Megadeth is an American Thrash metal, Heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California, that was formed in 1983 by Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson. The band has since released 13 studio albums. A pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s and is ranked as one of the "Big Four of Thrash" along with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the thrash metal sub-genre.
Over the band's 30 active years, more than 20 different people have officially performed as part of the group, with Mustaine being the only constant member. Megadeth is known for its distinctive, technical instrumental style that often features dense, intricate passages and trade-off guitar solos, and for recurring lyrical themes including politics, war, addiction, personal relationships, and religion. The band has sold over 50 million records worldwide with six consecutive albums being certified platinum or multi-platinum in the US, according to the band's official website. Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, So Far, So Good... So What!, Rust in Peace, Youthanasia, and Cryptic Writings all achieved platinum status, the band's fifth and most successful record, Countdown to Extinction, sold multi-platinum, and the album Risk achieved gold certification. As of 2013, Megadeth has received eleven Grammy nominations.
Early days (1983–84)
Dave Mustaine was originally the lead guitarist for Metallica a year after they formed in 1981. He stayed a part of the band until 1983 where he was fired from the group due to his drinking, drug use, violent behavior and personality conflicts with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Two months after being fired, Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson formed Megadeth in Los Angeles. Mustaine later said, "After getting fired from Metallica, all I remember is that I wanted blood. Theirs. I wanted to be faster and heavier than them."
According to Mustaine, the name Megadeth represents the annihilation of power, while in itself is a corruption of the term megadeath. The band name came from a pamphlet he found on the floor of the bus he was on, having been fired from Metallica, which was produced by Californian senator Alan Cranston, reading: "The arsenal of megadeath can't be rid no matter what the peace treaties come to." In his attempt to upstage his former band, Dave Mustaine wrote more aggressive compositions. One example of this was tempo increases made to his song "Mechanix", a song he wrote while in Panic (his speed metal band prior to Metallica), and had performed with Metallica. Mechanix went on to become a mainstay in Metallica's live performances in the form of the slower-paced "The Four Horsemen". Mustaine and Ellefson searched for a singer unsuccessfully for six months, eventually agreeing that Mustaine should handle vocal duties. Mustaine also would serve as the band's main lyricist and songwriter in addition to handling rhythm and lead guitar duties.
In 1984, Megadeth recorded a three-song demo tape, referred to as the 1984 Demo, featuring Mustaine, Ellefson and drummer Lee Rausch. The demo contained early versions of "Last Rites/Loved to Death", "Skull Beneath the Skin", and "Mechanix". The band did a few live performances in 1984, before replacing Lee Rausch with fusion drummer Gar Samuelson. Megadeth signed with the New York based independent label Combat Records. In December of that year, they added Chris Poland as a second guitarist.
Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! (1985–86)
In 1985, the band was given $8,000 by Combat Records to record and produce their debut album. After spending half of the album's budget on drugs, alcohol, and food, the band was forced to fire their original producer and produce the album themselves. Despite poor production, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! was released in May that year. The album was a well-received effort that blended elements of thrash and speed metal. The album is widely regarded as a classic among many metal fans. Songs such as "Killing Is My Business..and Business Is Good", "Rattlehead" and "Mechanix" are all considered to be some standout tracks on the album.
The album features a speed metal version of Nancy Sinatra's classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" with altered lyrics, the first of many cover songs performed by Megadeth. The song sparked controversy in later years when the song's original author, Lee Hazlewood, deemed Mustaine's changes to be "vile and offensive" and demanded that the song be removed from the album. Under threat of legal action, it was removed from albums released after 1995. In 2002, the album was re-released with a partial version of the same song with the altered lyrics censored. In the liner notes for the 2002 remixed and remastered release of Killing Is My Business..., Mustaine is strongly critical of Hazlewood, noting that he received royalties for almost 10 years before objecting to the altered version.
In the second quarter of 1985, the group toured the United States and Canada for the first time, supporting Killing Is My Business... with Exciter. Guitarist Chris Poland joined Megadeth as the tour kicked off, but abruptly left the band and was replaced by touring guitarist Mike Albert. Poland later rejoined Megadeth in October 1985, shortly before they began work on their second album with Combat Records.
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? (1986–87)
Megadeth's second studio album was produced using a small recording budget provided by Combat Records. Although the album's production was finished in March 1986, the band was unhappy with the final product. Frustrated by the small independent label's financial limitations, Megadeth signed to major label Capitol Records, who also bought the rights to the new album. Capitol Records hired producer Paul Lani to remix the recordings and in November 1986, more than a year after recording began, Capitol released Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. The album marked Megadeth's commercial and critical breakthrough, selling more than a million copies in the US alone.
