During a conversation on And Podcast for All, Metallica’s former therapist Phil Towle talked about the troubled times of the band in the early 2000s following Cliff Burton’s passing and how it affected the relationship between Jason Newsted and the rest of the band members.
As you know, Cliff Burton was Metallica’s bassist from 1983 until his passing on September 27, 1986. He died in a bus crash in Sweden while Metallica was touring with the Master of Puppets. His passing really scarred the band members and it took them a long time to recover from this unfortunate event.
In October 1986, Metallica hired Jason Newsted who, based on Phil Towle’s observation was very glad to be a part of the band. However, having replaced Burton immediately after his passing made Jason the band’s ‘whipping boy.’ The tensions between Jason Newsted, Lars Ulrich, and James Hetfield kept increasing, and finally, Hetfield hired Phil Towle to guide them through this crisis.
In the interview, Towle said that the band members grieved very unhealthily after Burton’s death, and they channeled all their anger to Jason Newsted. However, there came a time, in 2001, when Newsted was done. He wasn’t even willing to sit down and calmly talk it through because he had had enough and just couldn’t show more patience towards his bandmates’ disrespectful attitude.
Here’s what Phil Towle said in the interview:
“I think that Jason – this is my second-hand knowledge – but I think that Jason, coming off of Cliff’s reputation and the way that Cliff died so tragically, and that he was so instantly a replacement for Cliff, that he became what the guys would say a ‘whipping boy.’
He was the way that they grieved unhealthily. And Jason, because he was so – like anybody else – so grateful to be a part of the band, never felt like he could quite make it. He was hazed to the point where I think it blew because he‘d had enough of something.
And when we’ve had enough of something, then it’s hard to go to somebody and say, ‘Can we sit down and talk about this?’ No. It’s, ‘Fuck you.’ It’s a straight head-on… It’s, ‘This is what I’m pissed off about.’ So you have to ride that wave out.
And because it was stunning, and because the band had certain resentments – the rest of the band had resentments – these are cumulative effects.”