When Anthrax’s Scott Ian Got Arrested with Cliff Burton

Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian recalled the moment he was arrested under suspicion of drugs alongside late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton.

The incident took place in London in 1984, two years before the tour bus crash that killed Burton. In a recent interview with Metal Hammer, Ian said the bands had been sharing an apartment for three weeks while working on release-related duties.

“One day Cliff and I were going to Tottenham Court Road because he needed a new Walkman,” Ian said. “Two police approached us and asked if we were drug dealers. We said no and they said, ‘Well, you might as well just admit it now because things will go easier for you.'”

He continued: “They took us into the police station and arrested us and they found cold medicine in Cliff’s coat. They were like, ‘We’re gonna have to send these to the lab,’ and I’m like, ‘It’s Sudafed, motherfuckers!’ We had to give them the address of the flat — and that’s when I got really nervous because I knew Cliff had a whole bunch of weed back at the apartment.”

Ian remembered being locked in a concrete cell without even a window, stripped to his underwear and thinking about the movie Midnight Express. “Three hours later, the guy opens the door and says, ‘Alright, come with me, I’m taking you to the captain’s office.'” As it turned out, the cops “went to the apartment and checked for the weed… but didn’t look under the mattress! We were free to go and that was when I thought, ‘Someone up there really likes Metallica,’ though Cliff never did get his Walkman!”

In the same interview, Ian credited the Big Four concerts of 2010 and 2011 with saving Anthrax. At the time when they hit the stage alongside Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, his band had endured a difficult period after struggling to find a singer and abandoning some of what became the 2011 album Worship Music. They played some shows with 1992-2005 singer John Bush returning on a temporary basis before eventually reuniting with Joey Belladonna.

“A lot of things were in flux for Anthrax at that time,” Ian said, “so when we got that phone call, it kicked things back into gear for us in so many ways. We knew then we had to get Joey back in the band — he was the guy who was there when all these things were happening for us in the first place.

“We then pushed ourselves to finish writing and recording Worship Music, which became our comeback album,” Ian continued. “It put us in front of audiences that either hadn’t heard of us or hadn’t seen us in a long time. Without those shows — and the record we put out — I honestly don’t think Anthrax would still be here 10 years later.”

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