From Metallica to Megadeth: The Journey of Dave Mustaine


🎸🔥 From the ashes of a career setback, a new force in thrash metal was born. This is the story of Dave Mustaine, the underdog dismissed from Metallica, only to rise stronger, forming his band, Megadeth. 🤘💥 It’s a tale of resilience, determination, and the ultimate triumph of an underdog. So, buckle up, metalheads, as we delve into the birth and rise of Megadeth, a band that proved its worth and left an indelible mark on the music scene. 🎶🌟

The Early Days of Metallica

Dave Mustaine was indeed a pivotal figure in the early days of Metallica. He joined the band in 1981 after answering a newspaper ad by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield. Mustaine’s aggressive guitar playing and songwriting skills were instrumental in shaping Metallica’s early sound, which would later define the thrash metal genre.

Mustaine contributed significantly to the band’s first album, “Kill ‘Em All,” writing several songs and providing lead guitar work. However, his tenure with Metallica was fraught with tension due to his substance abuse and volatile behavior. This culminated in his dismissal from the band in 1983, just before Metallica was set to record their second album, “Ride the Lightning.”

Mustaine’s influence on Metallica’s early sound is undeniable despite his departure. His aggressive, intricate guitar work and raw energy helped to define the band’s style and set the stage for their future success. After leaving Metallica, Mustaine formed Megadeth, another influential thrash metal band, further cementing his legacy in the genre.

The Unfortunate Departure

In 1983, due to his excessive substance abuse and violent behavior, Mustaine was asked to leave Metallica. Concerned about their future, the band members made this difficult decision just before recording their debut album, “Kill ‘Em All.”

The unfortunate departure of Dave Mustaine from Metallica in 1983 was a pivotal moment in the history of thrash metal. Mustaine, a key creative force in the band’s early years, was dismissed due to his excessive substance abuse and violent behavior. This decision, made just before the recording of Metallica’s debut album “Kill ‘Em All,” was a difficult one for the band members who were concerned about their future.

Mustaine’s dismissal was largely attributed to his drinking problem. According to Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, who was a close observer of the band’s dynamics during this period, Mustaine’s drinking was not unique within the band. However, his behavior when intoxicated was what set him apart. Mustaine was known to become aggressive and even mean when he was drunk. He would often play pranks on other bands, like dumping trash in front of their rehearsal room doors, which led to confrontations and further strained relationships within the music community.

In his memoir, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir, Mustaine recounts a physical altercation with guitarist James Hetfield, which he believes was the final straw leading to his dismissal. The fight, which started when Hetfield intervened in a dispute between Mustaine and original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney, ended with Mustaine punching Hetfield’s face.

Despite these internal conflicts, Mustaine remained a part of Metallica until after the band’s gig on April 9, 1983. After this performance, the band members decided to let Mustaine go. They executed their plan with military precision, waiting until Mustaine was passed out drunk before waking him up to tell him he was out of the band. They had packed most of his belongings and even bought him a one-way bus ticket back to Los Angeles.

This dismissal, as harsh as it was, fueled Mustaine’s determination to prove his worth. He held onto his resentment for years after founding Megadeth and achieving multi-platinum success. However, over time, both parties managed to find some reconciliation, with Mustaine even joining his former bandmates on stage on several occasions.

In retrospect, the departure of Mustaine from Metallica was a turning point for both parties. While it was a challenging time, it was also the catalyst for the birth of Megadeth, a band that would become a major force in the thrash metal genre. As James Hetfield said in a 2009 interview, “It was necessary… He’s an amazing, talented person.” This underlines the theme of the underdog’s triumph, showing how adversity can sometimes lead to greater success.

The Birth of Megadeth

After he departed from Metallica, Mustaine was determined to create a band rivaling his former group. He formed Megadeth, a band that would become one of the “big four” of thrash metal alongside Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax.

Dave Mustaine’s journey to forming Megadeth began with a tumultuous exit from Metallica in 1983. After being ousted from the band, Mustaine was sent on a bus trip back home, during which he came across a term that would shape his future: “megadeath.” This term, referring to a unit of one million deaths due to a nuclear explosion, resonated with Mustaine and inspired the name of his new band. Upon returning to California, Mustaine formed a band named Fallen Angels, but it never performed live due to the lack of a drummer. However, during this period, Mustaine wrote two songs, “Devil’s Island” and “Megadeath.”

Two months later, Mustaine met bassist David Ellefson, and the two artists found a shared ambition with the addition of drummer Lee Rausch, the lineup that would become known as Megadeth was completed. The trio recorded a three-track demo tape called Last Rites in 1984, featuring the songs “Last Rites/Loved to Deth,” “The Skull Beneath the Skin,” and “Mechanix,” all of which would appear on future albums. Mustaine’s search for a second guitarist led to a brief stint with Slayer’s Kerry King. Eventually, jazz drummer Gar Samuelson and his guitarist bandmate Chris Poland were hired, solidifying the lineup.

Megadeth’s first album, “Killing Is My Business… and Business is Good!” was released in June 1985 under Combat Records. Despite spending half of the album’s budget on partying, Mustaine took over the production and completed the record himself. The album was well-received for its musicianship, if not its production. This marked the beginning of Megadeth’s rise to fame, with the band eventually becoming one of the “big four” of thrash metal alongside Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax. Despite the challenges and lineup changes that would come, Megadeth’s birth marked a significant moment in the history of heavy metal.

The Rivalry and Reconciliation

The rivalry between Metallica and Megadeth is rooted in the early days of both bands. Dave Mustaine, the frontman of Megadeth, was originally a member of Metallica. However, his tenure with the band was short-lived. Mustaine was fired from Metallica in 1983 due to substance abuse problems and conflicts with other band members. This event led to deep resentment and rivalry between Mustaine and his former bandmates.

After his dismissal from Metallica, Mustaine formed Megadeth, a band that would become one of the leading acts in the thrash metal scene. Despite his success with Megadeth, Mustaine’s grudge against Metallica persisted for many years. He often publicly expressed his bitterness and resentment towards his former bandmates.

However, as the years passed, the animosity between Mustaine and Metallica began to fade. Mustaine underwent significant personal changes, including overcoming his substance abuse problems and converting to Christianity. These changes in his personal life seemed to have a calming effect on his relationship with Metallica.

The first significant step towards reconciliation came in 2010 when Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax – the “Big Four” of thrash metal – performed together on the same stage. During this event, Mustaine shared the stage with his former Metallica bandmates and even hugged them, a moment broadcast live worldwide.

In 2019, Mustaine announced that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer. He underwent treatment and was later declared cancer-free. This personal battle with cancer further softened the rivalry between Mustaine and Metallica.

Despite the history of rivalry and resentment, the relationship between Metallica and Megadeth has evolved significantly over the years. From bitter rivals, they have become respected contemporaries in heavy metal. The reconciliation between Mustaine and his former bandmates in Metallica is a testament to the power of personal growth and the passage of time in healing old wounds.

Conclusion: A Tale of Redemption

Dave Mustaine’s story is a tale of redemption. His departure from Metallica, while painful at the time, led to the creation of another legendary band. Today, both Metallica and Megadeth are celebrated as pioneers of thrash metal, each with their unique contributions to the genre.

This article provides a comprehensive look at Mustaine’s journey, from his early days with Metallica to his success with Megadeth. It’s a story of perseverance, talent, and redemption.

Facebook Comments Box