The former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted joined an interview with Metal Hammer in their special edition prepared for the 40th anniversary of Metallica and shared an emotional story about the late bass player Cliff Burton.
Cliff Burton was the bassist of Metallica from 1982 to 1986 and he contributed to the first three studio albums of the band. Metallica had just released ‘Master of Puppets’ and they were at the top of their career.
In September 1986, Metallica was touring in Sweden, and Burton died in a tragic bus accident during the tour. The bus got out of the road due to the black ice and Burton was thrown out of the window. He immediately died, however, there are still some unclarified points about his death as revealed by James Hetfield on claiming the bus driver for being drunk at the time.
After Burton’s sudden death, Metallica was in search of a new bassist and they had auditions over 50 musicians. Jason Newsted was announced to be the new bassist of Metallica at the end of the auditions and he performed his first live performance on November 8, 1986.
During the conversation with Metal Hammer, Jason Newsted reflected on how Cliff Burton’s mother came in and congratulated him for his playing. Newsted told that it was just the third night he played with Metallica and he was playing Burton’s amp. Apparently, Burton’s mother approached and hugged him and said that he is doing a great job and he deserves to replace his son.
Here is what Newsted said about this emotional moment:
“I went in totally prepared and confident. That evening, it was the third day that I played with the boys, I think I stayed overnight in San Francisco for the first time. That third night, they had ‘the elders’ come in for their blessing. So Torben Ulrich, the Burtons, a couple of the crew guys, people that had been there from the get-go… We got through about six tunes: Master…, Fade To Black, …Bell Tolls, the masterpieces!
So I am just composing myself for a second, putting my bass down, turning off Cliff’s amp – I’m playing fucking Cliff’s amp dude! Jan comes walking in the room by herself, and she grabs me, and gets my attention.
She says, ‘Great job, son’ and I’m like, ‘Oh fuck!’ She embraced me, and it seemed like it was quite a while, and she said, ‘You’re the one, you must be the one. Please be safe, we love you,’ and she gave me a kiss. That was 35 years ago, and I’ll never, ever forget it.”
In 2001, Newsted told other Metallica members that they should take a year off because he wants to focus on his side project. However, the rest of the band didn’t agree so he decided to quit the band.