Dave Mustaine

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Dave Mustaine
Mustaine performing in 2016
Mustaine performing in 2016
Background information
Birth nameDavid Scott Mustaine
Born (1961-09-13) September 13, 1961 (age 60)[1]
La Mesa, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • producer
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1978–present
Member ofMegadeth
Formerly of

David Scott Mustaine (born September 13, 1961) is an American musician. He is the co-founder, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter of the thrash metal band Megadeth, as well as their only consistent member.[2] Mustaine has released fifteen studio albums with Megadeth, sold over 50 million albums worldwide, with six albums platinum-certified, and won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 2017 at the 59th Grammy Awards, for the title track of their fifteenth studio album, Dystopia.[3]

Prior to forming Megadeth, Mustaine was the original lead guitarist of Metallica but did not appear on any albums, however was credited on four songs from Kill 'Em All and two songs from Ride the Lightning. Mustaine was originally born into a family of Jehovah's Witnesses.[4] He now identifies as a born again Christian.[5][6] Mustaine has been to rehab throughout his life, fighting alcohol and drug problems,[7][8] and briefly battled throat cancer in 2019.[9] Mustaine has been married to Pamela Anne Casselberry since 1991, with whom he has two children, Electra and Justis Mustaine.[10]

In a popular vote on internet forum Ultimate Guitar, Mustaine was ranked third in the top 25 rhythm guitarists of all time,[11] first in Joel McIver's book, The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists,[12] tenth in Loudwire's "66 Best Hard Rock + Metal Guitarists of All Time",[13] and third in their "10 Greatest Rhythm Guitarists in Rock + Metal".[14]

Early life[edit]

Mustaine was born in La Mesa, California,[15] to parents Emily Marie (née David) and John Jefferson Mustaine. His father was of French, German, Irish and Finnish descent,[16][17] while his mother was of German Jewish ancestry.[18][19] The Mustaine family were Jehovah's Witnesses.[20]

Mustaine had three older sisters, Michelle, Suzanne, and Debbie, who were 18, 15 and 3 respectively when he was born. Due to the significant age difference between Mustaine and his sisters, as a child he often thought of them as his aunts rather than sisters. Mustaine has described family life as tumultuous during his early life, lamenting years later that "life unraveled in a great many ways" for his family before he was born. Mustaine has described his father as "a very smart and successful man, good with his hands and head" who was a branch manager for Bank of America before moving to NCR, where the corporation's transition from mechanical to electrical technology ultimately made him expendable and cost him his job. A longtime problem drinker, John Mustaine's issues with alcohol only grew worse from then on, and he left his four-year-old son permanently after Emily divorced him in 1965.[21]

Early career[edit]

External video
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video icon Dave Mustaine – Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction? (Part 1), 10:09, Loudwire[22]
video icon Part II, 9:59, Loudwire[23]


Panic was Mustaine's first band. The lineup was Mike Leftwych on drums, Bob Evans on bass, Tom Quecke on rhythm guitar, Pat Voeks as the vocalist, with Mustaine as the lead guitarist. Both Mike Leftwych and a sound man were killed in a car crash after Panic's second show.[5][24] Mustaine stated that after the band started to fall apart in 1981, Quecke also died.[25][26]


In 1981, Mustaine disbanded Panic and joined Metallica as the lead guitarist. Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich had posted an ad in a local newspaper, The Recycler, looking for a lead guitarist.[27] In his own words, Mustaine remembers his first meeting with James Hetfield and Ulrich: "I was in the room warming up and I walked out and asked, 'Well, am I gonna audition or what?', and they said, 'No, you've got the job.' I couldn't believe how easy it had been and suggested that we get some beer to celebrate."[28]

Metallica began recording their first album titled Kill 'Em All in 1983 but Mustaine's tenure with Metallica was short-lived. Brian Slagel, owner of Metal Blade Records, recalled in an interview: "Dave was an incredibly talented guy but he also had an incredibly large problem with alcohol and drugs. He'd get wasted and become a real crazy person, a raging megalomaniac, and the other guys just couldn't deal with that after a while. I mean, they all drank of course, but Dave drank more… much more. I could see they were beginning to get fed up of seeing Dave drunk out of his mind all the time."[29]

On one occasion, Mustaine brought his dog to rehearsal; the dog jumped onto the car of Metallica bassist Ron McGovney and scratched the paint.[30] Hetfield allegedly yelled at Mustaine's dog and kicked it in a fit of rage, which provoked Mustaine into physically attacking Hetfield.[30] Mustaine was fired following the altercation, but the next day, Mustaine asked to be allowed back in the band and was granted his request.[31] Another incident occurred when Mustaine, who had been drinking, poured a can of beer down the neck and into the pick-ups of McGovney's bass, resulting in collateral damage.[30] McGovney claimed that he was unaware of the collateral damage and that he received an electric shock upon plugging it into an amplifier.[32] Mustaine, however, denied this claim, stating that McGovney was present when the incident occurred and did not attempt to plug in his bass afterward. McGovney then told Mustaine and Hetfield to leave his house and left the band shortly after.[33]

On April 11, 1983, after Metallica had driven to New York to record their debut album, Mustaine was officially ejected from the band because of his alcoholism, drug abuse, overly aggressive behavior, and personal clashes with founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, an incident Mustaine refers to as "no warning, no second chance".[34][35] The band packed up Mustaine's gear, drove him to the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and put him on a Greyhound bus bound for Los Angeles.[28][36] On this bus ride Mustaine scribbled some lyrical ideas on the back of a hand bill, which later became the song "Set the World Afire" from the 1988 Megadeth album So Far, So Good... So What![37]

During his time in Metallica, Mustaine toured with the band, co-wrote four songs that appeared on Kill 'Em All, and co-wrote two songs that eventually appeared on the 1984 album Ride the Lightning.[38][39] Mustaine has also made unverified claims to have written parts of "Leper Messiah" from Master of Puppets.[28]

Fallen Angels[edit]

Fallen Angels was the name of the short-lived band that Mustaine founded after his departure from Metallica. In April 1983, after returning to California to live with his mother, he landed what he calls his first real job with the aid of Robbie McKinney. McKinney and a friend, Matt Kisselstein, worked with Mustaine as telemarketers. Mustaine quit his job after earning enough money to move to an apartment in Hollywood, and recruited McKinney, who played guitar, and Kisselstein, who played bass, for his band Fallen Angels.[40] In his biography, Mustaine describes that "We lacked the chemistry, the energy, the spark—or whatever you want to call it—that gives a band life in its infancy."[40] The partnership did not last.[40]

This paved the way for his partnership with Dave Ellefson and Greg Handevidt. Ellefson was playing the opening bass line of Van Halen's "Runnin' with the Devil" in the apartment below Mustaine's.[41] After stomping on the floor and shouting for them to stop, Mustaine, being hung over at the time, took a potted plant and threw it out of his window and hit the air conditioner of the apartment below.[41] This resulted in the two coming up to Mustaine's apartment to ask for cigarettes. Mustaine replied "There's a store on the corner" and slammed the door in their faces.[41] A few minutes later, they knocked on the door, this time asking if they could buy him beer.[42] Mustaine's reply: 'OK, now you are talking'. They spent the night talking about music, and soon after, Mustaine, Ellefson and Handevidt were bandmates.

With little confidence in his own vocal capabilities, Mustaine added 'Lor' Kane to the Fallen Angels roster. Kane did not stay long, although he is credited for the suggestion that they should change the name to Megadeth, knowing that Mustaine had written a song of the same name.[43] After Kane left, the first of many drummers, Dijon Carruthers, joined the band. The lineup of Mustaine, Ellefson, Handevidt, and Carruthers was one of the first incarnations of Megadeth.[15]



Following unsuccessful vocalist auditions, Mustaine took on vocal duties himself at Megadeth's first rehearsal in addition to playing lead and rhythm guitar.[24] In 1984, Megadeth produced a three-song demo with drummer Lee Rausch, who replaced Carruthers after Mustaine and Ellefson decided they could not trust him. Carruthers had chosen to hide his black heritage from them by claiming he was Spanish, and they could not understand why he would deceive them.[44] Kerry King joined the band for a few shows; however, he opted to leave Megadeth after less than a week so he could continue working on his own band, Slayer. Jazz-influenced drummer Gar Samuelson replaced Rausch, who left after Mustaine convinced him to play with a broken foot.[15] Megadeth recorded a demo as a three-piece band, which captured the attention of guitarist Chris Poland, also a jazz player and a friend of Samuelson, who subsequently joined the band.[45] In November, the band signed a deal with Combat Records and began touring.[46]

In June 1985, Megadeth released their first album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, via Combat Records.[47] That summer, the band toured the U.S. and Canada with Exciter.[48] Guitarist Mike Albert replaced Chris Poland when he was incarcerated for possession of heroin. After Poland was released, he rejoined the band in October and the band then began recording their second studio album for Combat. On New Year's Eve of that year, Megadeth played in San Francisco with Exodus and Metal Church. Metallica was the headliner. This was the only time Megadeth and Metallica were on the same card, until 1991.

In 1986, a year after releasing their debut album, Mustaine approached Jackson Guitars for a custom-built guitar. Jackson modified their existing Jackson King V model for Mustaine by adding two more frets to the standard 22 fret King V.[49] In the 1990s, the company began mass-producing a Dave Mustaine signature series Jackson King V, which continued into the early 2000s.[50][51]

The following year, major label Capitol Records signed Megadeth and obtained the rights to their second studio album, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? Megadeth opened a U.S. tour with King Diamond and Motörhead. Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, released on September 19, 1986, is often regarded as a thrash metal classic,[52][53] producing the notable title track (the opening bass lick of which was used by MTV News segments)[52] as well as the thrash anthem "Wake Up Dead".[54]

In February 1987, Megadeth opened for Alice Cooper on his Constrictor tour. The band also toured with King Diamond whose previous band, Mercyful Fate, were a huge influence on Megadeth. In March, Megadeth's first world tour began in the U.K. Mustaine and Ellefson guested on the band Malice's License to Kill album. Megadeth re-recorded "These Boots" for the soundtrack to the film "Dudes", and that summer went on tour with Overkill and Necros. Amid drug problems and suspicions of stealing the band's equipment and pawning it for drug money, Mustaine fired Poland and Samuelson after their last show in Hawaii.

Chuck Behler, who had been Samuelson's drum tech, became Megadeth's new drummer with guitarist Jeff Young replacing Poland. Megadeth released their third studio album, So Far, So Good... So What!, in January 1988. The album contains the song "In My Darkest Hour", which, according to the liner notes of So Far, So Good... So What!, was composed after the death of Metallica's bass player Cliff Burton. "Hook in Mouth" attacked the Parents Music Resource Center with gusto, although their cover of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK", despite a guest appearance from ex-Pistol Steve Jones, was ill-advised in the eyes of Allmusic's critic.

Later that year, Megadeth opened for Dio and then Iron Maiden on tour before playing the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington in the U.K. with Kiss, Iron Maiden, Guns N' Roses, David Lee Roth, and Helloween. Shortly after, Mustaine fired Behler and Young, accusing Young of having thoughts of a relationship with Mustaine's then-girlfriend. Around this period, Mustaine produced the debut album from Seattle thrash band Sanctuary, called Refuge Denied.

