Mustaine Discusses David Ellefson Lawsuit, Band Bio
Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine has posted the following message
on the band’s official web site:
“Here is what I have been saying in the interviews, what happened chronologically
that caused the demise of the band, why [drummer] Nick [Menza] was fired,
[guitarist] Marty [Friedman] quitting, records turning out the way they
did, and finally me walking away.”
“When ‘Countdown To Extinction’ came out, the band and I were ecstatic
to have a number 2 record. But if you could believe this, also during that
time there were a lot of the ‘movie-type intervention group therapy meetings’
with me in the middle of a session of what rapidly was referred to as a
‘Dave Bashing’ session.
“There were all of these complaints and trying to get me to stop using
drugs, as well as comments about my leadership skills. I remember them
all taking a test and grading me as well as numerous other shameful and
painful exercises meant to crack me or break me down.
“Well, this really hurt all of us, mostly me. The members at these sessions
were Nick, Marty, Junior, Ron Laffitte (manager), Raymond May (counselor),
David White (counselor – and not Gadget, the guitar tech).
“Ultimately, it made me start to be very cautious of everything and
we instituted a no-drinking, no-drug clause, that everyone would agree
to, myself included. There would be random testing and so on, and this
was because of Ron’s friendship with Aerosmith’s manager and how this ‘process
had worked for them.’
“I allowed more input from not only management, and the band, but also
the counselors and even Max Norman, who had gotten more permission in the
next record which was called ‘Youthanasia’.
“By the time ‘Youth’ was done, I had so much inner turmoil that I wanted
to leave Megadeth, but instead I asked to do a solo project. I had been
writing songs for the next Megadeth record after ‘Youth’ and because ‘Countdown
to Extinction’ had come in at #2 and ‘Youth’ at #4, Capitol agreed to keep
“I set out to do a punk metal record with Lee Ving called MD.45, and
they gave me $250,000 to do the project.
“As cool as this is for them to have admitted it, Capitol did not market
MD.45 at all because it would have possibly interfered with their other
priority, the successful band Megadeth. However, the great people of EMI
have allowed me to go back in and re-issue this record, which I am totally
“After I faced that I had not succeeded with MD.45 I was ready to do
the next Megadeth record called ‘Cryptic Writings’. However, before this
record, Ron Laffitte called me to tell me that he was going to be taking
a job at Elektra Records, and we parted ways very badly. This is where
the phrase you have heard ‘difficult’ came in. Ron and I have since made
amends but the damage of his comments about me and the inside damage to
my heart from the ‘Dave Bashing Sessions’ had changed the dynamics of Megadeth
forever. And to this day, no one has ever apologized for it.
“I had gotten a new manager after Ron left named Mike Renault that I
really liked, and he had a partner named Bud Prager that came out to meet
me and took over, without my consent, or Mike’s knowledge, and started
to try to convert Megadeth to a different band, a band he had managed before
“The first days we talked about the writing of ‘Cryptic’, how I write,
that he wants me to run everything past him, that he was going to assess
critically the other band members’ music, and he would write with me as
a ghost writer. Although you have seen on ‘Risk’ there was no more ghost
“This hurt me, hurt my relationship with the band, and Bud’s relationship
with Mike, and most importantly my relationship with you.
” ‘Cryptic’ came out and while it was really good, it was not really
thrash or speed metal anymore. You see when ‘Countdown to Extinction’ came
out, there was another record called ‘Nevermind’ out at the same time too.
And now there was a fork in the road. Does Megadeth follow the alternative
road, does it follow the road it’s on, which will lead to going underground,
or does it do nothing?
“I think you can tell by the haircuts, fancy shoes, and clothes that
the road opposite the underground was chosen, although we never really
chose to follow alternative. Yet.
“I was very pleased with the results of ‘Cryptic’, regardless of the
music genre, and relished in the moment. But that was short-lived. The
others were fighting with Bud and with me; Bud had convinced me to give
the all 10% each of my publishing, which is a sacred way of earning money,
one of only two ways you make money off of selling a record, unless you
are fortunate enough to get royalties from ASCAP or BMI, of which I belong
to BMI. He suggested to buy them out, and he would get them to leave me
alone. This is something that he told me was done in Foreigner, a band
“But he never said that he was going to want publishing, that he was
going to bring in outside writers, that he was going to give away more
of my points to the production team.
