MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson says that he found out about Dave Mustaine's throat cancer about a month and a half ago.
The 57-year-old MEGADETH leader revealed his cancer diagnosis on June 17 on social media. He said that he has already begun treatment as part of a plan that his doctors feel has a "90% success rate."
During a brand new interview with "Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon", Ellefson was asked when he first learned that Mustaine was stricken with the disease. He responded (hear audio below): "I hadn't known for a long time, but I did know for a few weeks. He had disclosed it to us in the band and our organization only. And while we were in Nashville, I was down there with Kiko [Loureiro, guitar] and Dirk [Verbeuren, drums] — May 10th, I think, is when we went down there — and that was when it had all just come to light. And Dave was very quickly going to the doctors and getting his treatment plan assessed."
He continued: "Like [Dave] said in his announcement, it's something to be respected and faced head on and to get right into it, which he did. He is well on his way on his treatments and stuff. Any more than that, honestly, I don't know."
According to Ellefson, MEGADETH stayed busy making the follow-up to 2016's "Dystopia" album in Tennessee while Mustaine was working with his doctors to come up with a treatment plan. "We were there just being supportive," the bassist said. "Of course, making an album is something we can work on a little bit off the radar and as time and energy permits. Every member of the band doesn't have to be there every minute in order to make a record, of course, so that gives us a little bit of productivity that we can do kind of off the radar and behind the scenes."
Although most of MEGADETH's previously announced 2019 tour dates have been canceled as Mustaine undergoes treatment, the MEGADETH-curated Megacruise — which is set to take place October 13-19 — will still depart as scheduled, and the band will be a part of it in some form.
"One of the main reasons for the announcement was to let people know, let the public know that [we had to call off the shows]," Ellefson said. "We [had] a pretty full calendar or work, although the Ozzy [Osbourne] dates had been postponed. Management quickly got into action to [fill up] the rest of our year. And it was looking pretty good — South America, Rock In Rio; a whole bunch of stuff like that. But we needed to let our fans know that that stuff was, by and large, gonna go away. Because of the cancer issue, Dave needs his time and place — and quite honestly, his privacy too — to deal with that."
As it stands right now, Ellefson said, "We're just letting Dave go through that and still continuing to write and work on stuff for an album. And hopefully things will land well and successfully, and we'll be up and running. For now, I'd say prayers and thoughts, which have just pouring out from all over the world. Fans, our friends in other bands, et cetera, have just really stepped up with their support. So we really, really appreciate that, and the more of that, the better. So thank you for that."
Mustaine and Ellefson are the two remaining original members of MEGADETH, which was formed in 1983, following Mustaine's dismissal from METALLICA.