Kirk Hammett Biography

(Lead Guitarist for Heavy Metal Band 'Metallica')

Birthday: November 18, 1962 (Scorpio)

Born In: San Francisco, California, United States

Kirk Hammett is one of the renowned names in the metal-rock music industry. A member of the band Metallica, he developed an affinity for music at an early age. He was fifteen years old when he first picked up a guitar to satiate his new-found interest. Soon, he started honing his skills and creating his own signature sound. He took up a job at Burger King and with the extra money earned he bought for himself his first Marshall amp. This led him to initiate his own band, Exodus of which he was a part for only two years. In 1993, he joined Metallica, and the rest as they say is history. In 2003, he was ranked 11th on Rolling Stone's list of The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Six years later, in 2009, Hammett was ranked number 5 in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Kirk Lee Hammett

Age: 61 Years, 61 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Lani Hammett (m. 1998), Rebecca Hammett (m. 1987–1990)

mother: Teofila

children: Angel Ray Keala Hammett, Vincenzo Kainalu Hammett

Born Country: United States

Guitarists American Men

Ancestry: Irish American, Filipino American

U.S. State: California

City: San Francisco, California

More Facts

education: San Francisco State University

  • 1

    What guitar does Kirk Hammett play?

    Kirk Hammett primarily plays ESP guitars, particularly his signature model, the ESP KH-2.

  • 2

    How did Kirk Hammett join Metallica?

    Kirk Hammett joined Metallica in 1983 after the band's former guitarist, Dave Mustaine, was fired. Hammett was recommended by his friend, Mark Whitaker, who was Metallica's sound engineer at the time.

  • 3

    What is Kirk Hammett's playing style?

    Kirk Hammett is known for his fast and melodic lead guitar playing style, influenced by classic rock guitarists like Jimi Hendrix and Michael Schenker.

  • 4

    Does Kirk Hammett use effects pedals?

    Yes, Kirk Hammett is known for using a variety of effects pedals to achieve his signature guitar tones, including wah-wah pedals, distortion pedals, and delay pedals.

  • 5

    Has Kirk Hammett released any solo albums?

    Kirk Hammett has not released any solo albums, but he has contributed to various side projects and collaborations outside of Metallica, including the band EXODUS and the horror-themed musical project "The Wedding Band."

Childhood & Early Life

Kirk Hammett was born to Teofila "Chefela" Oyao, a Filipina mother and Irish Merchant marine father in San Francisco.

He completed his preliminary education at De Anza High School, where he met Les Claypool of Primus. He befriended Primus for the rest of his life.

He took up work at Burger King but did not continue for long and quit working in the fast food chain once he had saved enough money to buy a Marshall amplifier.

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An early musical interest led him to pursue a career in music. He was interested in the thrash metal genre and hence tried to make a career out of the same.

In 1980, he formed a five-member band, Exodus, which had Paul Baloff as the vocalist, Gary Holt as the guitarist, Geoff Andrews as the bassist, and Tom Hunting as the drummer.

In 1982, he played on the Exodus’ Demo. The band went on to gain an influential status during the Bay Area Thrash movement.

In 1983, he was offered a position in the band Metallica after Dave Mustaine, the lead guitarist, left the band to form his own band, Megadeth. Immediately after joining Metallica, the band released their debut album, ‘Kill ‘Em All’. At that time, he was taking private lessons from guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani.

For Metallica’s second album, ‘Ride the Lightning’ he wrote and contributed riffs. His riff was used in the track, ‘Enter Sandman’ which went on to become one of the most popular Metallica songs.

The song was the first track and first single on Metallica’s self-titled Black album. The song became so popular that it ranked at the 399th position on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Following the success of the second album, the band concentrated their energy towards their third album which they released in 1986 titled, ‘Master of Puppets’. The album displayed his style of music and was considered by many as metal’s greatest all-time album.

The year 1986 was a tragic one for the group as during the European tour, Cliff Burton died a tragic accidental death after the tour bus slid off the road and overturned. With the demise of Burton, Jason Newsted filled in for the vacant space of the bassist in the group.

In 1988, Metallica came up with its fourth album, ‘And Justice For All’ which was followed by the 1991 self-titled album, ‘Metallica’. Both albums were mega hits and made the metal band one of the most popular.

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The success of the band led it to come up with several more albums and indulge in tours, most of which were sold out. They continued to release hit albums such as ‘Load’ in 1996, ‘ReLoad’ in 1997, ‘Garage Inc.’ in 1998, and ‘S&M’ in 1999.

In the 1990s, he changed his guitar playing style and shifted focus from early metal roots to a more earthly Jimi Hendrix-esque style. In 2003, he desired to have a solo on Metallica’s next album ‘St Anger’ but later gave up on the same.

In 2005, other than contributing to the Metallica band, he played guitar on Carlos Santana's track "Trinity" alongside steel-pedal guitarist, Robert Randolph.

In 2006, he voiced himself in an episode of the show, ‘The Simpsons’ titled, ‘The Mook, the Chef, the Wife and Her Homer’. He also provided a voice on other shows such as ‘Adult Swim show Metalocalypse’, ‘The Queen of Denmark’ and ‘Space Ghost: Coast to Coast’. In 2008, Metallica put out their ninth studio album ‘Death Magnetic.’ The album garnered praise from critics and peaked at number 1 position on several music charts including the ‘UK Albums Chart,’ ‘Scottish Albums Chart,’ and the ‘Canadian Albums Chart.’ It also reached number one on the ‘US Top Rock Albums’ and the ‘US Billboard 200.’

In 2016, Metallica put out their tenth studio album ‘Hardwired... to Self-Destruct.’ The album topped the charts in no less than 57 countries and sold 291,000 album-equivalent units in its first week. The band released their eleventh album ‘72 Seasons’ in April 2023. The album received positive reviews from critics.

Other than contributing to the Metallica band, he played for several other musicians and their bands.

Other than his musical pursuits, he wrote a foreword to British author Joel Mclver’s book, ‘To Live is to Die: The Life and Death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton’. In 2012, he released his first book, ‘Too Much Horror Business’, which was a collection of photos detailing Hammett's lifelong love of monster movies and horror memorabilia.

In April 2022, he released his debut solo extended play ‘Portals.’ It consisted of tracks like “Maiden and the Monster,” “The Jinn,” “High Plains Drifter,” and “The Incantation.” ‘Portals’ peaked at number 12 on the ‘US Top Rock Albums’ and reached number 87 on the ‘US Billboard 200.’

Awards & Achievements

In 2009, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with other bandmates of Metallica Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, and Robert Trujillo.

Personal Life & Legacy

He has twice been in a nuptial relationship. The first was to Rebecca in 1987. The marriage lasted for only three years and was annulled in 1990.

In 1998, he married Lani, his second wife. They have been blessed with two sons, Angel and Vincenzo.

He studied Film and Asian arts at the San Francisco State University during the gap between promoting his albums.

Facts About Kirk Hammett

Kirk Hammett is an avid collector of horror movie memorabilia, with a collection that includes rare movie props and posters.

He is known for his love of surfing and often takes breaks from touring to catch some waves.

Kirk has a fascination with the paranormal and has shared stories of ghostly encounters he's experienced.

He is a dedicated vegan and promotes plant-based living for health and environmental reasons.

Kirk is a skilled photographer and has published a book featuring his photography titled "Too Much Horror Business."

See the events in life of Kirk Hammett in Chronological Order

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