The relationship between former Slayer guitarist Kerry King and Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine has sometimes been combustible, with the pair gleefully taking jabs at each other in the press at various points down the years.
“They were great at that point,” King says of Slayer’s fellow thrash pioneers. “They were ahead of us by at least 16 months to a year. They were doing originals and we were still doing covers. I think we opened for Metallica with Mustaine, I can’t recall, but I know me and Dave [Lombardo, Slayer drummer] definitely saw them in a club and we were blown away by Mustaine.
“Still to this day, he’s a fucking great guitar player. It was very awesome, it wasn’t big clubs, you could see from anywhere, and I was very enamoured with seeing Mustaine play these insane leads and James [Hetfield] playing these insane rhythms and barking out these lyrics.
“It was way more extreme than what I thought metal was or could be, it was like another arm of it, so to speak. We all came out around the same time, but Metallica certainly influenced me.”
Slayer and Metallica did indeed play with each other at a gig at the Woodstock Concert Theater in Anaheim, California on October 22, 1982 – Slayer’s fourth ever show.
King himself joined Megadeth, the band formed by Mustaine after he was kicked out of Metallica, for a few gigs in 1984, later saying of the latter musician, “That guy’s crazy.”
In the new Metal Hammer interview, King also reveals that it was tough for Slayer to get gigs in their native LA in their early das.
“It was the land of Van Halen and Mötley Crüe and W.A.S.P,” he says. “We tried the strips a few times, and we would play the deadliners spot – the spot after the headliners when everyone was leaving.
“We actually played after W.A.S.P. once, when they had this raw meat and the girl on the rack and all of this stuff. We were a bit like, ‘OK… this is interesting, how’s this going to work?’, and when we came on, no one left! We thought, ‘Hmm, something’s happening here!’
“But it never really became a Hollywood thing. We just bypassed those clubs and went to the Bay Area, and then on full US tours.”
Read the full interview with King in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer, out now. Buy it online and have it delivered straight to your door.