“Now, ‘Countdown to Extinction’ was 2X Platinum, ‘Youth’ was 1X Platinum,
but ‘Cryptic’ failed to reach Platinum. It did make Gold status in the
“Meanwhile, I had a falling out with Nick about an injury in his leg
and the hidden drug problems he was having that was affecting his playing.
I let him go, but I loved him enough to stay in close contact with him
over the next five years. He told me that Junior has called him all of
twice in five years.
“In comes DeGrasso, and I knew him from MD.45, but this was different.
Many of my friends told me that he would not be the right guy, and that
I was making a big mistake. How could I be making a mistake with a person
that played that well?
“I didn’t understand or believe them and went on with it. We started
to write ‘Risk’.
“By now the letters had been going out by Bud to the other band members
like ‘Your songs are a dime a dozen, maybe a nickel,’ ‘This is awful, like
Ali Baba’s 100 Arabian nights.’ And this anger for Bud ended coming back
at me. I didn’t want to have to deal with anyone anymore, and Bud was totally
power drunk. His relationship with Mike Renault was on the rocks, and it
wasn’t long until Mike left Bud’s firm. On this record Bud suggested making
the song ‘Crush ’em’ and that we use an outside songwriter that he manages
named Brain Howe, the singer of Bad Company. He also tried getting me to
write with the Country Music Songwriter of the year, some chick that I
would have to move out to Nashville to work with for a few days or weeks.
“Droogies, I did take a huge risk and that was why it was called ‘Risk’,
because even though I felt this was going to be career suicide, ‘Cryptic’
had done great at radio. I just hadn’t learned yet that radio doesn’t always
translate into record sales, sales which you need to stay in business.
It isn’t just about the record sales that keep you in business either.
If it appears that you are not selling records, you will more often than
not be put into a smaller venue, and so on. The noose gets tighter.
“When ‘Risk’ was done, I believed it was a great record, it just was
not a Megadeth record. Marty has confessed that he and the management,
and the A & R department of Capitol were the ones trying to make Megadeth
alternative, and after all of the ‘internal terrorism’ that I mentioned
in Vortex, I just started to give in to this fatal democratic leadership.
“Once ‘Risk’ came out and we watched the fans freak out that it was
not Megadeth, I said, ‘We need to make a metal record, yep we are going
to make a metal record!’ This is why I believe Marty quit.
“Sure, he will tell you the songs were simple, or my lyrics were dark,
or a hundred other reasons, but I think Marty was happy with the fact that
Megadeth was trying to turn alternative; that was until Dann Huff stuck
the knife in his back by not telling me that he had not told Marty that
he had erased his solo and put a solo by me there instead.
“Marty was visibly hurt, I was hurting for him, and I knew we were just
on life support.
“In comes Al Pitrelli after Marty has his nervous breakdown.
“Meanwhile, Roy Lott, the president of Capitol Records made up a fake
gold record award to give to me and I couldn’t even look at the cameras
when they ask us to pose with them. This is because it said to ‘commemorate
500,000 sales worldwide’ not in America. I purposed hung this record crooked
in my office to remind me of who was working on this record.
” ‘Risk’ only sold 350,000 copies approximately.
“So I started ‘The World Needs A Hero’ with Al, who was a leader for
Trans Siberian Orchestra, and also Savatage. It took a lot for Al to submit
to not being a leader and being second fiddle, but Junior did not allow
him to be second; that was his spot, and Jimmy wouldn’t allow him to be
third; that was his spot.
“So by taking the gig, Al went from the front of the line to the back
of the line. I have no hard feelings for Al, he married a nice lady, and
I wish him the best.
“Back to the record: When ‘TWNAH’ was finished, we took it to Capitol
and told them that we wanted off of the label, and they said, ‘Give us
two songs, let us put out a greatest hits record, and don’t release this
new ‘TWNAH’ record that we are going to give back to you for nine months
so that it won’t interfere with our greatest hits record that we are going
to put out.’ It made sense to me, and we agreed.
“Somehow the A & R guy from Capitol Steve Schner (possibly), and
certainly someone from Capitol had sent out what seemed like hundreds of
promotional copies of ‘TWNAH’. We found them all over eBay, and every person
selling them had the same story, which lead to the suspicion; ‘We found
it in a used record bin in a box on the street in NYC.’