Nick Menza, who was Chuck Behler's drum tech, joined Megadeth in 1989, and the band recorded their only track ever as a three-piece: a cover of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" for the horror film Shocker. Film director Penelope Spheeris would later recount in the Megadeth episode of Behind the Music that Mustaine showed up to the video shoot so fried on heroin and other drugs that he could not sing and play guitar at the same time; therefore, the singing and playing had to be recorded separately. Mustaine was arrested for "impaired driving" that March with seven or more drugs in his system and was forced by authorities to enter a rehabilitation program (the first of his 15 visits to rehabilitation centers).[55]


Following Cacophony's disbanding in 1989, Marty Friedman was auditioned the same year to fill in the vacant lead-guitar position, and joined the band in February 1990.[56][57] In September of that year, the band joined the "Clash of the Titans" tour overseas with Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, and Testament.[57] The tour began one month before Megadeth released Rust in Peace (1990), which was cited as one of the best thrash metal records of all time by publications such as Decibel and Kerrang! and continued their commercial success.[58][59] They then went back on the road to promote the new album, this time as support for Judas Priest.[57][60]

Megadeth started off 1991 by performing for an audience of 145,000 people at Rock in Rio before starting their own world tour with Alice in Chains as their special guest.[61][62][63] Mustaine was married in April, the same month the Rusted Pieces home video was released.[57][10] That summer, the Clash of the Titans tour hit the U.S., featuring Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax, with Alice in Chains taking the opening slot.[61] Later that year, the Megadeth song "Go to Hell" was featured on the soundtrack to Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.[57][64]

Also in 1991, Mustaine collaborated with Sean Harris from Diamond Head on the track "Crown of Worms".[65] Mustaine would later appear on Diamond Head's reformation album Death and Progress.[65] Mustaine's wife, Pamela, gave birth to their son Justis on February 11, 1992.[66] The band was featured on another soundtrack, this time for Super Mario Bros. with the song "Breakpoint".[67] July of that year saw the release of Megadeth's most commercially successful record: Countdown to Extinction, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and boasted some of the band's most commercially successful songs, including "Symphony of Destruction", "Sweating Bullets" and "Skin o' My Teeth".[68] The original version of the "Symphony of Destruction" video was edited due to its depiction of a political leader being assassinated;[69] "Skin o' My Teeth" was aired on MTV with a disclaimer from Mustaine insisting that the song did not endorse suicide.[70] Ellefson contributed lyrics to the family-farm ballad "Foreclosure of a Dream", and Menza wrote the lyrics about canned hunting for the title track.[71]

Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies opened for Megadeth on the Countdown to Extinction tour, and MTV News also invited Mustaine to cover the Democratic National Convention for them that summer.[72] In November, the "Exposure of a Dream" home video was released.[73] In 1993, Mustaine guested on a new album by one of the bands who had influenced his own sound: Diamond Head, and also began a U.S. tour with Stone Temple Pilots as their opening act.[74][75] The tour with Stone Temple Pilots which included a planned appearance at Budokan, was ultimately canceled due to Mustaine's continuing struggles with addiction.[24] In June, Megadeth played Milton Keynes Bowl with Diamond Head and Metallica and later opened for Metallica on a handful of European Stadium dates.[76] Megadeth was kicked off Aerosmith's U.S. tour after just seven dates because a comment made by Mustaine ("We don't have much time to play because Aerosmith don't have much time left to live") was deemed extraordinarily offensive to Aerosmith.[77][78] "Angry Again" was featured on the soundtrack to the 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero, while "99 Ways To Die" was featured on The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience compilation album.[79][80]

Megadeth spent the majority of 1994 making Youthanasia, a more commercial album that had high expectations due to the success of Countdown to Extinction.[81] The band covered Black Sabbath's song "Paranoid" for Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath and performed on MTV's "Night of the Living Megadeth" in celebration of the Halloween release of their new album.[82][83] The release of Youthanasia was also followed by a brief South American tour to promote the album.[84]

Another soundtrack appearance, "Diadems" on Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight, kicked off 1995.[85] Megadeth spent the first two months of the year on the "Youthanasia" tour with Corrosion of Conformity in tow.[86] In March, the Hidden Treasures compilation hit European stores.[87] The "Evolver: The Making of Youthanasia" home video followed in May, and Hidden Treasures made it to the U.S. and Japan in July, just in time for the start of the "Reckoning Day" tour with special guests Flotsam and Jetsam, Korn and Fear Factory. In September the band performed at the "Monsters of Rock" festival in South America, Peru.

A Grammy nomination for "Paranoid" began 1996 for Megadeth.[88] Enlisting Fear singer Lee Ving, Mustaine released an album under the moniker "MD.45" with Suicidal Tendencies drummer Jimmy DeGrasso.[89] In September, Megadeth returned to the studio, this time in Nashville, Tennessee, to record Cryptic Writings.[90][91]

Cryptic Writings (1997) included thrashing songs like "Vortex" and "FFF", which were reminiscent of Megadeth's older material,[92][93] alongside radio-friendly fare like "Trust", which reached the 5th spot on the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.[94] In June, Misfits opened for the band on tour.[95] Chaos Comics released "The Cryptic Writings of Megadeth" comic books in August,[96] and a remix of "Almost Honest" showed up on the "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" soundtrack.[97]

Mustaine's daughter, Electra Mustaine, was born on January 28, 1998, the same month that "Trust" was nominated for a Grammy.[98][99] Megadeth played on the Howard Stern Show and that summer took part in Ozzfest.[100][101] Two days after Nick Menza had underwent surgery for a benign knee tumor, he received a call from Mustaine informing him that his services would no longer be needed.[102] Jimmy DeGrasso, who Mustaine had played with previously in MD.45, fulfilled Menza's duties.[103] On New Year's Eve, Megadeth opened for Black Sabbath at Chase Field alongside Soulfly, Slayer, and Pantera.[104]

