That Time Anthrax’s Scott Ian Got Arrested With Metallica’s Cliff Burton

By: Graham Hartmann

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian has long been one of metal’s great storytellers. During a recent live event in NYC to promote his newest book, Access All Areas, Ian told the crowd about the time he got arrested with Metallica’s Cliff Burton in England.

We were lucky enough to host Ian’s event at The Strand in New York City, complete with fans in the audience and watching on Facebook Live. Scott took questions throughout the night, including one asking about his favorite Cliff Burton story. The one that popped into Ian’s mind was an arrest and close call drug bust, with cops searching Metallica’s rented apartment in London.

“The cops think because we had long hair we must be carrying drugs,“ Ian begins. “Even though we said we’re not, they were like, ‘Well, we could bring you in on suspicion.’ I’m like, ‘It’s good to see that you obviously have nothing better to do.’ That didn’t help, me being snarky. We get taken in and I get thrown into this concrete cell with just a little tiny window in the door, stripped down to my underwear and it’s freezing cold.”

Though it’s true that Ian and Metallica’s late bassist didn’t have any drugs on them when they were arrested, Burton had a “giant bag of weed” back at the apartment. Thankfully, the London cops forgot to check the most obvious place — under the mattress — and missed Burton’s stash.

Once Cliff was brought back to the jail, he and Ian were brought to see the police captain. “The captain starts apologizing to us,” Ian remembers. “I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, so we’re okay here? Everything’s fine?’ And then I lost my mind, I start screaming at this guy for like three minutes. ‘I’m getting a lawyer!’”

Check out Scott Ian’s favorite Cliff Burton story in the video above. You can purchase a copy of Access All Areas here.

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