Ellefson: Mustaine’s Guitar Playing Changed Kerry King’s Life

In 1984, Slayer‘s Kerry King enjoyed a brief stint as the second guitar player in Megadeth, serving as one of the band’s live members. Megadeth’s David Ellefson looked back on this moment in the band’s history in a podcast interview with Todd Kerns (bassist for Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators), noting how Dave Mustaine‘s guitar playing in particular changed King’s life.

“Kerry King was incredible,” praised Ellefson, who reflected on those 1984 memories.

Explaining how King landed a role in Megadeth, Ellefson continued, “We were looking for a second guitar player to do these gigs when we debuted the band in 1984 up in San Francisco… There was a couple of guys around, and then Kerry was maybe referred to us by somebody. And he came in.”

By then, Slayer had already released their debut album, Show No Mercy, the year prior. Meanwhile, Megadeth were still gaining their footing, having released their Last Rites demo in March of ’84 after forming the band once Mustaine had been dismissed from Metallica in ’83.

“At that time, Slayer still had makeup. Slayer didn’t really have their indentity yet,” added Ellefson, who detailed, “They grew up in Southern [California], so there was a lot of influences [from Los Angeles]. So Kerry comes to play guitar with us. And he would stand there with just no expression on his face and watch Dave play some gnarly riff like ‘Chosen Ones’ or ‘The Conjuring’, and then Kerry would just stand there and then he’d put his hand on his guitar and play it back note for note. And you’re, like, ‘Holy hell! This guy really gets Dave.'”

Even before being recruited by Megadeth, King had idolized Mustaine from afar.

“[Kerry] always said… he goes, ‘I saw Dave play with Metallica opening for Saxon at the Whisky,’ and he said, ‘It changed my life. Watching Dave in particular, it changed my life.’ So [Mustaine] kind of became a mentor and a role model. So [King] was super happy to be in Megadeth,” Ellefson recalled.

It wasn’t long before Slayer made the decision to ditch the makeup either as the Megadeth bassist went on, “And then when we went up to San Francisco, [King] saw the thrash scene and met the Exodus guys and all that was going on, and Kerry saw the light. And he went back home to L.A. and wiped the makeup off of Slayer’s faces.”

Wacth Kerry King play with Megadeth further down the page.

More than 35 years later, Slayer may have retired, but King is still going and is said to have two full length albums worth of solo music prepared. As for Megadeth, they’ve long been at work on the successor to 2016’s Dystopia, which will hopefully be released in 2021.

David Ellefson Speaks With Todd Kerns

Kerry King Plays Live With Megadeth in 1984

See Megadeth + Slayer in the Top 50 Thrash Albums of All Time

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Dave Mustaine: How I Forgave + Got Back With David Ellefson

Today, there’s no bad blood between Megadeth vets Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson. In 2004 though, that wasn’t the case as Ellefson attempted to sue his then ex-bandmate for the sum of $18.5 million. Ultimately, the two put it all behind them and in a new interview Mustaine explained how he forgave the bassist and welcomed him back into the band.

“I think forgiveness is a super-cool thing,” Mustaine told Fox Sports 910’s ‘Freak Nation’ (transcription via Blabbermouth) when discussing his new book, Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece, which is out now.

“When David Ellefson sued me for $18.5 [million], and the judge dismissed it [in January of 2005] and then made him pay a bunch of money on top of that, he got his ass handed to him in public,” described Mustaine, who admitted, “And I was really, really, really hurt by the things that he said about me. And I thought, ‘You know what? If I never see him again, I guess I’ll be okay.’ And I was sad, but I figured he was gone.”

Fate had different plans, however, as Mustaine recalled, “One day, I was flying home from Dallas, and the flight stopped in [Ellefson’s hometown of] Phoenix, and for some stupid reason, I called him up and I said, ‘Hey, you wanna have dinner?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ So we went out.”

From there, the intentions were pretty clear.

