Metallica is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. The band was formed in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield. 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 Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine (who formed Megadeth) and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.
Metallica earned a growing fan base in the underground music community and won critical acclaim with its first five albums. The band's third album, Master of Puppets (1986), was described as one of the heaviest and most influential thrash metal albums, and its eponymous fifth album, Metallica (1991), appealed to a more mainstream audience, achieving substantial commercial success and selling over 16 million copies in the United States to date, making it the best-selling album of the SoundScan era. In 2000, Metallica joined with other artists who filed a lawsuit against Napster for sharing the band's copyright-protected material without consent; a settlement was reached and Napster became a pay-to-use service. In 2009, Metallica was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Metallica has released ten studio albums, four live albums, a cover album, five extended plays, 39 music videos, and 37 singles. The band has won nine Grammy Awards and its last six studio albums have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Metallica ranks as one of the most commercially successful bands of all time, having sold over 125 million records worldwide. Metallica has been listed as one of the greatest artists of all time by magazines such as Rolling Stone, which ranked them at no. 61 on its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list. As of 2017, Metallica is the third best-selling music artist since Nielsen SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991, selling a total of 58 million albums in the United States.