Jason Newsted Admits Painkiller Addiction

He sustained serious injuries trying to catch a bass amp in 2006, but the painkillers led to an "ugly" stint in rehab. Meanwhile, he says his former Metallica bandmate James Hetfield is "the best at playing and singing."

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Former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted has discussed his struggle with painkiller addiction for the first time.

A freak injury in 2006, where he tried to catch a bass amp, left both his shoulders seriously damaged and led to years of surgery so he could regain use of his hands, according to Noisecreep.

His arms are better now, but years of medication left him with a serious addiction to painkillers and an "ugly" stint in rehab.

"When I had my shoulder surgeries, they took over a three-and-a-half to four-year span, back and forth, left shoulder, right shoulder, left shoulder, right shoulder," Newsted told a local newspaper in Montana. "With complete bicep tears and rotator cuff tears and very ugly rehab and therapy. Painkiller addiction, the whole deal."

During his recovery, playing music was out of the question. "I only had one arm at a time, so I started painting. Now, I can use both hands equally for everything. That's how the art came. I had to have something to do because I could not play my instrument."

Meanwhile, Newsted has sung the praises of his former bandmate James Hetfield, whose performance skills still inspire him.

"He's the best at playing and singing it's just impossible to do some of those parts that he plays on guitar and still sing a straight vocal line ... He's just untouchable in that way," he told Geeks of Doom. "Being exposed to that and being able to let it rub off on you ... I will pay a lot of credit to that."

