On January 17, 2001, bassist Jason Newsted left Metallica.
(Photo: Nigel Wright, Getty Images)
Newsted joined "Metallica" in the fall of 1986 following the tragic death of legendary bassist Cliff Burton. He came from "Flotsam and Jetsam" and was recommended to "Metallica" by "Metal Blade" President Brian Slagel.
Newsted helped "Metallica" in its greatest moments of crisis and he was undoubtedly a key player whose talent and professionalism helped the band get back to business and later achieve meteoric global success.
During his 14 years with "Metallica", Newsted has played on six albums of the band, Justice For All..., Metallica, Load, Re-Load, Garage Inc, and S&M and he has performed with it more than 1,000 shows around the world.
Very sadly, Metallica members who were left angry and hurt by Burton's tragic death, often vented their frustration on Newsted, which was an easy target for them. In the retirement announcement, Newsted was very diplomatic and only stated that this was the hardest decision he had to make in his life. However, behind the scenes, Newsted said he left "Metallica" because they did not allow him to develop his creativity and that "Metallica" spends too much time fighting Napster instead of working on new music. At that time, Newsted sought to release new music as part of the Echobrain band outside of "Metallica", but for James Hatfield, "Metallica" was a fortified fortress that none of the band members were allowed to leave as long as he was a member, which forced Newsted to eventually announce his retirement. Jason also noted that he needed time to recover from the neck and back injuries he suffered as a result of the excess headbanging he has performed in the band shows over the years.
Newsted's last appearance with "Metallica" took place about two months before the official announcement of his departure, on November 30, 2000, during a performance at the VH1 Music Awards. The last song played by Newsted with "Metallica" was "Fade To Black" - a song that Newsted has repeatedly stated that has a very high emotional value for him (even though he was not a co-writer).
Newsted, who already knew then that this was going to be his last appearance with the band, released during the song a thick hint of what would happen about two months later. As James Hetfield sang the lyrics: "Now I Will Just Say Goodbye", - towards the end of the song, Jason waved goodbye to the camera hovering over him, just during the word "Goodbye", as if saying goodbye to "Metallica" and fans.
You can see the wave in the video in the attached link at exactly 4:47 of the song: