Dave Mustaine (born September 13, 1961 in La Mesa, California USA) is the lead/rhythm guitarist, songwriter, and singer for the thrash metal band Megadeth. Mustaine 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's drummer Lars Ulrich had posted an ad in a local newspaper, 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 were in another room. They weren't talking to me, so I went in and said, 'Come on, lets do this' and they said, 'You've got the job.' 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 day, Mustaine brought his dog to rehearsal. The dog jumped up onto the car of Ron McGovney and scratched the paint. Hetfield proceeded to yell at Mustaine's dog and allegedly kicked it in anger. Dave responded by punching Hetfield in the face and throwing McGovney across the room. Dave was "fired" following the altercation. The next day, Mustaine asked to be allowed back in the band and was granted his request. Another incident occurred when Mustaine, who had been drinking, poured a full can of beer down the neck and into the pick-ups of Ron McGovney's bass. When McGovney tried playing it, he received an electrical shock, after which he quit and kicked Mustaine out of his house.
In April of 1983, after Metallica had driven to New York to record their debut album, Mustaine was officially fired from the group because of his alcoholism and personality clashes with founding members Hetfield and Ulrich. 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 four songs on Kill Em All, and co-wrote two songs on 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 wrote with Hetfield and Ulrich went on to be re-recorded by Megadeth. The most well-known of these is "The Four Horsemen" from Kill 'em All, which Mustaine wrote and later released on his debut album with the original lyrics as "Mechanix."
In 1983, He concluded that one of his goals in life should be to create a band more successful than Metallica. That summer he met bass player Dave Ellefson and formed Megadeth. He then enlisted guitarist Greg Handevidt and drummer Dijon Carruthers. After a series of unsuccessful vocalist auditions, Mustaine elected to take on those duties himself in addition to playing lead guitar. In 1984, Megadeth cut a three-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, and guitarist Mike Albert replaced 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.
A KV1, same model played by Mustaine before the Y2KV was created. In 1985, after recording Killing Is My Business..., Mustaine approached Jackson Guitars for a custom-built guitar. Jackson modified their existing Flying V model for Mustaine. Afterwards, the company began mass-producing a Dave Mustaine series Jackson King V, which 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. It produced 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 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 with Mustaine's girlfriend at the time. Around this period, Mustaine found the time to produce the debut album from Seattle thrash band Sanctuary, called 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. Therefore, the singing and playing had to be recorded 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 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 , which continued their commercial success. They immediately went back on the road, this time as support for Judas Priest, to promote the album.
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 Billboard 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 about canned hunting for the title track. This album 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 U.S. tour with Megadeth with Stone Temple Pilots as their opening act. This tour, including a planned appearance at Budokan, was ultimately canceled 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 U.S. tour after just seven 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 to Extinction, 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. They began a tour the next month in South America. Youthanasia became the quickest album to go gold (500,000 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. Megadeth spent 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 U.S. 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 after 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 had made in the press in which he said he wished Mustaine would take more "risks," intentions changed. Managers and producers had more input. The guitar solos started to disappear. The song "Crush 'Em" was written with the express purpose of being played in sports arenas. 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 played live on Monday Nitro). In July, the band covered "Never Say Die" for a second Sabbath tribute. They played Woodstock '99 and again opened for Iron Maiden in Europe. There were few other highlights in the Megadeth world in 1999, a year that ended with Marty Friedman announcing his departure from the band.
Mustaine suffered a compressed radial nerve, normally referred to as "Saturday Night Palsy," 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 where he was being treated for kidney stones, made it impossible for him to play guitar. Consequently, Mustaine disbanded Megadeth in April 2002. Sanctuary released a collection called "Still Alive... And Well?"
Mustaine himself gave what he called "the Reader's Digest version" of the whole matter 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. During his recovery, he explored other areas of the music industry, including production. Contrary to what doctors had predicted, within a short time he fully recovered. However, all was mostly quiet on the Megadeth front for the 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 also remixed and remastered all of Megadeth's albums, releasing them through Capitol Records in 2004.
It was during this period that Mustaine became a Christian. He expressed his intent to withdraw from a show in Greece that had Rotting Christ opening for Megadeth.
