Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield form Metallica

Metallica was formed in Los Angeles, California, in early 1981 when drummer Lars Ulrich placed an advertisement in a Los Angeles newspaper—The Recycler—which read "Drummer looking for other metal musicians to jam with Tygers of Pan Tang, Diamond Head and Iron Maiden." Guitarists James Hetfield and Hugh Tanner of Leather Charm answered the advertisement. Although he had not formed a band, Ulrich asked Metal Blade Records founder Brian Slagel if he could record a song for the label's upcoming compilation Metal Massacre. Slagel accepted, and Ulrich recruited Hetfield to sing and play rhythm guitar.

The two recorded their first track on a cheap recorder with James performing singing duties, rhythm guitar duties and bass guitar duties. Lars dutifully pounded the drums, helped with musical arrangements and acted as manager. Hetfield's friend and housemate Ron McGovney was eventually talked into taking up bass and Dave Mustaine took lead guitar duties.

The band adopted the moniker Metallica after a suggestion from Bay Area friend Ron Quintana, and they quickly began gigging in the Los Angeles area opening for bands like Saxon. Eventually recording a fully-fledged successful demo called No Life Til Leather.