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Ron McGovney – Biography

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In 1981, Ron McGovney got together with his friend and roommate James Hetfield to form the band Leather Charm. Lasting only a few months due to other band members leaving, Hetfield decided to answer a newspaper ad placed by Lars Ulrich. Once he and Ulrich decided to start the band that would soon be known as Metallica, it didn’t take long for McGovney to jump onboard as the original bassist for the legendary metal band.

As the year 1982 took shape, the band — now with McGovney on bass and Dave Mustaine on lead guitar — practiced in McGovney’s garage. In March, through his friendship with Tommy Lee and Vince Neil of Motley Crue, the bassist worked some magic to get Metallica the opening slot for Saxon at the Whisky in West Hollywood. This turned into a big break for the band and less than a month later they began work on their first official demo in McGovney’s garage. The four-track demo included ‘Hit the Lights,’ ‘The Mechanix,’ ‘Jump in the Fire’ and ‘Motorbreath’ and would later become known as the ‘Power Metal’ demo.

Months passed and Metallica played more and more gigs and gained more and more fans. As this all happened, though, the relationship between the band and McGovney grew unstable. In a 1997 interview, McGovney states, “Dave [Mustaine], at the time, was an a–hole, and Lars only cared about himself. But what really hurt me was James, because he was my friend and he was siding with them and I suddenly became the outcast in the band.”

Even before McGovney and Metallica parted ways, the band had already met and began talking with Cliff Burton to become the next bassist. In December of 1982, McGovney quit the band.

Two decades ago, McGovney obviously had different emotions toward the situation, but fast-forward to the present and there are no hard feelings. “It doesn’t bother me now,” he says. “It’s just memories. I get along with all the guys now.”

In 1986, McGovney formed the thrash outfit Phantasm with Rodney Nicholson and Katon W. De Pena, but never recorded a studio album. Less than two years later, the band fell apart. Since then, he’s stayed out of the music industry, that is, until December 10, 2011. As part of the 30th anniversary celebration in San Francisco, McGovney joined Metallica onstage at the Fillmore and performed two songs with the band, ‘Hit the Lights’ and ‘Seek and Destroy.’ This was the first time McGovney played onstage with Metallica since Nov. 30, 1982.

McGovney currently lives in North Carolina with his two sons, Justin and Tyler, and daughter, Jordann.

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