In a June 2019 interview with Kerrang! magazine which has just been made available online, METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich was asked what his first impressions of James Hetfield were and if he could remember anything of that first day in May 1981 they spent together. "I remember connecting with him," Lars responded. "I could see that, even though he was painfully shy or whatever, that there were some distinctive similarities. I spent six months talking to people about heavy metal, and they'd mention STYX, JOURNEY, KISS or whatever. I'd talk about ANGEL WITCH, DIAMOND HEAD or TYGERS OF PAN TANG. He had a connection to the music and the things I was throwing out there that seemed a little more authentic or trustworthy. Not much happened during that first meeting because he was kind of the wing man, or the plus one, for a guy named Hugh [Tanner, who played in LEATHER CHARM with Hetfield]. If James was sitting here, he'd tell you that the drum kit I showed up with was in such bad shape that every time I hit the cymbal, it kept falling over — which is accurate. Hetfield and I ended up staying in touch, and when I came back from travelling in Europe a few months later, I called him up and said, 'Hey, do you want to play and see what happens?' And he was up for it."
METALLICA was formed when Ulrich, who had moved to Los Angeles, placed an ad in a local paper called the Recycler looking for other musicians to play with. The ad was answered by Hetfield and Tanner of the band LEATHER CHARM.
METALLICA officially formed in October 1981 and the band's first recording was "Hit The Lights" for the compilation "Metal Massacre".
Bay Area DJ Ron Quintana came up with the group's name: he was debating between using "Metallica" and "Metal Mania" for the name of his radio show and Ulrich encouraged him to use "Metal Mania" so that he could use "Metallica" for his new band.
METALLICA's first full lineup — featuring Hetfield, Ulrich, guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist Ron McGovney — played its first gig on March 14, 1982 at Radio City in Anaheim, California.