Jason Newsted has quit Metallica. The bassist cites "private and personal reasons, and the physical damage that I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love" as his motivation for leaving in a post on the band's official Web site, www.metallica.com.
Word of Newsted's departure first hit yesterday via a fan who called San Francisco radio station KLLC, and it was initially denied by the band's management and label.
Both Newsted and the band insist that there are no ill feelings between them. "This is the most difficult decision of my life, made in the best interest of my family, myself, and the continued growth of Metallica," continues Newsted. "I extend my love, thanks, and best wishes to my brothers: James, Lars and Kirk, and the rest of the Metallica family, friends and fans whom have made these years so unforgettable."
Newsted, a rampant Metallica fan, joined the band in 1986 following the death of original bassist Cliff Burton in a tour bus accident in Sweden. He was with the band for the last six Metallica albums, beginning with ...And Justice for All, right the through the band's collaboration with Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony on the Grammy-nominated S&M.
So far there are no candidates for a replacement. Singer/guitarist James Hetfield would only throw accolades towards Newsted: "Playing with someone who has such unbridled passion for music will forever be a huge inspiration. On stage every night, he was a driving force to us all, fans and band alike. His connection will never be broken."
Drummer Lars Ulrich made it clear that the band will forge ahead: "James, Kirk and I look forward to embracing the next chapter of Metallica with both a huge amount of appreciation for the last fourteen years with Jason and the excitement of rising to the challenges that lay ahead to make Metallica shine brighter than ever."
Metallica plan to reenter the studio this upcoming spring and beginning work on their next studio album, set for release in late 2001 or early 2002.