David Ellefson says that MEGADETH and other thrash and extreme metal bands “owe everything to METALLICA.”
Dave Mustaine, who was the original lead guitarist of METALLICA, was dismissed from the band by drummer Lars Ulrich in 1983. He was replaced by Kirk Hammett and went on to form MEGADETH and achieve worldwide success on his own.
Asked in a new interview with Detroit’s WRIF radio station if he and Mustaine paid close attention to what METALLICA was doing in the early years of MEGADETH‘s existence, Ellefson said: “Oh, of course. I mean, look, we are all just a branch off the METALLICA family tree. I mean, let’s face it. Especially MEGADETH, with Dave being there, and then me being a branch off of Dave with MEGADETH. So, I mean, look, we owe everything to METALLICA. Those guys broke down the doors for every one of us — ANTHRAX, SLAYER. Bands today — LAMB OF GOD, PANTERA — none of this would have happened without METALLICA being up there as the 800-pound gorilla just carving the path through the jungle that would have never let heavy metal in. The stuff that they able to do and the size and the scope of which they were able to break those doors down, it changed all of our lives — as musicians, as fans, as everything. That’s why I think when they did the ‘Big Four’ [shows] with us in 2010 and ’11, that was just such a great olive branch.”
The MEGADETH bassist continued: “As Scott Ian [ANTHRAX] said, it’s like we’re all brothers of the same family, it’s just that one of our brothers went off and became Microsoft [laughs], and that was METALLICA. It’s, like, how the hell did you do that? That’s amazing. You changed the world. But the fact that they came back and, again, offered that olive branch to us and just said, ‘Hey, we were all in this together. Let’s celebrate what we did together so many years ago.’ And I think that speaks volumes to just how cool METALLICA is.”
Last year, Ellefson said that he got Mustaine‘s “blessing” to audition for the bassist position in METALLICA after Jason Newsted left the band more than 19 years ago. David went on to say that he learned how to play some of METALLICA‘s songs in preparation for what he thought would be an audition with the group but that the opportunity never materialized.
Back in 2011, Mustaine said that he was relieved that Ellefson wasn’t invited to join METALLICA after the tragic death of Cliff Burton.
Burton died on tour in 1986 in a tour bus crash, three years after Mustaine was kicked out of METALLICA and went on to form MEGADETH.
The so-called “Big Four” of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX — played together for the first time in history on June 16, 2010 in front of 81,000 fans at the Sonisphere festival at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland and shared a bill again for six more shows as part of the Sonisphere series that same year. They reunited again for several dates in 2011, including the last “Big Four” concert, which was held on September 14, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Since then, METALLICA, SLAYER and ANTHRAX have played a number of shows together, including the 2013 Soundwave festival in Australia. They also performed at the 2014 Heavy MTL festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.