In the latest episode of "Icons", Gibson TV sits down with MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine. In this hour-long intimate look into his musical journey, Dave lets viewers in and shares very personal stories about his childhood, his time with METALLICA, and the enduring legacy of MEGADETH. Rare photos and footage from Dave's storied career and tumultuous life paint a picture of a man who has overcome so much and yet never, ever lost his absolute love of playing guitar and creating music.
Recalling how he spent the bus ride back from New York to California after being fired by METALLICA in 1983, Mustaine said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "The ride home from New York was long. I knew it was gonna be long. The ride out [to New York] was long. The ride out was dangerous," he said, referencing the incident when METALLICA almost died in Wyoming while traveling cross-country en route to meet Megaforce Records founder Jonny Zazula in New Jersey. "The ride out was bad. Because of the crash in Wyoming, I think that that's what made me the guy that had to go. And I don't know. I probably was destined to leave before that because of, you know, the word 'destiny' and the fact that there was just so much talent and so much personality between the four of us. I don't know that we could have survived. There was destined to be some kind of an explosion at some point.
"Leaving METALLICA, a lot of the things that they did, watching them have their success, it could have been anything," he continued. "They could have quit metal and started making Twinkies and I would have been jealous because we were friends and then, all of a sudden, we're not friends anymore. And all I know is that I wanna keep doing what we're doing together because we make people happy and the four of us get to drive around like we're something special. And I never felt special before in my life until now. But we have this guitar, we've got this band, and now I feel like I'm somebody.
"I'm glad to say that our friendship today is so much different from that moment, those moments, those days, those times, those people," Mustaine added. "We're all different. We're dads. We're older now. And I think that probably was the most shocking and hardest thing to tolerate or to accept at the end, was that when the band stopped, I kind of felt like I stopped. I know that's not true. But what's a young kid at the time to think. I had no mentors, I had no one talking [to me through] my life and saying, 'You're gonna get through this, and you're gonna be so much happier for it.'
"I did a lot of soul searching on the way home," he said. "Did I wanna play guitar? Did I wanna keep doing this? 'What am I gonna do? I got it. I'm gonna make a band that's more metal than METALLICA. And I need to come up with a name that's more metal than a band that has 'metal' in their name. So what can I come up with?' And I just figured, 'Well, I'll wait for that for a little bit.' And I started writing lyrics."
In a 2009 interview with Norway's Lydverket, Mustaine said that he was "so hurt" by getting kicked out of METALLICA for allegedly drinking too much. "I said, 'What?! No second chance, no warning? C'mon, we all drink. C'mon.'" he recalled. "And [they were like], 'No, that's it. You're gone.' And I was like, 'All right.'"
Mustaine also went on to claim that an altercation with METALLICA frontman James Hetfield led to his being fired from the band.
"I was selling pot," Dave said. "When I would go play in concert, people knew that my pot was sitting in my apartment just saying, 'Go ahead and keep me company.' So I was broken in on. People stole everything that I had; all my stash. And I figured, screw this. I'm gonna get some dogs to stay in the apartment when I leave. So I got two dogs and I took one of them up to a rehearsal one time and she put her paws up on Ron's [McGovney, METALLICA's then-bassist] car. And James kicked it right in the side. And I was like, 'What did you do?' [And I was like] 'It's a dog, it's what they do. You don't kick animals.' So we went into the house, and we started arguing some more. And I ended up punching him in the face and I think that was the root of why I lost my job."
In a 2009 interview with the Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas radio station 97.1 The Eagle Rocks, Hetfield said that it was "so odd" to hear Mustaine still talking about his exit from METALLICA. "It is very Dave, and that's him," James said. "And no matter what band he was in or whatever... I mean, Dave is not in this band for a reason, and this is the reason. It's super-simple. He was in the band for 11 months and it goes on and on and on and on and on. I don't know any other band on this planet that there was a member in the band for a short amount of time and they've still got this big chip on his shoulder. It's insane.... You know what?! He's in love, and that's fine, 'cause we love him back."
Back in 2016, METALLICA guitarist Kirk Hammett told the "Word Of Wheeler" podcast that he understood Dave's continued resentment toward his former bandmates over the way he was dismissed from the group. "I've always seen Dave as someone who was just really, really sad, really angry, really frustrated about his situation with METALLICA, and he never could let that go," he said. "And, you know, I've always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off. It's the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you. I mean, really. When your band kicks you out… I've never been kicked out, but I can imagine it's a horrible experience, especially if it's a band that you feel really passionately about. So I can understand Dave's plight over all these years. But I will also say that when we did these 30th-anniversary shows at the Fillmore [in San Francisco], and we invited Dave to play on all those 'Kill 'Em All' songs, man, it felt so good to have him playing on stage. It felt perfectly fine for me to, while Dave was playing the guitar solos, for me to go over to James and play the rhythm parts with James, and it wasn't a big deal at all. And I could see from the look on Dave's face and just from his whole attitude that it was super-cathartic for him. And I could see how it was helping him. And so I just took it all in stride. And it's interesting, because since then, I think, Dave's relationship with us is a little bit better now. I'd like to think that that whole thing just kind of healed some scars that needed to be healed."
After Hammett's comments about Mustaine were reported by BLABBERMOUTH.NET and other music sites, Dave took to his Twitter to respond. He wrote: "I have tremendous respect for @KirkHammett and I appreciate his take on this. he is almost 100% accurate...almost. I wish him the best."
In a September 2011 interview with Artisan News, Mustaine appeared to concur that his onstage reunion with METALLICA went a long way toward healing the wounds from the way his tenure in the band ended. Dave said: "When we [played a cover of DIAMOND HEAD's] 'Helpless' [as part of a 'Big Four' jam] one night, I walked over to say hello to Kirk on the stage and he said, 'Do you wanna take the solo?" and I said, 'Yeah.' [Laughs] But we forgot to tell anybody on the stage or [running] the sound out front that I was gonna do the solo, so the song's playing along and Kirk's playing rhythm full blast, and I'm sitting there going you can't hear what I'm doing. At least we knew what had happened. It was kind of a symbolic passing of the torch back to me and it was a nice gesture. I think that that helped Kirk and my relationship improve a bit."
In a September 2004 interview, Mustaine famously stated, "I really don't care about Kirk — he stole my job, but at least I got to bang his girlfriend before he took my job. How do I taste, Kirk?"
Mustaine did not play on any METALLICA albums and did not attend their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2009.
METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich later explained to The Plain Dealer that Mustaine was not included because "you've got to kind of cap it somewhere. Dave Mustaine never played on any METALLICA records. No disrespect to him. But there [were] half a dozen other people that were in the lineup in the early days. We thought . . . the fair thing to do would be to include anybody that played on a METALLICA record." He added: "Dave Mustaine was in the band for 11 months, predominantly in 1982... I'm not trying to play it down. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his accomplishments since."