10 Things You Didn’t Know about Jason Newsted

Jason Newsted

Jason Newsted is a bassist associated with metal as well as related music genres. In particular, he is famous for having been the bassist of Metallica from 1986 to 2001 before leaving because of a complicated mix of reasons.

1. Born in Battle Creek, MI

Newsted was born in the city of Battle Creek in the state of Michigan. The latter is named for an incident that happened on March 14 of 1824. In short, a pair of Potawatomi Indians approached a land survey party sent out by the U.S. government asking for food. They were starving because they hadn’t received the supplies promised to them by a treaty signed in 1821, which is presumably why one of them is said to have tried to steal food before being seriously wounded by one of the land surveyors. Later, white settlers in the region called the local river Battle Creek River, thus providing the eventual town with its name as well.

2. Farm Boy

Farming has a special status in a wide range of cultures. After all, it is what makes civilization possible. Furthermore, farmers made up the overwhelming majority of the population in settled societies until the rise of industrialization. Nowadays, they are much rarer because of revolutionary changes in how we feed ourselves. However, it is interesting to note that Newsted was raised as a “Americana farm boy.”

3. Took Care of Chickens and Rabbits

It is common for every member of a farming family to start contributing when they are able to do so. In Newsted’s case, he took care of the chickens as well as the rabbits. Interested individuals should have no problem guessing the uses for chickens. However, rabbits are less familiar to most people. In most cases, they are raised for meat because they are very efficient at converting feed into said product. Besides that, rabbits are sometimes raised for fibre as well as scientific research.

4. Became Interested in Music as a Child

Newsted was exposed to music as a child because of his family. His mother taught the piano, while his brother played the trumpet. On top of this, Newsted listened to the record collections of his brothers. This was followed by him starting to play the guitar at the age of nine and then the bass at the age of 14. Something that happened because Gene Simmons of Kiss made a strong impression on him at the time.

5. Influenced By Geezer Butler

Having said that, Newsted has stated that Geezer Butler was his major influence. In short, Butler is a British musician who is known for a couple of things. One would be his bass-playing, while the other would be his lyric-writing. In particular, interested individuals might recognize Butler because of his time as both the bassist and the primary lyricist in Black Sabbath, which would have been very prominent when Newsted was growing up. In any case, he can be considered a pioneer for his chosen musical instrument, as shown by the sheer number of bassists who have cited him as an influence.

6. Used to Play for Flotsam and Jetsam

In the earliest part of his career, Newsted played for a thrash metal band called Flotsam and Jetsam. He wasn’t a founding member of the band. However, he was the bassist when it released its debut album Doomsday for the Deceiver. It is interesting to note that Flotsam and Jetsam is still active in the present time, though its lineup has been changed so much that the vocalist Eric Knutson is the one constant member.

7. Replaced Cliff Burton of Metallica

Newsted replaced Cliff Burton as the bassist of Metallica in 1986. This was necessary because Burton was killed when the tour bus carrying the band skidded off of the road on September 26 of 1986. The bus driver claimed that the bus skidded because it had hit a patch of black ice. However, James Hetfield has stated that he didn’t find any patches of black ice even though he went looking on the road. Something that was supported by a freelance photographer’s statement that there couldn’t have been any black ice because conditions were dry while temperatures were above the freezing point. Still, charges were never brought against the bus driver because he was determined not at fault for what had happened.

8. Last in Line to the Audition

Metallica auditioned more than 50 musicians to find a replacement for Burton. Those musicians included some very well-known names, meaning that the competition was intense. Newsted was apparently at the back of the line. However, he winded up winning, which was presumably connected to his decision to procure Metallica’s setlist for an upcoming tour, study it, and then declare that he knew every single one of the songs. After all, proactive competence tends to be well-regarded by a wide range of people in a wide range of organizations.

9. Left Metallica Because of a Side-Project

Newsted left Metallica at a very difficult time in the band’s existence. As the story goes, the chief cause of his departure was a side-project called Echobrain. In short, Metallica’s management thought that Echobrain had potential, so much so that they wanted to assist Newsted with getting the side-project off of the ground. However, James Hetfield apparently didn’t like the idea of him doing a side-project because he believed that it would be a drain on Metallica. Something that particularly annoyed Newsted because of Hetfield’s own side-projects. On top of this, Hetfield’s influence seems to have won out because Metallica’s management later reversed course on Echobrain. In spite of this, it is interesting to note that Newsted has managed to remain on good terms with the other members of Metallica despite his departure.

10. Can’t Play the Way that He Used To

People talk about artists sacrificing themselves for their art on a regular basis. Sometimes, such statements can be rather literal, with an excellent example being how Newsted is no longer able to play the way that he used to play. He has stated that he never regained his full music-playing ability after hurting his shoulder while trying to catch a falling bass amp head. An incident that also caused him to become addicted to painkillers for quite some time.

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