Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California which was formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine, bassist Dave Ellefson and guitarist Greg Handevidt, following Mustaine's expulsion from Metallica. The band has since released 13 studio albums. A pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s and was ranked as one of the "Big Four of Thrash" along with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the thrash metal sub-genre.
Over the band's 28 active years, over 20 different people have officially performed as part of the group, with Mustaine being the only constant member. Megadeth is known for its distinctive, technical instrumental style that often features dense, intricate passages and trade-off guitar solos. Megadeth is also known for recurring lyrical themes including politics, war, addiction, personal relationships, and religion. Megadeth has sold over 30 million albums worldwide with five consecutive albums being certified platinum or multi-platinum in the US. As of 2012, Megadeth has received ten Grammy nominations.
Early days (1983–1984)
Dave Mustaine Dave Ellefson
Dave Mustaine (left) and Dave Ellefson (right) founded Megadeth in 1983.
Dave Mustaine was originally a member of Metallica upon their formation in 1981, but was fired from the band due to drinking, drug use, violent behavior and personality conflicts with James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney. Two months after being fired, Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson formed Megadeth in Los Angeles. Mustaine later said, "After getting fired from Metallica, all I remember is that I wanted blood. Theirs. I wanted to be faster and heavier than them."
According to Mustaine, the name Megadeth represents the annihilation of power, while in itself is a corruption of the term megadeath. In order to upstage his former band, Dave Mustaine wrote more aggressive compositions,increasing tempos and altered aspects of songs such as "Mechanix", which Metallica's new line-up adapted into the slower-paced "The Four Horsemen". After unsuccessfully searching for a vocalist for nearly six months, Mustaine was convinced by bassist David Ellefson to handle lead vocal duties himself, while also serving as the band's primary lyricist, songwriter, co-lead and rhythm guitarists.
In 1984, Megadeth recorded a three song demo tape, referred to as the 1984 Demo, featuring Mustaine, Ellefson and drummer Lee Rausch. The demo contained early versions of "Last Rites/Loved to Death", "Skull Beneath the Skin", and "Mechanix". The band did a few live performances in 1984, before replacing Lee Rausch with fusion drummer Gar Samuelson. Megadeth signed with the New York based independent label Combat Records. In December of that year, they added Chris Poland as a second guitarist.
As Megadeth's primary lyricist, Mustaine is known for his often controversial, political, and more recently, personal lyrics.War and nuclear war are common topics, including the military-industrial complex in songs such as "Architecture of Aggression", "Hangar 18", "Return to Hangar", and "Take No Prisoners", as well as the aftermath of war in songs such as "Dawn Patrol" and "Ashes In Your Mouth". The name Megadeth is a deliberate misspelling of the word megadeath, a term coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn to describe one million deaths, popularized in his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War. Politics are also a common theme in Megadeth songs,as seen in Mustaine's scathing assessment of Tipper Gore, the PMRC, and music censorship in the song "Hook In Mouth". Mustaine takes an environmentalist stance in "Countdown to Extinction" and "Dawn Patrol", and shows a general cynicism regarding politics in songs like "Symphony of Destruction", "Peace Sells", "The World Needs A Hero" and "Blackmail the Universe". The UN is criticized for its ineffectiveness in "United Abominations" and "Peace Sells".
Controversial and misunderstood lyrics have also caused problems for the band. For instance, the music video for "In My Darkest Hour" was banned from MTV in 1988 when the music channel deemed the song to be pro-suicide.The music video for "À Tout le Monde" was later banned by MTV, also interpreted as being pro-suicide. According to Mustaine, the song was written from the perspective of a dying man, saying his last words to his loved ones.
Addiction is also a common theme in songs such as "Use the Man", "Burnt Ice", and "Addicted to Chaos". "Use the Man" is about a former substance abuse counselor who died of a drug overdoses. Some lyrics have taken on overtly Christian themes, such as "Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms", and "Shadow of Deth", with spoken lyrics taken directly from Psalm 23 of the King James Bible. "My Kingdom", "Looking Down The Cross" and "Of Mice And Men" also feature Christian themes.
Mustaine dabbled in black magic in his teenage years, which became the theme for the song "The Conjuring" off Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. Mustaine stated that it was emotionally difficult to play because of his conversion to Christianity.
"I put two hexes on people, and they both worked and the result was just what I was asking for. Now, it took forever to get that Satanic depression off of me because it's just like playing with a Ouija board. You open the doorway to the dark side, and spirits come through. It took almost 20 years to get rid of that Satanic depression. I did it when I was 15, and I don't think I got free of it until I was in my mid-30s. You ask yourself, 'How is it possible that this is happening to me?' Well, because you flirted with the devil and you put a hex on somebody and you put another hex on somebody, and, well, you owe him. And that's why I have a problem playing 'The Conjuring' today."
Dave Mustaine is notorious for making inflammatory statements in the press, usually regarding feuds and problems with former Metallica bandmates or other bands, including Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies and Pantera. The oldest of these, and most well-known among fans, is Mustaine's long standing feud with Metallica members James Hetfield and in particular Lars Ulrich. This feud stemmed from his ejection from the band, the method with which it was conducted, and disagreements on songwriting credits. After more than two decades, this feud has been resolved and Mustaine and the members of Metallica are once again good friends.
In April 1988, at a concert in Antrim, Northern Ireland, Mustaine unknowingly dedicated the final song to the IRA.before the final song, "Anarchy in the UK", Mustaine said, "This one's for the cause!". Loyalists' took offense at this statement and a fight amongst the audience ensued. The band had to travel in a bulletproof bus for the remainder of the tour of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Mustaine later alleged that he had been misled by T-shirt bootleggers about the meaning of the expression "the cause". This incident served as inspiration for the song "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due".
In July 2004, former bassist Dave Ellefson sued Mustaine for $18.5 million in Manhattan Federal Court. Ellefson alleged that Mustaine short changed him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth over to him when they disbanded in 2002. Ellefson also accused Mustaine of locking him out of merchandise and publishing royalties. The suit was dismissed in 2005,and Mustaine filed a countersuit that was settled out of court.
In recent years,[when?] Dave Mustaine has become a born-again Christian. Following this, minor controversy was sparked by Mustaine's announcement that Megadeth will not play certain songs live anymore due to his new identification as a Christian.In May 2005, Mustaine also allegedly threatened to cancel shows in Greece and Israel with extreme metal bands Rotting Christ and Dissection due to the bands' anti-Christian beliefs. This caused the two bands to cancel their appearances.
Origin - Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres - Heavy metal, thrash metal, speed metal,hard rock
Years active -1983–2002, 2004–present
Labels - Roadrunner, Capitol, Combat
Associated acts -Metallica, F5, Panic, MD.45, Hail, Eidolon, Jag Panzer, Nevermore, Slayer, Anthrax, Soulfly
Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, rhythm & lead guitar (1983–2002, 2004–present)
Dave Ellefson – bass, backing vocals (1983–2002, 2010–present)
Chris Broderick – lead & rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2008–present)
Shawn Drover – drums (2004–present)
Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! (1985)
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? (1986)
So Far, So Good... So What! (1988)
Rust in Peace (1990)
Countdown to Extinction (1992)
Cryptic Writings (1997)
The World Needs a Hero (2001)
The System Has Failed (2004)
United Abominations (2007)
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