Skip to main content

Dave Mustaine

Bill Kennedy and Dave Mustaine Bill Kennedy and Dave Mustaine
                   

Bill Kennedy and Dave Mustaine Biography

Dave Mustaine (born David Scott Mustaine on September 13, 1961 in La Mesa, California, United States) is a guitarist, songwriter, and singer. He grew up in various Southern California suburbs. As the central figure of Megadeth and a former Metallica lead guitarist and co-songwriter, he is one of a handful of people considered to have pioneered thrash metal and speed metal.

In 1981 Dave Mustaine left his first band Panic to join Metallica as the lead guitarist. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich had posted an ad in a local newspaper, called The Recycler, looking for a lead guitarist. In his own words, Mustaine remembers his first meeting with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich: "I was convinced that I should be in the band and went to rehearsal. I was tuning up when all the other guys in the band went into another room. They weren't talking to me, so I went in and said, 'Well? Am I in the band or not?' and they said, 'You've got the gig.' I couldn't believe how easy it had been and suggested that we get some beer to celebrate.

Mustaine's membership in Metallica, however, would last less than two years. Brian Slagel, an early manager of the band, recalls in an interview: "Dave was an incredibly talented guy, but he also had an incredibly large problem with alcohol and drugs. He'd get wasted and become a real crazy person, a raging maniac, and the other guys just couldn't deal with that after a while. I mean, they all drank of course, but Dave drank more... much more. I could see they were beginning to get fed up of seeing Dave drunk out of his mind all the time."

One night, in a drunken state, Mustaine poured a full can of beer into Metallica's then-bassist Ron McGovney's bass. When McGovney tried to play it, he received an electric shock and, in his own words, was "blown across the room." Having enough of Mustaine's antics, he left the band. Shortly after that, during another night of drinking, James Hetfield kicked Mustaine's dog. Mustaine responded by punching Hetfield in the face, which was the last straw as far as Hetfield was concerned. In April of 1983, Mustaine was officially fired from Metallica for his alcoholism, cocaine abuse, and because of his personality clashes with founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, also because he refused to attend AA meetings. The band packed up Mustaine's gear, drove him to a Greyhound bus station in Rochester, NY, and put him on a bus bound for Los Angeles.

During his short time in Metallica, Dave Mustaine toured with the band, co-wrote several songs (and did the guitar-work for each song) which were later featured on the albums Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning (as well as, according to Mustaine, "Leper Messiah" on Master of Puppets). He also recorded several songs with the band including the No Life 'Till Leather demo tape. A few of the songs he had written with Hetfield and Ulrich later went on to be re-recorded by Megadeth. The most well-known of these is the song "The Four Horsemen" from Kill 'em All which Mustaine wrote and later released with original lyrics on his debut album as "Mechanix".

In 1983, Mustaine was extremely angry after being kicked out of Metallica; he concluded that one of his goals in life should be to create a band more successful than Metallica. In April of that year he formed a band called Fallen Angels, which did not last. That summer he met bass player Dave Ellefson and formed Megadeth, enlisting guitarist Greg Handevidt and drummer Dijon Carruthers. Mustaine elected to become Megadeth's singer, and not just guitar player, on New Year's Eve after a series of unsuccessful vocalist auditions. In 1984, Megadeth cut a 3-song demo with drummer Lee Raush. Slayer's Kerry King joined the band for a few shows however he opted to leave Megadeth after less than a week. Jazz-influenced drummer Gar Samuelson replaced Raush. In November, the band signed a deal with Combat Records, a month before guitarist Chris Poland came onboard and the band played their first shows in New York.

In May 1985, Megadeth released their first album Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good! on Combat Records. That summer the band toured the U.S. and Canada with Exciter, with guitarist Mike Albert replacing Poland for the tour. Poland rejoined the band in the studio in October and the band began recording their second album for Combat. On New Year's Eve of that year Megadeth played in San Francisco with Exodus, Metal Church, and Metallica.

In 1985, after recording Killing Is My Business..., Mustaine approached Jackson Guitars for a custom built guitar. Jackson modified their already existing Flying V model for Mustaine. Following this the company began mass-producing a Dave Mustaine series Jackson King V. This line continued into the early 2000s.

The following year, major label Capitol Records signed Megadeth and obtained the rights to their second album, Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?, from Combat. Megadeth opened a U.S. tour with King Diamond and Motörhead. Their second album, released in November, is regarded as a landmark metal album, producing the notable title track (the opening bass lick of which was used by "MTV News" segments) as well as the thrash anthem "Wake Up Dead." The videos for both songs became staples on MTV's Headbanger's Ball.

