“[Kirk Hammett] was the lead guitarist in Exodus [when he started taking lessons from me]. We’re talking teenage years. What a crazy scene. Kirk was already what you’d call, like, intermediate-to-advanced guitarist. It wasn’t like he didn’t know what to do.
“He knew exactly what he liked; his fingers moved great. He was just looking to improve like a lot of his comrades at the time.
“He’d take lessons and Larry LaLonde from Primus would come in right after him; Alex Skolnick [from Testament] would come in right after him. You’d have guys like Charlie Hunter, the jazz guitar player, and then David Bryson from Counting Crows, Kevin Cadogan from Third Eye Blind. These guys were all contemporaries.
“That scene with Kirk and that new form of metal, it was so obvious to me that this new, younger generation was going to kind of rule the world. It was so much fun to teach him. He was a great student and very motivated.
“During the course of our lessons, he got the gig playing with Metallica and the lessons became even more important. He’d be off on tour for months; he’d come back in and take a bunch of lessons while they were making a record of something and then go back out. It was always a lot of fun.
“One thing I learned is that if you’re not passionate about music, you won’t make that leap. That’s what they all had – the kids that not only had the physical facility, but they had the most important element, which was the rage and the drive to be great and to create music that was different than, let’s say, my generation.
“They were younger, they wanted to change things and you need that – you need that energy to move music forward. They all had it – they had that drive.”