Metallica’s Resentment Towards Jason Newsted After Cliff Burton’s Death
Jason Newsted joined Metallica to replace the late bassist Cliff Burton but was in constant conflict with his bandmates. Despite everything, he continued playing with them for 15 years, but his continuous struggle was really challenging him, and in 2001, he couldn’t stand it anymore and left.
In order to help James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett, and Lars Ulrich mend their friendship with Jason Newsted and talk about the bassist’s decision to leave, the band recruited a psychotherapist in January 2001. However, this was not enough to resolve the conflicts. Jason Newsted and the other Metallica members couldn’t solve their problems. But it wasn’t because of personal clashes between them. Something was lying deeper.
It all started with the sad news in the fall of 1986. Metallica’s reputation had taken over the metal scene that year. ‘The Four Horsemen’ of metal were at the top, watching their music define the metal sound of that time. They had been signed to a major record label, and ‘Master Of Puppets’ had just been released. This was undoubtedly their year. But in September, things would change as the band lost Cliff Burton in a tragic bus accident.
There was no doubt that all the members had made different contributions to this album that wouldn’t even need to be talked about here. However, Burton moving his bass to a different melodic range was one of the most prominent of these. His talent was an indisputable fact. After ‘Master Of Puppets’ came out, the band members threw themselves on the road, proudly watching metalheads immerse themselves in their music.
The support tours of their first gold album would later become bittersweet memories because it was their last ride with Burton. On the morning of September 27, they woke up to a tragic day. They were on the road for the European leg of ‘Damage Inc.’ The driver of their bus lost control, and the bus left the road. Burton, who was on the bus at that moment, was thrown out of the window, and when the bus landed on the musician, they could not save him.
His bandmates witnessed his death, and they would not forget this traumatic incident for many years. However, the show had to go on, and the person who would replace their friend, of course, would also get his share of this mourning process. Metallica members started seeing new people; among the 50 people, Newsted was the last person to join the audition and eventually win.
The bassist proved his talent on the guitar in a short time. His distinctive, distorted, fast bass with a pick became a breath of fresh air for Metallica’s sound in a short time. However, the problems between them and the band members did not end. The problem was neither Newsted’s musical talent nor their personal issues. The Metallica members’ grieving process had not yet been completed when Newsted arrived. So, it was at the core of their conflicts, according to the band’s psychotherapist, Phil Towle, who was closely involved in these issues.
During an appearance for And Podcast for All in 2021, he shared his analysis of those conflicts by saying, “And 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 continued, “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.”
The Metallica members were like a wall against Newsted. Towle noted, “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, ‘F*ck 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.”
Conflicts continued to the point that even a psychotherapist couldn’t resolve them. According to Newsted, their problems got in the way of their creative processes and mentally affected him. The late bassist felt he could no longer continue that vicious cycle. He was also aware, since his arrival, that his bandmates were in extreme emotional demand after Cliff’s loss because they felt that Cliff could never be replaced. In 2001, Newsted left the band and was replaced by Robert Trujillo.