In February, 1987, Megadeth opened for Alice Cooper on his Constrictor tour. The band also toured with Mercyful Fate, who were a huge influence on Megadeth. In March, Megadeth's first world tour began in the UK. Mustaine and Ellefson guested on the band Malice's License To Kill album. Megadeth re-recorded "These Boots" for a movie soundtrack and that summer went on tour with Overkill and Necros. Amid drug problems and suspicions of stealing the band's equipment for drug money, Mustaine fired Poland and Samuelson after their last show in Hawaii.

Chuck Behler, who had been Gar's drum tech, became Megadeth's drummer with a virtuoso named Jeff Young replacing Poland. Megadeth released their third album, So Far, So Good... So What! in January 1988. The album contains the song, "In My Darkest Hour", which was composed after the tragic death of Metallica's bass player Cliff Burton.(Mustaine said this in the liner notes of So Far, So Good... So What!) "Hook In Mouth" attacked the PMRC with gusto, although their cover of The Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK" — despite a guest appearance from ex-Pistol Steve Jones — was ill-advised in the eyes of All Music Guide's critic.

Later that year, Megadeth opened for Dio and then Iron Maiden on tour, before playing the "Monsters Of Rock" festival at Castle Donington in the UK with KISS, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses and David Lee Roth. Shortly after, Mustaine fired Behler and Young, accusing Young of having thoughts of a relationship between him and Mustaine's girlfriend at the time. Around this period, Dave Mustaine found the time to produce the debut album from Seattle thrash band Sanctuary, Refuge Denied.

Nick Menza joined Megadeth in 1989 and the band recorded their only track ever as a three-piece: a cover of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" for the Wes Craven-directed horror flick, Shocker. Video director Penelope Spheeris would later recount in the Megadeth episode of Behind The Music that Mustaine showed up to the video shoot so fried on heroin and other drugs that he could not sing and play guitar at the same time, forcing her to shoot each action separately. Mustaine was arrested for "impaired driving" that same year and was forced by authorities to enter a rehabilitation program.

In February 1990, guitarist Marty Friedman (Cacophony) filled the vacant lead-guitar position. In September of that year, the band joined the "Clash of the Titans" tour overseas with Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, and Testament. The tour began one month before Megadeth released Rust In Peace (1990), which continued their commercial success. They immediately went back on the road, this time as support for Judas Priest, to promote it.

Megadeth started off 1991 performing for 140,000 people at a festival in Brazil, before starting their own world tour with Alice in Chains as their special guest. Mustaine got married in April, the same month the Rusted Pieces home video was released. That summer, the "Clash of the Titans" tour hit the U.S. featuring Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, with Alice in Chains taking the opening slot. Later that year, the Megadeth song "Go To Hell" was featured on the soundtrack to Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.

Mustaine collaborated in 1991 with Sean Harris from Diamond Head on the track "Crown of Worms". (Mustaine would later appear on Diamond Head's reformation album Death and Progress.) Mustaine's wife, Pamela, gave birth to their son Justis in 1992. The band was featured on another soundtrack, this time for Super Mario Bros., with the song "Breakpoint." July saw the release of Megadeth's most commercially successful record: "Countdown To Extinction." The album debuted at #2 on the Bilboard 200 and boasted the band's most successful songs: "Symphony Of Destruction," "Sweating Bullets," and the ode to sky-diving, "High Speed Dirt." The original version of the "Symphony of Destruction" video was edited due to its depiction of a political leader being assassinated. "Skin O' My Teeth" was aired on MTV with a disclaimer from Mustaine insisting that the song did not endorse suicide. Ellefson contributed lyrics to the family-farm ballad "Foreclosure Of A Dream" and Menza wrote the lyrics to the title track, about canned hunting. This began a new more "collaborative" Megadeth.

Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies opened for Megadeth on the "Countdown To Extinction" tour. MTV News invited Mustaine to cover the Democratic National Convention for them that summer. In November, the "Exposure Of A Dream" home video was released. In 1993, Mustaine guested on a new album by one of the bands who influenced his sound, Diamond Head. Mustaine began a US tour as Megadeth with Stone Temple Pilots as their opening act — a tour that was ultimately cancelled, including a planned appearance at Budokan, due to Mustaine's continuing struggles with addiction. In June, Megadeth played Milton Keynes Bowl with Diamond Head and Metallica and later that month, opened for Iron Maiden on their European tour. Megadeth was kicked off of Aerosmith's US tour after just 7 dates. "Angry Again" was featured on the soundtrack to the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "Last Action Hero" while "99 Ways To Die" was featured on the "Beavis and Butthead Experience" compilation.

Megadeth spent the bulk of 1994 making "Youthanasia," a much more commercial album undoubtedly inspired in part by the success of "Countdown." The band covered "Paranoid" for Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath and performed on MTV's "Night Of The Living Megadeth" in celebration of the Halloween release of their new album, kicking off a tour the next month in South America. Youthanasia became the quickest album to go gold (50,000 units) in Canadian history and sold well throughout the world.. It was an album that showed a more melodic side to the band, with tracks such as "A Tout Le Monde". The album also included "Train of Consequences", which became one of the band's most memorable music videos.