In response to their forced cancellation, Sakis of Rotting Christ noted:
"I didn't expect something like that from Dave Mustaine, because, you know, he's supposed to be metal — you know, 'metal band,' all metal ... I just feel sorry for him and for every new Christian with new ideas, because we think Christianity is the worst thing to happen in human history. This is a well-organized trick in order to control society, so when I see someone that's very much Christian, that's full of the system, I feel very sorry for him because he's not free."
Mustaine responded on the official Megadeth website, saying "Yes, I did say I would prefer not to play on concerts with Satanic bands," he said. "That doesn't mean I won't, it doesn't mean I would not talk with the bands either...But to make a life-altering change and then not have some kind of effect would not have been a change at all, would it? It's not much different from staying away from booze if you have made a decision to be sober."
He added, "If I don't feel it is right for me to do something, then I would just respectfully decline. I would not ask that anyone be taken off if they were already confirmed...I have to draw the line and stand for my beliefs or they aren't beliefs at all, are they?"
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. Mustaine oversaw the remixing and re-mastering of Megadeth's entire Capitol Records catalog. All albums were re-released with bonus tracks and full liner notes. With one album remaining in his contract to Sanctuary Records, Mustaine began 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 project 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 before differences once again caused his departure. 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, 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 February shortly before the band headed to the Dubai Desert Rock Festival in the Middle East. On April 19, the band began recording a new album, United Abominations, at SARM studios in the UK (David Gilmour's house), they announced a worldwide deal with Roadrunner Records in May 2006. United Abominations was released worldwide on May 15, 2007. However, the album had already been leaked before its release. On January 13, 2008, Dave Mustaine confirmed that guitarist Glen Drover had quit Megadeth to focus on his family and that he had been replaced by Chris Broderick of Jag Panzer). Shortly before the band headed to Europe, the new lineup made its live debut in Finland on February 4 and returned to the US for Gigantour 2008 in the spring.
Dave Mustaine has done a few cameo performances on various television shows:
- In 1992 Mustaine covered the Democratic National Convention for MTV. He also hosted the MTV2 Television Network's series Headbanger's Ball on two occasions: once on a tribute to Dimebag Darrell in December of 2004 and the second time as a special guest on an episode which aired August 27, 2005. He also played the song "Gears of War" with Megadeth on an episode about the video game release under the same name.
- Dave Mustaine makes an appearance on the 1998 The Drew Carey Show episode entitled "In Ramada Da Vida." When Drew and the gang decide to start a band, they audition guitarists, including Mustaine. After playing a lightning fast guitar solo, Lewis Kiniski tells Mustaine "Don't be nervous son, just slow down," to which Mustaine replies, "It's supposed to sound that way." Drew replies by saying, "Yeah, sure it is..... next."
- In the 1996 Black Scorpion sci-fi series episode Love Burns Mustaine plays Torchy Thompson, a vengeful arsonist.
- Dave Mustaine and Megadeth appear in the Duck Dodgers 2005 episode "In Space, Nobody can Here you Rock/Ridealong Calamity". In the show, Dave plays a cryogenically frozen version of himself, possibly a reference to the "Hangar 18" video since the video ends with the whole line up of Megadeth cryogenically frozen. He is unfrozen because the main cast requires an incredibly loud noise, and "nobody rocks harder, faster, or louder than Dave Mustaine." He is referred to in the episode as being "genetically engineered to rock and raised by wolverines". During this episode he played the song "Back In The Day" from "The System Has Failed" album. Mustaine appeared again in the show in the series' finale episode, Bonafide Hero: Captain Duck Dodgers.
- Dave appeared on the second episode of season 8 on the television show Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
- Dave and Megadeth appeared in promotional videos for the NHL team Philadelphia Flyers in response to an inflammatory comment by Mike Wise in the Washington Post which suggested that some of the Flyers' fans could work security for Megadeth. Dave invited them to do so. Megadeth all wore Flyers' jerseys. Dave sported the one of team captain Jason Smith, while other members wore the jerseys of Daniel Brière, Martin Biron and Mike Richards.