James Hetfield Rejected Metallica Bassist Offer

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The legendary metal band, Metallica held bassist auditions to replace Jason Newsted in the early ’00s. The process was heavily documented in the film “Some Kind of Monster” and the auditions saw the metal giants interact with a diverse crowd of talented musicians including Marilyn Manson’s Twiggy Ramirez, Jane’s Addiction’s Eric Avery, and, of course, Primus’ own Les Claypool. That was actually not the first time that the Primus frontman auditioned for the role, as he was also considered to replace Cliff Burton following his tragic passing in 1986.

Les Claypool recalls getting rejected

In an interview with Goldmine, the Primus frontman recalls the audition process and why Metallica ended up rejecting him on two separate occasions:

“There’s a reason why they didn’t pick me. I didn’t fit and they saw that. I had my own thing going and it was a wise move on their part. And even when it came up again [following Jason Newsted’s departure], they knew that I wasn’t the right guy for it and they got the perfect person.”

A rumor also started floating around shortly after Les’ second audition for Metallica was that James Hetfield had rejected him because he was “too talented” for the band.

Addressing the truth in those rumors, the bassist said:

“He definitely did not say that. He said that later on in an interview, which was very kind of him. I think they thought I was a freak. They were very nice — Lars [Ulrich, drums] was particularly kind — and, of course, I knew Kirk [Hammett, guitar] from high school. But I think that James thought I was some sort of thug. Put it this way, I definitely didn’t look the part.”

“It wasn’t until the audition that I got a sense of what was really going on. It was a bit of a heavy thing, the audition, and I didn’t realize until I got there that it was kind of a big deal. Afterwards I fantasised about quitting my carpentry job and touring Japan with them, but I didn’t get the gig.”

Claypool continued on with Primus and they have a new EP titled “Conspiranoid” that is out now.