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? was considered to be a landmark thrash metal album by Allmusic, who called it "one of the most influential metal albums of its decade, and certainly one of the few truly definitive thrash albums." Peace Sells...But Who's Buying was also considered to be the true launch-off for Megadeth as it is one of their most known albums. Songs such as "Wake Up Dead", and "Peace Sells" are staples in the band's current setlist. Songs such as "Devil's Island", "Good Mourning/Black Friday" and "Bad Omen" are also highlights on the album and are a few of the many examples which show the "jazz-influenced" style of thrash metal the record exhibits. The album is often cited by fans as their favorite album by the band, only to be rivaled by the band's album released in 1990, Rust In Peace. The album's title track, "Peace Sells", was chosen to be the band's first music video and received regular airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball. "Peace Sells" ranked No. 11 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs and the opening bass line was used for years as the theme for MTV News. Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? was the first Megadeth album to feature art by Ed Repka, who redesigned the band's mascot to the current standard. Ed designed much of the band's artwork in later years.
In February 1987, Megadeth was added as the opening band on Alice Cooper's Constrictor tour, followed by a brief tour supporting Mercyful Fate in the United States. Cooper, alarmed by the band's drug habits, summoned them to his bus one night to warn against constant excessive drug use. In March of that year, Megadeth began their first world tour as a headlining act in the United Kingdom, which featured support bands Overkill and Necros.
After years of problems stemming from substance abuse, both Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland were fired from Megadeth in July 1987, following the final show of the tour in Hawaii. Mustaine claimed that Samuelson had become too much to handle when intoxicated. He had replacement drummer Chuck Behler flown out for the last few dates of the tour, fearing that Samuelson would not be able to finish with the band's commitments. Mustaine claimed that Poland had sold band equipment to fund his increasing drug habit, later detailed in "Liar" which was dedicated to Poland.
Poland was initially replaced by Jay Reynolds of Malice, but as the band began work on their next album, Reynolds was replaced by his own guitar teacher Jeff Young. Jeff joined Megadeth six weeks into the recording of their third album.
So Far, So Good... So What! (1988–89)
With a major label recording budget, the recording process of the Paul Lani-produced So Far, So Good... So What! took over five months. It was notorious for the various problems that occurred during the production, due, in part, to Mustaine's ongoing battle with addiction. Mustaine later said, "The production (of So Far, So Good...) was horrible, mostly due to substances and the priorities we had or didn't have at the time." Mustaine also clashed with Lani on several occasions, beginning with Lani's insistence that the drums be recorded separate from the cymbals, an unheard of process for rock drummers. During the mixing process, Mustaine and Lani had a falling out, and Lani was replaced by producer Michael Wagener, who remixed the album.
In January 1988, Megadeth released So Far, So Good... So What!. Though the album was eventually certified platinum in the US, it was initially panned by critics, with Allmusic complaining that the album "lacked conceptual unity and musical bite" and that it "wants to sound threatening but mostly comes off as forced and somewhat juvenile". So Far, So Good... also featured a cover version of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK", with lyrics altered by Mustaine. Mustaine later admitted to simply hearing them wrong.
In June 1988, Megadeth appeared in Penelope Spheeris' documentary film The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years. The documentary chronicled the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of the late 1980s, mostly focusing on glam metal. The music video for In My Darkest Hour was filmed by Spheeris, who also directed the "Wake Up Dead" and "Anarchy in the UK" videos, and appears in the final scene of that film. In Megadeth's 1991 Rusted Pieces VHS, Mustaine recalls the movie as a disappointment, aligning Megadeth with "a bunch of shit bands".
Megadeth began their world tour in support of So Far, So Good... opening for Dio in Europe in February 1988, later joining Iron Maiden's 7th Tour of a 7th Tour in the US. Noticing problems developing with drummer Chuck Behler, Mustaine brought drummer Nick Menza in to act as Behler's drum technician. As with Gar Samuelson before him, Menza was to be ready to take over for Behler in the event that he could not continue with the tour. During Megadeth's live performance of "Anarchy in the UK" during the May 11, 1988 gig at Antrim, Northern Ireland, Mustaine drunkenly, and, as he later acknowledged, confusedly, dedicated the song to the "cause" of "giving Ireland back to the Irish!" This triggered a riot among the audience between Catholics and Protestants, an incident that inspired Mustaine to write the song "Holy Wars... the Punishment Due".
