Jason Newsted – Biographyby Chuck Armstrong
In 1986, Metallica faced a significant change in their lives with the death of bassist Cliff Burton in a tour bus accident. Trying to cope with the loss but not slow down with the success of their latest effort ‘Master of Puppets,’ the band started searching for a new bassist. Soon after the bus accident, Metallica hired Jason Newsted to pick up the bass duties.
Born on March 4, 1963, in Battle Creek, Michigan, Newsted was the main lyricist for thrash metal band Flotsam and Jetsam. Before departing for Metallica, Newsted played a significant role in the writing of the band’s debut album, ‘Doomsday for the Deceiver.’ The album was released a little more than a month before Burton’s death.
Newsted made his album debut with Metallica on the EP, ‘The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited.’ Following the release of that disc came his first studio album with Metallica, ‘…And Justice for All.’ He received writing credits on one song, the opening track ‘Blackened,’ along with the other three members of the band. Burton received writing credits posthumously for the song ‘To Live is to Die.’ Throughout his tenure with Metallica, Newsted would receive writing credits on only two more songs, ‘My Friend of Misery’ on the band’s 1991 self-titled album and ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ on ‘ReLoad.’
In 2001, Newsted began talking more about his side-project known as Echobrain. James Hetfield was worried about Newsted’s focus being more on Echobrain than Metallica, and after a series of conversations with the band members, he decided to quit. His departure from Metallica was publicly announced on Jan. 17, 2001, just as the band was preparing to enter the studio to begin recording ‘St. Anger.’ Filling in on bass on that album was producer Bob Rock, and later on the band would hire Robert Trujillo to take on bass responsibilities full-time.
After quitting the band, Newsted joined the metal band Voivod, and also picked up duties playing bass for Ozzy Osbourne’s band during Ozzfest 2003. Newsted stayed with Voivod through 2008, and would be the bassist for the band’s latest album, ‘Infini,’ released on June 23, 2009.
In 2010, Newsted joined the supergroup known as WhoCares to record the songs ‘Out of My Mind’ and ‘Holy Water’ to raise money to rebuild a music school in Armenia. The supergroup is led by Ian Gillan and John Lord of Deep Purple and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath.
While he has been known to pick up an ESP or Alembic bass here and there, it seems like the bulk of Newsted’s bass collection is comprised of Sadowsky models. He plays through a MesaBoogie combo with a wide array of effects, including the two effects Burton used to create his signature sound, the Morley Power Wah and Electro-Harmonix Big Muff pedal.
Newsted remains friendly with the members of Metallica. This was made very apparent during the band’s 30th anniversary shows in San Francisco at The Fillmore as he played a handful of songs with Metallica every single night.