L-R: Michael Denner, King Diamond, lucky duck
Text by Cosmo Lee

Umlaut is a true metal old-schooler. Not only was he friends with Metallica before Cliff Burton joined the band, he had the good sense to document his life in metal meticulously. The result is a priceless treasure trove of metal memories.

Every so often Umlaut sends me a link to such memories. They always blow my mind. The most recent one was to a Facebook group for The Record Vault. (Facebook is good for something!) The record store was the center of the '80s San Francisco metal scene. If you think about Bay Area metal in the '80s — yeah, it's a big deal.

Now you, too, can experience The Record Vault. Here is the Facebook group page (no login needed), and here is the photo gallery. I suggest starting at the first photo, and going through each and every one. Your mind will be blown. You will see in-store appearances by Venom, Lemmy, Slayer, Metallica, and more. You will see lots of cool bootlegs, demos, and vinyl. You will gnash your teeth and wish that you had lived in San Francisco in the '80s.

L-R: Timi Hansen, Pam Smith, furry thing, Hank Shermann

My favorite photos come from a magical day in 1984 when Mercyful Fate did an in-store signing, then played a show at the Kabuki (now an upscale cinema). The top one above features (from left to right) Michael Denner, King Diamond, and a lucky young fan. The second features Timi Hansen, a proprietor of the store, a stuffed monkey, and Hank Shermann looking like the prettiest girl you ever did see.

L-R: Timi Hansen, Lars Ulrich, King Diamond, Hank Shermann

And this last one? Yes, that is Lars Ulrich with a guitar. Onstage with Mercyful Fate. Umlaut was there that night. He recounts,

Lars was air guitaring.. King summoned Metallica to the stage ("Lars!! Where are YOU?!!") and James, Cliff, and Lars pushed through the crowd and climbed onstage to air guitar on the encore.

On the photo's Facebook page, Hank Shermann adds more commentary. (His new thrash band Demonica has a record coming out in February.) For more mementos of the occasion, including a ticket stub of the show and details of driving the band to the gig, see here and here. Read 'em and weep.

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