In August 1988, Megadeth appeared at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington in the UK performing to an audience of more than 100,000 people alongside Iron Maiden, Kiss, David Lee Roth, Guns N' Roses and Helloween with a show that also featured Metallica drummer (and former band mate) Lars Ulrich making a guest appearance. The band was soon added to the "Monsters of Rock" European tour, but dropped out after the first show due to David Ellefson's drug problems, which he immediately treated. Shortly after that appearance, Mustaine fired both Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young (Young's firing stemmed from suspictions from Mustaine that he was having an affair with Mustaine's girlfriend at the time, but Young denied it) and canceled their scheduled 1988 Australian tour. "On the road, things escalated from a small border skirmish into a full-on raging war", Mustaine later recalled. "I think a lot of us were inconsistent (on the 1988 tour) because of the guy we were waiting for after the show."
In July 1989, Nick Menza was hired to replace Behler on the drums. Unable to find a suitable lead guitarist in time, Megadeth recorded a cover version of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" as a three-piece band. The version later appeared on the soundtrack to the 1989 Wes Craven horror movie Shocker. While the band was holding auditions for the new lead guitarist in March 1989, Mustaine was arrested for driving while intoxicated and possessing narcotics after crashing into a parked vehicle occupied by an off-duty police officer. He entered court-ordered rehab soon after and became consistently sober for the first time in ten years.
Rust in Peace (1990–91)
Following Mustaine's new found sobriety, Megadeth began a lengthy search for a new lead guitarist. Among those who auditioned were Lee Altus of Heathen and Eric Meyer of Dark Angel fame. Meyer had been invited to join the band following Chris Poland's departure, but had declined in order to remain in Dark Angel. Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash had been jamming with Mustaine and Ellefson and, though it appeared that he was being drafted into Megadeth, he remained with Guns N' Roses. In 1987/88 Dave had just spent several months on tour with the Florida metal band Savatage and was a long time fan of their lead guitarists Criss Oliva. After supporting Ronnie James Dio on tour with Savatage, Mustaine hired Criss's best friend and long-time guitar tech Dan Campbell for the "So Far So Good So What" tours as his personal guitar tech. Mustaine had mentioned to Campbell that he would like to speak to Criss about the lead guitar position so Campbell called Criss and Mustaine offered him the position. Criss was seriously considering the move but then graciously declined the offer and continued with his brother and Savatage.
Dimebag Darrell Abbott of then-obscure Pantera also auditioned, and was eventually offered the spot. Abbott, however, would not join without his brother, Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. Having already hired Nick Menza, the band was forced to turn Abbott down.
In 1987, a 16-year-old Jeff Loomis of Sanctuary and, later, Nevermore, auditioned following the departure of Chris Poland. Afterwards, Mustaine complimented Loomis on his playing, but rejected him because of his age. Loomis later saw Cacophony with Marty Friedman and Jason Becker on tour, and told Friedman, who had just released his first solo effort in 1988, of the experience. Afterwards, Friedman also auditioned for the spot, but was initially rejected by Mustaine for having multicolored hair. However, after undergoing what Mustaine called "Rock School 101", Friedman officially joined Megadeth in February 1990.
A revitalized Megadeth entered Rumbo Studios in March 1990 with co-producer Mike Clink to begin work on what would become their most critically acclaimed album to date, Rust in Peace. For the first time in their career, the band remained sober while working in the studio, alleviating many of the problems they'd had recording previous albums. Clink was also the first producer to successfully produce a Megadeth album from start to finish without being fired.
Released worldwide on September 24, 1990, Rust in Peace was a hit with fans and critics alike, debuting at No. 23 in the US and No. 8 in the UK. Mustaine's writing style adopted a rhythmically complex progressive edge and the album showcased a much tighter sound, prompting Allmusic to cite Rust in Peace as "Megadeth's strongest musical effort". The album featured the singles "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" and "Hangar 18", both of which had music videos made of them and remain live staples. Rust in Peace went on to sell more than a million copies in the US and received Grammy nominations in 1991 and 1992 for Best Metal Performance.
In September 1990, Megadeth joined Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies for the European Clash of the Titans tour. In October of that year, they were added as the opening band on Judas Priest's Painkiller tour, climaxing with a performance to 120,000 people in January 1991 at the Rock in Rio 2 festival in Brazil. Following the success of the European tour, a Clash of the Titans US tour began in May 1991 featuring Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and Alice in Chains. In July, Megadeth's "Go to Hell" was featured on the Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack. Shortly after, "Breakpoint" was featured on the Super Mario Bros soundtrack. In 1991, Megadeth also released their first home video, Rusted Pieces, which contained six of the band's music videos as well as a video interview with the band. In 2010, Megadeth did a month-long minitour for The 20-year anniversary of Rust in Peace.
