Jason Newsted left Metallica on Jan. 17, 2001, after nearly 15 years in the band. His reasons have been told often and in various forms since, but they all boiled down to the agreed-upon fact by both parties that the bass player was not allowed by frontman James Hetfield to stretch his musical muscles beyond the band he joined in 1986 after his predecessor Cliff Burton had died tragically in a bus accident.

Newsted’s Echobrain, an alternative-metal project which had proven to be the breaking point in his relationship with Hetfield, didn’t catch on with the masses following his Metallica departure. As it was turning into a financial drain, he settled into more of a mentor-like role for the outfit, and they eventually dissolved.

Late-2002 saw Newsted, going by the nickname “Jasonic,” join long-running Canadian thrash-metal band Voivod. Next came a misguided attempt to poke the bear by calling Metallica out and boasting, “I’m in a band now that can kick their ass.” Newsted then raided his personal vaults and put out all the various side-projects he had been working on over the years like IR8 and Sexoturia, featuring members of Sepultura, Exodus and Faith No More, among others.

In March 2003, Voivod released a self-titled LP, and they were then tapped to play the second stage at that summer’s Ozzfest. In an interesting twist, Newsted was asked to pull double-duty as Ozzy Osbourne’s bassist throughout the tour. The vacancy was left when Robert Trujillo departed to fill the position in Metallica created by Newsted's exit. Newsted stayed in Voivod until 2008, when founding bassist Jean-Yves Theriault returned to the band.

A buzzed-about studio collaboration with Osbourne never came to fruition and in 2006 Newsted ended up as part of the house band for the reality program Rock Star: Supernova along with drummer Tommy Lee and former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke. A tepidly received studio album with winner Lukas Rossi was followed by a tour, but Newsted was forced to bow out following an accident that left both of his shoulders in bad shape when he was trying to catch a 90-pound bass amp head that was falling. The injury required surgery and put Newsted on the shelf, leaving him to take up painting as an artistic endeavor to keep busy.

Newsted resurfaced in the spring of 2009 in the most unlikely of places: onstage with Metallica. Granted, it was only for two songs at the ceremony to celebrate the band’s induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it was a milestone and fanboy’s dream come true when a spirited rendition of “Master of Puppets” and “Enter Sandman” were performed with two bassists.

Mended fences led to Newsted appearing for three songs on each of the four nights of Metallica’s guest-filled 30th anniversary shows in December 2011 at the Fillmore in their home base of San Francisco, where the bassist was warmly embraced by fans.

One year later, he announced a new metal band simply titled Newsted, with whom he would handle not only bass duties but vocals, as well. The resulting EP, Metal, and full-length, Heavy Metal Music, were well-received by critics and fans – as was a lengthy tour – but the whole thing was shelved in 2014 due to "private and personal circumstances."

A lengthy period of silence followed. For a long time, Newsted's website consisted solely of the following statement: “Jason Newsted is not on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or any other social networking website as of September 15, 2014 & and has no affiliation with any such impostor sites using his name or likeness unlawfully.”

Then in June 2016, he resurfaced onstage with his old band Voivod, performing a few songs with the Canadian metal group in San Francisco. A month later, he announced a new acoustic project, Would and Steal. And in 2018 he presented his first solo art show in Miami. Several different works were featured, including some constructed out of old guitars that have been smashed to pieces.

“I’ve already climbed that mountain,” Newsted said of putting Metallica and music, for the most part, behind him. “We got Grammy awards, the Hall of Fame and all those different things. That’s as far as you can go in that kind of music. It’s someone else’s turn to have fun in that music now. I can’t play like Slipknot now. Those guys are heavier and faster than I could ever dream of playing now. This is how I can play, and this is what I’ll do for the rest of time.”



See Metallica and Others in the Top 100 Albums of the '90s

More From Ultimate Classic Rock