Dave Mustaine Reveals What He ‘Hated’ About Metallica Hiring Cliff Burton, Speaks Up on Replacing David Ellefson in Megadeth

Metallica and Megadeth are, without a doubt, two bands that helped change modern music forever. Sure, Metallica got more commercial and mainstream success. But it’s also Dave Mustaine’s early contributions that made them so appealing back in the day. Not to mention that Dave’s work in Megadeth inspired countless guitar players and musicians around the world.

Metallica - Live with Dave Mustaine & Cliff Burton (1983) RARE, FULL!

But, of course, when there’s a talk of these two bands, it’s impossible to avoid the most notorious beef in the world of metal that goes on even to this day. Dave wasn’t, and still isn’t, happy about how some of the things went down in Metallica. In a recent interview with Revolver, Mustaine reflected on his decision to replace David Ellefson, as well as Metallica’s decision to hire Cliff Burton, even though he was in another band at the time, called Trauma.

Metallica - For Whom the Bell Tolls (Live) [Cliff 'Em All]

Mustaine’s choice for the album sessions was Testament’s Steve Di Giorgio. However, Dave didn’t want to take him away from his main band, so he then hired James LoMenzo as Megadeth’s permanent bassist. He explains (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“We parted ways with David Ellefson, and the idea to get Steve basically was… In the end, it’s always gonna be my decision. But there were a couple of guys we looked at.

“We were trying to finish the record, so the criteria for someone to be a session player and finish the record versus be a guy that’s gonna be a bandmember that we can find right now that’s gonna make a commitment and leave what they’re doing to come join us, we just didn’t have the time. So we sought out for a guy that would just help us finish the album, and that was Steve.”

He then added:

“I’m not a guy that likes to poach people from other bands. I hated when we [Metallica] did that with Cliff Burton. I mean, granted Trauma wasn’t a great band. But I think it just sets you up for resentment from people when you go and take their band members. If the guy quits and wants to join your band, that’s cool.”

“But if I would have went to Testament and said, ‘Hey, I want Steve,’ or I would have just went to Steve and said, ‘Hey, I’ll give you a gazillion dollars’ and [he] quit [Testament], you know what would happen? I would lose my friendship with Alex [Skolnick] and with Chuck [Billy]. And it’s not the way to go.”

Photo: Will Russell (Dave Mustaine 2011)


  • 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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.