Countdown to Extinction (1992–93)
In January 1992, Megadeth visited Enterprise Studios in Burbank, California, with co-producer Max Norman. Norman, who had mixed Rust in Peace, would be integral in Megadeth's resulting musical makeover, pushing for shorter, less complicated, and more radio-friendly songs. The band spent four months in the studio with Norman, writing and recording what would become Megadeth's most commercially successful effort, Countdown to Extinction. The album was the first to feature writing contributions from each band member, and was named by drummer Nick Menza.
On July 14, 1992, Capitol Records released Countdown to Extinction. The album was an instant hit, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts in the US, and No. 5 in the UK. Anchored by the Mainstream Rock hits "Symphony of Destruction" (no. 29), "Foreclosure of a Dream" (no. 30), and "Sweating Bullets" (no. 27), the album quickly went double platinum in the US, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1993. The album's title song, "Countdown to Extinction", also gave Megadeth the distinction of being the only metal band to ever win the "Doris Day Music Award", presented to the band by the Humane Society of the United States in 1993 for "spotlighting species destruction and the horrific 'sport' of canned hunts".
The band released their second home video, Exposure of a Dream, in November 1992. In a similar fashion to Rusted Pieces, the release featured all music videos previously released from Countdown. A world tour in support of the album was launched in December 1992 with Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies as support acts. The tour included a North American leg in January 1993 with opening act Stone Temple Pilots. One month into the leg, all remaining shows, including dates scheduled in Japan, were cancelled when Mustaine returned to substance abuse, ending up in the hospital emergency room. After a seven week stint in rehab, Mustaine emerged clean once again, and the band returned to the studio to record "Angry Again", a song that was featured in the 1993 film Last Action Hero, and was later nominated for a Grammy in 1994.
In June 1993, Megadeth returned to the stage, appearing as special guests at Metallica's Milton Keynes Bowl Festival, marking the first time the former bandmates played the same stage in ten years. The pairing prompted Mustaine's on stage announcement that "the ten years of bullshit (was) over between Metallica and Megadeth", although problems would later resurface between the long-feuding bands. In July, Megadeth was added as the opening act for Aerosmith's Get A Grip US tour, but due to contractual disputes and on-stage remarks made by Mustaine about Aerosmith's advancing age, Megadeth was removed from the tour after seven performances.
Following their cancelled US tour, Megadeth returned to the studio to record "99 Ways to Die", a song that appeared on The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, a compilation album released in November 1993 that featured songs intercut with commentary by Beavis and Butt-head. The song was later nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for Best Metal Performance. At the same sessions, Paranoid was recorded for a Black Sabbath tribute album. On September 7, 2012, Megadeth will play Countdown to Extinction from start to finish, live, for the 20-year anniversary.
Early in 1994, Megadeth reunited with co-producer Max Norman to begin work on the follow-up to Countdown to Extinction. With two members of the band now residing in Arizona, initial work began at Phase Four Studios in Phoenix. A few days into pre-production, problems with Phase Four's equipment forced the band to seek out an alternative studio. Mustaine insisted on recording in Arizona, but no suitable recording facility could be found. At the request of co-producer Norman, the band opted to construct their own recording studio inside of a rented warehouse in Phoenix, Arizona, later dubbed "Fat Planet in Hangar 18". While the studio was being constructed, much of the pre-production song writing and arrangements took place at Vintage Recorders in Phoenix, a studio which would also be used for MD45 and solo projects for both Mustaine and Friedman. For the first time in their career, the band wrote and arranged the entire album in studio, including basic tracks recorded live by the whole band. The album's recording process was captured on video and later released as Evolver: The Making of Youthanasia.
Following eight months in the studio, Youthanasia was released on November 1, 1994. On October 31, 1994, MTV played a live broadcast called "Night of the Living Megadeth", which introduced the new songs to a wide audience. Youthanasia debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the US. The album was certified gold in Canada after thirty minutes and was certified platinum in the US faster than any other Megadeth album. With producer Max Norman still pushing for a slower, more commercial sound, Youthanasia followed the stylistic shift that began with Countdown to Extinction. While still retaining core metal elements, the album focused on stronger vocal melodies and more accessible, radio friendly arrangements. The band enlisted noted fashion photographer Richard Avedon to further their new image. On the advice of Avedon, the band members exchanged their jeans and t-shirts for a more style conscious look. Later in November, the band was invited twice to perform at David Letterman's Late Show: the first time they performed "Train of Consequences" and "À Tout le Monde" on the second occasion.
