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Throughout the years, Metallica has gone through a couple bass players and guitarists. Without them Metallica wouldn't be where they are today.  Find out who the past members were and how they contributed to Metallica's fame.



Jason Newsted

The Vitals:

pastmembers_jason_lrg   Jason Newsted
  Birth date:
March 4th, 1963
  From: Battle Creek, Michigan
  Personal: Never married
  Physique: Blue eyes, brown/red hair, 5'9"/1.75 meters tall                         
  Joined Metallica: Fall 1986
  Left Metallica: Early 2001
  Instrument: Bass, backup vocals
  Quirky Quote: "We're the token metal act on these award shows."

The Story:

Bassist Jason Newsted may not have been an original member of Metallica, but he was present for the band's rise from the metal underground to the top of the charts worldwide from the late-'80s up to the dawn of the 21st century. Born on March 4, 1963, in Battle Creek, MI, Jason and his family relocated when he was 14 to Kalamazoo, MI. Shortly thereafter Jason discovered rock music via Kiss and their blood-spurting, fire-breathing demon bassist, Gene Simmons. He soon discovered other popular metal bands of the day (Ted Nugent, Rush, Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult), all the while learning bass and playing in local bands.

In 1981, Jason and a friend left Michigan with hopes of making it to California to start up a band, but made it only as far as Phoenix, where they remained. Jason formed a new band shortly thereafter, dubbed Dogz, which changed their name to Flotsam & Jetsam by 1983, specializing in a newly founded metal style -- thrash. It was also around this time that Jason discovered the front runners of thrash, Metallica, quickly becoming his favorite band. Flotsam & Jetsam signed with the Metal Blade record company, appearing on an edition of the label's Metal Massacre compilation and recording a debut album, 1986's Doomsday for the Deceiver. All the while Jason was the band's leader, serving as the main songwriter and lyricist in addition to his bass duties.


Flotsam was quickly moving up the ladder when Metallica (who had just released their most successful album yet, the classic Master of Puppets release) suffered the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton mid-tour in September of 1986. Metallica decided to soldier on and began auditioning bass players to fill the void left by Burton. Despite a promising future with Flotsam & Jetsam, Jason opted to try out for Metallica and got the gig. Metallica picked up where their tour left off shortly after naming Jason their new member and spent 1987 working on their highly anticipated follow-up to Master.

Although 1988's epic prog-metal concept album And Justice for All was a major hit and broke Metallica to the big time, Jason's bass was barely audible in the mix, while his songwriting talents were barely utilized at all (he earned a lone co-songwriting credit with the album-opener, "Blackened"). By the release of 1991's self-titled release, Metallica had become one of the world's most popular rock bands -- a more straightforward musical approach and embracement of music videos had paid off, as the album would eventually sell over ten million copies in the U.S. alone. After a mammoth two-year tour in support of the album had ground to a halt in 1993, the members took time off.

It wasn't until 1996 that the quartet would issue their next studio album, Load, but the group took some heat from longtime fans due to their new look (short hair, designer threads) and a more varied musical style that embraced other forms besides metal. But Load was another sizable hit, as was its follow-up a year later, Reload. 1998 saw a compilation of cover tunes from over the years, Garage Inc., while 1999's symphonic metal experiment, S&M, was well received. Jason had also found time to guest on other artist's recordings (Voivod's Phobos, Jim Martin's Milk & Blood, U.N.K.L.E.'s Psyence Fiction, and Sepultura's Against) and was set to launch a side-project titled Echo Brain in 2000, which appeared to cause some strife within Metallica -- confirmed by a tell-all interview by all four band members in Playboy magazine in early 2001. Around the same time the aforementioned Playboy interview hit the stands, Jason abruptly left Metallica, offering the statement, "Due to private and personal reasons, and the physical damage I've done to myself over the years while playing the music I love, I must step away from the band."
On April 4, 2009, Newsted was present with Metallica and played with the band alongside current bassist Robert Trujillo at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cleveland.[24] It was his first performance with the band in nearly 9 years, their last performance together having taken place at the 2000 VH1 Music Awards. Both Newsted and Trujillo performed onstage at the same time, which was a first for the band. On 10 December 2011, Jason reunited on stage with Metallica during each of the four nights Metallica played as part of band's 30 year anniversary celebration at the Fillmore Theater. 


  Cliff Burton

The Vitals:

pastmembers_cliff_lrg   Cliff Burton
  Birth date:
February 10, 1962
  Deceased date: September 27, 1986
  From: Castro Valley, California
  Personal: Never married
  Physique: Green eyes, blond/brown hair, 5'7"/1.7 meters tall                   
  Joined Metallica: March 5, 1983
  Instrument: Bass, backup vocals
  Quirky Quote: "We're not trying to be something fancy, it's just us doing
  what we do and trying to keep it that way."

