METALLICA STAR QUITS BAND

Jason Newsted leaves for "private and personal reasons, and the physical damage that I have done to myself over the years playing the music I love"...

METALLICA bass playerJASON NEWSTED has left the band.

In a brief statement delivered this afternoon (January 17) he said: “Due to private and personal reasons, and the physical damage that I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love, I must step away from the band. This is the most difficult decision of my life, made in the best interest of my family, myself, and the continued growth of Metallica. I extend my love, thanks, and best wishes to my brothers – James, Lars, and Kirk and the rest of the Metallica family, friends, and fans whom have made these years so unforgettable.”

Newsted was with the band for 14 years, joining from Flotsam And Jetsam in the autumn of 1986 following the death of bassist Cliff Burton. He played on six Metallica albums, helping the group sell 55 million records worldwide. There has been no indication given as to a possible replacement, or if the “physical damage” relates to a serious problem.

A spokesperson for Metallica said that there would be no further details released today.

Metallica frontman James Hetfield said in today’s statement: “Playing with someone who has such unbridled passion for music will forever be a huge inspiration. On stage every night, he was a driving force to us all, fans and band alike. His connection will never be broken.”

Band leader Lars Ulrich added: “We part ways with Jason with more love, more mutual respect, and more understanding of each other than at any other point in the past. James, Kirk and I look forward to embracing the next chapter of Metallica with both a huge amount of appreciation for the last 14 years with Jason and the excitement of rising to the challenges that lay ahead to make Metallica shine brighter than ever.”

Later this spring, Metallica will begin writing and recording a new studio album, with release sometime in late 2001 or early 2002.