32 Years Ago: Metallica Bassist Cliff Burton Dies At 24, Leaving Behind One Of Rock’s Greatest Legacies


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Cliff Burton’s Magnum Opus

Featured on Metallica’s 1986 album Master Of Puppets, the 8 minute instrumental ‘Orion’ is widely regarded as late bass player Cliff Burton’s greatest composition. It’s a multi part instrumental piece highlighting Burton’s bass playing, where he used his bass in such a way that there are 2 bass solos in this song that are commonly confused as guitar solos.



A classically trained musician, Burton, who died 32 years ago today at the age of 24 following a bus crash on Metallica’s Damage Inc. tour in support of Master Of Puppets, was crucial in the writing of ‘Orion’. Opening with a fade-in bass section heavily processed to resemble an orchestra, it continues with mid-tempo riffing and a bass solo.


Cliff Always in our hearts! RIP #CliffBurton #JamesHetfield #Metallica

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The tempo accelerates before ending with music fading out. Burton arranged the middle section, which features its moody bass line and multipart guitar harmonies.

Cliff – I still miss you bro , RIP … #cliffburton

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We miss you, brother… #cliffemall ? @rosshalfin

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This is by far our favorite track from Master Of Puppets! Capturing the intensity and musicality of Burton-era Metallica, ‘Orion’ serves as a fantastic reminder of the glory days of the Metallica we grew up with.