“Sure ya did.
“And this continued for nine months of illegal downloading on Napster
and the like, so that when the record finally came out, it only sold a
little over 200,000. This is great for some bands, but it was not great
“I was watching everything I had built for 20 years die in front of
my own eyes.
“I started drinking in the back of the bus with Al at night, and eventually
one day is was in San Diego and was supposed to play an acoustic radio
show for KIOZ and found out for all of our trouble and for all of their
gratitude, they were playing the song only 2 times that whole week prior
to the special show we were doing for them.
“That night I got loaded.
“I eventually finished the tour, but I couldn’t stand to be around any
of the guys. Junior would walk up to me on stage and I would walk away,
Jimmy would miss parts and timed choreographed segues because he was off
of his drums yelling at the monitor man.
“This is the point at the end of the tour I went in to rehab, and where
I fell asleep on my arm.
“While I was in rehab, I had told the band’s manager at the time, Larry
Mazer, that I needed a vacation and that I was having a breakdown, and
that he should pull the plug for a while. He didn’t listen.
“While I was in the treatment center, Junior, Larry, and the others
went to the label and said we were starting the new record and that we
need a third of the budget, which was $333,000. And when Sanctuary, the
label, asked where Dave was, Larry said, ‘On a horse retreat.’
“Now, all of my friends at the label knew I was afraid of horses, and
that something was up. So when I got home I told Larry that I was done
and that I was firing him and that I was breaking up Megadeth.
“I told Junior that I wanted to meet him and explain why and show him
my hand, which he saw, contrary to his, ‘I only know what he told me’ statement
in Metal Sludge. I told him that I was going to hand everything over to
him so that people would recognize him and at first he thanked me profusely,
then later that day he started screaming at me in front of my son, in a
public parking place. Even though he hurt my son, and me in the eyes of
my son, I did not kick his ass.
“So, I took back the offer to have him run the Estate. Junior said,
‘If you’re going on with your career, then I am going on with mine.’
“I called Jimmy to tell him and his girlfriend said, ‘You are not living
up to your potential to be a decent human being.’ I guess she would [know]
what that looks like from experience. And then she called me ‘a liar.’
“I wrote the press release and left all of this stuff out because I
thought after a year or two that Jimmy would change his attitude, maybe
say some good things about his time in Megadeth, maybe call up, and apologize
for his girlfriend’s rudeness, but that never happened. And I also tried
to keep in touch with Junior, but he always seemed to want to know what
I was doing, which I would have told him if he wouldn’t have been so rude.
He was forgetful that for the last 20 years I took care of him and employed
him, even after three last three producers and even his lead guitarist
wanted to fire him for not being good in the studio.
“Six months after I last saw Ellefson, I started to play and 13 months
later I did a benefit for someone that worked for me and had died. It was
very awkward and I left as quickly as I could because I did not want to
have to be interrogated by him.
“18 months later I told Ellefson that I was considering doing a new
record and that if he wanted to play with me on it, knowing full well that
by asking Marty and Nick, that it would be a ‘RIP’ line-up record, and
NOT A REUNION. I stated numerous times to all three of them, ‘It is just
a record, not a reunion.’
“I told him that the offer was exactly what his share is that is in
the original contract that he signed with Sanctuary, which is 20% of all
Megadeth’s earnings on the record, and remember, someone had gone to the
label and taken $333,000 of the recording fund. I certainly got my share
of it sent to me, but it is still sitting over at the band’s business manager’s
“You are now completely up to speed on a simple thumbnail sketch of
what happened from ‘CTE’ thru ‘TWNAH’ and why the songwriting ruined the
chemistry of the band, why the records sales went down, and Marty quit,
why my arm got hurt, and I will answer in very intense detail all of the
questions on the poll when they are chosen.
“But for know, that’s it. I know I did the right thing when I sold all
of my personal gear to pay off all of the bills that was owed for Megadeth,
bills that none of them volunteered to pay.
“I wished they would have done the right thing by now, but they didn’t.
And Junior is suing me and Megadeth.
“Don’t worry though, because after you hear this new record and you
see me and Nick together, none of this will matter.”