Live support for Youthanasia began in South America in November 1994 and would span eleven months, becoming Megadeth's most extensive tour to date. The band was joined by Corrosion of Conformity in both Europe and the US and Flotsam and Jetsam, Korn, and Fear Factory in the US. The tour culminated with an appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival in Brazil, co-headlining alongside Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. In January 1995, Megadeth appeared on the soundtrack of the horror film Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight with the song "Diadems". Megadeth also contributed a cover version of "Paranoid" to Nativity in Black, the first Black Sabbath tribute album. The band's version of "Paranoid" was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 for Best Metal Performance.
In the middle of 1995, the band underwent changes on the business side. Manager Ron Lafitte was hired by EMI Records and essentially disbanded his management company. Megadeth later signed with ESP Management and hired Bud Prager, a previous manager of both Foreigner and Bad Company, to be the band's new creative manager. As with Max Norman before him, Prager would go on to be highly influential in shaping the direction of the band.
Cryptic Writings (1997–98)
Following an extensive world tour in support of Youthanasia, Megadeth took time off late in 1995. Mustaine began work on MD.45, a side project with vocalist Lee Ving of Fear. Drummer Jimmy Degrasso, who had been playing in Alice Cooper's band for the South American Monsters of Rock Tour months previous, was brought in. Marty Friedman constructed a studio in his new home in Phoenix and started working on a solo project both there and at Vintage Recorders.
In September 1996, Megadeth went to London to work on songs for their next album, tentatively titled Needles and Pins. The writing process was closely supervised by their new manager, Bud Prager, who also contributed musical ideas and lyrics to the songs. Many lyrics and song titles were changed at the request of Prager. Regarding Prager's writing influence, Mustaine later wrote "I figured maybe (Prager) could help me get that intangible 'Number One' record I so badly wanted". Due to a problem with the album's original artwork, the album cover was replaced with a voodoo symbol and the album was renamed Cryptic Writings.
On June 17, 1997, Capitol Records released Cryptic Writings. The album debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200, and was Megadeth's sixth consecutive studio album to be certified platinum in the United States. "Trust", a single from Cryptic Writings, became Megadeth's highest charting single to date. The No. 5 Mainstream Rock Track was also nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 1998. Press response to the album was mixed, but the album included four top 20 Mainstream Rock Tracks, including "Almost Honest" (no. 8), "Use the Man" (no. 15), and "A Secret Place" (no. 19). When asked about the eclectic nature of the album, Mustaine later said "(they) divided it into thirds. One part of the record was really fast and aggressive, one third of it was the really melodic, in between stuff, and the final third was really radio-orientated music like Youthanasia".
After more than a year away from the stage, Megadeth returned as a live act in June 1997, beginning a world tour with the Misfits and later touring in the United States with Life of Agony and Coal Chamber. In July, Megadeth joined Ozzfest 98, but, halfway through the tour, drummer Nick Menza discovered a tumor on his knee and was forced to leave to undergo surgery. He was replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso. Though he was initially only meant to be a temporary replacement, following the tour, DeGrasso replaced Menza permanently after Mustaine claimed that Menza had "lied about having cancer".
Following the band's first real radio success with Cryptic Writings, Megadeth opted to again work with country pop producer Dann Huff in Nashville on their eighth studio album. In January 1999, the band began writing a new album. The new album was again supervised by manager Bud Prager, who was credited with co-writing five of the album's twelve songs. Prager convinced Mustaine to grant producer Dan Huff more control over the recording process. Mustaine later wrote, "When it comes to Risk, there'd be people in there playing and I wouldn't even know who they were or where the parts came from, and I'm not used to that. I was a little bit intimidated by the success we had with Cryptic Writings, so when it came to creating new material after that, it's like being "power-drunk" - you want more. After the success with "Trust", I thought to myself 'wow, we've had a number one hit'. We'd had four top five hits in a row, so why would I not want to give Dan even more control when it comes to the producing part on the next record? So I did, and it backfired."
Risk, released on August 31, 1999, was both a critical and commercial failure and led to a backlash from many longtime fans. Although recent Megadeth albums had incorporated mainstream rock elements alongside a more traditional heavy metal sound, Risk was virtually devoid of metal, featuring instead dance, electronica, and disco influences. Despite this, Risk was certified Gold in US. The album's lead-off single, "Crush Em", appeared on the Universal Soldier: The Return soundtrack, was temporarily used as World Championship Wrestling's entrance theme for Bill Goldberg, and later became an official NHL song, played during hockey games. Singles were made out of "Crush 'Em", "Breadline", and "Insomnia".
