Torben Ulrich, the father of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, has died at the age of 95.
Lars broke the sad news on Instagram on Wednesday (December 20th), writing the following:
“Torben Ulrich: 1928-2023. 95 years of adventures, unique experiences, curiosity, pushing boundaries, challenging the status quo, tennis, music, art, writing….and quite a bit of Danish contrarian attitude. Thank you endlessly! I love you dad”.
Metallica fans will recognize Torben from his memorable appearance in the band’s Some Kind of Monster documentary. In the film, the senior Ulrich was invited to the recording studio to hear an early version of the material that would become 2003’s St. Anger. When asked for his opinion after hearing a song snippet, Torben uttered his now-famous line: “I would delete that.”
Lars has described his father as both Metallica’s biggest fan and critic.
“I think he appreciates Metallica, especially when we’re daring and a little unorthodox, when we play strange sideways tempos … He appreciates that side of it,” said Lars in a 2017 interview with SoundBox (as transcribed by Ultimate-Guitar). “When we play a little straighter and a little safer he raises an eyebrow.”
Torben was born in Copenhagen in 1928 and had a successful career as a semi-pro and later professional tennis player, competing in over 100 Davis Cup matches for his home country of Denmark. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Torben was also a multi-disciplinary artist, writing poetry, performing and recording music (releasing an album at age 92), acting, filmmaking, and more.
While a young Lars Ulrich had similar prospects of success as a tennis player, Torben — who kept the company of hard-bop greats such as Dexter Gordon (Lars’ godfather) — also encouraged his son to pursue music and make his own choices.
“I grew up in as open an upbringing as you can imagine,” said Lars in a 1995 interview [via Blabbermouth]. “Americans would call it spoiled. But I was very independent. I had nothing tying me down. At the same time, anything I wanted I had to get it myself.”
Below you can re-watch Torben’s iconic appearance in Some Kind of Monster and see Lars’ social media tribute.