David Ellefson Recalls ’Abusive’ Way He Was Treated By Dave Mustaine in Megadeth, Says Dave Has ’Not Gotten Over’ Metallica Firing

For many years now, it’s been obvious that Megadeth is Dave Mustaine’s band. Additionally, it’s not exactly a secret that he could be a bit difficult to work with, especially knowing how many members passed through the lineup over the years. Of course, we were reminded of the whole thing when original bassist David Ellefson was fired due to a sex video scandal. As it seems, Ellefson will probably never reunite with Mustaine again.

What’s more, Mustaine has recently accused Ellefson and former producer Johnny K of trying to “poach” his song “Kingmaker” from the album “Super Collider.” Mustaine recalled how the two of them tried to add a bass part in the song’s intro without him knowing anything.

Megadeth - Kingmaker

While visiting the 2020’d podcast recently, David Ellefson responded to these allegations, offering his side of the story. Recalling the sessions, the bassist said (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“The record was done, or at least my bass parts were. And Dave, at the end of the session, at the end of the day, he said to me, he said, ‘Hey, man. If you wanna go through the record, if there’s anything you wanna add or tweak or change, blah blah blah blah,’ giving me free license to do so, ’cause he had signed off on everything. So [I said], ‘All right. No problem.'”

“So after he left, me and [guitarist] Chris Broderick [who was in Megadeth then] and Johnny K sat in the studio and I said, ‘You know, I do have this one little bit, this little thing,’ and I showed it to them, and Broderick goes, ‘Dude, that would be really cool at the beginning of ‘Kingmaker’.’ And I said, ‘Huh. Interesting idea.'”

“And in my opinion, I think ‘Kingmaker’ is probably the better song on the record, just off the top for me. Johnny liked it. We sat and we worked on it and put it together. And we were all excited.”

“Dave walks in the next day in a much different mood — grumpy, I might add [laughs] and not feeling so joyous as the night before. And I think either me or Johnny said, ‘Hey, I’ve got something I want you to listen to that we worked on last night.’ And there was this kind of disapproving look.”

“And Johnny plays it for him, all excited. ‘Cause I think the three of us [Johnny, Chris, and me] all heard the same thing: ‘Hey, if you wanna add anything, if you wanna work on anything, please do.’ Well, Dave didn’t seem to maybe remember that conversation. And so what he walked into was, ‘Why the hell are you messing with my song?’ And I think he pulled Broderick aside and said, ‘Don’t you dare add David Ellefson’s stuff to my songs.’

Further down the interview, Ellefson detailed how writing sessions after his return to Megadeth in 2010 completely changed. He wasn’t allowed to add parts to Mustaine’s songs anymore. After discussing these issues, Ellefson reflected on the last year’s firing by saying:

“I kind of saw the events of last year as just the perfect opportunity to choose box office over brotherhood. I look back at it now and I feel like I got kicked out of hell. So, whatever.”

He also adds:

“It was abusive, for sure. It was just abusive. It was unnecessary. Dave even said he had a resentment toward me that he couldn’t let go, and I didn’t know what it was.

Going into it further, Ellefson also reflected on Mustaine’s infamous Metallica firing. He said:

“He’s fighting with himself. He’s in a game of tug of war with himself. I’m not fighting with him. I’ve just moved on.”

“I remember we talked about that after he jammed with Metallica and the ‘Big Four’. I said, ‘How was that last night playing ‘Am I Evil?’?’ And he said, he goes, ‘You know, those guys kicked me out of the band and they just moved on. I held on to the resentment for all these years.’

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

“It’s like the same thing for me. It’s, like, why is he resenting me? He got rid of me. Supposedly the problem should have gone away if he got rid of me. But the problem still seems to be there.

“Look, I think part of it, too, is he’s obviously not gotten over this thing about being fired from Metallica, so he wanted to do to somebody else what he felt they did to him, which is kick him out and then someone else play his guitar parts. ‘So let’s kick Junior out and then have someone else play his bass parts.'”

“And to me, I’m, like, I don’t care. I already fucking helped put the record together. I played on the record. I got paid to be on the record. So, hey, if you wanna get someone else to play, whatever.”

Photo: Carter Sterling (David Ellefson (cropped2)), S. Bollmann (Megadeth Summer Breeze Open Air 2017 18), Ralph Arvesen (Lars Ulrich 2017)


  • 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.