As the legendary lead guitarist of Metallica, Kirk Hammett has left an instrumental mark on rock history and the heavy metal scene. Born in San Francisco in 1962, his musical journey began in his youth, fueled by a deep passion for the iconic rock and blues guitar players of the time.
Hammett’s pivotal moment came in 1983 when he replaced Dave Mustaine in Metallica, a move that would define his career and propel the band to global superstardom. With a penchant for blistering guitar solos and memorable riffs, he played a central role in crafting the group’s most memorable and enduring compositions, including “Enter Sandman,” “Master of Puppets,” and “One.”
In an interview with Metal and Monsters – a Gibson TV series celebrating the intersection of heavy metal and monster culture – Hammett spoke on his lifelong love for horror. Asked to name his top 10 books of the genre, he included classic writers like Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft alongside modern masters like Anne Rice and Stephen King.
Explore Hammett’s favorite literary horrors below, and complement with the bone-chilling bookshelf of R.L. Stine.
Kirk Hammett’s Reading List
The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
“The very first horror author I ever read was Edgar Allan Poe, which is probably true for a lot of people. I discovered him when I was in second or third grade. And The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe was one of my most favorite stories, it was so creepy. Love it, love it, love it.” -KH
Ghost Story by Peter Straub
“They attempted to make a movie of that in the late ’70s and they missed the mark. That’s one movie that needs to be looked at again and remade. They could probably make a more accurate, precise version of that story now, with the technology.” -KH
The Shining by Stephen King
“It’s a classic. I love haunted houses. I love haunted house movies and haunted house books, and The Shining is the definitive one. There’s all these weird things that Stephen King puts in his books. That lady in the hotel room, what was the room number? 237. It happens on page 237. It happens on that very page, and I just love that. It’s one of the few books, along with Ghost Story, that I actually got the chills when I was reading it.” -KH
The Shadow over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft
“I’m a huge H.P. Lovecraft fan, always am and always will be, even though his stuff is difficult to read. It was a different style of writing back then so you have to be patient, but it’s worth it. The Shadow over Innsmouth is one of my most favorite H.P. Lovecraft stories. And again, someone should make that into a film.” -KH
“I love it, it’s so gothic. The book, in my opinion, is much better than the movie. The movie is really really great, but the book is better.” -KH
Carrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
“Dan Simmons is a really great horror author. He’s in the same class to me as Peter Straub, Stephen King. He did an epic, sort of like The Stand, kind of story at one point, and I think he’s a bit unsung. Not enough people really know about Dan Simmons, but he’s a great author.” -KH
Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
“It’s the story before Silence of the Lambs. I remember buying that book on a fluke and flying through it in like 3 days, and all of a sudden seeing Silence of the Lambs, going oh my god, there’s a movie. But that’s a really great book.” -KH
The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
“I love that story so much we had to name an instrumental after it. The concept of Cthulhu is just so cool, and the Old Ones, and the Cthulhu mythos. I love H.P. Lovecraft just for the fact that he created this whole world.” -KH
Books of Blood by Clive Barker
“I have the original versions that came with book covers and slipcase. Good stuff, really good stuff.” -KH
“When I first read that book, I just couldn’t believe how great it was. And as a guy who lived in San Francisco – at the time, Anne Rice lived in San Francisco and there were all these connections to Anne Rice – it was pretty cool. She used to hang out at this one bar that was on the corner right down the street from my old house in San Francisco, and that bar was where she came up with a lot of the ideas for Interview with the Vampire.” -KH
(via Fangoria; photo by Ross Halfin)
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