Dave Mustaine Recalls What James Hetfield Did Wrong in Metallica’s Early Days, Says Metallica and Megadeth Should Tour Together

Recently, Guitar World conducted a new interview with Megadeth frontman and leader Dave Mustaine (via Blabbermouth). During the chat, Mustaine also reflected on the always-present issues between him and Metallica. When asked whether there’s any competition between the two legendary thrash metal bands, he said:

“In my mind, there is no competition between Megadeth and Metallica. We’re different bands, and I believe Megadeth has been more consistent. But the sad thing is that the drama between us has been more popular than the music ever was.”

As he explains further, Metallica had a “head start” and it’s due to his help that they were able to lift off in their early days. At the same time, Dave points out the contradiction with some of the alleged criticism he received from the Metallica camp. He continued:

“And remember, Metallica got a big head start, and they did so on the back of what I helped create. They became one of the biggest bands in the world, and here’s one of the biggest bands wasting their breath trying to discredit me by saying, ‘Dave’s not a good guitar player.’ Excuse me, what the fuck did you say? [Laughs]”

“I think I wrote many of the songs that made you famous, so you probably should recheck that bullshit statement. But this is the shit those guys say, and you’ve got the sheep who follow them around believing it.”

Going further into the matter, Mustaine was also asked to weigh in on who he thinks is to blame for keeping all these problems alive to which he replied:

“The issue is that people don’t know their history and take sides. I never wanted to take sides; I wanted things to be reconciled and to be friends, but for whatever reason, they didn’t.”

Metallica with Dave Mustaine - Live In San Francisco 1983 [Full Concert] /mG

While discussing the matter, Mustaine also wondered why the two bands haven’t toured together apart from The Big 4 shows even though, as he claims, plenty of people would pay to see that happen. He continued:

“And Metallica is represented by the same agent as Megadeth, and I’ve asked our agent, ‘You’re Metallica’s agent, too; why won’t those guys play with us? What are they afraid of?’ And they’ve confirmed they’re going out [this summer] with Five Finger Death Punch and the Pantera thing, so it’s clearly about the money.”

“The fact is simple: the world wants to see Megadeth and Metallica play together. And in case anyone is wondering: there’s fucking money in that. The fans want to see Metallica and Megadeth share the stage.”

Metallica w/ Dave Mustaine - Phantom Lord (Live in San Francisco, December 10th, 2011)

“Does Megadeth need Metallica? No. But Metallica talks about their fans, but they don’t give them what they’ve been asking for. What are they afraid of? I don’t know. It’s not me; it’s them.”

During the chat, Dave also looked back on Metallica’s early days and the impact he made on their early works. While discussing this, he also remembered one occasion when the band attempted to bring in a second guitar player and have James Hetfield performing as a singer. Mustaine offered:

“In the early days, I was the only guitar player in the band and wrote some of the songs that ended up on their earlier records. So, for a guy who ‘couldn’t play guitar,’ I sure did fucking influence things.”

Metallica: Am I Evil? (Live w/ The Big 4) [The Big 4: Live in Sofia, Bulgaria]

“The only reason James [Hetfield] even played guitar early on was that we couldn’t find anyone else. So who was it that couldn’t play guitar?”

“We had one guy named Brad Parker, whose real name was Damian Phillips. He showed up and had an oversized feather earring; we did one show, and that was the end of him. And that was why we ended up having James play guitar. There was no other reason.”

Although there isn’t much information around about Damian Phillips, also known as Brad Parker, Metallica’s official website documents this in the band’s historic timeline as you can see via this link. Ron McGovney, Metallica’s original bassist, also confirmed this on his Twitter account a couple of years ago.

Metallica: The Four Horsemen (Berkeley, CA - April 16, 2016)

Metal-oriented database Encyclopaedia Metallum lists the musician as Damian C. Phillips and claims that Brad Parker was his legal name and not the other way around. It also says that he passed away in 2018. You can find more info here.

Going back to Mustaine’s interview, the Megadeth frontman also remembered how James Hetfield struggled with the band’s early performances, particularly with his communication with live audience. Dave explained how he attempted to help James with this, offering:

“Also, early on, James was terrified to talk to the crowd, and I would look at him and say, ‘Talk, man. Get up there and fucking talk,’ but James didn’t do it; he stayed in the background, and he’s the fucking singer.”

Dave Mustaine Reflects on His Days in Metallica

As Dave further explains, this was the reason why he handled these situations and addressed the audience whenever he could. He said:

“So, I — the guy who can’t play guitar — went up to the mic and started talking. That’s how it was until I left; James only started talking to the audience after I left; he had no choice. You can hear it on the tapes from the shows we did in San Francisco at the Waldorf and the Stone; I did all the talking.”

“And most of what I said on stage was things James would then copy after I left. So how do I view my influence on Metallica? It’s pretty fucking deep.”

Metallica Metal Hammer Fest 14 09 1985

As of this moment, Megadeth is promoting their new album “The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!” and is preparing to continue their tour. What’s brought some excitement among metal fans is the confirmation of rumors that former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman will be joining them on stage in Tokyo, Japan on February 27. Friedman also officially addressed the matter in his new statement, offering:

“Just a quick announcement to let you all know that I’m gonna be joining my good friends in Megadeth on stage at the Budokan in Tokyo on February 27th.”

“It’s been a real long time since I’ve been on the same stage with Dave Mustaine making music, and we’ve both taken severely different paths in our life since then. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m so extremely proud of the part that I played in Megadeth’s history and Megadeth’s legacy, and I’m also very, very proud of the achievements that the band has done in my absence.”

Marty Friedman - Tornado Of Souls (Warchest DVDRIP).flv

“But for right now, at this moment, I just feel immense joy and serious adrenaline to look forward to playing together at this very, very cool place. So I just really wish you could be there, and I hope to see you soon.”

Photo: Sven Mandel (Megadeth – 2017216231552 2017-08-04 Wacken – Sven – 1D X MK II – 1257 – B70I0729), DoD News Features (James Hetfield (2) – Concert for Valor in Washington, D.C. Nov. 11, 2014)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.