Slayers Kerry King Looks Back on What Early Metallica Was Like, Recalls Playing on Same Bill as W.A.S.P.

Recently, Metal Hammer published a section of an interview with Slayer’s Kerry King that they did for the printed edition of the magazine. King, who’s currently preparing a mysterious metal project that we’re yet to find more about, looked back on the early days of thrash metal and seeing Metallica play live.

Of course, these were the days when Dave Mustaine, who later went on to form Megadeth, was still the lead guitarist in Metallica. King recalled:

“They were great at that point. They were ahead of us by at least 16 months to a year. They were doing originals and we were still doing covers. I think we opened for Metallica with Mustaine, I can’t recall, but I know me and Dave [Lombardo, Slayer drummer] definitely saw them in a club and we were blown away by Mustaine.”

But according to King, Dave Mustaine’s playing is still top-notch and he’s worthy of all praise. He continued:

“Still to this day, he’s a fucking great guitar player. It was very awesome, it wasn’t big clubs, you could see from anywhere, and I was very enamoured with seeing Mustaine play these insane leads and James [Hetfield] playing these insane rhythms and barking out these lyrics.”

Although Metallica is today considered a “mainstream” band in the world of metal, they were pretty different and even somewhat experimental for their time. As Kerry King explains, they were, by far, the most extreme band he has ever heard at that point. He continued:

“It was way more extreme than what I thought metal was or could be, it was like another arm of it, so to speak. We all came out around the same time, but Metallica certainly influenced me.”

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

At one point, Kerry King would end up playing with Dave Mustaine as a member of Megadeth. This, however, lasted for only a handful of live shows, but was definitely an interesting combination.

Going back to the interview, King also reflected what it was like to be a thrash band during the rise of glam metal. In particular, he recalled Los Angeles and the legendary Sunset Strip where some of the biggest glam metal bands frequently played. He said:

“It was the land of Van Halen and Mötley Crüe and W.A.S.P. We tried the strips a few times, and we would play the deadliners spot – the spot after the headliners when everyone was leaving.”

SLAYER The first filmed show ever! 28-March-1983 Anaheim, USA. Full Concert

Going more into it, King also recalled when Slayer played after W.A.S.P. as “deadliners.” In other words, it’s a band that plays after a headliner. He continued:

“We actually played after W.A.S.P. once, when they had this raw meat and the girl on the rack and all of this stuff. We were a bit like, ‘OK… this is interesting, how’s this going to work?’, and when we came on, no one left! We thought, ‘Hmm, something’s happening here!’”

“But it never really became a Hollywood thing. We just bypassed those clubs and went to the Bay Area, and then on full US tours.”


In another excerpt, Kerry also discussed Slayer and the band’s decision to call it a day. Although he was all in favor of them continuing, frontman Tom Araya was complaining about being exhausted for several years. Slayer played their final show with Gary Holt replacing Jeff Hanneman and Paul Bostaph on drums, replacing original member Dave Lombardo.

When asked by Metal Hammer what he when the band made that decision to do one final run, he replied:

“Anger… what else? It was premature. The reason I say ‘premature’ is because my heroes from my childhood are still playing! I can still play, I still want to play, but that livelihood got taken away from me.”

Slayer - 2018-08-26 - Live at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA - The Final Tour - FULL SHOW

Nonetheless, he’s more focused on the future. King continued:

“But, anyway, on to the next chapter, I guess. We were on top of the world, and there’s nothing wrong with going out on top of the world, it’s a good way to go out. So, bravo for that. But do I miss playing? Yeah, absolutely.”

Looking back at Slayer’s final tour, King commented:

“Every one of those shows was a bummer! We were going to all these places and all these cities where we have all this history. It’s a bummer to think, ‘I’m not gonna see my friends there again.’“

Slayer - last concert Los Angeles - Angel of Death & Slayer says Goodbye

“You’d get to that country and know you were going to see these people, and you’d see them yearly. I haven’t seen them now in three years. That sucks.“

“And the fans, too. Slayer means a lot to our fans, and they mean a lot to us. I know I will see these people again, but no Slayer leaves a big hole for a lot of people.”

As mentioned above, King is preparing a secret project and we’re yet to find out more about it. When pressed about this new band and what it’s going to sound like, he replied:

“If you know my work, you know what it’s going to sound like.”


Slayer announced their final tour in January 2018. It kicked off on May 10 that year in San Diego, California. It went through North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, repeating the continents and finally winding down in Inglewood, California at The Forum. Two final shows took place there on November 29 and November 30, 2019.

Photos: Leonardo Zainotte (Kerry King 2), Денис Седов (Mustaine at Moscow), Florian Stangl (W.A.S.P. – 30.11.2012 Rockfabrik Nürnberg (8248511162))


  • 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.