While touring after Cryptic Writings, Mustaine told interviewers that songs like "She-Wolf" and "Vortex" had reinvigorated his love for classic music by bands like Iron Maiden and Motörhead, and that he intended to write an album that was "1/2 Peace Sells, 1/2 Cryptic Writings"; however, after hearing about a comment that Lars Ulrich had made in the press in which he said he wished Mustaine would take more "risks", intentions changed. Managers and producers had more input. The song "Crush 'Em" was written with the express purpose of being played in wrestling arenas. In later years, Mustaine would blame much of this period on Friedman's desire to go in a more "pop" direction. Recorded with producer Dann Huff, again in Nashville, Risk was released on August 31, 1999. "Crush 'Em" made it onto the Universal Soldier: The Return soundtrack and into WCW wrestling events (notably played live on Monday Nitro). In July, the band covered "Never Say Die" for a second Black Sabbath tribute. They closed the Woodstock '99 music festival and again opened for Iron Maiden in Europe. The year ended with Marty Friedman announcing his departure from the band.[105]


Mustaine performing in 2005

As the tour behind Risk soldiered on, Al Pitrelli replaced Friedman on the road. In April, the new lineup entered the studio to begin work on a new album a couple of months before they officially parted ways with Capitol Records. The summer was spent on the road with Anthrax and Mötley Crüe. Capitol released a compilation album in the fall, Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years, featuring two brand new (and more metal-leaning) songs, "Dread and the Fugitive Mind" was one of the brand new songs and appeared on the next studio album the following year. With a new deal in place with Sanctuary Records, Megadeth returned to the studio toward the end of the year to finish their album and on New Year's Eve, played a show in Anchorage, Alaska.

An acoustic tour sponsored by radio stations, a press tour, and a video shoot for the song "Moto Psycho" all preceded the May 2001 release of The World Needs A Hero. The summer was filled with festival appearances supporting AC/DC. In September, Megadeth set out across North America with Endo and Iced Earth. VH1's "Behind the Music" special on Megadeth aired that year and was later released on DVD. At the end of the year, the band filmed two shows in Arizona, which were released as the 2CD and DVD Rude Awakening. The early part of 2002 saw the release of a remixed and re-mastered Killing Is My Business... with bonus tracks and expanded packaging, followed by Rude Awakening.

In January 2002, Mustaine was admitted to the hospital to have a kidney stone removed. While undergoing treatment, he was administered pain medication that triggered a relapse. Following his hospital stay, he immediately checked himself into a treatment center in Texas.[106] While at rehab, Mustaine suffered an injury causing severe nerve damage to his left arm. The injury, induced by falling asleep with his left arm over the back of a chair caused compression of the radial nerve.[107] He was diagnosed with radial neuropathy,[108] also known as Saturday Night Palsy, which left him unable to grasp or even make a fist with his left hand.[109]

On April 3, 2002, Mustaine announced in a press release that he was disbanding Megadeth, officially due to his arm injury.[108][109] For the next four months, Mustaine underwent intense physical therapy five days a week.[106] Slowly, Mustaine began to play again, but was forced to "re-teach" his left hand.

Mustaine himself gave what he called "the Reader's Digest version" of the whole matter during an interview for SuicideGirls: "I went into retirement because my arm got hurt really bad. I broke up the band which at the time was Al Pitrelli, Dave Ellefson, Jimmy DeGrasso, and myself. I was having problems with Al because he liked to drink, and we didn't want to show up at places with him drunk. Al also got married to a nice woman, but he wanted to spend time with her. After a few years, most married men are willing to die, so I figured if we got a couple years into the marriage that might have changed. But the fact was, Al wasn't fitting. DeGrasso was really hard to be around because he was so negative all the time with his complaining about money and wanting things. Ellefson was all about 'play my songs, play my songs.' I hated being around these guys so when the arm injury happened, it was a welcome relief and an indication that I had to stop."[110]

Mustaine in 2009

Mustaine went through physical therapy for his arm injury. During his recovery, he explored other areas of the music industry, including production. Contrary to what doctors had predicted, within a short time he fully recovered. However, all was mostly quiet on the Megadeth front for the better part of 2003. Mustaine left Jackson guitars, did a solo acoustic performance at a benefit show, unveiled his new ESP model at the NAMM convention, and oversaw the release of Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? as an audio DVD presented in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.

At the same time, Mustaine's personal life once again underwent changes. It was during this period that Mustaine became a Christian. He expressed his intent to withdraw from a show in Greece that had Rotting Christ and Dissection opening for Megadeth.[111][112] Mustaine told The Daily Times during a recent interview, his own world was already shattered, and becoming a Christian was the one way he's found to put the pieces back together. "I went back to being a Jehovah's Witness, but I wasn't happy with that." He later said in an interview, "Looking up at the cross, I said six simple words, 'What have I got to lose?' Afterwards my whole life has changed. It's been hard, but I wouldn't change it for anything. Rather go my whole life believing that there is a God and find out there isn't than live my whole life thinking there isn't a God and then find out, when I die, that there is."[113] Mustaine also considers his talent a gift from God. "To be the No. 1 rated guitar player in the world is a gift from God and I'm stoked about it, but I think Chris is better than I am, anyway," he said. "Either way, I don't put too much earthly merit on it."[113]

In 2004 Mustaine oversaw the remixing and re-mastering of Megadeth's entire Capitol Records catalog. All albums were re-released with bonus tracks and full liner notes. With one album remaining in his contract to Sanctuary Records, Mustaine began recording what he intended to be his first solo album with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Jimmy Sloas. Complete with guest solos from old friend Chris Poland, this project became a new Megadeth album, The System Has Failed, released on September 14, 2004. One month before, Mustaine announced a new touring lineup for Megadeth: Glen Drover (King Diamond/Eidolon) and James MacDonough (Iced Earth). Nick Menza had briefly been a part of the new band before differences once again caused his departure. One week before a new US tour with Exodus supporting, new drummer (and Glen's brother) Shawn Drover (Eidolon) joined Megadeth.

