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Remember that crazed bassist whipping his hair like a furry pendulum, arms holding his instrument while playing at warp speed, and sweat spraying like a sprinkler system gone rogue? That was Jason Newsted, Metallica‘s live-show secret weapon from the late 80s to the late 90s. In a recent interview on the band’s official podcast, The Metallica Report, Newsted dug deep into the electrifying energy he poured into those legendary performances, revealing a dedication bordering on physical insanity.

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“My forte, my strength in Metallica in my time, was the live show. That is all that mattered to me, everything else came second.” Newsted declared. “So whatever I could do to go all the way and leave every fucking ounce on the stage, that was part of the program for that particular stage set. Any time that I had to do anything extra, that’s what I could give, that’s where I felt the most confident, that’s where I got the most pats on the back from the guys, is when I was doing my live thing, sweating my nuts off, background vocals, spinning fucking windmills. All that shit.

“If you look back, I don’t spend a lot of time looking back, but every once in a while, somebody will send me a video of this, ‘Jason, how’s you head?’, or these kinda things. ‘Doesn’t your neck hurt?’ ‘You got headaches?’…I look at the footage and I’m like, ‘What the fuck?!’ If you count the actual times that I spun that shit, or that I…I never fucking stopped! You got two hours and twenty minutes, and there had to be tens of thousands of gestures of me pushing my vertebrae out, per night! Thousands and thousands! 

Marveling at his younger self’s resilience, he added: “You look back, like, ‘Dude, what the fuck. No wonder your shoulder is screwed, no wonder your fucking C6 is all jolting off the back of your back. Now these days it’s a little better, but goddamn occupational hazards and all that kind of thing. That’s what I could give, bro. That’s what I could give so people remembered and came back the next time.”

While Rob Trujillo may hold the title of longest-serving bassist, there’s no denying that Newsted, for a glorious decade, was the band’s live-wire, the unhinged jester who soundtracked headbanging history.

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