Biography

Megadeth is an American band led by founder, frontman, guitarist, and songwriter Dave Mustaine. Formed in 1983 Los Angeles, California with bass player Dave Ellefson following Mustaine’s departure from Metallica, the band has since released fourteen studio albums, three live albums, five compilation albums, two extended plays, thirty-four singles, eight video albums, and thirty-two music videos.

As a pioneer of the American movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s, but experienced numerous line-up changes, due partly to the band’s notorious substance abuse problems. After finding sobriety and securing a stable line-up, Megadeth went on to release a string of platinum and gold albums, including the platinum-selling landmark Rust in Peace in 1990 and the Grammy nominated, multi-platinum Countdown to Extinction in 1992. Megadeth disbanded in 2002 after Mustaine suffered a severe nerve injury to his left arm, but following extensive physical therapy, Mustaine reformed the band in 2004 and released The System Has Failed, followed by United Abominations in 2007; the albums deputed on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #18 and #8, respectively.

Megadeth is known for a distinctive guitar style, often involving complex, intricate musical passages, and trade off guitar solos. Mustaine is also known for his original “snarling” vocal style, as well as his recurring lyrical themes, often involving politics, war, addiction, and personal relationships.

As one of the most commercially successful heavy metal bands of all time, Megadeth has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, including six consecutive platinum albums, with seven consecutive Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance. In the band’s 23 active years, Megadeth has had 20 official members, with Dave Mustaine remaining as the driving force, main songwriter, and sole original member following the end his musical partnership with Dave Ellefson in 2002. Megadeth is hailed as one of the bands among the “Big Four of Thrash,” along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating and popularizing the genre in the 1980s.

Just two months after Dave Mustaine was fired from Metallica in 1983, guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine formed the quartet Megadeth. Though Megadeth followed the basic blueprint of Metallica’s relentless attack, Mustaine’s group distinguished themselves from his earlier band by adding an emphasis on instrumental skills, speeding the tempo up slightly, and making the instrumental attack harsher. By streamlining the classic thrash metal approach and making the music more threatening, as well as making the lyrics more nihilistic, Megadeth became one of the leading bands of the genre during the mid-’80s and late ’80s. Each album they released went at least gold, and they continually sold out arenas across America, in addition to developing a strong following overseas. By the early ’90s, they had toned their music down slightly, yet that simply increased their following; all of their proper ’90s albums debuted in the Top Ten.

Throughout Megadeth’s many lineup changes, the two core members were bassist Dave Ellefson and guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine (born September 13, 1961), who was the band’s official leader. Mustaine grew up in the suburbs of Southern California, where he was raised by his mother in a broken home; frequently, his mother left him to be raised by aunts and uncles, who never encouraged his musical inclinations and often belittled him for his fondness for heavy metal. In 1981, he formed Metallica with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Mustaine spent two years with Metallica, developing a strong cult following in California’s underground metal scene, before he was kicked out of the group in 1983, allegedly over his substance abuse.

For the next few years, Megadeth toured and gained a following, signing with the independent label Combat in late 1984. The following year, the group released their debut, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!, which received strong reviews, not only in metal-oriented publications, but also in mainstream music magazines. The album sold very well for an independent release, which attracted the attention of major record labels. By the end of the year, the group had signed with Capitol. Megadeth’s first major-label album, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?, was released in the fall of 1986. Like its predecessor, Peace Sells was greeted by strong reviews and sales; it eventually went platinum.

In January 1988 Megadeth released So Far, So Good… So What!, and while the album was eventually certified platinum in the United States, it was initially panned by critics, with Allmusic complaining that the album “lacked conceptual unity and musical bite”, and that it “wants to sound threatening but mostly comes off as forced and somewhat juvenile”. So Far, So Good… featured the single “In My Darkest Hour”, with music written by Mustaine as a tribute to fallen Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. The song remains a fan favorite, and has been performed at nearly every Megadeth show since. So Far, So Good… also featured a cover version of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK”, with lyrics altered by Mustaine (who later admitted to hearing them wrong).

In the years immediately following the release of So Far, So Good…So What!, Mustaine fired Jeff Young and Chuck Behler replacing them with guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza. This lineup recorded Megadeth’s fourth and most progressive album, Rust in Peace. The record peaked at number 23 on the American charts and went platinum. 1991 saw Metallica break through to the mainstream, and sensing the possibility for similar success, Mustaine followed suit in stripping down the band’s sound, though it remained as technically perfectionistic as Rust in Peace. The result, Countdown to Extinction, was released in 1992, entering the charts at number two; the record went double platinum and became the band’s biggest hit, confirming that they had retained their audience in the wake of grunge.