The Story:

Although Metallica would become a '90s heavy metal phenomenon (due largely in part to their multi-million selling self-titled release from 1991), the band's major force early on was undeniably their late-bassist Cliff Burton. Cliff had a major say in Metallica's music, look, and direction, which was an unglamorous slap in the face against glam metal (ripped jeans, shirts of their fave bands, long unkempt hair, etc.) with absolutely no interest in videos or the mainstream. After Cliff's untimely death in 1986, Metallica enjoyed their biggest success, but wound up going completely against what they originally stood for.

Cliff was born on February 10, 1962, in Castro Valley, CA, and took up bass as a teenager. Influenced mainly by '70s heavy metal (Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Rush, Thin Lizzy, etc.), Cliff retained his retro "bell-bottom jeans" look well into the fashion conscious '80s, making him a true original. His playing style was unmistakable as well; he played a lead-style on bass that was often drenched with distortion. Guitarist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich realized this when they caught Cliff playing L.A. with his band Trauma and they immediately asked Cliff to join their new band, Metallica. Cliff accepted on only one condition: that they move to San Francisco. The members agreed and Metallica was on their way.


While the majority of "metal" bands of the era were wearing makeup and spandex, singing about partying, and playing nothing more than hard-edged pop, Metallica went completely against the grain. Their music owed a lot to the British metal bands of the early '80s (Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Diamond Head), as evidenced by their rough debut album, 1983's Kill 'Em All (which saw guitarist Kirk Hammett replace original guitarist Dave Mustaine), that included Cliff's vicious-bass solo "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)."

The band was signed to Elektra in 1984, which issued their exceptional release Ride the Lightning, easily one of metal's all-time classics. But the best was yet to come; Metallica's third release was unquestionably their finest hour -- 1986's Master of Puppets -- and it broke into the U.S. Top 30 and went gold without any radio or MTV support. After completing a spring/summer opening slot with Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica embarked on a European tour. What should have been a time of celebration quickly turned to tragedy on the morning of September 27, 1986, when Cliff was killed when Metallica's tour bus was involved in a horrible accident. With mass success around the corner, the band decided to soldier on with ex-Flotsam & Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted taking Burton's place. Burton's tenure with the band was celebrated with the 1987 home video Cliff 'Em All and a poem of his (as well as a few unused riffs) turned up on the song "To Live Is to Die" on Metallica's ...And Justice for All release. Despite scaling greater commercial heights after Cliff's death, all three Cliff-era Metallica releases remain their finest.

On September 30, 2006 The Cliff Burton Memorial Stone was unvield at the Gyllene Rasten restaurant/bar in Dörarp (outside Ljungby), Sweden located along the highway where Cliff died.  The stone was later moved to a new location to protect it from weather damage during Sweden's harsh winters.
In December 2011, Metallica celebrated their 30th year anniversarry with four shows at the Fillmore, in San Francisico.  Cliff's memory was a place of honor with tributes given each night.  The first tribut was fittingly given off by his father, Roy Burton, who told stories about Cliff and the MetBoy back in the early years of their career.  Robert Trujilo played (Ansethesia)-Pulling Teeth on the first night's show in memory of Cliff Burton. 


Dave Mustaine

The Vitals:

  Dave Mustaine
  Birth date:
September 13, 1961
  From: La Mesa, California
  Personal: Married, 2 children
  Physique: Hazel Eyes, strawberry blonde hair, 6”/1.8 meters tall                 
  Joined Metallica: Early 1982
  Left Metallica: March 1983
  Instrument: Guitar
  Quirky Quote: “If you guys are going to be throwing beer bottles at us, at
  least make sure they're full.”

The Story:

Dave Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is a heavy metal guitarist, songwriter, and singer. As the central figure of Megadeth, he is one of a handful of people considered to have pioneered thrash metal and speed metal.
Dave  was born September 13, 1961 in La Mesa, California, United States. His parents divorced when he was seven, and he grew up bouncing around various low-income Southern California suburbs. As a teenager, he was often left on his own or with his sisters and their (sometimes abusive) husbands. During his younger years, Dave was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, but he never dedicated his life to the religion through baptism.

In 1981, he left the band Panic to join Metallica, serving as lead guitarist for the young thrash band for two years. According to the story, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich had posted an ad in a local newspaper called "The Recycler", looking for a lead guitarist. In his own words, Dave remembers his first meeting with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich: "I was convinced that I should be in the band and went to rehearsal. I was tuning up when all the other guys in the band went into another room. They weren't talking to me, so I went in and said, 'Well? Am I in the band or not?' and they said, 'You've got the gig.' I couldn't believe how easy it had been and suggested that we get some beer to celebrate.

