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Lost Band Members: Jason Newsted

Jason Newsted joined Metallica as bassist at the end of 1986 after the tragic death of Cliff Burton. Newsted was already a big Metallica fan and he had learned to play their entire back catalogue. He played with a band called Flotsam and Jetsam from 1982 but left them to join Metallica. He auditioned for the position along with several other hopefuls after scraping together the money to fly there with the help of his friends and was lucky enough to be chosen. However the band was grieving for Burton and they took out a lot of their anger and frustration on Newsted. He reports that they subjected him to a sustained period of hazing and he only stuck it out because it was his dream to be in Metallica. The stories about their cruelty to Newsted are legendary and ranged from telling people he was gay to breaking into his room at four in the morning and throwing all of his belongings out of the window before flipping him under his mattress and piling all the furniture in the room on top of him. The situation got worse over time and reached its peak with the release of the …And Justice For All album in 1988. Newsted was denied much of a creative input and to make matters worse his bass track was deliberately turned down. The album still did well commercially but it was the 1991 Black Album that took Metallica to new heights and made them a mainstream success. Newsted was finally accepted as an important part of the band but the resentment at his replacing Burton never seemed to entirely evaporate. The band toured continually for almost three years before heading back into the studio to make the album Load released in 1996. This was a new direction for the band musically and they also got haircuts and changed their style, something that Newsted and Hetfield were unhappy about. The following year they released the album ReLoad and then the cover album Garage Inc in 1998. Newsted’s last album with the band was the 1999 release S&M. In 2000 Newsted co-founded a side project known as Echobrain. He was becoming increasingly frustrated at the period of hiatus and while the rest of the band were concentrating on their families he just wanted to make music. Newsted was also the only member of the band who wasn’t married and his production of music outside of Metallica and desire to release and promote it became a major bone of contention between him and Hetfield. Hetfield felt Newsted was cheating on the band and shouldn’t be allowed to release a side project. In 2001 Newsted announced that he was leaving Metallica and blamed personal and private reasons as well as physical damage for the decision. Newsted went on to join Voivod and bizarrely replaced Robert Trujillo to play with Ozzy Osbourne’s band for a while. Trujillo ended up as Newsted’s replacement in Metallica. In 2006 Newsted sustained a terrible injury while attempting to catch a falling bass amp and he hasn’t played in public since then. I never had the pleasure of seeing Metallica with Cliff Burton on bass but I went to see them twice while Newsted was the bassist and he was brilliantly talented. His pounding bass solos blew me away and he looked like a man possessed as the sweat flew off him during Orion. The band is bound to miss him.