The "Blackmail The Universe" tour started in February 2005 with Diamond Head and Dungeon supporting. Capitol released a new greatest hits, Back to the Start, in June, a month before Mustaine created "Gigantour" with Dream Theater, Anthrax, Fear Factory, Symphony X, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Life of Agony, and more. During 2005 Gigantour Mustaine brought a "spiritual counselor" to help him avoid the problems that almost cost him his life due to his prior drug addictions. The Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato stated: "He had a pastor walking around with him on tour and riding on his bus, I think to help keep him on the straight and narrow path."[114]

Arsenal of Megadeth, a two-disc anthology DVD, was released on March 21, 2006. Bass player James LoMenzo (Black Label Society, White Lion) replaced James MacDonough in February shortly before the band headed to the Dubai Desert Rock Festival in the United Arab Emirates. On April 19, the band began recording a new album, United Abominations, at SARM studios in the UK (David Gilmour's house), they announced a worldwide deal with Roadrunner Records in May 2006. United Abominations was released worldwide on May 15, 2007. However, the album had already been leaked before its release. On January 13, 2008, Dave Mustaine confirmed that guitarist Glen Drover had quit Megadeth to focus on his family and that he had been replaced by Chris Broderick of Jag Panzer. The new lineup made its live debut in Finland on February 4 and returned to the US for Gigantour 2008 in the spring.[115] The band's twelfth studio album, Endgame, was released on September 15, 2009.

Mustaine planned to open Megadeth's California recording studio to under-privileged children to teach them about rock 'n' roll. The band owns a building in San Diego, California, which has housed their recording equipment over the years. In an interview with Kerrang!, Mustaine wanted to make better use of the studio by turning the space into a learning center for children who come from under-privileged backgrounds. He also said he vowed to teach them how to play instruments.[116]


Mustaine performing with Megadeth at the No Sleep Til Festival in Perth (2010)

In 2010, longtime bassist David Ellefson rejoined Megadeth eight years after its disbanding in 2002.[117] Ellefson and Mustaine agreed to keep any unresolved issues in the past and to work on building and maintaining their friendship again. Ellefson has since said that he feels that "having that time away created a realization for both of us that while we are both productive individually, Megadeth is definitely stronger with both of us in it together."[118] Megadeth embarked on a Rust in Peace 20th-anniversary tour, playing the album in its entirety, along with fan favorites such as "Wake Up Dead", "In My Darkest Hour" and "Skin O' My Teeth".

On June 16, "The Big Four" thrash metal bands (Megadeth, Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer) shared the stage in Warsaw, Poland.[119] The event happened in various other countries like Switzerland,[119] the Czech Republic,[119] the United Kingdom,[120] the United States, Greece, Germany, Sweden[121] and ended at the Yankee Stadium of New York City on September 14, 2011.[122] "The Big Four" show in Sofia, Bulgaria was recorded and released on Blu-ray and DVD.

Mustaine at the Electric Ballroom, London, 2012

On August 3, 2010, Mustaine released his autobiography in the United States, titled Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir. The book covers Mustaine's life from childhood until the release of the 2009 Megadeth album Endgame. The book was released in the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand under the title Mustaine: A Life in Metal. In December 2011, Mustaine appeared at Metallica's 30th-anniversary celebration at the Fillmore Theater and performed five songs from Metallica's debut album. On October 4, 2014, Mustaine's Alzheimer's-afflicted mother-in-law went missing from a campground. Her remains were discovered on November 26.[123]

Following the release of Megadeth's 14th studio album, Super Collider in 2013, Megadeth began working on their next album, Dystopia in 2015. David Ellefson commented that work would commence "after the first [day] of the year".[124] Lineup changes included the departure of lead guitarist Chris Broderick and drummer Shawn Drover, both of whom departed the band in late November 2014, both citing creative differences.[125][126] Chris Adler of Lamb of God was announced in March 2015 to replace Drover, and Kiko Loureiro of Angra replaced Broderick on lead guitar.[127][128]

At the end of March, Mustaine announced via Twitter that he was "almost done with the writing", and that recording would begin next week.[129] Megadeth finished recording the album in July of that year, with the track listing was also revealed in a meeting between Mustaine and Megadeth's official fan club, the Cyber Army.[130] Mustaine commented in an interview in June that fans are "gonna be happy", because the album is "really aggressive again", and that nothing in the record was too out of the ordinary, apart from small changes in Mustaine's playing due to his brief tenure with the San Diego Symphony.[131] The first single from the new album, Fatal Illusion, was released on October the 1st,[132] which was followed by the release of the title of the album and its release date via Twitter on October the 2nd.[133] The Dystopia World Tour was announced in support of the album, with Children of Bodom, Suicidal Tendencies, and Havok as supporting acts.[134][135] The next two singles, The Threat Is Real and Dystopia, were released on November 25 and January 7, 2016, respectively.[136][137]

Mustaine performing at Curitiba, Brazil in 2016, on the Dystopia world tour

The album was released on January 22, 2016 and debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200, Megadeth's second-highest-charting album since 1992's Countdown to Extinction.[138][139] The album was met with generally positive acclaim, with Chad Bowar of Loudwire, calling Dystopia a "first-rate Megadeth album,[140] however Slant Magazine's Benjamin Aspray criticizing the lackluster solos, saying that they "rarely leave much of a mark", and commenting that Mustaine's voice has "never sounded so guttural or monotone".[141] Other critics noted the album's recurrent political themes and commentary on current affairs.[142][143][144]

The title track of Dystopia winning the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 59th Grammy Awards in February 2017 would start Megadeth's year.[145] The band would begin touring again, with Megadeth closing that year's edition of Jakarta's Hammersonic Festival in May.[146] Prior to touring, Mustaine also held a "Megadeth Boot Camp" in March, where fans would be invited to his home in Fallbrook, California. The bootcamp included lessons on guitar, bass and drums, alongside wine-tasting and a jam session to their 1992 hit Symphony of Destruction.[147]

