Jan. 17 -- Metallica is in the market for a new bassist following the big announcement that longtime member Jason Newsted is leaving the band.
Newsted came on board 14 years ago after the death of bassist Cliff Burton in a bus accident. Newsted has been jamming with the heavy metal icons to the delight of teenage boys ever since, but at last the rock 'n' roll lifestyle has taken its toll.
Recently the band has been getting more headlines for their politics than their music. Metallica launched a controversial legal battle against Napster in 2000 for allegedly fostering the illegal file-sharing of their copyrighted music. The move received jeers from fans who enjoyed swapping the tunes over the Internet. The lawsuit is still pending.
Time to Go
Newsted issued a statement on Metallica.com expressing his fondness for his bandmates. It appears to be an amicable departure.
"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," he said.
"This is the most difficult decision of my life, made in the best interest of my family, myself, and the continued growth of Metallica," said Newsted.
Newsted contributed to six of the band's albums, including Metallica, Load and Re-Load, which have sold more than 55 million copies worldwide to date.
Band to Keep Rocking
Drummer Lars Ulrich says the band will keep going without Newsted. In a statement, he praised Newsted's contributions to Metallica's history.
"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," Ulrich said.
"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," he said.
The guys head into the studio in the spring to record a new album for release later in the year.