Jason Newsted Says James Hetfield’s Pyro Accident Saved Metallica
Jason Newsted recently spent some time with So What! editor Steffan Chirazi reflecting on the 30th anniversary of Metallica's "Black Album," but also revisited the infamous Montreal concert on Aug. 8, 1992, when James Hetfield was burned by stage pyrotechnics during "Fade to Black."
Spread out over four videos, the comprehensive conversation covers a lot of ground, including Metallica's groundbreaking international tour schedule, Newsted being frugal with his earnings from the record's historic sales, and what it was like putting together his riff tapes for James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, but one of the more interesting parts is the effect that Hetfield's stage incident had on the band.
"That accident brought us together to a place that I don't think would have ever happened unless an incident like that...James was fucking heroic, dude," Newsted explained to Chirazi. "Straight up, he was heroic. You know how one little burn from the teapot hurts? That was his whole fucking arm. Come on."
Newsted recalled how he, Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett "went into our own bubble" to support Hetfield's recovery: "It really is a moment that somehow saved and refueled our band."
You can watch the interview below:
Jason Newsted Speaks With So What! Magazine
"We were distraught, Kirk and I were tripping," Newsted said. "Lars wasn't even in the dressing room [after it happened]. He just had a towel over his head. Kirk and I were trying to still be upright. We were wondering, wondering, wondering."
Four hours later, as the three band members were waiting to hear about Hetfield's condition, their tour manager, Tony Smith, finally came back from the hospital. "He's going to be fine, he's going to be okay, he's tough as fuck," Newsted explained, recalling Smith's return to the dressing room. "The only thing he wanted to know was when we're playing again."
Newsted laughed, recalling the memory, "We didn't even know if we'd ever get to play again with him. Yeah, he was on morphine and whatever the fuck else, but he was still him...his gumption, his toughness, that insisted that we get back to the people right fucking now."
With Hetfield's passion and intensity, the band rallied.
"We regrouped behind him, in support of him, through brotherly love," Newsted told Chirazi with the utmost sincerity. "Absolute brotherly love. It was more important that he was well than anything else, but he already came out, 'Let's fucking go.' He was already there. There was no 'poor fucking me.' Because of that—because our leader showed that kind of fire—we were more than happy to get behind him like never before...I knew I was going to have to step up and do a couple more things. We all knew that and we stepped right into it."
Newsted also talked about what it was like seeing Hetfield sing without a guitar as he still performed during his recovery, and then how triumphant his return was when he could finally play again.
"It was awesome when he came back on guitar," Newsted said. "Nobody can play like that. There ain't nobody like that with the down-picking thing."
You can watch the first three parts of Newsted's So What! interview below:
Jason Newsted: The So What! Interview — Part One
Jason Newsted: The So What! Interview — Part Two
Jason Newsted: The So What! Interview — Part Three
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