On July 22, 1999, former drummer Gar Samuelson died at the age of 41 in Orange City, Florida of liver failure. On July 25, 1999, Mustaine dedicated a performance of the song "Peace Sells" in Samuelson's memory, at the Woodstock Festival. Also in July 1999, Megadeth recorded a cover version of the Black Sabbath song "Never Say Die", which appeared on the second Nativity in Black tribute album. They began their world tour in support of Risk in September 1999, playing alongside Iron Maiden during the European leg. Three months into the tour, longtime guitarist Marty Friedman announced that he would be leaving the band, citing musical differences. As Mustaine later explained, "I told (Marty) after Risk that we had to go back to our roots and play metal, and he quit". In January 2000, Megadeth enlisted guitarist Al Pitrelli, formerly of Savatage, Alice Cooper, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as Friedman's replacement.
In April 2000, Megadeth returned to the studio to begin work on their ninth studio release. However, one month into production, the band was given the opportunity to join the Maximum Rock tour alongside Anthrax and Mötley Crüe. Megadeth put the recording on hold and toured North America throughout the second quarter of 2000. Early into the tour, Anthrax dropped off the bill, allowing Megadeth to play an extended, co-headlining set.
The World Needs a Hero (2001–2002)
After working together for 14 years, Megadeth and Capitol Records parted ways in October 2000. The label returned the band's newest recordings, and, in return, released a greatest hits record called Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years. The album also featured two new tracks, "Kill the King" and "Dread and the Fugitive Mind", both of which showcased the band's return to their metal roots.
In November 2000, Megadeth signed with new label Sanctuary Records. The band returned to the studio in October to put the finishing touches on their next album, The World Needs a Hero, which had been near completion before the band joined the Maximum Rock tour six months earlier. Following the overwhelming negative response to Risk, Mustaine fired manager Bud Prager and decided to self-produce the next album. The World Needs a Hero was the first Megadeth album since Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? to be written entirely by Mustaine, with one contribution from Al Pitrelli on "Promises". It was released on May 15, 2001 to mixed reviews. The album marked a return to the kind of music fans had come to expect following the attempted mainstream rock featured on Risk, but some critics felt the album fell short of expectations. Mustaine compared the album to the first major turn of a huge ship at sea, trying to right itself and get back on course. The album's lead-off single, "Moto Psycho", reached No. 22 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts and received regular airplay on VH1's Rock Show.
Touring in support of The World Needs a Hero began in the summer of 2001 in Europe alongside AC/DC, followed by an American tour with Iced Earth and Endo in September. The tour was cut short following the attacks on America on September 11, and the band was forced to cancel all scheduled dates, including a DVD shoot set in Argentina, though they did perform one show at the Commador Ballroom in Vancouver, B.C. on September 12. Instead, the band played two shows in Arizona in November which were filmed and later released as Rude Awakening, Megadeth's first official live release. The DVD went gold on July 23, 2002. In February 2002, Bill Kennedy remixed and remastered Megadeth's first album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, using more modern techniques and added bonus tracks.
In January 2002, Mustaine was admitted to the hospital to get a kidney stone removed. While undergoing treatment, he was administered pain medication that triggered a relapse of his addiction. Following his hospital stay, Mustaine immediately checked himself into a treatment center in Texas. While at the treatment center, Mustaine suffered a freak 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. He was diagnosed with radial neuropathy, also known as Saturday Night Palsy, which left him unable to grasp or even make a fist with his left hand.
On April 3, 2002, Mustaine announced in a press release that he was disbanding Megadeth, officially due to his arm injury which made him unable to play guitar. For the next four months, Mustaine underwent intense physical therapy five days a week. Slowly, Mustaine began to play again, but was forced to "re-teach" his left hand.
In order to fulfill contract obligations with Sanctuary Records, Megadeth released a compilation album, Still Alive... and Well? on September 10, 2002. The first half of the album contains live tracks recorded at the Web Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 17, 2001. The second half of the album contains studio recordings taken from The World Needs a Hero.
Following nearly a year of recovery, including physical and electric shock therapy, Mustaine began work on what was to be his first solo album. The new material was recorded with session musicians Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Sloas in October 2003, but the project was put on hold when Mustaine agreed to remix and remaster Megadeth's eight album back catalog with Capitol Records. Mustaine re-recorded some parts that were lost over time, or altered without his knowledge in the initial mixing process.
