Fired From Metallica, So He Formed Megadeth: Dave Mustaine's Story

By | September 13, 2020

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Megadeth 1987 David Ellefson, Chuck Behler, Jeff Young and Dave Mustaine (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

Dave Mustaine, of thrash-metal gods Megadeth, was fired by Metallica in 1983 -- and his career path is a lesson in how to channel rage and bitterness into success. After being sacked from the most innovative metal band of the early 1980s, he formed the next dominant group of the genre. Mustaine’s story is the perfect example of going from zero to hero as his firing from Metallica inspired him to form another band that would conquer the metal world, and they would be called Megadeth.

Mustaine Was A Key Member Of Metallica In The Early Days

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Metallica lineup with Dave Mustaine. Source:

While reading the local Los Angeles newspaper The Recycler on a casual morning in 1981, metal enthusiast Dave Mustaine noticed an ad from a band looking for a lead guitarist. Mustaine knew this was his time to demonstrate his sensational shred-style of guitar playing. When he arrived for the audition, drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist James Hetfield were already hooked when they heard Mustaine warming up. It was then, before he even had the chance to audition, that they decided Mustaine would be a member of their new band, which would be called Metallica.

Mustaine spent the next two years touring and co-writing songs with Metallica, constantly blowing crowds away with his dynamic, mind-melting guitar solos. The audience loved him, but his bandmates were less enthralled because of his personal issues. Mustaine developed a serious addiction to drugs and alcohol during his tenure with Metallica, so much that it even frustrated the party-loving band nicknamed “Alcoholia”. Mustaine pushed his substance abuse to another level with his aggressive and violent behavior that came out when he was drunk, which was his usual state of mind. In one instance, Mustaine's dog scratched bassist Ron McGovney’s car; McGovney retaliated by kicking the pooch, and Mustaine responded by physically beating McGovney and Hetfield. Another time, he dumped beer down McGovney’s bass neck and pickups, practically destroying McGovney’s prized instrument. It was clear the clashing personalities were causing more harm than good.