Dave Mustaine Doubts Metallica Lineup Could Have ‘Survived’ if He Didn’t Get Kicked Out
April 11, 1983, the day Metallica dismissed Dave Mustaine from the band, has lived on as one of the most infamous days and moments in metal's elaborate history, but, as revealed in a video interview for Gibson's "Icon" series, the Megadeth leader openly cast doubt that that lineup could have survived in the long run anyway and that his exit was "destined" to happen.
In 1983, the budding thrash group left San Francisco en route to New Jersey to meet with Megaforce Records founder Jon 'Jonny Z' Zazula. The label head eventually gave them a record deal and went on to release Kill 'Em All and Ride the Lightning after first being blown away when he heard the No Life 'Til Leather demo and got in contact with the members.
Due to his excessive drinking and his behavior when under the influence, Mustaine was fired from Metallica, who were on the verge of entering the studio to begin recording their debut at the time. He was sent back home on a bus ride from New York to San Francisco, while Kirk Hammett, who was previously in Exodus, was waiting in the wings.
In the hour-long interview (transcription via Blabbermouth), Mustaine recalled, "The ride home from New York was long. I knew it was gonna be long. The ride out was long. The ride out was dangerous. The ride out was bad. Because of the [near-fatal] crash in Wyoming, I think that that's what made me the guy that had to go."
"And, I don't know... I probably was destined to leave before that because of, you know, the word 'destiny' and the fact that there was just so much talent and so much personality between the four of us. I don't know that we could have survived. There was destined to be some kind of an explosion at some point," he explained.
Mustaine also acknowledged his sense of jealousy was also rooted in the fact that not only had he lost his band, but friendships as well, which took a hard toll on him in particular.
"Leaving Metallica, a lot of the things that they did, watching them have their success, it could have been anything. They could have quit metal and started making Twinkies and I would have been jealous because we were friends and then, all of a sudden, we're not friends anymore," he lamented.
Mustaine continued, "And all I know is that I want to keep doing what we're doing together because we make people happy and the four of us get to drive around like we're something special. And I never felt special before in my life until now. But we have this guitar, we've got this band, and now I feel like I'm somebody."
Grateful that things are more positive today than they were before, the Megadeth guitarist/singer beamed, "I'm glad to say that our friendship today is so much different from that moment, those moments, those days, those times, those people."
"We're all different," he admitted, noting the ways in which everyone has changed. "We're dads. We're older now. And I think that probably was the most shocking and hardest thing to tolerate or to accept at the end, was that when the band stopped, I kind of felt like I stopped," he said, but acknowledged, "I know that's not true. But what's a young kid at the time to think? I had no mentors, I had no one talking [to me through] my life and saying, 'You're gonna get through this, and you're gonna be so much happier for it.'"
Regarding that long bus ride, Mustaine offered, "I did a lot of soul searching on the way home — 'Did I want to play guitar? Did I wanna keep doing this? What am I gonna do? I got it. I'm gonna make a band that's more metal than Metallica. And I need to come up with a name that's more metal than a band that has 'metal' in their name. So what can I come up with?' And I just figured, 'Well, I'll wait for that for a little bit.' And I started writing lyrics."
Watch the complete interview below.
Mustaine recently wrapped up the last of the vocal recording The Sick, The Dying and The Dead, their long-awaited successor to 2016's Dystopia, which earned the band their first Grammy win for the title track.
Catch Megadeth on their co-headlining 'Metal Tour of the Year' with Lamb of God and special guests Trivium and Hatebreed. The run kicks off Aug. 20 and the full list of stops can be seen here. Returning to the lineup for the tour is bassist James Lomenzo, who was previously a member from 2006 through 2010.