Remembering the time Primus performed a slap-bass version of Metallica's Master Of Puppets in the 90s and sent everyone into a funk-metal frenzy

Primus in 1994 perform on stage
(Image credit: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images, Metallica)

Although there have been a number of great Master Of Puppets covers over the years, in 2022, we saw that number skyrocket thanks to the song's inclusion in the global smash hit sci-fi/horror series Stranger Things. There have been pop-punk takes, busking performances and even renditions of the track played in the style of Linkin Park. 

In spite of the large influx of new covers, however, we don't think anyone has ever managed to top Primus' performance of the song way back in 1994.

On August 14 that year, Primus played the song during their appearance at Woodstock Festival in New York. First playing through a handful of hits, such as My Name Is Mud, Jerry Was A Racecar Driver and more, the funk-metallers then signed off their set with the Metallica cover for the final song in their encore. 

For the rendition, frontman Les Claypool kicked off the song with a modified, slap-bass version of the emblematic Master Of Puppets thrash riff, before being joined in by the drums and guitar. Although the cover only lasted a minute, it had an immediate effect on the audience, who were quickly whipped into a frantic, wild frenzy. 

Ironically, Claypool actually once auditioned to be in Metallica following the tragic death of bassist Cliff Burton in 1986.

Earlier this year, the bassist reflected on the audition while in conversation with Goldmine to discuss Primus's Rush tribute tour and new EP, Conspiranoid.

When questioned over whether he believed his rejection to be a blessing in disguise, he responded: "At the time I didn't think that. I thought that I would be able to quit my carpentry job and head to Japan [for Metallica's first Japanese tour].

"But there's a reason why they didn't pick me. I didn't fit and they saw that. I had my own thing going and it was a wise move on their part. And even when it came up again [following Jason Newsted's departure], they knew that I wasn't the right guy for it and they got the perfect person."

Watch Primus' 1994 cover of Metallica's Master Of Puppets below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.