Metallica rejected hiring Primus frontman Les Claypool in favor of Jason Newsted after Cliff Burton’s tragic death.
Kerrang asked if James Hetfield really told him, “Man, you’re much too talented. Go do something wonderfully weird on your own.”
Claypool said, “He definitely did not say that. He said that later on in an interview, which was very kind of him. I think they thought I was a freak. They were very nice — Lars [Ulrich, drums] was particularly kind — and, of course, I knew Kirk [Hammett, guitar] from high school. But I think that James thought I was some sort of thug. Put it this way, I definitely didn’t look the part.”
Claypool “wasn’t really into metal at the time” of his audition. Jason Newsted ‘Can’t Return’ To Metallica For A Sad Reason.
“I just knew that it was my buddy Kirk’s band and that they were doing really well. It wasn’t until the audition that I got a sense of what was really going on. It was a bit of a heavy thing, the audition, and I didn’t realize until I got there that it was kind of a big deal. Afterwards I fantasized about quitting my carpentry job and touring Japan with them, but I didn’t get the gig.”
He added, “Well, however it would have sounded, I would have only lasted for a month or two before they kicked me out. They’ve got enough chefs in the kitchen in that band — they don’t need a guy like me. And the guy they have right now is unbelievable. Robert Trujillo is one of the nicest and sweetest guys I’ve ever met in the industry, and his playing is unbelievable.”