That Kerry King/Dave Mustaine love-in just stepped up a notch

Dave Mustaine and Kerry King onstage
(Image credit: Emma McIntyre/Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns)

Kerry King and Dave Mustaine have had an up-and-down relationship ever since the former Slayer guitarist briefly played in Megadeth at the start of their career, with the pair throwing shade at each other in the media over the years.

But an unlikely love-in seems to be blossoming after King complimented Mustaine in a brand new interview in latest issue of Metal Hammer. After recalling the first time he saw Mustaine’s then-band Metallica play, King went on to express his admiration for his counterpart, calling the Megadeth man “a fucking great guitar player.”

“They were ahead of us by at least 16 months to a year,” says King of seeing Metallica play live in 1983. “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.”

Now Mustaine has responded to King’s praise by returning the compliment.

“It’s not every day one of the most fearsome guitarists in the world gives you a compliment like this,” Mustaine tweeted. “Thank you Kerry, I look forward to hearing your new stuff and we should definitely go out together.” 

King has previously talked to Metal Hammer about his five-show stint with Megadeth in 1984. 

“Oh it was killer,” he recalled in 2022. “The only reason I considered it is because I was such a big Mustaine fan.

“It was funny how it all came to be – we’d play similar guitars and somebody at BC Rich suggested to him to hit me up or whatever so I didn’t even have to try out. I played the first five shows and it was a good time and I was just honoured that he wanted me to help him out whatever comes out of it. Its funny – when we did The Big Four shows together Mustaine took me aside and said ‘You know, you and me are the only guys who have played in two of the Big Four!’”

King added that his brief tenure in Megadeth was never meant to be permanent, not least because Slayer’s own debut album, Show No Mercy, was already out. “Dave wanted me to stay around, but I didn’t have any reason to stay around because I had Slayer.”

King also told Metal Hammer that Slayer fans wouldn’t be disappointed by his upcoming, as-yet-unnamed new project.

“You know me, so you know what it’s going to sound like,” he said in 2022. “I played this new song for a buddy, and I said to him, ‘If there’s anything I’ve written in the last few years that sounds like Slayer, it’s this.’ And he said, ‘That sounds like you could have pulled it off of any Slayer record.' I actually made that riff up backstage at a Slayer show. We were walking to the stage and I got my phone out and recorded it so I wouldn’t forget it.

Read the full interview with Kerry King in the brand new issue of Metal Hammer. Order it online and get it delivered straight to your door.

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in the new issue of Metal Hammer

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Metal Hammer

Founded in 1983, Metal Hammer is the global home of all things heavy. We have breaking news, exclusive interviews with the biggest bands and names in metal, rock, hardcore, grunge and beyond, expert reviews of the lastest releases and unrivalled insider access to metal's most exciting new scenes and movements. No matter what you're into – be it heavy metal, punk, hardcore, grunge, alternative, goth, industrial, djent or the stuff so bizarre it defies classification – you'll find it all here, backed by the best writers in our game.