Jason Newsted (Former Metallica Bassist) the Unknown Story

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In 1998 I was in Okinawa, Japan when I received my Metallica fan club magazine which informed me of the bands upcoming tour. It was actually happening, Metallica was coming to Japan. I knew immediately I had to get tickets. So I checked with the Metallica club to see if I could get tickets through them for their Tokyo show. Unfortunately they weren’t sending tickets to fan club members overseas. So I did the next best thing, I went to a ticket office in Okinawa and purchased tickets. Next I had to get time off work and buy plane tickets to go to Tokyo from Okinawa. Once I got that squared away, then I just had to wait for the time to arrive.’, ‘The time finally came, I left for Tokyo on May 5th, 1998. Upon arriving at Narita airport I had to make my way to Ginza where I was staying. I went to the hotel and checked in. Dropped my bags off and took a shower. I decided to relax the first day because on the 6th is when I was going to the concert at the Tokyo dome in Budokan. I had purchased an extra ticket because I had a Japanese friend who wanted to go to the concert with me. So I went out to meet him and give him his ticket. When I met him in Shinjuku he had some troubling news. Because he was in a band called Janus and they were part of the X-Japan family. The lead singer from the band X-Japan had died and he had to attend his funeral, so he wasn’t able to make it to the concert. So I had this extra ticket and I didn’t know anybody else to give it to.

The following day I wore my Metallica fan club t-shirt and was pumped and ready for the concert. During the train ride I decided it would be best for me to try to sell my extra ticket outside the stadium. I stood around for a little while and nobody wanted to buy my extra ticket. Since I didn’t want to wait any longer I decided that it was a lost cause trying to sell it. So I decided to just go into the concert. As I was walking around the stadium to find the entrance there was a bouncer standing outside. He saw my t-shirt and asked me if I was a Metallica fan club member. I told him I was, then he told me that if I came back the following day I would be able to get backstage to meet the band. I thought this was some pretty cool news so it made me more pumped to go in and see the concert. Once I was in the stadium I was anxious for the concert to start. It was unbelievable, I was half way around the world from where I had seen my first Metallica concert in Ionia, Michigan, and I was about to see Metallica live again. Fifteen minutes into the concert I had already lost my voice from yelling as loud as I could. The concert went on and it was a kick ass show. After the show I took the train back to Ginza voiceless and wore out from attending an awesome performance.

The following day I went back to Budokan to see about getting backstage to meet the band. I walked around talking to some staff who pointed me in the right direction to get in line. Since I was so early I decided to buy some pamphlets to get autographed by the band. Then I found the line and I was the 2nd person in line waiting to get backstage. I started talking to Japanese guy in line in front of me and he was from near Osaka. He then asked me since I came from so far away that if I wanted to be first in line. I said, “Hell yeah” and he let me go in front of him. While waiting to go backstage Niclas Swanlund (writer for the Metallica fan club magazine) came out and told us what was going on. He told us that because the band was conducting interviews with local radio stations and TV stations, only Jason Newsted would be coming out to meet us. I must admit, I was a little disappointed because I was looking forward to meeting James Hetfield, the lead singer. Niclas Swanlund went on to tell us that Jason doesn’t like flashes from cameras. So if we had a camera we needed to cover the flash. Since all I had was a $10 disposable camera this was no big deal I would just cover the flash with my finger.

They escorted the line backstage where we waited for Jason to come out. When Jason finally came out I was surprised to see that me standing 6 foot 1 inch was taller than short little Jason who was only 5 feet 10 inches tall. As he walked out I snapped a picture with my finger over the flash as he walked up to me. When he got to me I gave him my pamphlets for him to sign and I told him that I was from Michigan too. He said, “Oh yeah, where about?” I told him I was from Saranac and before I said anything else, he said, “Oh yeah, that’s up near my aunt in Ionia”. After he signed my pamphlets he started working his way down the line to the other fan club members. He made it to the 4th person and he paused for a second. He said, “Where am I?” I blurted out, “You’re in fucking Japan man.” He then glanced down and said, “I know that dude”. He then proceeded down the rest of the line when a guy came out and took Jason outside to show him a Harley Davidson motorcycle that had Metallica painted on the gas tank. Once he came back in, he was walking on his way to the concert. I was so excited that I just met Jason Newsted from Metallica I wanted to say, “Rock on” before his show. As he was walking by, I blurted out, “Jason!” and before I got to say “rock on”. He just shook his head and I heard him mumble to the person he was walking with, “These fans” then I couldn’t hear what else he said. It was as if he was getting an attitude because I wanted to let him know I appreciated their music.

I ended up venturing back to Okinawa where I told my coworkers about my experience of going to the Metallica concert and getting backstage to meet Jason Newsted. I didn’t forget to leave out the part about him being a little guy with a big attitude towards his fans. I brought in my pictures after having them developed and the picture of Jason did not turn out since I wasn’t able to use a flash, but my picture of Niclas Swanlund and me did turn out. After that one experience I never looked at the band quite the same so in 2001 when I heard news that Jason was leaving the band I was not heart broken. Once I heard Metallica’s 3rd bassist was going to be Rob Trujillo, previously from Ozzy, I knew the band was going to rock again.

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