The System Has Failed (2004–2005)
In May 2004, Mustaine returned to his newest recordings, intended as a solo effort, but, due to outstanding contractual obligations with the band's European label, EMI, he was forced to release it as a Megadeth album instead. Subsequently, Mustaine decided to reform the band, and contacted the fan favorite "Rust in Peace line-up" to re-record backing tracks on his latest songs. While drummer Nick Menza initially signed on, both Marty Friedman and Dave Ellefson were unable to come to an agreement with Mustaine. Menza was dismissed shortly after he began rehearsing with the band again. According to Mustaine, "it just didn't work out. (They) tried for two weeks to get everything to happen, and it just didn't click. Five days before the tour started, (he) had to send (Menza) home." Regarding longtime bassist Ellefson's departure, Mustaine claimed that Ellefson slandered him, said that his arm injury was fake, and lied about him to the press. Although Mustaine did make him an offer, Ellefson declined. The resulting album was the first Megadeth recording not to feature Ellefson. Original lead guitarist Chris Poland, from the Killing is My Business and Peace Sells era, was hired by Mustaine to contribute to the guitar solos of the new album. This was the first time the two musicians had worked together since Poland's dismissal from the band in the 1980s. Poland opted to serve as a studio musician only, wanting to remain focused on his own jazz fusion project, OHM.
On September 14, 2004, Megadeth released The System Has Failed on Sanctuary Records in the US and EMI in Europe. Heralded as a return to form, Revolver magazine gave the album four stars, calling The System Has Failed "Megadeth's most vengeful, poignant and musically complex offering since Countdown to Extinction." The album debuted on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 18, and was led by the radio single "Die Dead Enough", which reached No. 21 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. Mustaine announced that the album would be the band's last. The album would be followed by a farewell tour, after which he would focus on a solo career.
Megadeth began the Blackmail the Universe world tour in October 2004, enlisting touring bassist James MacDonough of Iced Earth and guitarist Glen Drover of Eidolon and King Diamond. While in rehearsal for the tour, drummer Nick Menza parted ways with the band, unable to prepare for the physical demands of a full US tour. He was replaced just five days before the first show by Shawn Drover, brother and former Eidolon bandmate of new guitarist Glen Drover. The band toured the US with Exodus and, later in Europe, with Diamond Head and Dungeon.
In June 2005, Capitol Records released a greatest hits album to replace the now out of print Capitol Punishment, entitled Greatest Hits: Back to the Start. The album featured the new remixed and remastered versions of songs from the first eight albums.
In the middle of 2005, Mustaine organized an annual heavy metal festival tour, dubbed Gigantour. Megadeth headlined the inaugural run with Dream Theater, Nevermore, Anthrax, Fear Factory, Dillinger Escape Plan, Life of Agony, Symphony X, Dry Kill Logic, and Bobaflex. Performances from the Montreal and Vancouver shows were filmed and recorded for a live DVD and CD, both of which were released in the second quarter of 2006.
On October 9, 2005, following the successes of The System Has Failed and the Blackmail the Universe world tour, Mustaine announced on stage to a sold out crowd at the Pepsi Music Rock Festival in Argentina that Megadeth would continue to record and tour. This concert was officially released on DVD as That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires in March 2007 and a 2 CD version was released on September 4, 2007. The DVD went gold on July 19, 2007.
In February 2006, bass player James MacDonough parted ways with the band for what he called "personal differences". He was replaced by bassist James LoMenzo, who had previously worked with David Lee Roth, White Lion, and Black Label Society. On March 16, 2006, the new Megadeth lineup made their live debut headlining the Dubai Desert Rock festival, held in the United Arab Emirates, alongside Testament and 3 Doors Down.
On March 21, 2006, Capitol Records released a two-disc DVD titled Arsenal of Megadeth, which included archive footage, interviews, live shows, and many of the band's music videos. Due to licensing issues, movie soundtrack videos and videos not released by Capitol Records were not included on the DVD. The DVD still featured the songs "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "Go to Hell" from Hidden Treasures. The DVD went gold on July 27, 2007.
The second installment of the Gigantour was launched in the third quarter of 2006. Megadeth headlined the tour with Lamb of God, Opeth, Arch Enemy, Overkill, Into Eternity, Sanctity, and The SmashUp. Gigantour 2006 also continued with 3 dates in Australia. The lineup included Soulfly, Arch Enemy, and Caliban. Performances from the Sunrise, Florida show were filmed and recorded for a live DVD and CD, both of which were released in early 2008.
