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Dave Mustaine admits it was "dumb" to punch Metallica's James Hetfield

Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage)

Dave Mustaine has reflected on his friendship with Metallica's James Hetfield, and how it soured in the months leading up to his firing from the thrash metal band in 1983.

When answering fan-submitted questions with Revolver, the Megadeth leader referenced a video filmed at a Metallica show in Brazil in May 2021, in which an emotional Hetfield admitted to the audience that he was "feeling a little bit insecure" about his playing.

Mustaine says (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), "I saw the thing with James on stage where he was saying that he was going through a rough patch. I was sad to see that because it's been one of those really weird love-hate relationships.

"And the whole reason that I ever even pursued any of this was I really liked those guys. If I didn't like 'em, I would just say, 'Fucking flush the toilet and be done with it.' 

"He's always been somebody that I really liked playing with. I wished things wouldn't have ended the way that they did. But que sera, sera (Spanish 'Lo que será, será' meaning 'what will be, will be')."

Mustaine went on to speak about an altercation between Hetfield and himself in 1982, which occurred after he brought one of two guard dogs he'd adopted to protect a stash of weed stored in his apartment, to band practice.

In a 2009 interview with Norway's Lydverket, Mustaine spoke of the incident in more detail, explaining: "I was selling pot. When I would go play in concert, people knew that my pot was sitting in my apartment just saying, 'Go ahead and keep me company.' So I was broken in on.

"People stole everything that I had; all my stash. And I figured, screw this. I'm gonna get some dogs to stay in the apartment when I leave. So I got two dogs and I took one of them up to a rehearsal one time and she put her paws up on Ron's [McGovney, Metallica's then-bassist] car. And James kicked it right in the side.

"And I was like, 'What did you do?' [And I was like] 'It's a dog, it's what they do. You don't kick animals.' So we went into the house, and we started arguing some more. And I ended up punching him in the face and I think that was the root of why I lost my job."

"It was a dumb thing that I did by taking my dog up to practice," Mustaine admits in his Revolver interview, "and it was even dumber to punch [James]. I really respect him and I respect his playing. And I hope he knows that there are a lot of people out there, like me, that like him as a person and don't give two fucks about him being in Metallica."

Watch the interview with Revolver below:

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music. '10 bands that rip off Black Sabbath but get away with it' is her favourite article she's written with Louder so far. When not writing, Liz enjoys various creative endeavours such as graphic design, as well as reading about rock’n’roll history, art and magic.