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Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine: The 10 Albums That Changed My Life

You’d expect Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine to have a thing for Judas Priest, Motorhead and UFO. But Johnny Winter, Angel and Aztec Camera are another thing entirely

It’s been a particularly great year for Megadeth. Their latest album, Dystopia, has been widely praised as one of the band’s finest ever, and so it’s not surprising that mainman Dave Mustaine is in such a good mood as he leads us through the albums that have shaped his life that he cheerfully admits that he’s a fan of Scottish indie-pop merchants Aztec Camera. No, we didn’t see that coming either…


The first album I ever bought was…

David Bowie – Changesonebowie (1976)

“The first album I ever actually owned was Kiss, Hotter Than Hell. But I stole that one. At the high school I went to there were a couple of really great players that were in the little circle I was in. There were the jocks and the stoners, and the majority of the stoners played, and these guys played a lot of songs from Bowie’s catalogue. Diamond Dogs was one of the songs I really dug, and Rebel Rebel was cool. I’ve got to say that the lyrics to Diamond Dogs just resonated with me and where my life was going. ‘As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent, you asked for the latest party…’ Well, if that didn’t sound like me back then, I don’t know what did, you know?”

The album that reminds me of high school is…

UFO – Phenomenon (1974)

“It’s either Phenomenon by UFO or Let There Be Rock by AC/DC. Those were the two records I listened to most during that period. Black Sabbath was being played quite a lot too at the same time, but I can’t remember which one it was… I think it had Changes on it! [That’ll be Vol.4 then! – Sabs Ed] We would be rolling up 50-cent joints and then Changes would come on and it was my least favourite song, so that’s why I remember that one in particular. But I’ll go with UFO. We listened to that record a lot.”

My favourite album of all time is…

Led Zeppelin – Presence (1976)

“For what it’s worth, it’s hard to put my finger on just one record. Diamond Head was such a great band for me. The same goes for a lot of the Mercyful Fate stuff. I remember driving up the highway with Hetfield, listening to Venom and Motörhead all the time. Those were two bands we liked a lot. But if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to pick Led Zeppelin. Presence is the one that came out when I was becoming a fan, because I was too young when the earlier records came out.”

The album that defines metal is…

Judas Priest – Sad Wings Of Destiny (1976)

“The ones that define metal to me? It all goes back to Motorhead and No Sleep Till Hammersmith. That was the epitome of balls-out, letting-it-go rifforama. But when it comes to classic heavy metal, Judas Priest’s Sad Wings Of Destiny is definitely one of the all-time great opuses. Hearing Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing’s unison guitar playing and hearing Rob Halford let rip… who sings like that? Nobody. I was so entranced by that band and everything about them, that I went to a hat store and bought a Fedora because Glenn Tipton was wearing one on the back of Sad Wings… I have curly hair so hats don’t stay on so well. It didn’t last very long (laughs).”

The album that makes me break the speed limit is…

Motörhead – Ace Of Spades (1980)

“I have to go back to Motorhead again. You could say that the guitar playing on Iron Maiden’s Killers is up there. That was an important record for me too, but the tempo wasn’t as breakneck as the faster Motorhead tracks. They’re the perfect band for speeding… or going to jail! (laughs)”

No one would believe I own a copy of…

Aztec Camera – Love (1987)

“We were in Paris and MTV was on. I remember I was really sick at the time, and Roddy Frame was singing Deep And Wide And Tall, and he’s just a really great pop songwriter. You can tell the metal guys that have successful, long-lasting careers are usually people that listen to music outside the obvious realm and have influences from outside metal. If we’re just repeating what our peers are doing, we’re not really pushing the envelope. I also own a Scritti Politti single called Wood Beez. It came with a turntable that somebody had left at a house that me and David Ellefson moved into, and I just kind of adopted it. It’s a little bit poppy for me.”

My favourite album artwork of all time is…

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here (1975)

“That’s real easy. I’d have to say Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, with the dudes shaking hands and the guy is lit on fire. Storm Thorgersen is an amazing artist, so much so that we used a guy named Hugh Syme, who was a protégé of his, for Countdown To Extinction and Youthanasia. We wanted something original and thought provoking and not just an illustration. We got pigeonholed and everyone was like ‘Where’s Vic?’ every time. With Youthanasia, people’s asses were growing together because they thought we actually hung babies upside down and took pictures. What we did was have the moms come in and the babies were on these clear tables with the light underneath, then the moms would grab their toes and pull their legs straight so it looked like they were hanging by their feet. I thought that was brilliant.

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The most underrated album of all time is…

Angel – Angel (1975)

“They were on Casablanca Records. They were the yin to Kiss’s yang. Kiss were dressed up in black and Angel were in white. They had this remarkable guitar player called Punky Meadows who Frank Zappa actually made fun of in songs. But he had some remarkable songs like Tower and Any Way You Want. They were almost proggish to a degree, but really great songs. I always wondered about doing a cover of the song Tower. The singer had this really weird voice. You have to be super open-minded to appreciate it because he has such a super-fast vibrato, and a lot of people won’t find that appealing. But they were one of my favourite bands growing up.”

The album I want played at my funeral is…

Johnny Winter – Still Alive And Well (1973)

“I’ve always joked about this. I don’t look forward to dying! I’m not afraid of dying and I’ve already died once before, but not living anymore and not being able to share life? I love my family, I love my band, I love where my life is right now and my career’s going great. I believe the metal community right now… the pendulum has swung in a positive way for all of us, not only the Big Four but the little 400 as well! (laughs).”

The album I want to be remembered for is…

Megadeth – Dystopia (2016)

“In terms of pushing my playing and songwriting, and the re-acquaintance of David Ellefson and myself, and with Kiko being such an un-fucking-believable guitar player, I would have to pick Dystopia at this point. But now Dirk Verbeuren’s in the band, I’m really looking forward to what’s next. When we get into the rehearsal room, warming up for the shows, and we hear Dirk playing some blastbeats, I’m questioning what Megadeth is going to sound like when we make the next record and we have those skull-numbing beats going on, it’s gonna push my playing to otherworldly limits. I’m excited because I can do the fast metal stuff, but having the chops and musical depth that Kiko has and with Ellefson holding down the fort, I’m really looking forward to the next record. I started thinking about it the day we left the studio after making Dystopia. That’s just how I’m wired.”


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