David EllefsonMelody Myers

Ex-Megadeth Bassist David Ellefson Comments On His “Abusive” Relationship With Dave Mustaine: “I Feel Like I Got Kicked Out Of Hell”


After several less than flattering comments made by Megadeth founder Dave Mustaine in recent months, the band’s former bassist/vocalist David Ellefson has somewhat passively clapped back. The pair, who have clashed in the past over royalties before reconciling their differences, once again saw their relationship fracture after Ellefson was turfed from the band in 2021 following his online sex scandal.

In recent months, Mustaine accused Ellefson of trying to insert his parts onto Megadeth‘s 2013 album behind his back, in what Mustaine claimed to be a “pathetic” attempt to “poach” the track “Kingmaker“. Appearing recently on the 2020-d Podcast, Ellefson provided a different side of the tale, offering:

- Advertisement -

“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 [then-Megadeth guitarist] Chris Broderick 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.'”

Ellefson continued on about the change in the band’s songwriting dynamic:

“I remember when I first came back to the band in 2010, we’d done a year of [touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of] ‘Rust In Peace‘. We had about 10 weeks to write the thirteenth record, the record that would become ‘Th1rt3en‘. And I said, ‘Well, look, we’re all gonna be at NAMM in Anaheim. Why don’t we just go down to [Mustaine‘s then-studio] Vic’s Garage?’, which was down in kind of by San Diego, Fallbrook area, north of San Diego.

I said, ‘Why don’t we just get in a room and fire some ideas and see where we’re at with everything?’ And I swear to God, the first day we played… It took a couple of days ’cause we were listening to stuff. They wanted to listen to everybody’s ideas. And [Dave] acknowledged everybody had a couple of things that he liked.

And so we get in a room, guitars on, saddle up, and we started playing on something. And keep in mind, I hadn’t been in this environment for almost 10 years now. ‘Cause this was 2011, and the last time we worked on a record together was ‘The World Needs A Hero‘ in 2001, so literally 10 years [earlier].

And I’d been working with all kinds of other people where it’s, like, ‘Hey, killer idea. How about this? How about that?’ You know — collaborative; you’re having musical conversations in the room. And knowing how things had been in the past, Dave will start with something, bring in an idea, and maybe someone says, ‘Hey, that’s cool. How about we add this little bit here? Or maybe that riff goes with this riff.’

nd so I said, ‘Hey, I’ve got something that might go with that.’ Dave immediately took his guitar off, walked in the office. I looked at [then-Megadeth drummer] Shawn Drover, and Shawn and Chris are just shaking their heads. I said, ‘What the hell was that all about?’ He goes, ‘Dude, trust me. The days of collaborating are long gone. That Megadeth that you were in, that’s way over.’

So [I spoke to Dave] in the office, and Dave, he was furious, but yet we didn’t want our newfound friendship to deteriorate, so I said, ‘What’s the deal?’ And he said, ‘Don’t try to put your ideas into my songs.’ I said, ‘No problem.’ I said, ‘All good. Today is day one. No worries.’ And that was the last we ever jammed together. Everything after that, on every other Megadeth record after that, it was just Dave writing the songs, doing his thing.”

Speaking of the initial “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” writing sessions, he recalled the following situation:

“In 2019, we were in the room together [working on music]. Actually, Dave was doing his thing, and then he was off taking care of his medical stuff at the time. And so [the engineer] Chris Rakestraw said to me, Kiko [Loureiro, Megadeth‘s current guitarist] and Dirk [Verbeuren, Megadeth‘s current drummer], ‘Look, you guys are here. We need to write a record. We’ve got the beginnings of five songs,’ and we were supposed to have been working on this record for a year and a half. ‘Get in a room. Let’s go.’

So we saddled up and started riffing on stuff. In fact, I remember there’s one song — it might have been that first one that they put out; I can’t remember; it was one of ’em — but I remember we kind of modeled it after ‘Black Friday‘ and just kind of took the sort of mellow intro into a full-on ripping part… So we went down, and I remember Dave came in [and was] furious that we were working on stuff without him. And Rakestraw took the bullet and said, ‘Hey, it was my idea. These guys are here. Everybody’s here to work. We need to get a record done.’

And [Dave said], ‘I wanna know who wrote what part where.’ I could see it coming. I knew he was gonna see what parts I wrote and take ’em out, which he did — he took all my parts off the record, of which there were several, and either re-wrote ’em or changed them, just to make sure that I wouldn’t have any writing on the record.

And I just saw it coming. I rolled my eyes and [went], ‘Whatever.’ So I was there [at the studio in Nashville] for about five weeks and then I went home for Father’s Day and I just never went back. [Laughs] I was just, like, ‘Whatever.’ I went back a year later to record bass, and all of sudden all of my parts are off the record, all of my writing contributions.”

Speaking of the band’s decision to fire him following the leaking of several sexually explicit videos he had conducted online with a woman outside of his marriage, Ellefson stated:

“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… 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.”

Ellefson also elaborated on the barbs Mustaine has chucked his way since his departure:

“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.’ 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.”


- Advertisement - Purchase Merch