Original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney spoke in an interview with Chris Jericho and revealed the how James Hetfield decided to be a singer and then how Metallica formed. He said:
“We had one original song, a song called ‘Hit the Lights.’ The other songs were all copies. That band just kind of folded. We never played at live gigs. We never got out of the garage with Leather Charm.
James said, ‘I want to just be a singer… I want to find a band.’ So I just kind of backed out and did my own thing, and he started auditioning people. One day, he brings over Lars [Ulrich]. I had met him before one time at a Judas Priest concert. James brought him out of the crowd – they had no shirts on, sweating their asses off… they stunk like crap. He was like, ‘This is Lars.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh… Okay.’ James knew him apparently, but I didn’t know him.
He brought him over and said, ‘He’s a drummer.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, cool.’ So he brought over his drum set eventually, he started playing and I was like, ‘Ehhh… I don’t know about that. I don’t think he’s too good.’
It seemed to me that he decided to be a drummer on the spur of the moment. But this kid, he was from Europe, and he knew all these bands. And he hung out with all these bands in Europe and stuff. I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s cool… but I don’t think he’s that good on drums.’ So I just kind of backed out of it. And they tried out other bass players and guitar players to get this band going.
And one time we got a call at my house. I answered the phone and it was a guitar player. He says, *nasal, squeaky voice* ‘I’ve got four Marshall stacks, I’ve got 17 guitars…’ I’m like, ‘Woah. James and Lars, you guys take this call because this guy’s head is not gonna fit through the door.’
That was Dave Mustaine. Dave Mustaine came in, plugged in… He was just warming up and everybody’s like, ‘Holy crap, this guy’s good! This guy’s really good!’
They had another bass player there for about a week or two, but this guy couldn’t keep up. I was just sitting there with nothing to do, they’re playing ‘Hit the Lights’ and they said, ‘Why don’t you show him how to play ‘Hit the Lights’?‘ So I took his bass and we played ‘Hit the Lights’ and they kind of [told the bassist], ‘Why don’t you go home?’ And, ‘Hey, will you be in the band’ to me. I said, ‘Okay, I guess I’ve got nothing else to do.’
But like I said, I never really tried out to be in the band, it was just something that… I was there and it was available and was never gonna be a long-term thing until they found somebody.”
Click here to entire interview.