Megadeth formed 40 years ago now – and, for that length of time, frontman Dave Mustaine has been the measuring stick for thrash metal guitar playing. Whether it’s soloing, picking at lightspeed or laying down a chunky caveman riff, he can do it all with ease. However, as MegaDave once revealed at a Q&A, it turns out that that journey to guitar heroism started in a very unscrupulous way.
In a clip uploaded by YouTuber backalleyfeed (embedded below), Dave’s asked by a fan, “Where’d you buy your first guitar?”
“Where’d I buy my first guitar? I actually stole it,” the singer/guitarist answers, before bowing his head in shame.
“Listen, this is what I did,” he continued. “I contacted the guy I stole it from and I said, ‘You know what, I was a drug addict and alcoholic at the time, and I needed to do the right thing in order to get off of drugs. I need to make it right with you.’
“The guitar I stole from him was a piece of shit, but I ended up giving him one of my Jacksons, so he made out.”
Dave doesn’t provide a timeframe or give any more detail about the theft, but he did talk in a 2014 Guitar World interview about an instrument he “got through less-than-desirable means”.
“It was a Gibson copy,” he elaborated, “so I bought a Gibson sticker for five bucks and stuck it on the guitar. And I paid off my less-than-desirable debt with it.”
Dave’s struggles with drink and drugs have been well documented over the years. His behaviour while drunk was a major contributor to his firing from Metallica in 1983. Then, once he made it big with Megadeth in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he entered rehab multiple times before finally getting clean in 2002.