In June in an interview with WRIF's Mark "Meltdown" Milligan, Mustaine commented that work on the followup to Dystopia would begin soon, with recording to start around "November, December of this year".[148]

The band would embark on several European shows in August, with Megadeth headlining the Wacken Open Air festival in Germany alongside Volbeat, Accept, and Alice Cooper.[149] They would also headline that years Lokerse Feesten in Belgium, alongside Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper.[150] Megadeth also performed at that year's Summer Breeze Open Air festival, where Nuclear Blast celebrated their label's 30th anniversary, with the band co-headlining with Korn, Amon Amarth, Kreator and Heaven Shall Burn.[151][152] Next was an appearance at the Bloodstock Open Air in Walton-on-Trent, co-headlining with Ghost and Amon Amarth.[153] They would finish August with an appearance headlining the Elbriot festival in Hamburg, alongside Trivium and Hatebreed.[154] Following this, Megadeth would tour North America in September alongside Scorpions on their "Crazy World Tour", named after the latter band's 1990 LP.[155]

In November, Mustaine joined the DJ roster for Gimme Radio, promoting his involvement with Megadeth as well as his favorite music and playlists on The Dave Mustaine Show.[156]


In the summer of 2005, Mustaine launched a travelling North American metal festival. He named it Gigantour after a favorite childhood cartoon of his, Gigantor. It spanned six weeks and was co-headlined by Megadeth and Dream Theater, with a variety of other supporting metal acts such as Fear Factory and the Dillinger Escape Plan. Mustaine has been quoted as saying that his main intention when conceiving the tour was to bring the American metal audiences an eclectic and affordable alternative to Ozzfest.

The second annual Gigantour began in September 2006 and was composed of Megadeth, Lamb of God, Opeth, and Arch Enemy. The second stage bands were Overkill, Into Eternity, Sanctity, and the SmashUp.

The 2007 Gigantour featured Bring Me the Horizon, Static-X, DevilDriver, and Lacuna Coil along with Megadeth. Megadeth appeared on their first tour to Bangalore, India in March 2008.

The 2008 installment of the tour featured Megadeth, Children of Bodom, In Flames, High on Fire, and Job for a Cowboy (and Evile for the UK and Scandinavia tour).[157]

Megadeth Blood in the Water: Live in San Diego (from the Gigantour 2008) premiered on HDNet Sunday November 2 at 8 p.m. in high definition and 5.1 audio (Repeats check www.hd.net)

In November 2011, it was announced the Gigantour would start up again. The lineup consists of Megadeth, Motörhead, Volbeat, and Lacuna Coil. The tour kicked off at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, New Jersey on January 26, 2012.


A KV1, same model played by Mustaine before the Y2KV was created

As of 2021, Dave Mustaine uses Gibson guitars.[158] The Dave Mustaine Collection was launched February in partnership with Gibson, and will span acoustic and electric guitars across the Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer ranges.[159][160]

Mustaine used B.C. Rich guitars early in his career (and for his entire duration with Metallica), most notably a B.C. Rich Bich 10 string with just the regular six strings. First the guitar started in a natural finish, but Mustaine painted it black around the time 'Peace Sells' was released. In 1987, he switched to Jackson Guitars. In March 2009, while he was guest hosting Bruce Dickinson's Friday night radio show, Mustaine attributed his choice of the Flying V guitar to being a fan of UFO's Michael Schenker when he was growing up.

After switching to Jackson Guitars he helped to re-design the guitar maker's version of the King V model (at the time, it was a "double Rhoads size" meaning it had two of the longer fins from the RR). The reshaped Mustaine KV1 model had slightly shorter fins, Kahler bridge and Seymour Duncan TB-5 bridge and SH-4 neck pickups. He also specified 24 frets rather than the original King V's 22, a tradition that Jackson still keeps on its King V models today, and the KV1, as have all of Mustaine's signature models, also featured a smaller, medium fretwire compared to the extra jumbos featured on most Jacksons.

Mustaine later switched to ESP Guitars. The company released the DV8 signature model in the 2004 NAMM convention also at which time Mustaine announced his ESP endorsement deal. In 2005, Mustaine and ESP teamed up to release the ESP Axxion, (pronounced Action), in order to celebrate Megadeth's 20th anniversary. The ESP Axxion and ESP DV8 were both successful and cheaper models such as the LTD-DV8 R, LTD DV200 and the LTD Axxion were released to target a bigger market.

Mustaine with his Dean VMNT USA Gears of War guitar, during the United Abominations tour, 2007

However, on December 6, 2006, Mustaine announced that he was leaving ESP and shifting his endorsement to Dean Guitars. His new signature guitar was revealed during NAMM Show on January 19, 2007. The signature guitar is called the Dean VMNT. The V-shaped guitar is very similar to his earlier Jackson and ESP Signature models. The release campaign of the VMNT had a limited copy of only 150 in the world and are signed by Mustaine.

"After two successful years, I have decided to leave ESP guitars. This was a business decision and had nothing to do with the guitars or the manufacturing of the guitars, and I wish the staff of ESP, both in the USA and in Japan and Korea the very best of health and prosperity. Meanwhile, I am taking my Classic Metal V known formerly as a Jackson King V1 or an ESP DV8, and my new guitar design presently known as an Axxion, which was the recipient of the Gold Award from Guitar World Magazine for 2005 for new guitar designs with me. I will also be re-introducing through my new endorsement many special models, including re-issues of my old models from over the span of my career, as well as some retro V shapes, similar to the formerly known Jackson Y2KV or a Gibson Flying V. I will make my announcement and be attending the 2007 NAMM show to meet Megadeth fans and all metal fans, musicians of all styles-especially guitarists."