United Abominations (2007–08)
In May 2006, Megadeth announced that their eleventh studio album, United Abominations, was near completion. Although it was originally scheduled for release by Roadrunner Records in October 2006, that August, Mustaine announced that the band was "putting the finishing touches on it", and it was rescheduled for release on May 15, 2007. United Abominations was the band's first studio release to feature members Glen Drover, Shawn Drover, and James Lomenzo. In March 2007, Dave Mustaine announced on the Megadeth forums that a new version of "À Tout le Monde (Set Me Free)" would be released on the album. It would feature a duet with Cristina Scabbia of the band Lacuna Coil, and was to be the first single on the album until it was replaced by "Washington Is Next!".
United Abominations was released on May 15, 2007. A week later, it was No. 8 in the US, the band's highest charting position since 1994's Youthanasia, and had already sold 54,000 copies. In March 2007, Megadeth began a tour through Canada and the United States as an opening act for the newly-reformed Heaven & Hell. They played with Down for Canadian performances and Machine Head in the US. This was followed by a summer festival tour through Europe. In September 2007, Megadeth returned to the United States as the headline act on their Tour Of Duty tour, which included the Pacific rim and the third installment of Gigantour, which was launched in Australia in November 2007. The lineup included Static-X, Lacuna Coil, DevilDriver, and Bring Me the Horizon.
In January 2008, Glen Drover quit Megadeth to focus on his family.
Drover was replaced by Chris Broderick, formerly of Nevermore and Jag Panzer. Mustaine said he was happy with Drover's decision and was pleased that his replacement is Broderick, saying that "Chris is doing just fine". Former Nevermore bandmate Van Williams commented that Megadeth is "getting one hell of a good player, more importantly they're getting a great guy to hang out with and a true friend". Broderick said, "I realize I have some big shoes to fill and I will do my best." With regards to what kind of an addition Chris Broderick will be for Megadeth, Dave Mustaine said in an interview that he was "...thoroughly thrilled with Chris... it reminds me a lot like when Ozzy found Randy Rhoads".
The new lineup made its live debut in Finland on February 4, 2008, and continued on the Tour Of Duty tour in Europe as the headline act. The band returned to the UK the same month and to the US for Gigantour 2008. Dave Mustaine wanted a shorter lineup to allow each band a chance to put on a good show. The 2008 installment of the tour featured In Flames, Children of Bodom, Job for a Cowboy, and High on Fire. Evile was also featured for the UK and Scandinavia tour. Megadeth continued the Tour Of Duty tour in South America and Mexico throughout May and June 2008. A compilation album called Anthology: Set The World Afire was released on September 30, 2008.
In February 2009, Megadeth embarked on the "Priest Feast" European tour with headliners Judas Priest and Testament. During this time, Metallica, who had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, invited Dave Mustaine to attend their induction. However, Mustaine was informed that he would not be invited to attend as a (former and founding) member, with the justification given that such honors were granted only to those members who received recording credit on a Metallica album. Mustaine congratulated them respectfully, but instead honored his commitment made to the European tour with Judas Priest. In April 2009, Megadeth and Slayer co-headlined Canadian Carnage. This was the first time they had performed together in more than 15 years. Machine Head and Suicide Silence opened for the four shows that occurred later in June.
On May 19, 2009, Megadeth finished recording their twelfth album and, on June 18, 2009, the album's title was revealed to be Endgame. According to Dave Mustaine, the name "Endgame" is an homage to the Alex Jones documentary of the same name.
The release date for "Endgame" was announced on the Megadeth official website as September 15, 2009, and Metal Hammer magazine's website was the first to review the album track by track. Megadeth began its Endgame tour on November 14, 2009, in Grand Rapids, Michigan and ended on December 13, 2009, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The tour featured Machine Head, Suicide Silence, Warbringer, and Arcanium. In January 2010, Megadeth was set to embark on the "American Carnage" tour with Slayer and Testament, both giants of the thrash and heavy metal scene. The tour was scheduled to begin on January 18, but was postponed due to Tom Araya's back surgery. Several weeks later, Megadeth's "Head Crusher" was nominated for a 2010 Grammy.
In January 2010, Megadeth announced a "Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour". The tour, which began on March 1, 2010, was a month-long North American tour with support from Testament and Exodus. During the tour, Megadeth played Rust in Peace in its entirety and Testament played The Legacy in its entirety. In February 2010, prior to the start of the "Rust in Peace 20th Anniversary Tour", original bassist Dave Ellefson rejoined Megadeth after eight years. He stated in an interview for Classic Rock magazine that Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover contacted him and told him that bassist James LoMenzo was declining and that "if ever there was a time for you and Dave to talk, now is it."
"Big Four" shows and Thirteen (2010–2012)
Megadeth, along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax performed on the same bill for the first time on June 16, 2010 at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland. It was the first performance played by the band as a part of Sonisphere Festival series. One of the following performances in Sofia, