Les Claypool has done well for himself over the years as one of the premiere virtuosic bass players in commercial rock music. The 55-year-old songwriter and bassist has collected a dedicated legion of fans since starting back in the 1980s thanks to his incredible musicianship as part of Primus, Oysterhead, and more recently The Claypool Lennon Delirium alongside Sean Ono Lennon. Surpringsly, some fans might not be aware of the fact that Claypool was once offered the opportunity to jam alongside Metallica when the famous thrash metal band were in search of a new bass player following the death of Cliff Burton in 1986.
Claypool actually grew up in the same area as Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett, as the two went to school together in the Bay Area region of northern California. It was that high school connection which led Hammett to invite Claypool to play with the band, as he had already given the bassist a copy of their 1984 studio album, Ride The Lightning, a few years prior.
“I didn’t know much about the scene, I went and, you know, I didn’t even realize how big they were to tell you the truth,” Claypool admitted in a past interview. Claypool was so unfamiliar with their level of popularity and the overall sound that he even asked if the fellas wanted to jam around on some Isley Brothers tunes.
A more recent interview with Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich saw Claypool looking back at how surprised he was when Ulrich demanded that part of the rehearsal studio be removed so that he could see guitarist James Hetfield while playing. The hilarious 2017 interview from Ulrich’ Beats 1 Radio program can be watched with a giggle in the video below.
Les Claypool and Lars Ulrich Interview – Beats 1 Radio – September 2017
[Video: Beats 1]
Hetfield would admit years later that Claypool was simply “too good” for what Metallica had going on at the point in their journey. The famous metal band has welcomed Jason Newstead and then Robert Trujillo to fill on bass duties in the decades since.
“I wasn’t the right guy,” Claypool continued in the older interview. “I looked like a total freak ya know? I remember James said on Vh1, ‘Well you know Les was too good,’ and that’s total bullshit, he was just being nice. He thought I was a weirdo.”
Claypool will release his next studio album as part of The Claypool Lennon Delirium when South of Reality arrives on ATO Records on February 22nd. The psychedelic rock group will head out on tour across North America next spring throughout the month of April. Tickets for shows on the spring tour can be purchased here.