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Former METALLICA Bassist JASON NEWSTED Recalls Emotional Meeting With CLIFF BURTON’s Mother

Jason Newsted recalls joining Metallica after the death of bassist Cliff Burton.

Former METALLICA bassist Jason Newsted recently recalled the emotional first meeting he had with the late Cliff Burton’s mother.

Newsted was 23-years old when he initially auditioned for the iconic metal group after the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton in a tour bus accident on September 27, 1986. Already an established player with fellow thrash metal act FLOTSAM & JETSAM, the young Jason took the opportunity to join METALLICA as a huge honor: “Just to be amongst them was very special,” the Michigan-born musician tells Metal Hammer in a new interview.

“I went in totally prepared and confident,” Newsted recalls. The last bassist to audition for James, Kirk and Lars, Jason instantly became a frontrunner for the vacated position within the band. Soon after returning home to Phoenix, Arizona, Newsted would get a call to return to California for a more comprehensive audition with the group.

“That evening, it was the third day that I played with the boys, I think I stayed overnight in San Francisco for the first time,” Newsted recalls. “That third night, they had ‘the elders’ come in for their blessing. So Torben Ulrich, the Burtons, a couple of the crew guys, people that had been there from the get-go… We got through about six tunes: Master…, Fade To Black, …Bell Tolls, the masterpieces! So I am just composing myself for a second, putting my bass down, turning off Cliff’s amp – I’m playing fucking Cliff’s amp dude! Jan [Burton, Cliff’s mother] comes walking in the room by herself, and she grabs me, and gets my attention. She says, ‘Great job, son’ and I’m like, ‘Oh fuck!’ She embraced me, and it seemed like it was quite a while, and she said, ‘You’re the one, you must be the one. Please be safe, we love you,’ and she gave me a kiss. That was 35 years ago, and I’ll never, ever forget it.”

For the full Jason Newsted interview, grab the latest METALLICA packed issue of Metal Hammer.