Megadeth's Dave Mustaine opens up on David Ellefson dismissal: "I'll forgive him, I just won't play music with him anymore"

(Image credit: Tradecraft/Universal)

Megadeth's Dave Mustaine returns to the cover of Metal Hammer this month, and in a typically forthright interview he describes his decision to dismiss his longtime band and friend David Ellefson from the band as "a hard decision that had to be made."

"I hope the gentleman concerned is doing okay," Mustaine adds.

Mustaine sacked Megadeth's long-standing bassist in May last year, after footage emerged online of Ellefson engaging in what he admitted were “private, adult interactions” with a fan.

At the time, the bassist said that the graphic video footage and texts were “taken out of context and manipulated to inflict maximum damage to my reputation, my career and family", and he later suggested that he would sue for defamation if the source of the 'revenge porn' leaks could be identified.

Within days, ELlefson was dismissed from the band, with Dave Mustaine writing, "We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth. We do not take this decision lightly.

“While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward."

Asked in the new issue of Metal Hammer, on-sale now, whether this was a difficult decision to take, given the long-time friendship between the two men, Mustaine replies, “I have made mistakes myself and so I know what it feels like to have people gunning for you. But what we had to remember is that Megadeth has a lot of moving parts to it. There are four bandmembers, you’ve got their families, their management companies, the agencies, all of their technicians and on and on and on.

"I can tell you, I’ve made decisions in the past that were detrimental to the security of the band, and I know what harm that caused. But I don’t want to be saying anything about anyone who is unable to defend themselves."

Mustaine then says, "God, it’s so hard to tap-dance around this...” before offering to clear up the matter once and for all.

"Let me just say this – it was a hard decision that had to be made," he says. "There were a lot of people involved and I had to make a decision, because unfortunately, when you’re the leader, you’re the one that has to suck it up and face the music.

"All I wanted to do was make a clean break, and not hurt anyone, not hurt the fans and not hurt him," he continues. "I just wanted to move on, and I hope the gentleman concerned is doing okay. I imagine there was some adjustment that had to take place when it happened.

It was hard for me when I lost my job. But I’ve forgiven him before when he sued me [Ellefson filed a lawsuit against Mustaine in 2004, claiming that he was owed millions in outstanding royalties. The case was dismissed] and I’ll forgive him a thousand times. I just won’t play music with him anymore.”

You can read the full interview with Dave Mustaine in the new issue of Metal Hammer.

Metal Hammer issue 363

(Image credit: Future)

Yesterday (June 23), Megadeth revealed that their much-anticipated new album The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! will be released on September 2, via UMe, and shared its first single, We'll Be Back.

We’ll Be Back is accompanied by We’ll Be Back: Chapter I, an action-packed short film chronicling the origins of Megadeth’s iconic mascot, Vic Rattlehead.

Produced by Dave Mustaine, We’ll Be Back: Chapter I is described as "a soldier’s tale of bravery, personal sacrifice, and the will to survive." It is the first instalment of a trilogy of videos scheduled for release in conjunction with the release of the new album.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.