Now one of the most popular metal bands in the world, Megadeth moved further toward the mainstream with Youthanasia in 1994, which entered the charts at number four and, like its predecessor, went platinum. The following year, the group released Hidden Treasures, a rarities collection that featured some of the soundtrack tunes that had helped expand the group’s MTV audience in the early ’90s. 1997’s Cryptic Writings found Megadeth fully embraced by album rock radio, which formerly would never have touched the band. Ex-Suicidal Tendencies drummer Jimmy DeGrasso signed on in 1998, in time for the following year’s Risk. In 200f0, following the release of the best-of Capitol Punishment, Marty Friedman followed Nick Menza out the door; he was replaced by former Savatage and Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. After signing with the BMG subsidiary Sanctuary, Megadeth debuted its new lineup on 2001’s The World Needs a Hero.

While on break from touring, Mustaine suffered a serious injury in January 2002 while staying in Texas. He was diagnosed with having radial neuropathy shortly thereafter, a condition that prevented him from playing guitar. The compressed radial nerves in his left arm and hand were strained, leaving Megadeth little recourse but to disband in April 2002, after almost 20 years in the music industry. During his time off, Mustaine prepared an elaborate reissue campaign, remastering each album and reissuing them all with bonus material. This campaign set the stage for a Megadeth revival, which came in 2004-2005 with a surprising comeback album, The System Has Failed, and some heavy touring. Capitol released a new best-of, simply titled Greatest Hits, just as Megadeth hit the summer concert circuit, headlining Mustaine’s own Gigantour festival. In 2007 Megadeth released the politically charged United Abominations.

As of May 19, Megadeth had finished recording the album and on June 18, the album title was revealed to be Endgame. On May 27, 2009, Dave Mustaine confirmed all 12 songs are complete and they are currently mixing and mastering the record. As mentioned by Dave Mustaine on the syndicated radio show Infowars, the name of the album Endgame is an homage to the Alex Jones documentary of the same name.
The release date for the “Endgame” album was announced on the Megadeth official website as September 15, 2009, and Metal Hammer magazine’s website were the first to review the album track by track. Megadeth began its Endgame tour on November 14, in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ended on December 13, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Tour featured Machine Head, Suicide Silence, Warbringer, and Arcanium.
In January 2010, Megadeth was set to embark on the “American Carnage” tour with Slayer and Testament, both giants of the thrash and heavy metal scene. The tour was scheduled to begin on January 18, but was ultimately postponed until later in the summer due to Tom Araya’s back surgery.

Megadeth’s “Head Crusher” was nominated for a 2010 Grammy.

Megadeth also announced a “Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour”, which began on March 1 as a month-long North American tour with support from Testament and Exodus. During the tour, Megadeth played Rust In Peace in its entirety and Testament played The Legacy in its entirety. As of February 8, 2010, and prior to the start of the “Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour”, original bassist Dave Ellefson rejoined Megadeth after eight years. He stated in an interview for Classic Rock magazine that Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover contacted him and had said that bassist James Lomenzo was declining and had told him that “if ever there was a time for you and Dave to talk, now is it.”

In recent news, Megadeth have been working on a new song entitled “Sudden Death” and to which Mustaine claims “won’t be ready for a half a year at best.” However, it is due to appear in the video game Guitar Hero 6 this fall. On June 18th IGN posted a video showcasing the completed version of the song on the game. Megadeth are also due to release a ‘Rust In Peace’ Live DVD, recorded at the Hollywood Palladium, the set will be released on September 7th.

Megadeth, along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax performed on the same bill for the first time on June 16, 2010 at Bemowo Airport (Warsaw, Poland). It was the first performance of that bands played as a part of Sonisphere Festival series, one of the following (Sofia, Bulgaria, June 22, 2010) was sent via satellite in HD to cinemas. They also went on to play in Athens, Greece (June 24, 2010), Bucharest, Romania (June 26, 2010) and then in Istanbul, Turkey (June 27, 2010) also as part of the Sonisphere Festival.

On September 24, 2010, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax began The Jägermeister Music Tour in Dallas, TX. Megadeth continued to play their 1990 album Rust In Peace in its entirety, while Slayer performed their Seasons in the Abyss album. On October 21, 2010, during the final show of Jägermeister Music Tour, Kerry King joined Megadeth on stage at the Gibson Amphitheater in Hollywood, California to perform Megadeth’s classic “Rattlehead”. This was the first time in 26 years that Kerry King had shared the stage with Megadeth since he played with the band during Megadeth’s very first shows in 1984.

In an October 2010 interview with Crypt Magazine, Shawn Drover stated plans on another Megadeth album: “Yeah, we’re certainly talking about it. Right now we’re in tour mode, but we’re starting to discuss our game plan for next year, and I envision next year we’ll be recording a new record.” Later that month, Roadrunner Records submitted several Megadeth songs for Grammy nominations. They submitted “Sudden Death” for Best Metal Performance, “The Right to Go Insane” for Best Hard Rock Performance, and “Rust in Peace Live” for Best Rock Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. “Sudden Death” was nominated, making it the band’s ninth Grammy nominated song.

