.[26] Ulrich, a friend of Noel Gallagher, is a fan of Gallagher's former band Oasis and claimed Gallagher was his inspiration to give up cocaine in 2008.[27] Ulrich has also expressed his desire to sometimes play drums in Gallagher's band Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.[28] According to Gallagher, the first autograph he did in America was for Ulrich.[29]

Ulrich also has a passion for fine art. In 2002 Ulrich sold a painting from his own collection, Self Portrait by Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1982. With a pre-sale price estimate of $5 million, it ultimately sold for triple that at Christie's Auction House.[30] At the 2016 Men in Blazers Night of the Golden Blazer, Ulrich revealed his passion for Chelsea Football Club, as he stated that he went to Stamford Bridge many a time starting in 1973 during the time his father was playing at Wimbledon during the tennis season.[31]

Ulrich has been an activist in support of expanding access to health care for U.S. citizens, with his family working with the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic of San Francisco, California. He raised $32,000 for the group during a celebrity edition of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.[32]

Napster controversyEdit

In April 2000, Ulrich became a vocal opponent of Napster and file sharing as Metallica filed a lawsuit against the company for copyright infringement and racketeering. In July 2000, he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee after Metallica's entire catalogue, including the then-unfinished track "I Disappear" was found to be freely available for download on the service. The case was settled out-of-court, resulting in more than 300,000 Napster users being banned from the service.[33] Ulrich was quoted by LAUNCHcast as having some regrets:[34]

I wish that I was more ... you know, I felt kind of ambushed by the whole thing because I didn't really know enough about what we were getting ourselves into when we jumped. ... We didn't know enough about the kind of grassroots thing, and what had been going on the last couple of months in the country as this whole new phenomenon was going on. We were just so stuck in our controlling ways of wanting to control everything that had to do with Metallica. So we were caught off guard and we had a little bit of a rougher landing on that one than on other times than when we just blindly leaped. But you know, I'm still proud of the fact that we did leap ... and I took a lot of hits and it was difficult.

Awards and honorsEdit

When Ulrich and fellow Metallica members James Hetfield, Jason Newsted, Cliff Burton, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, Ulrich was the first Dane to receive the honor.[35]

Having led a campaign for several years to get his longtime favorite band, Deep Purple, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Ulrich delivered the induction speech when the band went into the Hall in 2016.[36]

Ulrich was knighted in his native country of Denmark. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog on 26 May 2017 by Margrethe II.[37]


Ulrich in 2017

Current tour kit (2016–present)Edit

  • Drums – Tama Starclassic Maple, Deeper Purple finish.[38][39] Ulrich uses the same kit, in a green finish, in the tuning room (prior to performances) and in the studio. This is the same kit that he used from the period 2003–2007. From 2008 to 2016 he used his LU Magnetic Orange,[40] which is the same kit in orange.

In 2013, Ulrich used his silver drum kit that he used from the period 1996–2003 on a secret show on the Orion Music + More Festival when Metallica played as the band 'Dehaan'

    • 10"×8" Tom.
    • 12"×10" Tom
    • 16"×14" Floor Tom
    • 16"×16" Floor Tom
    • 22"×16" Bass Drum (×2)
    • 14"×6.5" Lars Ulrich Signature Snare Drum
      • Note: Ulrich uses the standard Lars Ulrich Signature LU1465 snare live on tour (diamond plate), while he uses both the LU1465 and LU1465BB (bell brass) in the studio, depending on what type of sound he wants.
  • Cymbals – Zildjian[41][42]
    • 14" A Custom Dyno Beat Hi-Hats
    • 17" A Custom Projection Crash (2x)
    • 18" A Custom Projection Crash
    • 19" A Custom Projection Crash
    • 18" Oriental China Trash (used as a ride)
    • 20" Oriental China Trash
      • Note: Ulrich will occasionally use a 22" A Custom Ping Ride when playing live. He has also used splash cymbals in past tours.
  • DrumheadsRemo
    • Toms – Coated Emperor | Ebony Ambassador
    • Bass – Clear Powerstroke 3/Powersonic (depending on venue)| Ebony Powerstroke 3
    • Snare – Coated Controlled Sound (black dot on reverse) | Clear Hazy Ambassador
  • Hardware – Tama and Drum Workshop
    • Tama IronCobra Power-Glide Single Pedal (×2)
    • Tama IronCobra Lever-Glide Hi-Hat Stand
    • Tama Roadpro Cymbal Stand w/Counterweight (×2)
    • Tama Roadpro Cymbal Stand (×3)
    • Tama Roadpro Double Tom Stand
    • Tama Roadpro Snare Stand
    • Tama Cymbal Holder (×2)
    • Tama Multi-Clamp (×2)
    • Tama Hi-Hat Attachment
    • Tama Ergo-Rider Drum Throne
    • DW Drop-Lock Hi-Hat Clutch
  • Other
    • Ahead Lars Ulrich Signature Sticks (1995–present)
    • Calato Regal Tip Lars Ulrich Signature sticks (1981–1994)



All Metallica studio albums. For a complete list, see Metallica discography.

