Shortly after MEGADETH disbanded in early 2002 due to a severe arm injury suffered by frontman Dave Mustaine, bassist David Ellefson says he was approached by then-MEGADETH lead guitarist Al Pitrelli to play with TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. Although Ellefson turned the gig down, it apparently taught him a valuable lesson — he would go on to work with a multitude of bands and projects before rejoining MEGADETH in 2010.
"Al is really a linchpin character in my life," said David in a recent interview with Forrest of the Boise, Idaho radio station 96.9 The Eagle (hear audio below). "[As I wrote] in the book ['More Life With Deth'], he is the one who told me when MEGADETH ended in 2002, he called me up in his thick Brooklyn accent, he goes, 'Hey, yo, not for nothing, but here's how you do this: from here on out, you say yes to everything.' He had a lot of experience with that. I'd been in MEGADETH since I was 18 — it had been my sole vocation, job, hobby, singular focus in my life — and here I am in 2002, 38 years old, middle of my life, suddenly my job comes to an end, the band is over."
He continued: "Look, everybody goes through job transitions, career transitions, all this kind of stuff, but it's one thing to do it in the corporate world where maybe your skills are something that is a little wider, but being a bass player/songwriter, it's a pretty narrow focus, and is not something that easily just transitions over into another pickup job, and you don't walk around with a résumé — your résumé is already kind of out there. And the Alice Cooper camp called me about performing with them, and Al asked me, 'Hey, do you want to play bass in TSO on this upcoming tour?' And, of course, I thought we were going to be rolling into a MEGADETH album a couple of months later, which never happened. Yeah, it was a very weird moment, and I learned, thanks to Al Pitrelli, to say yes. Say yes to life, say yes to opportunity. It's better to have to start to clear a couple of things off the plate then to have nothing on it."
Mustaine reformed MEGADETH 15 years ago after disbanding the group in 2002. Originally setting out to record a solo album, Mustaine enlisted studio musicians to play on what ultimately became MEGADETH's 2004 "The System Has Failed" comeback album, subsequently recruiting former ICED EARTH bassist James MacDonough to take Ellfeson's place for the album's touring cycle.
In 2004, Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Mustaine, alleging the frontman shortchanged him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth Inc. over to him when the band broke up in 2002. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed and Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH in 2010.
"More Life With Death" was released July 16 via Jawbone Press.
Mustaine recently began undergoing treatment for the throat cancer with which he was diagnosed back in May.
Although most of MEGADETH's previously announced 2019 tour dates have been canceled as Mustaine battles the disease, 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.