Dave Mustaine

By any measure, Dave Mustaine has been one of the biggest names in heavy metal, and especially thrash metal, over the past few decades; but perhaps even more than that distinction, the brash and outspoken leader of Megadeth has generated a remarkable volume of conversation in a genre dominated by somewhat media-shy, quiet types. David Scott Mustaine was born in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa, California on September 13, 1961 and revealed his go-getter instincts at an early age, when he left home at 17, rented his own apartment, and began supporting himself as a drug dealer while pursuing his dream of music and developing his guitar playing skills. This innate independence would serve the lead guitarist well when he was later fired from his first major band, future thrash metal giants Metallica, in 1983 -- on the cusp of the group’s record-ed debut on ‘Kill ‘em All’ (which was rife with Mustaine co-songwriting credits). Briefly shell-shocked but determined to exact his revenge, by 1984 Mustaine had assembled a new band named Megadeth with David Ellefson (bass), Chris Poland (guitar) and Gar Samuelson (drums), before setting off in hot pursuit of his former bandmates, eventually gaining worldwide recognition as two of thrash’s ‘Big Four,’ platinum-selling bands. But Megadeth’s ride was anything but smooth for the remainder of the decade, as Dave showed a penchant for trouble (including rampant drug abuse, a relentless motor-mouth, and very short patience for hiring and firing bandmates) commensurate with his formidable talents. As a result, Megadeth wouldn’t enjoy some measure of stability until the 1990s, when guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza joined a (mostly) reformed Mustaine and Ellefson for a string of acclaimed LPs, including 1992’s ‘Count-down to Extinction’ and ‘94’s ‘Youthanasia.’ But that license on stability sadly expired along with the 20th Century, but after briefly disbanding Megadeth following a serious 2002 arm injury, Mustaine returned with a vengeance and has carried on business as usual ever since: replacing henchman after henchman and releasing album after album (over a dozen, at last count), without interruption. Indeed, only God can tell when the workaholic, now devout Christian, Mustaine will finally retire the Megadeth moniker; but no matter when he does so, he will go down as one of heavy metal’s all-time most innovative guitar technicians, as well as a true original.


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