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“You’re the one”: Jason Newsted discusses his unforgettable first meeting with Cliff Burton’s mother

Jason Newsted performs with Metallica at the Werchter Festival in Torhout, Belgium on July 3, 1993
(Image credit: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images)

On September 27, 1986, Metallica bassist Cliff Burton was tragically killed when the band's tour bus crashed in Sweden.

The surviving three members of the thrash metal group decided to carry on, but not without a great deal of discussion first, not to mention the blessing of Burton's family. 

Out of the dozens of bass guitar players who auditioned to be Burton's replacement, it was Flotsam and Jetsam bassist Jason Newsted who impressed the group the most during his initial audition in the band's home base of San Francisco, California. 

Newsted – asked back for another, more in-depth audition – quickly returned to San Francisco a second time, where he received the seal of approval from Metallica's inner circle, including Jan Burton, Cliff's mother.

In a new interview with Metal Hammer, Newsted recalled his emotional first encounter with Burton's mother.

“That evening, it was the third day that I played with the boys, I think I stayed overnight in San Francisco for the first time,” Newsted said. “That third night, they had ‘the elders’ come in for their blessing. So Torben Ulrich, the Burtons, a couple of the crew guys, people that had been there from the get-go. We got through about six tunes: MasterFade To Black, …Bell Tolls, the masterpieces.

"So I am just composing myself for a second, putting my bass down, turning off Cliff’s amp – I’m playing fucking Cliff’s amp dude! Jan [Burton] comes walking in the room by herself, and she grabs me, and gets my attention. 

"She says, ‘Great job, son’ and I’m like, ‘Oh fuck!’ She embraced me, and it seemed like it was quite a while, and she said, ‘You’re the one, you must be the one. Please be safe, we love you,’ and she gave me a kiss. That was 35 years ago, and I'll never, ever forget it.”

The Newsted interview is part of Metal Hammer's ‘Metallica 40’ issue, which celebrates the metal pioneers' 40th anniversary with 40 exclusive new interviews with a breathtaking all-star cast of band members, famous friends and other important figures in the band's history.

To pick up a copy of the magazine, stop by Magazines Direct.

Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at guitarworld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.