Longtime Metallica bassist Jason Newsted all but ruled out a reunion with his former band, explaining that he no longer has the "physicality" to play thrash metal.
Since leaving Metallica in 2001, after 15 years that saw the band become one of the biggest rock acts in history, Newsted has struggled mightily with neck and back issues.
Speaking last year with the Florida Daily Post, Newsted revealed that he was recovering from surgeries on both of his shoulders. The bassist, guitarist and vocalist, admitted that chronic pain had gotten in the way of his music in recent years and pushed him towards other creative outlets, like visual art.
"The surgeries kind of set me back," Newsted said. "I kept playing music the best I could, and I haven't ever been able to come back all the way; I'm, like, 90-something percent full. I can't play the Metallica stuff; I couldn't do the show anymore like that."
Newsted, who briefly returned to heavy metal in 2013 with a short-lived solo project, admitted that he has often wondered if he messed up by leaving the band when he did.
He said there were times over the last 20 years when his closest family members were the only people in the world who understood the decision.
"They went to enough shows. They saw enough of the backstage stuff. They saw what took place. And they were, like, 'We get it. You do you. We'll be around for you.' But everybody else... [Would ask] 'How in the hell could you do that? You're throwing away tens of millions of dollars? Why would you do that? Why would you step out of the biggest and best band of all time? What are you thinking?'"
Despite his well-documented friction with James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich, Newsted says he has nothing negative left to say about his former bandmates. He noted that his success with Metallica has allowed him the life he has today, and he's happy to spent as much time as possible with his family.
Newsted's departure from Metallica is a central theme in its 2004 Some Kind of Monster documentary. The band's therapist in the film, Phil Towle, recently looked back on the chain of events set into motion for Metallica by the lineup change.
Towle suggested that Newsted didn't want to leave Metallica when he tendered his resignation. He said Newsted had little choice in the matter based on the events of the prior decade-plus.
In 2003, Newsted was replaced by Robert Trujillo, who remains in the band today. Newsted last appeared onstage with Metallica during the band's 2009 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction.
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