JASON NEWSTED Remembers Playing Advance Tape Of METALLICA's 'Black Album' For FOREIGNER's LOU GRAMM
September 13, 2021
In a new interview with the METALLICA fan-club magazine So What!, the band's former bassist Jason Newsted was asked how he felt when the recording sessions for METALLICA's 1991 self-titled album — better known as the "Black Album" — came to a close. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Prideful is my first word. I was really, really proud. Confident and excited for people that I respected to hear it.
"I remember I had a tape with three songs on it — I think it was '[Enter] Sandman', 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Sad But True' — on one tape that I carried in my pocket," he continued. "And I would play it for people and stuff. Back then, you didn't have to worry about anybody downloading shit. And we were all still very careful about it, and the people I was playing it for were my friends at my own studio and my family in their own house and stuff like that.
"[I was at] Indianapolis 500 — the third week of May of 1991. Lou Gramm was there, the singer of FOREIGNER. So, a big influence when I was a kid. Huge in the Midwest. Gigantic on Michigan and Ohio radio — fucking huge. My brother and all his friends had their poster on their walls. FOREIGNER was gigantic in my world when I was 14, 15 years old. Lou Gramm's there, and my friend who had taken us there as a host [said], 'Jason, meet Lou.' 'Hey, man. 'Wow. Pleasure to meet you, buddy.' [He said] 'I really like METALLICA. What are you guys up to?' [I said] 'We just finished a record, man. I've got a couple of songs. You wanna hear it?' He said, 'Yeah, I'd really like that.' So we get inside a black limousine. And he's sitting up towards the driver side facing me. And I put the cassette in [the desk and I turned it up]. And he fucking sat back in the car, kind of nodding his head [sideways]. I don't know if he knew he was doing it. And I'm thinking he didn't like it; he's nodding his head 'no.' And it finishes, and he looks up, and he's kind of — a little bit — breathing hard. I'm, like, 'What?' And he goes, 'Amazing. Wow!' He was literally taken by the weight of the song. Just, like, 'Wow! That's evil, man.' Then I played him the quiet song, and he was, 'Woah. You guys are on to something, man.' When he stepped out of that car, he gave me some props. And I will never forget that.
"So, answering the question, [I felt] that kind of pride, where [I wanted to play the album for my] hero — a childhood hero — that even their first record sounded fucking great. And he always sang great. Sonically, they were always attractive and appealing."
The Black Album is one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed records of all time. Its 1991 release not only gave METALLICA its first No. 1 album in no fewer than 10 countries, including a four-week run at No. 1 in the U.S., its unrelenting series of singles — "Enter Sandman", "The Unforgiven", "Nothing Else Matters", "Wherever I May Roam" and "Sad But True" — fueled the band's rise to stadium headlining, radio and MTV dominating household name status. The album's reception from the press was similarly charged, building over the years from the top 10 of the 1991 Village Voice Pazz & Jop national critics poll to becoming a constant presence in the likes of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. The album's impact and relevance continue to grow — as proven by one indisputable fact: The Black Album remains unchallenged as the best-selling album in the history of Nielsen SoundScan, outselling every release in every genre over the past 30 years.
To commemorate its 30th anniversary, the Grammy-winning, 16-times-platinum-certified Black Album received its definitive re-release on September 10 via the band's own Blackened Recordings.