Ellefson Compares His Exit From Megadeth to Mustaine’s Metallica Dismissal
In 2021, Ellefson was let go from Megadeth amid a sex scandal involving a leaked video that appeared to put the 58-year-old bass player in a compromising position. James LoMenzo replaced him after Testament's Steve Di Giorgio stepped in to record bass on The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!, Megadeth's 2022 album.
Subsequently, Ellefson returned in The Lucid with Sponge's Vinnie Dombroski and Fear Factory's Mike Heller; they released singles such as "Damned" and "Maggot Wind." Last year, Ellefson added another new act to his resume, the band Dieth.
What Ellefson Says About It Now
When asked this week about his Megadeth exit, Ellefson touched on some of the same notes he has in other recent interviews, stressing forgiveness while still offering some barbs for Mustaine.
"I don't know what more to say about it other than that," the bassist continues. "At some point, the damage was done. So you move on. We're all human, and it is what it is. You can't lament it. I've watched how he's treated his dismissal from Metallica — still bitching about it 40 years later. And I think it looks fucking pathetic."
As recently as February, Mustaine had touted his "pretty fucking deep" influence on Metallica's early thrash metal sound when asked about it in an interview.
Subsequently, Metallica "became one of the biggest bands in the world, and here's one of the biggest bands in the world wasting their breath trying to discredit me by saying, 'Dave's not a good guitar player,'" Mustaine told Guitar World, apparently referring to Metallica's reported behavior toward him immediately after.
To Heavy Talk, Ellefson adds, going back to his Megadeth dismissal, "I got one call — 'You're fired.' [Laughs] And I said, 'What the fuck, man?' I said, 'Some shitty fucking people just dropped a bomb on my house. And that's it? It's not even true. It's fucking bullshit. And this is how you treat me?' It was non-negotiable. I mean, I asked. I said, 'I'm gonna take care of it. Let me just deal with it. And it will fucking be done. We'll be ready to go on the road in two months, and everything will be fine.'"
Why Was Ellefson Fired From Megadeth?
"I'm always gonna be known for my work in Megadeth," Ellefson said in a separate interview two weeks ago, "Not being in Megadeth is not of my choice. [Laughs] I think people are appreciative that I'm continuing to make music, at least from what I've seen."
He continued, "It's not like I left the band and said, 'Fuck you. I'm out.' 'Cause if I did that, and then if I was trying to start new bands, people would be like, Fuck you, Ellefson. You left our favorite band. Fuck you. We don't care. People know that that was not my decision. It's not the way I would have handled that at all."
Asked if he felt he was a "victim of unnecessary criminalization," Ellefson added, "A hundred percent. Fucking a hundred percent I was. Everything about that was just not OK. [Laughs] But you can spend your life trying to get justice, trying to go down that road, and it's kind of like it always just follows you."
Referring to the fallout of Megadeth's two-year breakup from 2002 and Ellefson's $18.5 million lawsuit in 2004, Ellefson said, "The first [exit] was over the change of financial splits, and then the second time was clearly of something much bigger — personal grudges and resentments toward me."
The bassist underscored, "I knew what I was walking back into. And we had a lot of good times. There was a lot of fun in the 11 years that I came back. Not so much in the recent years.."
Ellefson Sex Scandal Video
In a May 2021 statement, Ellefson wrote, "Recently, a very private video was illegally posted on the internet and false allegations were made against me. The actions in the video were between two consenting adults and were recorded without my knowledge. I am working with [the police] in their investigation into charges regarding revenge pornography to be filed against the person who posted this video."
Megadeth then notified the musician that they would be dismissing him. They did so later that month, but didn't publicize it until a message credited to Mustaine.
"We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth and that we are officially parting ways with him," Megadeth's statement read. "We do not take this decision lightly. … While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible."
In yet another of his new bands, Ellefson joins a fellow ex-Megadeth member, Jeff Young, as Kings of Thrash, who perform early Megadeth albums in full. Chris Poland, another former Megadeth musician, has appeared with them as a guest.
Why Did Metallica Fire Dave Mustaine?
In 1983, Metallica ejected their first lead guitarist, the future Megadeth leader Mustaine, due to his behavior around substance abuse. Even though, as it has been noted, other Metallica members imbibed to the point of the band receiving the nickname "Alcoholica."
Mustaine has subsequently admitted his reactions while intoxicated were excessive. "When you're around a lot of people that like to drink and get silly, they just want to have fun," he explained.
"I would drink and have fun until someone would refute something I had said," Mustaine continued. "Then that was war, baby. I'd be aggressive and confrontational because I was a violent drunk. I lost all inhibitions when I was drinking, and that didn't go over too well."
Without prior warning, Mustaine's time in Metallica concluded on April 11, 1983. Metallica had already hired Kirk Hammett as their new guitarist. That morning, the group awoke Mustaine, who was suffering a hangover, and told him he was out. He formed the first ideas for Megadeth on the bus ride home.