"Dave's relationship's with Metallica, however, wasn't slated to last, " Brian Slagel, an early former manager of the band, recalls in an interview: "Dave was an incredibly talented guy, but he also had an incredibly large problem with alcohol and drugs. He'd get wasted and become a real crazy person, a raging maniac, and the other guys just couldn't deal with that after a while. I mean, they all drank of course, but I guess they could all hold their liquor better than Dave, and I could see they were beginning to get fed up of seeing Dave drunk out of his mind all the time."  One of the final straws for the band was on the road trip from San Francisco to New York to meet up with producer Johnny Z.


The band nearly didn't make it: a crash with a jeep during a snow storm near Wyoming left the band's touring van in a ditch. Nobody in Metallica's van was hurt, but since the incident occurred while Dave was driving punch drunk, the others members silently agreed that as soon as they started the new phase of their career, they had to get rid of Dave. In April of 1983, Dave was fired, officially for his drug use and personality clashes with founding members Ulrich and James Hetfield. The band packed up Dave's gear, drove him to a Greyhound bus station, and put him on a bus back to Los Angeles, leaving their former band member returning home with a trauma that stuck him into a severe depression for years.  During his short time in Metallica, Dave  toured with the band, co-wrote several songs which were later featured on the albums "Kill 'Em All" and "Ride The Lightning" and recorded several songs with the band, including the "No Life Til Leather" demo tape.

In 1983, Dave was extremely angry after being kicked out of Metallica and his only goal in life was to create a band more successful than Metallica, so he returned to Los Angeles after departing Metallica and formed Megadeth with bass player Dave Ellefson, Kerry King on guitar and Gar Samuelson on drums.  Megadeth became a mega-successful band in its own right.  
In 2010-11 Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax played a series of concerts around the world,  known as the Big Four, starting on June 16, 2010 at the Sonisphere Restival in Warsaw, Poland. On 10 December 2011, Dave reunited on stage with Metallica to play five songs as part of band's 30 year anniversary celebration at the Fillmore Theater.


Ron McGovney

The Vitals:

pastmembers_ron_lrg   Ron McGovney
  Birth date:
February 11, 1962
  From: Los Angeles, California
  Personal: 2 Children
  Physique: Dark blond hair, medium build
  Joined Metallica: Late 1981
  Left Metallica: February 1983                                                                  
  Instrument: Bass
  Quirky Quote:  

The Story:

Ron McGovney (born November 2, 1962) was Metallica's first bass player when they formed in the late 1970's. He was replaced by Cliff Burton. After leaving/being dismissed from Metallica, Ron was disillusioned with music and sold most of his equipment. However, several years later, he was enticed into another band called Phantasm with ex-Hirax (at that time) singer Katon W. De Pena. Ron found the label of "Metallica's first bassist" too difficult to handle, and he left Phantasm after a handful of shows.

Ron met James Hetfield in high school. They became friends through a mutual love of heavy rock, and alienation from their peers. Hetfield convinced Ron to learn bass guitar, bought an instrument and an amplifier, and proceeded to teach Ron. Soon, the pair moved into one of Ron's parents' rental houses, which was due to be demolished.


Ron noted that his time in Metallica was not enjoyable. Ron found himself being not only the bassist, but also the manager of the band, having to do promotion work (he was responsible for the "Power Metal" slogan that Metallica used in its early days) as well as drive the band to gigs. He believed that his efforts in the band were not appreciated, and felt insulted when the band began searching for a new bassist (Cliff Burton, later a legendary figure in heavy metal history) behind his back. Ron eventually left Metallica after their first lead guitarist, Dave Mustaine, poured beer down the neck of his bass guitar. When Ron turned on the amp his bass was plugged into, he received a huge electric shock.

Ron recorded several demos with Metallica including one from his own garage in '82, the Power Metal Demo, No Life 'Till Leather and the notable live demo, Metal Up Your Ass. Twenty years later, around 2005 or so, Ron sold most of his Metallica memorabilia on eBay, including the bass guitar he used while he played in Metallica. 
McGovney ceased his professional career thereafter, but gave sporadic interviews and appeared at Metallica-related events. Phantasm discussed a possible reunion in 2007, but this ultimately failed to materialize.  Ron performed publicly for the first time in 23 years on December 10, 2011, playing two songs onstage with Metallica, Dave Mustaine and early studio guitarist Lloyd Grant at The Fillmore as a part of the celebrations surrounding the end of the group's third decade. 


Other Members

Although they did not stay with the band long, it is to be noted that the early carnations of the band included guitarists: Lloyd Grant, Brad Parker, and Jeff Warner prior to Dave Mustaine joining the band. Later in Metallica's History,when Jason Newsted left, the band's long-time producer Bob Rock took over bass playing on the St. Anger Album.