The tragic loss of Cliff Burton in 1986 sent shockwaves through the metal community and left Metallica reeling from the loss. We would then see Jason Newsted take the reins of bass that were incredibly heavy and large. This, of course, was a very intense time for Metallica, the fans, and Jason Newstead who never truly got his acceptance.
Reflecting on this difficult time, former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted spoke about the impact that Cliff’s death had on the band and, in particular, on frontman James Hetfield.
In an interview on the “Let There Be Talk” podcast, Newsted highlighted the immense emotional weight that Hetfield had to carry following Burton’s death. He noted that Hetfield had already experienced significant loss in his life prior to joining Metallica, yet he continued to pour his heart and soul into the band, even in the face of tragedy.
As transcribed by Rock Celebrities and as reported by Ultimate Guitar, Jason explained: “I don’t think that James will probably ever recover from the Cliff thing because of his abandonment and separation; [because] of things that happened to him and his family and suffering so far beyond his control. This is kind of shit that cuts so deep, you know, no matter how many people you’re talking with, it’s still going to be there.”
Hetfield’s ability to continue performing at the highest level despite his inner demons is a testament to his strength and resilience.
Newsted continued: “So within all of that, he had to find a way to compartmentalize, you know, there’s a thing I’ve learned over these past years with the respect that I’ve always had great respect for the guy, but even more so now there was never a time I didn’t respect him. His ability to harness and or process and field everything that comes at him and what he’s able to do with the crowd, there’s only a handful [of people that can do the same]…”
While Jason Newsted never completely worked out for Metallica, it seems like it was just a really rough time to bring anyone into the band due to all of the emotions going on during that time. Newstead has made peace with it all and it seems like Metallica and the fans have as well.