Until 2021 he used his signature models by made by Dean Guitars, the Dean VMNT and Zero. The US models were available briefly in limited run after release, although the Korean and Chinese models are in continuous production. Mustaine used the US and Korean models on stage.

In February, 2021, Mustaine announced that he was leaving Dean Guitars and shifting his endorsement to Gibson.[161][162][163][164]

Mustaine has also recently collaborated with Marshall Amplification in order to produce the 1960DM Dave Mustaine Signature Cabinets. He is now using his signature Marshall cabinets on tour.

Mustaine endorses Seymour Duncan and has his own Signature Live Wire pickups and uses Cleartone strings (.011 – .054 for D tuning, .010 – .052 for E tuning[165]). The Seymour Duncan Dave Mustaine Signature Live Wire pickups were announced at NAMM 2015 and the official product video was performed by Danny Young on the Seymour Duncan YouTube channel.[166][167][168][169]

The Dean Zero debuted in 2010 with Dean guitars was a unique new shape for Mustaine, resembling the Gibson Explorer with sharper points. Mustaine has made a few appearances with this guitar, performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and on shows during the Australian tour with Slayer. He had also used the guitar in the later dates of the 2009 Endgame tour. He says he primarily still used his VMNT's so he can grab on to the lower horn with his legs for certain songs.[170] He had also used Ovation acoustic guitars for most of his career. However, he stopped endorsing the company after receiving a signature acoustic from Dean, dubbed the Mako.[170][171]

Mustaine has his own signature Zoom pedal, called the Zoom G2.1DM.[172]

Guitar playing[edit]

Mustaine is known for popularizing the "spider chord" technique for playing power chords, a method streamlining hand position changes and reducing string noise.[173]

In 2004, Guitar World magazine ranked Mustaine and Marty Friedman together at No. 19 on the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time.[174]

In 2009, Mustaine was named the No. 1 player in Joel McIver's book The 100 Greatest Metal Guitarists.[1] As he told Classic Rock magazine in September 2009: "It was especially sweet when I found out that Joel has written books on Metallica. Every page I turned, I became more excited. I get to Number 5 and it's Kirk Hammett, and I thought, 'Thank you, God'. At that point it didn't matter [which position I was]. To be better than both of them [James Hetfield and Hammett] meant so much – it's been one of the pet peeves of my career and I've never known how to deal with it. All I thought was – I win!"[175]

In 2012, Mustaine was ranked the 12th-greatest guitarist of all time by a Guitar World magazine reader's poll.[176]

Personal life[edit]

Mustaine married Pamela Anne Casselberry in 1991.[177] They have two children together: Justis Mustaine (born 1992), who also plays the guitar and has appeared in several local theatrical productions,[178] and Electra Mustaine (born 1998), who is pursuing a career in country music.[179] As of 2014, they live in Nashville, Tennessee.[180]

In 2011, Mustaine said that his neck and spine condition, known as stenosis, was caused by many years of headbanging.[181]

On June 17, 2019, Mustaine announced that he had been diagnosed with throat cancer,[182] and on January 31, 2020, during a Megadeth concert, he announced that he was now cancer free.[183]


Mustaine was raised as a Jehovah's Witness[184] and is now a born again Christian.[6] In 1988, in response to the British government's Section 28, Mustaine said: "More power to them. It says in the Bible that men should not lay with men like they lay with women. I mean I don't wanna fuck up and not go to heaven."[185] In an answer to a question about Judas Priest having an overt homosexual image, "I don't wanna talk about this. The last thing I need is a bunch of homos picketing us."[185] In 2012, on KIRO-FM he was asked if he supports gay marriage and replied: "Well, since I'm not gay, the answer to that would be no."[186][187] He was then asked if he would support legislation to make gay marriage legal and said, "I'm Christian. The answer to that would be no."[186]

Mustaine began to focus on his Christian faith more directly while attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and became a committed Christian.[6] It has become his policy not to appear with any band that is seen as black metal or satanic, such as declining to appear in a music festival in Greece with the band Rotting Christ as well as in Israel with the band Dissection.[111]

Mustaine had practiced black magic in his teenage years, which inspired several songs on Megadeth's second album, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? Mustaine stated that he no longer wishes to play those tracks because of his changed spiritual beliefs. He said of one such song, "The Conjuring":

Performance wise, 'The Conjuring' is one of the heaviest songs on the record, but unfortunately it's got black magic in it and I promised that I wouldn't play it any more, because there's a lot of instructions for hexes in that song. When I got into black magic I put a couple of spells on people when I was a teenager and it haunted me forever, and I've had so much torment. So I look back now and I think, 'Hmm, I don't wanna play "The Conjuring".'[188]

However, in 2016, Mustaine noted that Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler's suggestion of re-recording the song with modified lyrics made him consider playing "The Conjuring" again, "as long as it doesn't hurt anybody".[189]


Over his career, Mustaine has made numerous comments about both American and international politics, criticizing both politicians and political issues. In addition, Mustaine covered the 1992 Democratic National Convention for MTV.[190]

In a 1988 interview with Sounds journalist Roy Wilkinson, Mustaine spoke against illegal immigration, and stated that he would "build a great wall along the Mexican border and not let anybody in ..." if he were President of the United States.[185]

In 1988, Mustaine caused a riot when Megadeth played a concert in Northern Ireland after he dedicated a song to "the cause", later claiming surprise that this was a euphemism for supporting the Irish Republican Army (IRA) regarding the problems between Northern Ireland's Catholic and Protestant communities.[191][192] This incident occurred amidst a period of turmoil in the province known as the Troubles.

