Tales of Rock – Metallica Turned Down Les Claypool Because of what?

Les strolled into the audition wearing skater pants and two different-colored shoes, and sporting a blond mohawk.

Metallica have enjoyed a storied career of playing amazing metal that graduated into boring dad rock, and part of the reason for their success is that they have always been very business-minded. Too business-minded for the crazy antics of iconic Primus bassist (and the guy who sings the South Park theme) Les Claypool, at least, who once upon a time was a hair’s breadth away from becoming the band’s newest member.

When Metallica was looking for a new bassist after the tragic death of Cliff Burton, guitarist Kirk Hammett suggested his old high school buddy Claypool try out for the vacant position.

But when Claypool was approached, he wasn’t really all that interested. Claypool later claimed to have had no idea just how big Metallica actually was, despite the fact that this took place in 1986, the year Metallica’s album Master Of Puppets was released (AKA the year that everyone knew who Metallica was). But to the legendary bassist, the group was simply his “buddy Kirk’s band,” which might be why he showed up to the audition dressed like an at-risk teen, strolling in wearing skater pants and two different-colored shoes, and sporting a blond mohawk. Although for Claypool, this was a conservative “job interview” outfit.

While Claypool showed up looking like he was really into Pac-Man and NOFX, Metallica’s boys were decked out in black and taking this session as seriously as an anti-piracy lawsuit. Claypool claimed that vibe was too much for him, and that he just didn’t gel with the band. However, Metallica’s frontman James Hetfield gave a much kinder reason for Claypool’s failed audition: Claypool was just too good. Either way, Claypool’s style certainly didn’t mesh with Metallica’s, and we were forever robbed of one of the most bizarre metal albums ever recorded.


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