Another soundtrack appearance, "Diadems" on "Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight," kicked off 1995, with Megadeth spending the first two months of the year on the "Youthanasia" tour with Corrosion Of Conformity in tow. In March, the "Hidden Treasures" compilation hit Europan stores. The "Evolver: The Making Of Youthanasia" home video followed in May and "Hidden Treasures" made it to the US and Japan in July, just in time for the start of the "Reckoning Day" tour with special guests Flotsam and Jetsam, Korn and Fear Factory. In September, the band performed at the "Monsters Of Rock" festival in South America.

A Grammy nomination for "Paranoid" began 1996 for Megadeth. Enlisting Fear singer Lee Ving, Mustaine made an album under the monicker "MD.45," with Alice Cooper's drummer Jimmy DeGrasso behind the kit. In September, Megadeth went back into the studio — this time in the country music hotbed of Nashville, TN. The following year's "Cryptic Writings" was the result.

Cryptic Writings (1997) included thrashing songs like "Vortex" and "FFF" alongside radio friendly fare like "Trust," earning them many spins at rock radio. Megadeth.com launched that year and in June, the reformed Misfits opened for the band on tour. Chaos Comics released "The Cryptic Writings Of Megadeth" comic books and a remix of "Almost Honest" showed up on the "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" soundtrack. The first ever all-acoustic Megadeth performance, in South America, closed out the year in December.

Mustaine's daughter, Electra Mustaine was born on January 28, 1998, the same month that "Trust" was nominated for a Grammy. Megadeth played on the Howard Stern Show and that summer took part in Ozzfest. As Nick Menza sat in the hospital side-lined by a knee injury, he received a call from Mustaine informing him that his services would no longer be needed. Jimmy DeGrasso, who Mustaine had enjoyed playing with in MD.45, joined Megadeth in his place. On New Year's Eve, Megadeth opened for Black Sabbath alongside Soulfly, Slayer and Pantera.

While touring "Cryptic Writings," Mustaine told interviewers that songs like "She Wolf" and "Vortex" had reinvigorated his love for classic metal by bands like Venom and Motörhead and that he intended to write an album that was "1/2 Peace Sells, 1/2 Cryptic Writings." However, after hearing about a comment Lars Ulrich made in the press that he wished Mustaine would take more "risks," something changed. Managers and producers had more input. The song "Crush 'Em" was written with the express purpose of being played in sports arenas. The guitar solos started to disappear. In later years, Mustaine would blame much of this period on Friedman's desire to go in a more "pop" direction. Whatever the cause, "Risk" was exactly that creatively and it failed almost completely. Recorded with producer Dann Huff, again in Nashville, the album was released on August 31, 1999. "Crush 'Em" made it onto the "Universal Soldier 2" soundtrack and into WCW wrestling events(notably playing a live set on Monday Nitro featuring the song and then crowd favorite Bill Goldberg's return to action). (And in July, the band covered "Never Say Die" for a second Sabbath tribute). The band played Woodstock '99 and again opened for Maiden in Europe, but there were few other highlights in the Megadeth world in 1999, a year that ended with Marty Friedman announcing his departure from the band.

As the tour behind "Risk" soldiered on, Al Pitrelli replaced Friedman on the road. In April the new lineup entered the studio to begin work on a new album, a couple of months before they officially parted ways with Capitol Records. The summer was spent on the road with Anthrax and Mötley Crüe. Capitol released a "best of" collection in the fall, "Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years," featuring two brand new (and more metal leaning) songs. With a new deal in place with Sanctuary, Megadeth returned to the studio toward the end of the year to finish their album and on New Year's Eve, played a show in Anchorage, Alaska.

An acoustic tour sponsored by radio stations, a press tour and a video shoot for the song "Moto Psycho" all preceded the May, 2001 release of The World Needs A Hero. The summer was filled with festival appearances supporting AC/DC. In September, Megadeth set out across North America with Endo and Iced Earth. VH1's "Behind The Music" special on Megadeth aired that year and was later released on DVD. At the end of the year, the band filmed two shows in Arizona, which were released as the 2CD and DVD Rude Awakening.

The early part of 2002 saw the release of a remixed and re-mastered "Killing Is My Business..." with bonus tracks and expanded packaging, followed by "Rude Awakening."

Dave Mustaine suffered a compressed radial nerve in his left hand and arm by hanging his arm over a chair while sleeping. This accident, which happened while Mustaine was in a waiting room at a hospital (being treated for kidney stones), made it impossible for him to play guitar. Consequently, in April, 2002, Mustaine disbanded Megadeth. Sanctuary released a collection called "Still Alive... And Well?"

