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Sonic Boom


February 02, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

You're never too young to stop dreaming. At least that's what I'm trying to convince myself.

Having all but given up any delusions of being a professional rock musician upon finding out there could be periods when I wouldn't eat, I traded religiously pounding out riffs on my bass for pounding out words on a computer (and pounding my work telephone into submission when angry).

The thrash metal hair-farming and angst-ridden-disaffected-jerk bit of my high school years soon came to an end and the deadline-missing-angry-'cause-I-can't-get-sources-on-the-phone tantrums began in earnest.

Then I read "Newsted quits Metallica," and hope sprang anew.

At age 11 I first heard the Metallica album, "Master of Puppets," and begged my mom for an electric guitar. My life was forever changed by that record — its brute force, aggression, intricate musicianship and cool lyrics absolutely captured my imagination; made me want to play music.


By the time I was 16 I had switched to bass and attempted to learn as many Metallica songs as I could, rattling my grandmother's home with the opening strains of "For Whom The Bell Tolls" or the subsonic bass melody of "Orion."

That's why the news of bassist Jason Newsted's departure from Metallica made me, all at once, a little sad and giddy with excitement.

While I dig Newsted and his bass playing, I knew his exit meant there would be an opening. If history has a way of repeating itself, maybe I would get the opportunity to try out with the band.

After a freak bus accident along an icy stretch of roadway in Sweden claimed the life of Metallica bassist Cliff Burton in 1986, the remaining members of the group canceled the European leg of its "Master of Puppets" tour, mourned Burton's loss and returned to California to contemplate the future of Metallica.

Within weeks, the group's remaining members held open auditions to find a bass player — not Cliff's replacement, mind you, for he could never be replaced, but another bass player.

A gangly dork from Arizona who played in an obscure metal band called Flotsam and Jetsam gave it a go. Several years younger than the rest of Metallica, Jason Newsted was plucked out of an audition of several hundred to fill the coveted bass slot, sought by musicians like Les Claypool of Primus.

I thought to myself, "Self, if it happened once, it could happen again."

Thus my quest to join Metallica began.

The first thing I did was search the Internet for word of an open audition. No luck.

I then e-mailed the Webmaster of, the group's official Web site. I wrote about my desire for an audition in a heart-felt letter that pleaded for his assistance. No response.

According to a Jan. 17 article on the Web site, no candidates for Newsted's replacement have been announced even though Metallica is going into the studio to record a new album this spring.

That being said … printed, I mean … I still have a chance.

Running with an idea I got from Imperial Valley Press Sports Editor Chris Grant, I plan to send a copy of this column to anyone associated with Metallica. In his quest to find a favorite NFL team, Grant mailed a copy of a column he wrote on that subject to 27 teams. A handful of those responded.

Sending this column to Metallica's management and record company, it's my hope that I will at least get turned down for an audition and not just blown off altogether.

Wish me luck.


This next paragraph is meant for Metallica members James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich and Kirk Hammett, so don't read it if you're not them.

Please, guys, call me, write me or email me, and give me a shot at the band!

Your most devoted fan,

Richard Montenegro

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