Mustaine said that he wrote the album Endgame based on Alex Jones' film Endgame in order to "educate his fans and the general public about the march towards a New World Order and Global government".[193] In a 2016 Fox Business interview, Mustaine stated that he does not align himself with any established political party, describing himself as an Independent.[194]

Criticism of Barack Obama and 2012 U.S. presidential election[edit]

In the 2010s, Mustaine grew increasingly vocal in his support of many Republican figures and positions, which is a change from his politics during the George H. W. Bush administration, when Mustaine acted as a reporter for MTV News during the Democratic National Convention in 1992, and was seen as leaning to the political left, in light of the lyrics of "Foreclosure of a Dream".[195]

Mustaine has criticized several Democratic Party politicians. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Mustaine commented that he believed that John Kerry would "ruin our country".[196] In addition, Mustaine has made several comments critical of president Barack Obama, calling him "the most divisive president we've ever had" in 2011,[197] and commenting that he believed that Obama was born outside of the United States during a March 2012 interview on George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight.[198]

In an August 2012 Singapore performance on the tour to support the band's then-new album Thirteen, Mustaine expressed his views of President Obama and recent gun violence in the United States, making an accusation that Obama had staged the shootings at Aurora, Colorado and a Wisconsin Sikh temple in order to push a gun control agenda, while engaging the audience during onstage banter in between songs. Mustaine also criticized the 'Fast and Furious' arms scandal and said that the country looked like it was turning into "Nazi America".[199][200][201]

Mustaine's comments drew criticism from wounded Aurora massacre survivor Carli Richards, who said Mustaine was being "absurd" and that his conspiracy theory shifted blame away from the shooter, noting that "[the president] didn't shoot me."[202][203] In response to the controversy over his comments, Mustaine told conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones that his comments were done "in the heat of the moment." He also denied any intention to hurt anyone with his comments, but believed that the possibility of a conspiracy should still be looked into.[204]

In February 2012, Mustaine gave a statement supportive of the presidential campaign of conservative Republican and former United States Senator Rick Santorum. Mustaine commented on Santorum's "presidential qualities" and pointed to Santorum's temporary suspension of his campaign to be with his sick daughter as the act that gained his attention and respect. However, Mustaine denied that his statement was intended as an endorsement of Santorum.[205] He expressed his hope that Santorum would win the nomination but stated that, regardless of the results, he would be voting against a second term for President Obama. Mustaine also criticized other Republican presidential candidates: he was critical of a $100 million trust fund that Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney set up for his sons and criticized Texas Congressman Ron Paul for his unorthodox political views, saying Paul "make[s] total sense for a while, and then he'll say something so way out that it negates everything else". Mustaine also admitted that he once supported former Georgia Congressman and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but that he no longer thought he could vote for him.[206][207]

Martial arts[edit]

Mustaine holds black belts in taekwondo and Ukidokan karate. In 2007, he was made a Goodwill Ambassador of the World by the World Taekwondo Federation.[208] Mustaine has also trained Sanshou and Kickboxing and has recently become a dedicated practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In January 2021, he was awarded the rank of Purple Belt in the art.[209]

Television appearances[edit]

Mustaine has appeared on various television shows:

  • In 1992 Mustaine covered the Democratic National Convention for MTV. He also hosted the MTV2 Television Network's series Headbangers Ball on two occasions: once on a tribute to Dimebag Darrell in December 2004 and the second time as a special guest on an episode that aired August 27, 2005. He also played the song "Gears of War" with Megadeth on an episode about the video game release under the same name.
  • The Drew Carey Show: In the 1998 episode "In Ramada Da Vida". When Drew and the gang decide to start a band, they audition guitarists, including Mustaine. After Mustaine plays a fast guitar solo, Lewis Kiniski tells him "Don't be nervous, son, just slow down," to which Mustaine replies, "It's supposed to sound that way." Drew replies by saying, "Yeah, sure it is … next."[210]
  • Black Scorpion: In the episode "Love Burns", Mustaine plays Torchy Thompson, a vengeful arsonist.
  • Duck Dodgers: Mustaine and Megadeth appear in the 2005 episode "In Space, No One Can Hear You Rock".[210] In the show, Mustaine voices a cryogenically frozen version of himself. He is unfrozen because the main cast requires an incredibly loud noise to overload a Martian sonic weapon, and "nobody rocks harder, faster, or louder than Dave Mustaine."[211] During this episode, he played the song "Back in the Day" from the album The System Has Failed.[212] Mustaine appeared again in the show in the finale, Bonafide Hero: Captain Duck Dodgers.[213]
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks: Mustaine appeared on the second episode of season 8, episode 2.[214]
  • Mustaine and Megadeth appeared in promotional videos for the NHL team Philadelphia Flyers in response to an inflammatory comment by Mike Wise in The Washington Post that suggested that some of the Flyers' fans could work security for Megadeth.[215] Mustaine invited them to do so in a video address, sporting the jersey of team captain Jason Smith.[216]
  • Mustaine appeared in an episode of Rock & Roll Jeopardy! along with George Clinton and Moon Zappa. He won the game by a fair margin.[217]
  • Mustaine appeared in the reality series Hell's Kitchen as one of the Blue Team's diners in season 14's fifth dinner service.[218]
  • Mustaine was featured on The O'Reilly Factor's "Watter's World" segment on March 17, 2016.[219]




For a complete list, see Megadeth discography.


  • The Craving (1996) (guitar only on original; guitar and vocals on 2004 reissue)

Red Lamb

  • Red Lamb (2012) (songwriting, production and uncredited additional vocals)

Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (video game)

Mustaine composed the song "Sudden Death" for the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, released in September 2010, under the name of his band. The game also features two additional Megadeth titles, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" and "This Day We Fight!". Megadeth downloadable content was available for the game but as of March 31, 2015 the tracks were removed as all DLC for the game was removed;[220] the tracks that were available for purchase were "Symphony of Destruction", "Hangar 18", and "Peace Sells".

See also[edit]


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  • Layden, Joe (2011). Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 9780061714405.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Metallica lead guitarist
Succeeded by