Why Jason Newsted Never Had a Chance in Metallica
Jason Newsted's time with Metallica coincided with their rise from the underground to one of the world's biggest bands. But internally, the bassist's time was difficult, enduring numerous pranks from the other three members and never feeling like an equal. Now, two experts suggest that, even though Newsted was in the band for 15 years, it was, in retrospect, doomed from the start.
As Paul Brannigan and Ian Winwood, authors of Into the Black: The Inside Story of Metallica 1991-2014, told Salon, Newsted "was given the job of bassist only three weeks after Cliff Burton was killed in the tour-bus crash in Sweden. Within five weeks he was on tour with the group in Japan. This was clearly far too fast for the three members – then only in their mid-20s – to process their loss or articulate their grief, so instead of healing and moving on with their new bass player, instead Newsted became the focus of much resentment, none of which was his fault. So to a degree the well was poisoned from the start. This is a shame, because Jason Newsted clearly loved Metallica, their sound and their ideals, and was in many ways like a union rep on the board of a giant corporation. The fact that this has never been fully acknowledged is almost a book in itself."
The sentiment echoes something James Hetfield once said about Newsted, "I felt that we took a lot of our resentment, a lot of our grief, a lot of our despair around Cliff's death out on Jason [...] Right from the beginning there was a lot of hazing that just separated him and he was always thought of as 'the new guy.' I wish that that didn't have to happen. I guess we wanted to toughen him up, we wanted him to be as tough as us. We were brutal with him. And it never ended, really."
Newsted finally quit Metallica in 2001, claiming “private and personal reasons and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love.” He later revealed that the final straw came when Hetfield quashed their management's involvement with Echobrain, Newsted's side project.
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