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14 Years Ago: Jason Newsted Quits Metallica

On Jan. 17, 2001, bassist Jason Newsted quit Metallica after serving in the legendary metal band for over a decade. He joined the group after original bassist Cliff Burton died in a tour bus accident in 1986.

For years the exact reasons for his surprising departure were never fully explained, but in 2014 Newsted finally opened up about his reasons for the split. He revealed that the final straw came when James Hetfield quashed their management’s involvement with Newsted’s side project, Echobrain.

Halfway through the hour-long conversation with ScuzzTV (embedded above), Newsted spills the beans. “I’ve never told this story,” he says. “I’m not sure if I should tell it now, actually,” He goes on to say how Metallica’s management were enthusiastic about Echobrain, which he formed in 2000. “They felt Echobrain was that good, the singer was that good, and it didn’t affect Metallica because it was a totally different kind of thing, and I was in Metallica; that would give it its pedigree already.”

However, Hetfield was “not happy” about Echobrain. “He was, I think, pretty much out to put the kibosh on the whole thing because it would somehow affect Metallica in his eyes,” Newsted continues. “Because now the managers were interested in something I was doing that had nothing to do with him.” A few days later, Newsted received a phone call from their manager saying they weren’t going to back him with“ that Echobrain thing.”

Newsted announced that he was leaving Metallica on Jan. 17, 2001. At the time, he vaguely cited “private and personal reasons and the physical damage I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love.” That had long been taken to mean that the poor treatment that he endured during his 14-year tenure with the band, which included an endless variety of pranks and having his bass too low in the mix on ‘…And Justice for All,’ had taken its toll on him.

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