125 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MonsterOfRock
    Anyone tried playing "Battery" and sing it full throttle? Let me just tell you, the co-ordination between the vocals and the riffs is completely nonsense! Dunno how Hetfield does it night after night even at this age.
    ChucklesMginty
    It's the same with Megadeth too, I have no idea how Dave plays Holy Wars and sings.
    zalant
    I know! At times, I can barely play the verse riff (correctly), let alone even think about singing over it.
    Do Re Mi
    He has to let himself drool a lot. I saw him play Rust In Peace all the way through. So much spittle.
    Theophillis
    Holy Wars is simple to me, because the vocal and rhythm have common accents. Battery is a nightmare because the vocal and rhythm have accents about a semiquaver off each other. Most people that claim to sing and play it are doing it wrong.
    Rimfrost
    I actually think he mentioned that at one point, he joked about how stupid he was to write alle these complex rhytm sections on Rust in Peace, when he knew that he had to sing while playing them. Think it was in relation to the tours they did recently where they played the album in its entirety.
    goddamncanadian
    Obvious troll is obvious.
    eatfresh1736
    It's not automatically trolling if someone mentions Megadeth in a Metallica article.
    bmarlatt1685
    Yeah, God forbid someone actually like both Metallica and Megadeth.
    goddamncanadian
    Well, it appears as if no one can prove the "ballbag" wrong then. sonofgkex: Are you forbidden to write the word "testicles" because your mother will take away your internet privileges? Or is it because you physically lack the word in question? Please, I encourage you to respond. bmarlatt1685: For the record, I legally own both band's respective discographies in each one's entirety, and appreciate both Metallica and Megadeth in the same capacity. So please, don't assume you know anything about the argument I'm making without actually reading my comment.
    link no1
    1) Testiclebag would be a pretty shitty insult. 2) I own both bands discographies legally aswell. I don't see what you're point is though considering you where still trying to imply that if anybody leaves a Megadeth comment on a Metallica related article (or vise versa) then it automatically an attempt at trolling.
    goddamncanadian
    Sure it is. Ever notice how Metallica is never brought up in a Dave Mustaine / Megadeth related article? Prove me wrong if I am. Lo and behold, Megadeth has once again taken over the comments, and in a Jason Newsted article yet.
    6-String_Madman
    What I learned in thrash is you don't over-think it. You should be unconscious while doing it... Thrashing your way to the last note is how it should be done.
    Wisthler
    *Raises hand* Both battery and holy wars as it was mentioned arround here. Singing them wasn't hard (at least for me) but yeah, the co-ordination took me a good while, at least a month for both.
    Dr Funkenstein
    "He's the best at playing and singing it's just impossible to do some of those parts that he plays on guitar and still sing a straight vocal line ... He's just untouchable in that way," So true.
    Dude475
    Dude that isnt true. James hetfield is no where close to being as good at Rob flynn! HE's still good though.
    PoorePlaysBass
    James is top notch. That's all there is to it. One of the best metal frontmen we've ever seen.
    Orion999
    I have a lot of respect for Rob Flynn, but think about what you're saying, man! Flynn himself credits Hetfield as being a huge influence. Hetfield was one of the first to do it (at least with the level of intensity required from both the vocal and guitar parts), and he is still one of the best. Admittedly his voice isn't what it used to be, but his coordination is absurd.
    Dude475
    I'm not that he's bad. He good but I am going to stick to my guns and say rob Flynn is better. It's called an opinion.
    crushingmetal
    Honestly I dunno what's wrong with you people, sure Hetfield did it first, sure Hetfield inspired Flynn, but Machine Head has some far more difficult rhythms than Metallica, and Flynn nails them and sings at the same time. Pick up a guitar and try it for yourself. Machine Head even use upstrokes in their riffs!
    link no1
    I love both bands but Hetfield plays and sings much harder things at the same time than Rob does. For a start a lot of Rob's vocals are not that hard for that type of style, especially compared to some of the vocal melody's that James does. Also why does it matter that Machine Head uses upstokes more? Infact, Hetfield can play Machine Head's songs using down strokes only and looks like he is having an easier time doing so than Rob himself. Go ahead, search for "James Hetfield Aesthetics of Hate", I'll wait.
    lithium_boy
    you were winning me over till you bragged about the upstrokes.... been doing that for years, really not much to it. just gives you a slightly different sound.
    Zerath
    Gotta agree on that! Machine heads rythm tracks are near impossible to sing and play at the same time
    rickjarzy
    try to play and sing "sad but true" - to sing N' play that stuff you must be more kind of a "drummer" than a singer and a guitarist
    PowerStruggle
    I know what you mean! As a drummer myself, I often found myself being quite frustrated at former guitarists' lack of rhythmic awareness. I wished some of them would take some basic drum lessons to appreciate rhythm, tempo, how to count when there are no notes and how all of these are important to keeping in time! Also Newstead kicks ass.
    Theophillis
    Jesus, you are SOOO right! I spend most of my time with my students working on rhythm. There's this huge focus on notes, scales and modes when most (yes MOST) learning guitarists don't have the rhythm to wait and count a dotted minim.
    BradIon1995
    Yes! I actually took music theory classes in school, so I wasn't too bad, but ever since I started dabbling on the drums my sense of rhythm has improved tenfold.
    JMZ08
    What a champ to be able to combat all of that and still have the drive to release an EP and tour. Gotta give credit to that! It's hard work on the road even if you're the most healthy specimen.
    Crimson.King
    Not a Metallica fan, but good for Jason. Some people get in the painkiller addiction thing and never get out. In the early 90's I got something called ulnar neuropathy where your elbow funny-bone nerve is constantly being pressured and your whole arm goes numb...painfully numb, not comfortably numb I had surgery, spent some time painting, and after 3 years was back playing guitar. Doctors kept trying to give me pain pills and I was like, "Nooo, I'm not even going to go there"
    Lol Natures
    I wanted to hear more about his attempt to "catch a bass amp". Was it falling down? Was he fishing for it? (Ha ha, get it, because it's a bass amp) Did someone throw it to him? I WANT TO KNOW.
    jon.peebles
    I had to read that part 4 times to make sure I read it correctly haha. And on a related note, who the hell is just tossing bass amps around? And HOW?
    jon.peebles