On December 18, 2010, it was announced that Megadeth and Slayer would join forces once again for the European Carnage Tour in March and April 2011. Megadeth was also confirmed for the fourth annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in July and August 2011. On January 25, 2011, another Big 4 show was announced, this time in the United States. The gig took place on April 23, 2011 in Indio, CA at the Empire Polo Club. At the time, this was the only scheduled stop in the US and was the first time all of the Big 4 members played on the same stage there. Shortly after the show, a second American show, to be held at at Yankee Stadium in New York, was announced.

During an online chat with members of the band’s fan club, Mustaine revealed that the band had completed five new songs for the next album. Mustaine also noted that the new album was turning out to be “more like Endgame”. In an online post during the Thirteen’s recording, Shawn Drover noted that working with producer Johnny K (Staind, Sevendust) was a “blast” and that he “shared the same vision for the new album”. In an interview with Pure Grain Audio, Mustaine said that the album would sound quite different from previous offerings, claiming that it was “different, a hundred percent different”, and calling the sound “really super-modern”. Mustaine went on to state that he believes that it will be the band’s best album since Countdown to Extinction.

On June 3, 2011, it was announced that a new song, “Never Dead”, was to be included in a trailer for the video game NeverDead. On July 4, 2011, in Hamburg, Megadeth debuted a new song entitled “Public Enemy No. 1”. Public Enemy No. 1 was made available as a free single November 1, 2011, exclusively on iTunes.

Mustaine announced on July 8, 2011 that the new album would be entitled Thirteen, though it would be stylized as “TH1RT3EN” on the album cover. He also confirmed in an interview with Rolling Stone on July 12, 2011 that “Sudden Death” (which earlier appeared in the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock), “Never Dead” and a title track, “13”, would be included on the album.

In an interview KISW 99.9 FM in Seattle, Mustaine stated that, after 4 years of absence, there would be a new Gigantour tour in 2012. In October 2011 it was announced that Motörhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil will feature alongside Megadeth for the next Gigantour. In February 2012 Rob Zombie and Megadeth announced nine-date co-headlining U.S. tour scheduled for May 2012.

On September 11, 2012, it was announced that the band would re-release the Countdown to Extinction album for its 20th anniversary. Also announced was the band’s 2012 fall tour in which the band would perform the album live in its entirety, similar to 2010’s Rust in Peace anniversary tour. Additionally, in December 2012, another track from Thirteen, “Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)”, was nominated for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance at the 55th Grammy Awards, but ultimately lost to Halestorm’s “Love Bites (So Do I)”.

The band revealed on August 22, 2012, that they would be returning to the studio with producer Johnny K to record their fourteenth album. By December 2012, three new songs were “tracked and almost done”. In 2013, Megadeth parted ways with Roadrunner Records for Mustaine’s label, Tradecraft, distributed through Universal Music Group. Their fourteenth album, “Super Collider” was released on June 4 and debuted at number six on the Billboard 200, making “Super Collider” the band’s highest charting album since 1994’s “Youthanasia”.

Mustaine revealed that he is already thinking about a new Megadeth album, although “Super Collider” was released just 2 months prior. Mustaine says that the death of Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman gave him a sense of mortality, explaining: “We’re planning our next time to go into the studio to start demoing up our next record,” and “You know, time is short. Nobody knows how long they’re gonna live. You see what happened with Jeff Hanneman, so I wanna write as much as I can while I can.”

In August 2013 the band announced a new live release, “Countdown to Extinction: Live”, recorded at the Fox Theater in Pomona, CA in December 2012.

Current Members:

Dave Mustaine (vocals, guitar) (1983-present)
Dave Ellefson (bass) (1983-present)
Shawn Drover (drums) (2004-present)
Chris Broderick (guitar) (2008-present)

Former Members:

Glen Drover (guitar) (2004-2008)
James MacDonough (bass) (2004-2006)
Lee Rausch (drums) (1983)
Gar Samuelson (drums) (1984-1987)
Greg Handevidt (guitar) (1983)
Jay Reynolds (guitar) (1987)
Kerry King (guitar) (1983)
Chris Poland (guitar) (1984-1987)
Dijon Carruthers (drums) (1983)
Mike Albert (guitar) (1986)
Jimmy Sloas (bass) (2004)
Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) (2004)
Chuck Behler (drums) (1987-1989)
Jeff Young (guitar) (1987-1989)
Nick Menza (drums) (1989-1998)
Al Pitrelli (guitar) (2000-2002)
Marty Friedman (guitar) (1990-2000)
Jimmy Degrasso (drums) (1998-2002)
James Lomenzo (bass) (2004-2010)

Edited by Ziomek2000 on 24 Feb 2014, 12:30

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Factbox

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Formed in
  • 1983
Split in
  • 2002
Reformed in
  • 2004
Founded in
  • Los Angeles, California
Band Members

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