Rock-Critic Pop Quiz #6: Can You Name Metallica’s Bass Players?


We’ve already proven that an entire generation of rock critics know precious little about rap, punk, r&b, Dylan, and the Doors (though we’re not too ashamed about that last one). So, for the sixth edition of our crow-eating Are You Smarter Than a Rock Critic? series, we’re venturing warily into the final frontier: heavy metal. The fact that nerdbait like Metalocalypse and Brian Posehn and Scion exists points to a generation of grown-up goons who spent their formative years doing Pushead imitations on the back of their composition notebooks. So do today’s rock critics count themselves among those zitty masses, or were we too busy listening to R.E.M. and catching only the purplest of nurples? We asked Voice pal and Revolver Senior Editor Kory Grow to come up with a metal question for our 15 panelists. His decidedly heavy suggestion:

Can you name Metallica’s three prime-era bassists?

This should be a headbanger no-brainer, right? Ostensibly the biggest rock band in the entire known universe, the one metal band your mom can name, namesakes to a particular addictive version of Guitar Hero. We once again cobbled a consortium of 15 professional and semi-professional rock critics, all given the usual rules:

1. I will not identify you AT ALL, so it is OK to be wrong. [We will say that our esteemed panel edits magazines, websites, and alt-weeklies. They have written for pretty much every outlet you’ve ever heard of, from Rolling Stone to Spin to and Billboard.]

2. You can’t use Google.

The following results are — in the immortal words of someone-or-other — sad but true:

The correct answer: Cliff Burton, Jason Newsted, Robert Trujillo

Out of 15 polled:

Number of critics that answered correctly and got all three: 5

Number of critics that got two: 4

Number of critics that got one or less: 6

Most unguessed bassist: Robert Trujillo

Number of fascinating and completely incorrect turns on Jason Newsted’s name: 2 (Jason Newman, Jason Newsome)

Number of critics who spelled it “Newstead”: 5

Number of critics who guessed “Ralph Trujillo” and then realized “Metallica wouldn’t hire a guy named Ralph”: 1

Number of critics who added, “Once you started asking questions about white people, I turned stupid”: 1

Number of critics who went for bonus points on Ron McGovney, the original Metallica bassist who left before Kill ‘Em All: 0

So yeah, woe is Rob Trujillo, perpetually stuck with “new guy” syndrome. Let’s help you get better acquainted. Trujillo’s embrace into Metallica is well documented in the psychodrama rockumentary Some Kind of Monster, but he was already a metal legend by the time he signed on for the dubious job of touring on St. Anger in 2003. He originally appeared as “Stymee” on the 1989 Suicidal Tendancies EP/compilation thingy Controlled by Hatred/Feel Like Shit…Déjà Vu and played on almost all their ’90s records. He toured in Ozzy’s band throughout the next decade and can play totally bonkers thrash-metal speed-fest blurs without the use of a pick. But he’ll always be dearest in our hearts for his slappin’, poppin’ role in ’90s funk-metal crew Infectious Grooves. Check out his frenetic, flight-of-the-bumblebee blurbles on 1994’s “Violent and Funky,” a song we compulsively listened to more than you listened to “Disarm”:

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