On the whole matter, Mustaine himself gave what he called "the Reader's Digest version", during an interview for SuicideGirls: " I went into retirement because my arm got hurt really bad. I broke up the band which at the time was Al Pitrelli, Dave Ellefson, Jimmy DeGrasso and myself. I was having problems with Al because he liked to drink and we didn’t want to show up at places drunk. Al also got married to a nice woman but he wanted to spend time with her. After a few years most married men are willing to die so I figured if we got a couple years into the marriage that might have changed. But the fact was, Al wasn’t fitting. DeGrasso was really hard to be around because he was so negative all the time with his complaining about money and wanting things. Ellefson was all about "play my songs, play my songs". I hated being around these guys so when the arm injury happened it was a welcome relief and an indication that I had to stop."

Mustaine went through physical therapy for his arm injury, all the while once again exploring other areas of the music industry, including production. Contrary to what doctors had predicted, within a short time he fully recovered from his arm injury through successful therapy. However, all was mostly quiet on the Megadeth front for better part of 2003. Mustaine left Jackson guitars, did a solo acoustic performance at a benefit show, unveiled his new ESP model at the NAMM convention, and oversaw the release of "Peace Sells ...But Who’s Buying?" as an audio DVD presented in Dolby 5.1 surround. He remixed and remastered all of Megadeth's albums, releasing them through Capitol Records in 2004.

During this time also, Dave Mustaine became a born-again Christian. Mustaine has remarked that the future of American democracy lies within our hands and shows that he has a problem with many politicians, who are depicted on the cover of Megadeth's The System Has Failed.

At the same time, Mustaine's personal life once again underwent problems. During the tour of Gigantour 2005, Mustaine brought with him a "spiritual counselor" to help himself avoid the demons that almost cost him his life due to his prior drug addictions. This was noted recently by The Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato, who explained his experience with Mustaine on Gigantour: "He had a pastor walking around with him on tour and riding on his bus, I think to help keep him on the straight and narrow path."

The next year kicked things into high-gear; however, Mustaine oversaw the remixing and re-mastering of Megadeth's entire Capitol Records catalog — all of them were re-released with bonus tracks and full liner notes. With one album remaining in his contract to Sanctuary Records, Mustaine set about recording what he intended to be the first Dave Mustaine solo album with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Jimmy Sloas. Complete with guest solos from old friend Chris Poland, this became a new Megadeth album: "The System Has Failed," released September 14, 2004. One month before, Mustaine announced a new touring lineup for Megadeth: Glen Drover (King Diamond/Eidolon) and James MacDonough (Iced Earth). Nick Menza had briefly been a part of the new band, but things did not work out. One week before a new US tour with Exodus supporting, new drummer (and Glen's brother) Shawn Drover joined Megadeth.

The "Blackmail The Universe" tour went worldwide in February, 2005 with Diamond Head and Dungeon supporting. Capitol released a new greatest hits, "Back To The Start," in June, a month before Mustaine created "Gigantour" with Dream Theater, Anthrax, Fear Factory, Symphony X, Dillinger Escape Plan, Nevermore, Life of Agony and more. Throughout all of this, Mustaine had been coy in the press about whether or not this would be the "final" album and tour for his band. At a concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he announced that he would, in fact, keep Megadeth together.

"The Arsenal Of Megadeth," a two-disc anthology DVD, was released in March of 2006. Bass player James LoMenzo (Black Label Society, White Lion) replaced James MacDonough in March, shortly before the band headed to the Dubai Desert Rock Festival in the Middle East. On April 19th, the band began recording a new album, "United Abominations," at SARM studios in the UK (David Gilmour's house), announcing a worldwide deal with Roadrunner Records in May, 2006. "United Abominations" was released worldwide on May 15th 2007. However, the album had already been leaked before it's release.

In the summer of 2005, Mustaine launched a traveling North American metal festival. He named it Gigantour after a favorite childhood cartoon of his, Gigantor. It spanned six weeks and was co-headlined by Megadeth and Dream Theater, with a variety of other supporting metal acts. Mustaine has been quoted as saying that his main intention when conceiving the tour was to bring the American metal audiences an eclectic and affordable alternative to Ozzfest. The second Gigantour began in September of 2006.

In the late 1980s, Dave Mustaine produced "Refuge Denied," the debut album by Seattle thrashers Sanctuary, released by Epic Records. Megadeth took the band on tour. After another album on Epic, the band broke up, with its core members reforming as the band Nevermore. In 2005, Mustaine hand-picked Nevermore to be one of the opening acts on Gigantour.

In recent years Mustaine has become increasingly paranoid and right wing in his ideology and outbursts supporting Republican presidential candidates, and even accusing Barack Obama of clandestinely plotting the massacre of victims of 2012's most notorious firearm mass murders on U.S. soil. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.

Most Read

Popular Tracks

Get Involved

Top