Guest appearancesEdit


Year Title Role Notes
2004 Metallica: Some Kind of Monster Himself Documentary
2010 Get Him to the Greek Himself
2012 Hemingway & Gellhorn Joris Ivens HBO original film
2012 Mission to Lars Himself Documentary film
2013 Metallica: Through the Never Himself
2016 Radio Dreams Himself


  1. ^ "Lars Ulrich". Biography. A&E Networks. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  2. ^ "METALLICA's LARS ULRICH On Being Knighted By Danish Crown Prince: 'I Am Very Happy And Proud'". 17 June 2017.
  3. ^ Treo, Thomas (26 September 2016). "Lars Ulrich: Jeg flytter hjem hvis ..." (in Danish). Ekstra Bladet. Retrieved 6 December 2017. Nej, jeg er hundrede procent dansk statsborger"/"No, I am one hundred percent Danish citizen
  4. ^ (3 September 2020). "METALLICA's LARS ULRICH On Whom He Would Vote For In 2020 U.S. Presidential Election: 'Fans Out There Can Probably Put Two And Two Together'".
  5. ^ a b Scaggs profile, Austin (2 September 2004). "Lars Ulrich profile". Rolling Stone. Straight Arrow Publishers (956): 64. ISSN 0035-791X.
  6. ^ "Lars Ulrich profile". Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  7. ^ "OneTrees". Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  8. ^ "The Conversation: Lars and Torben Ulrich" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Metallica's Lars Ulrich Performs With His 86 Year Old Father In Copenhagen". 28 October 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Lars Ulrich on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"". YouTube. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Metallica". The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music. ... emigrated to USA '80 ...
  12. ^ Noel Gallagher: Life After Oasis [FULL INTERVIEW] | It's Electric! | Apple Music. Retrieved 16 May 2018 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ "Galaway Advertiser, The Week". June 2007. Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  14. ^ "MTV Original TV Shows, Reality TV Shows". Archived from the original on 15 March 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2009.
  15. ^ Metallica - Dave Mustaine/Early days, retrieved 21 March 2021
  16. ^ Crocker, Chris (1993). Metallica: The Frayed Ends of Metal. St. Martin's Press. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-0312086350.
  17. ^ "Lars Ulrich's Record Label Sees Red, Fades to Black",, 23 May 2002; retrieved 11 August 2014.
  18. ^ Everitt, Matt (27 June 2014). "BBC News – Metallica on Glastonbury: 'The downside is we have to stay sober'". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  19. ^ "HBO Builds Cast For 'Hemingway & Gellhorn'",, 10 March 2011.
  20. ^ "Metallica's Lars Ulrich has cameo in Get Him to The Greek" Artist Direct, 21 May 2010; retrieved 4 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Mission To Lars". Mission To Lars. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  22. ^ Wall, Mick (2011). Enter Night: A Biography Of Metallica. Orion. ISBN 978-1409121671.
  23. ^ "Lars Ulrich, Jessica Miller: Metallica Drummer Dating American Model". 22 October 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  24. ^ "METALLICA Drummer LARS ULRICH, Girlfriend CONNIE NIELSEN Expecting". 6 December 2006. Retrieved 18 November 2006.
  25. ^ Hartman, Graham. "Metallica's Lars Ulrich Photographs Model Wife For Metal-Inspired Clothing Line Read More: Metallica's Lars Ulrich Photographs Wife For Clothing Line". LoudWire. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  26. ^ "Metallica's Lars Ulrich to Discuss Jazz on Radio". Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  27. ^ Features | The Rumour Mill | Metallica's Lars Ulrich On Cocaine, Oasis, Megadeth And That Quietus Incident. The Quietus. Retrieved on 3 March 2017.
  28. ^ "Lars Ulrich wants to play drums for Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds",, 20 April 2012; retrieved 4 June 2012
  29. ^ Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Noel Gallagher and Matt Morgan Q&A – via
  30. ^ "METALLICA's LARS ULRICH Sells Art, Gets Unpleasant". 16 May 2002.
  31. ^ "Men in Blazers 04/14/16: Night of the Golden Blazer Pod Special". SoundCloud (Podcast).
  32. ^ "Blistering Metal News: Lars Ulrich Wins 32,000$ For Charity On "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?"". Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  33. ^ Shenaz Bagha. "Napster bans more than 300,000 for downloading Metallica". The Falcon Newspaper. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  34. ^ [1] Archived 10 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ Kory Grow (9 April 2014). "Metallica's Lars Ulrich on the Rock Hall – 'Two Words: Deep Purple'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  36. ^ Kory Grow (8 April 2016). "Read Lars Ulrich's Passionate Deep Purple Rock Hall Induction". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  37. ^ "Metallica's Lars Ulrich Knighted In Native Denmark". CBS Denver. 13 June 2017. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  38. ^ "TAMA – artist profile – Lars Ulrich" (in Japanese). Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  39. ^ "Lars Ulrich Worldwired Kit". Tama. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017.
  40. ^ "Lars Ulrich | TAMA Drums". Archived from the original on 20 September 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
  41. ^ "Lars Ulrich profile". Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  42. ^ [2] Archived 11 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine

Further readingEdit

  • Steffan Chirazi and Metallica (2004). So What!: The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly. Broadway. ISBN 978-0-7679-1881-7.

External linksEdit