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Metallica's Kirk Hammett Embraces His Inner Monster

You might know Kirk “The Ripper” Hammett as the lead guitarist for Metallica, but he’s also a serious collector of horror ephemera and memorabilia. It started when he was a child and was thrilled to be terrified by the 1962 movie The Day of the Triffids. He started collecting comic books, horror magazines, and models, as much as he could with a kids’ budget. After hitting it big with Metallica, his collecting went into overdrive, as he could then acquire rare and coveted items.  

In 2012, he published a book on his collection called Too Much Horror Business, and the following year, he created “Kirk’s Crypt” to display some of his horror memorabilia at the Orion Music + More metal festival in Detroit. Kirk’s Crypt inspired him to launch a full-on three-day horror convention, Kirk Von Hammett’s Fear FestEvil, in his hometown of San Francisco in 2014. The annual event has featured interactive displays, including one on Hammett’s monster collection; performances by metal bands like Carcass, Death Angel, and Hammett’s pre-Metallica band Exodus; and guest appearances by modern horror actors, directors, and makeup artists, as well as the children of classic horror stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Currently, travelers going through San Francisco on Virgin or American Airlines can view part of Hammett’s horror collection at the San Francisco International Airport Museum’s “Classic Monsters: The Kirk Hammett Collection” exhibition in Terminal 2.

Hammett talked to Collectors Weekly about how his obsession with horror developed, the history of horror films and the memorabilia they spawned, and how he learned the business of collecting such rare items as movie props and custom horror guitars. There’s a bonus gallery of classic horror memorabilia, too.

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