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The ripper, the surfer, the “hey guys, come on, lets work this out!” zen master of the group. From early on Kirk's solos made quite the impression on the metal world as his "signature" is quite distinct and easily recognizable. Having received lessons from Joe Satriani, his technical abilities grew throughout the mid-80s. Technical, creative and innovative, Kirk is a master of the strings. Listen for the scream of his guitar on the band’s up-coming new album!

The Vitals:

  Kirk Hammett
  Nick Names:
"The Ripper" and "Kirk Hampster"
  Birth Date:
November 18, 1962
  Birth Place: San Francisco, California
  Personal: Married, 2 children
Physique: Brown eyes, brown hair, 5'8"/1.75 meters tall
  Joined Metallica: April 1, 1983
Instrument: Guitar, background vocals
Nick Names: The Ripper, Kirk Hampster
  Quirky Quote: "The wah-wah is an extension of my personality".

The Story:

Kirk was born at St. Luke's Hospital in San Francisco at 3 AM on Sunday, November 18, 1962. His Filipino mother worked for the federal government and his Irish father was a merchant sea man. He has a brother, Rick, and a sister, Tracy. At the age of 11 he began to learn piano but quit after three lessons (he did not like the teacher). He grew up in a suburb in the East Bay of San Francisco. He listened mostly to music from Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and Cream. Kirk got his first guitar at the age of 15, a Montgomery Ward Strat copy from a friend which he paid ten dollars for along with little more than a shoe box containing a four inch speaker for an amplifier. After picking up a 1978 Fender Stratocaster, Hammett attempted to customize his sound with various guitar parts, eventually falling for a 1974 Gibson Flying V. He even took a job at a Burger King to pay for a Marshall amplifier.

He was one of the founding members of legendary Thrash Metal band Exodus". Exodus, as well as Metallica and a couple of other Bands, were well known during the mid-80's as "Bay Area Thrashers", having all originated from the Bay Area in California. Exodus opened a couple of shows for Metallica, and Kirk was very impressed by them, and their original sound. When lead guitarist Dave Mustaine got fired from Metallica, Kirk was invited to an audition in New York and he subsequently joined the band. Kirk was the last member to join the first long-lasting Metallica Line Up, which included: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett.

kirk105 kirk156 kirk169 kirk152 kirk112

In 1982 Kirk, nicknamed the Ripper, was considered to be one of the top guitarists in rock music.  He took lessons from Joe Satriani, who's influence on Kirk's style can heard throughout the first three records. During the recording of the albums, Kirk used to play only the lead guitar parts ( until "Load") and eventually contributed some arrangement ideas.  Kirk's name can often be found near the top of top ten and top one hundred guitarist lists across the globe.  On June 6, 2004, Kirk won Outstanding Guitarist award at the California Music Awards.

His playing has evolved since the early years with "Kill 'Em All". Kirk admits having overplayed on "...And Justice For All", where he tried to impress everybody and prove his virtuosity. But on the "Black Album" and especially on "Load" and "ReLoad" Kirk dropped some speed in favor of a more bluesy playing style and experimental sounds. His song writing role changed too and he contributed some rhythm guitar work to the last two albums. His influence in the band has considerably grown over these last few years, as Metallica used to be fairly dominated by the writing duo of Hetfield & Ulrich. But Kirk's charisma has always put him apart and has at least equally contributed to his popularity as his extraordinary guitar playing.


Hammett's first marriage to ex-wife Rebecca ended in 1990, during the recording of the Black Album, which consumed the band members' lives for almost an entire year. He now resides in San Francisco with Lani, his second wife, whom he married in 1998. On September 29th, 2006, Kirk and Lani gave birth to a son, Angel Ray Keala Hammett.

Kirk also contributed his guitar playing skills to the song Trinity on Santana's 2005 album "All That I Am".

In 2006, Hammett voiced himself on The Simpsons ("The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer"). He also provided various voices on the Adult Swim show Metalocalypse, including a two fingered fan of the fictional band Dethklok, The Queen of Denmark, and a Finnish bartender.

In Mid-January 2007, ESP Guitar Company announced that they would be releasing a 20 piece Limited KH-20 Guitar, in order celebrate the 20 years partnership between ESP & Kirk Hammett. The guitar was based upon the KH-2 guitar but there was however some modifications. There was only 40 guitars produced, wach costing $9,999.

In September 2007, Randall Amplifiers announced a partnership with Hammett to design a line of signature amps, heads, combos and preamp modules to emulate his distinct tones, although no more details are currently available.
Kirk and his wife Lani welcomed a second sone, Vincenzo Kainalu on Saturday, June 28, 2008.  His older brother Angel Ray Keala was 21 months old when Vincenzo was born. 

Other Facts:

Pre-Metallica Jobs:
Burger King and Dishwasher
Previous Bands:  Exodus
Musical Influences: Led Zeppelin, UFO and Jimi Hendrix
Hobbies/Interests: Collects taxidermy, Has a massive interest in Horror and Japanese stuff (comics, figures etc), Mountain biking,
   surfing, tattoos, piercing, cigars, philosophy, and H.P. Lovecraft
Favorite bands: KISS, Led Zeppelin, UFO, Aerosmith and Jimi Hendrix
Likes to drive: Land Cruiser, Porsche, a Mountain bike, '55 Dodge Coronet, '66 Mercedes Benz
Likes to eat: Sushi, Mexican food, pasta, Indian food, and is a vegetarian
Likes to drink: Martinis, Sky Vodka, green tea and Guinness
Favorite sports teams: None “I hate sports!”
Favorite movies: Bride of Frankenstein, Raging Bull, and The Jerk