“The first thing he said was, ‘I wanna tell you, it was the stupidest thing I ever did suing you, and I wanna apologize.’ And I looked at him and I waited a beat, and I said, ‘Dave, I forgive you. I completely forgive you. I love you.’ And it was over like that,” the Megadeth frontman confessed.

It’s a life lesson Mustaine has carried with him and he urged others to consider it in their lives. “I think that that’s really something great that people should take with them today, anybody listening to this. There may be somebody you need to forgive or somebody you need to apologize to, but I’ll tell you what — it makes [you feel] a lot better at the end of the day,” the Megadeth leader affirmed.

Ellefson, who was a part of Megadeth from 1983 through 2002, officially rejoined the legendary thrash group in 2010. He even may sing on a ballad about all that past bad blood between him and Mustaine on Megadeth’s forthcoming record. Most recently, Mustaine compared the new material to the band’s first two albums.

See Megadeth in the Most Performed Songs by 50 of Metal’s Biggest Bands

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Megadeth’s David Ellefson: ‘We Owe Everything to Metallica’

Metallica are not just the biggest metal band on Earth, but one of the biggest bands in all of recorded human history. This notion is not lost on Megadeth‘s David Ellefson, who spoke glowingly of the band while expressing that his own group, along with every other metal band, “owe everything to Metallica.”

There’s quite the history between the two legendary thrash groups, as all fans know. Dave Mustaine began his career in Metallica’s ranks before being jettisoned in 1983 as the band was on the verge of recording their debut record. For decades, there was bad blood between the two sides, but it’s all in the past now as Mustaine and Metallica’s members have reconciled.

When asked by Detroit’s WRIF if Megadeth kept tabs on what Metallica were doing in the mid-to-late-’80s period of their respective careers, Ellefson didn’t hesitate when stating, “Oh, of course. I mean, look, we are all just a branch off the Metallica family tree. I mean, let’s face it. Especially Megadeth, with Dave being there, and then me being a branch off of Dave with Megadeth. So, I mean, look, we owe everything to Metallica.”

Ellefson also spoke of the holistic impact Metallica had on the rest of the metal scene, not just Megadeth, back then and through the present. “Those guys broke down the doors for every one of us — Anthrax, Slayer. Bands today — Lamb of GodPantera — none of this would have happened without Metallica being up there as the 800-pound gorilla just carving the path through the jungle that would have never let heavy metal in.”

When Metallica released their self-titled album (most commonly referred to as ‘The Black Album’) in 1991, it brought heavy music straight to the mainstream, building on the major label successes of Master of Puppets as well as …And Justice For All that had already expanded metal’s world market.

“The stuff that they’re able to do and the size and the scope of which they were able to break those doors down, it changed all of our lives — as musicians, as fans, as everything,” continued Ellefson. “That’s why I think when they did the ‘Big 4’ [shows] with us in 2010 and ’11, that was just such a great olive branch.”

For Ellefson, it’s all a binding sense of unity. “As [Anthrax guitarist] Scott Ian said, ‘It’s like we’re all brothers of the same family, it’s just that one of our brothers went off and became Microsoft’ [laughs], and that was Metallica. It’s, like, ‘How the hell did you do that? That’s amazing. You changed the world.'”

Still appreciative of those ‘Big 4’ shows featuring Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax, the bassist gleamed, “But the fact that they came back and, again, offered that olive branch to us and just said, ‘Hey, we were all in this together. Let’s celebrate what we did together so many years ago.’ And I think that speaks volumes to just how cool Metallica is.”

Next year, Megadeth will embark on a co-headlining North American tour with Lamb of God alongside Trivium and In Flames. The trek was originally slated for 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. See those dates here.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Megadeth, who have long been at work on their follow-up album to 2016’s Dystopia. For now, fans can get their fix by diving into Mustaine’s new book, Rust in Peace: The Inside Story of the Megadeth Masterpiece, which details the band’s groundbreaking 1990 album. Watch Loudwire’s interview with Mustaine about the book here.

See Megadeth + Metallica in the Top 50 Thrash Albums of All Time

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