James Hetfield’s Traumas Were Triggered By Cliff Burton’s Passing, Jason Newsted Explains

Jason Newsted, the former bassist for Metallica, recently spoke with Dean Delray on the Let There Be Talk Podcast, delving into the emotional aftermath of Cliff Burton‘s death on James Hetfield. Newsted’s candid remarks revealed a profound understanding of the emotional journey Hetfield had to navigate following Burton’s untimely passing.

James faced significant family upheavals during his early years. At the age of 13, Hetfield’s father departed from their family unit. A mere three years later, his mother passed away due to cancer. These events resulted in Hetfield experiencing a sense of abandonment at an early age and even made it into his lyrics on tracks like ‘Mama Said.’

The singer experienced another loss when Cliff Burton died tragically in a bus crash during the band’s European tour. James’ connection with Cliff was strong, and his untimely death not only resulted in the loss of a bandmate but also echoed the experiences of abandonment from his past.

Jason Newsted joined Metallica as a bassist after Burton’s passing, so he could see firsthand the emotional toll Burton’s death took on Hetfield. In Jason’s eyes, Hetfield decided to carry a tattoo of musical notes from the song ‘Orion’ on his upper left forearm in tribute to Burton but was never really able to heal from the incident.

Jason Newsted’s words about James Hetfield read:

“I don’t think that James will probably ever recover from the Cliff thing because of his abandonment and separation 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 through with it’s still going to be there.

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.”

He added:

“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; you named a couple of them in our conversation already where he could have 50-60 what’s, whatever the number is 60-70 000 people right here the whole time as long as he wants to and then push him away and bring him back I mean incredible shit so it’s still just flesh and bone okay it’s still just a person.”

Even though Jason believes Hetfield will never fully recover from losing Cliff, the former bassist respects and admires the rocker’s resilience in coming out stronger and giving his all to every album and performance when he was in the band until now with their most recent ’72 Seasons.’

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