Ray Burton, the father of legendary Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, has died at the age of 94.
Ray Burton’s death on Wednesday (15th January) was confirmed by his his daughter and Cliff's older sister, Connie Burton, in a Facebook post on Sunday evening. She wrote: "To let you all know that my Dad died last Wednesday. Rest in peace Dad."
Metallica have this morning paid heartfelt tribute to Ray, writing on their official website:
“It is with incredible sorrow that we said farewell to Cliff’s dad Ray Burton last week. For 38 years, we were lucky enough to have the energy, wisdom and light of Ray in our lives. His eternal youth with his drive, positivity and relentless smile were both incredibly powerful and stirringly honest. From coast to coast and overseas too, Ray’s beaming face would regularly greet us, offering warmth and anchor to our travels, and when it came to the entire Metallica family, band, crew and fans, he viewed us all as his own. That he has passed away leaves an indefinable feeling of sadness and loss, but equally, we know Ray wouldn’t want us “moping around on our darn keisters” for too long. So, in honor of him, and the kind of man he was, we also want to truly celebrate the 94 years of life Ray gave everyone, knowing in certainty that a glint of his light, wisdom and energy will always be with us all wherever we go.
“We love you Ray,
Rest in peace.”
It is with incredible sorrow that we said farewell to Cliff’s dad Ray Burton last week... https://t.co/pjmJWGJV7G— Metallica (@Metallica) January 20, 2020
Metallica frontman James Hetfield also wrote a poignant poem dedicated to Ray, which reads:
"Mr. Ray Burton is a hero of mine
In earthly form, his end of the line
He weathered many a difficult storm
A strong compass
true and gracefully worn
To his last breath, I’ve not met a more positive man
And to his son there was not a more loyal fan
So he leaves the material world to be with his sons and wife
I feel so very blessed to have had him grace my life
In earthly form, his end of the line
Mr. Ray Burton is a hero of mine
"May peace be yours.
"Love and Respect,
In a post on Instagram, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich said: "Ray... Thank you for lighting up every room you walked into, for inspiring all of us with your positive energy, your perseverance, your effortlessness and for always making everyone feel comfortable in your presence... and of course, thank you for giving the world the gift of Cliff and his unique talents. I’m honored and humbled to have played and stood beside him. Rest In Peace."
Kirk Hammett shared three photos of himself with Ray, and simply wrote: "Lots of Love Ray , May you finally be with Cliff and Jan 🖤🖤🖤 #RayBurton."
Following the death of his youngest son Cliff Burton aged just 24 in a tour bus crash on 27th September 27 1986 in Sweden, Ray Burton remained extremely close to Metallica and was staunch supporter of the band.
In 2009 he joined James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Jason Newsted, and Robert Trujillo for Metallica’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where Cliff was honoured posthumously.
“My name is Ray Burton. I am Cliff Burton’s dad,” he said, huge cheers from the audience. “The thing I’ve always liked about Metallica is that you see them play in person and you just immediately get a big smile on your face. There’s something about them that just brings a smile on.”
On Saturday 10th February 2018, the day was proclaimed Cliff Burton Day in his birthplace of Castro Valley, California following an online petition from fans.
Ray said of the honour: “I do not have a moment of doubt that, if Cliff were alive, he would have had a huge smile on his face about receiving this proclamation. Feb. 10 has always been a very special day for me and I am honoured to now share this day with everyone in Castro Valley."
Ray Burton revealed in 2017 that he was using his son's royalty checks to fund high school music scholarships.
He explained to Alphabetallica: "One of the things from the royalties that I get, I give a scholarship to the high school he went to, Castro Valley High School, for music. The kids who won it they invariably write and thank me for. And I think Cliff probably would have done that with his money, because he was not against education by any means. He liked it very much."
RIP Ray Burton.