American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles by vocalist and guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, and has been based in San Francisco for most of its career. The band's fast tempos, instrumentals, and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members and primary songwriters Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett, and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine, who formed Megadeth after being fired from Metallica, and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton, and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.