    I had to read that part 4 times to make sure I read it correctly haha. And on a related note, who the hell is just tossing bass amps around? And HOW? EDIT: Not sure how this got posted twice. My bad.
    Vicryl 2.0
    i think it was during his stint with voivod, and they were setting up his bass amp and it fell off and he attempted to catch it.
    JimDawson
    I can't even say one sentence while playing basic stuff on guitar. Hell, even a simple "yes" or "no" makes me screw up most of the time...
    Clarkinator
    I'm the same way... heck I have to make an effort when playing live to look up at the crowd, because I just want to stare at the neck the whole time. So I can't even imagine singing while riffing at the same time.
    Abacus11
    Drug addiction can happen to anyone. Good for him for getting clean (NOT EASY!) and releasing new music. The EP hints at a very promising band.
    TimLarkin
    This EP hints at a steaming pile of shit that a lot of people are going to eat with a giant grin on their faces just because it has Jason's name on the front. Also Jason looks like a ****ing Muppet.
    SirWurscht
    Ever heard the first two Flotsam and Jetsam albums? All written by Newsted and all ****in great!! There's no "better" in musicianship but I say that Newsted is a great bassist and didn't get the space in Metallica he deserved.
    Sylosis27
    No joke, but I thought the article was going to be about him being addicted to "Painkiller" the album by Judas Priest.
    shamalama33
    Nice Guy Newsted...the opposite of douchebag Dave...
    lawrenced92618
    Dave seemed like a really nice guy when I saw him live a few months ago. All he did was thank the fans for everything inbetween songs. Newsted and Dave both seem pretty cool to me.
    ][v][ETAL
    I don't get why people keep mentioning Flyn or Mustaine... Im mean like, have you seen hetfield play live? All that moving around the stage, jumping around, and doing other shit while playing and singing and still being able to stay on track with the song is just amazing...
    Dude475
    Yes he good but rob flynn is better. HE's way more technical in his playing and still gives a kick vocal line and live show.
    cyclonus
    What's with all the random Jason Newstead news on here all of a sudden?
    crazysam23_Atax
    He started his own band and released an EP. Why wouldn't there be a bit of news?
    Igamikun
    He released a new single and so he's relevant again? Gotta say it doesn't surprise me that he's on something looking at the website for his new releases.
    TimLarkin
    He is the worst bassist Metallica ever had. His new EP sounds like trash. He should just stick to painting doors.
    crazyhorse174
    You're the worst bassist Metallica ever had. Your EP sounds like trash. You should stick to painting doors. See? I can post random troll shit as well.
    centermass
    metallica has had 3 bassists and all of them are absolutely top notch! you sir are a ****ing wanker!
    metallica-#1
    5* actually (6 if you ask Hulk Hogan): Ron, Cliff, Jason, Bob Rock.. and Rob.
    6-String_Madman
    I've heard the Ron's Garage sessions Demo Tape. Ron is one hell of a bass player. Bob Rock on the other hand is a hands-on producer. He may not be as technical as the other 4 but you know that he can play. I watched his live performance with the band back in the Raiders pre-game show back in 2002/2003 (Metallica Fan Can 5).
    centermass
    true but i really didnt include bob and ron just because even though they were considered the bass players for a time they never reallllly were ya know!!! but i totally agree and no hulk... hahaha..... on any account the original comment is still as lame and unnecessary as any i have seen in awhile !!! so the dude is still a wanker.....
    MDoggDX316
    You realize this doesn't invalidate the comment you're responding? There can still be a "worst" of the 3 if they're all good.
    Abacus11
    Yeah Tim? What have YOU done? Jason Newsted's been in Metallica, Flotsam and Jetsam and now he's got his new project. You must have an impressive list of accomplishments if you're criticizing him...
    TimLarkin
    One does not need to have a longer list of accomplishments than someone in order to criticize that person. That doesn't make any sense. I don't have to be a professional musician to dislike Jason Newstead. I think his music is terrible, and I also think he was the worst bassist Metallica had. That's my opinion, I'm sure you have your own.
    Wisthler
    Some people don't realize that arguing with a troll is not as easy as it seems, Tim's repply to Abacus is a good example.
    Theophillis
    I actually agree with you about Newsted being the worst bassist Metallica have had. Playing with a pick is very limiting.
    PoorePlaysBass
    Ballbag, I agree with you this time! Compared to Cliff and Rob, Jason doesn't even come close. Shoot, I'll even throw the original bassist Ron McGovney into that mix...Never seen videos with him, but he has to be better than constantly picking root notes. Jason is pretty terrible compared to the other bassists.
    Zaqq
    He's great live, and also he sings well. Rob's technique is a bit better, but he's boring to see on live performances. Cliff... well, I wish Metallica had never needed to change their bassist and he were alive.
    theunforgiven13
    i think rob is does a great job live, he may not sing or scream as well as jason but he gets the crowd pretty into it and hes an awesome bassist
    noodles_wazaman
    Why would you not pick root notes when they are a thrash metal band slamming out power chords and open E all the time???
    SirWurscht
    Ever listened to the first two Flotsam&Jetsam albums? They're great, you know? And written by Newsted. There is no such thing as "better" in musicianship, but I say that Newsted is a great bassist and songwriter who never got the space in Metallica he would've deserved!
    METAL JEFF
    Jason is a week individual.Always bitching about something.Metallica sensed it right away.that is why it didn't work out.
    Abacus11
    You're just all kinds of bright huh? Newsted was a member of Metallica for about 15 years... I'm not sure if that counts as the band "sensing it right away." As far as being a "week" individual, (I'm assuming you meant to say "weak" as opposed to the measurement of seven days) what do you base that on? He spent a decade and a half as the bassist for one of the most popular heavy metal bands ever and has started a new project after battling drug addiction. Sure sounds weak (or "week") to me...
    Dylan_Guitar93
    Gonna be honest I thought that shoulder thing incident was just a stint to get himself out of a commitment with Supernova. But great to hear it is now on the mend or mended
    almudjk
    I can hear influences of James in Jason's EP. Although it did leave me with the question, did Jason have more of an impact on the sound of 90's Metallica? Than what it seems
    6-String_Madman
    Did it with my band. Extremely hard song to play but we managed to pull it off cleanly after a few tries. My mindset is to try not to be conscious while playing it (guitars and vocals). That's what the essence of thrash metal. You don't over-think it. Just thrash your way to the last note. hahahaha....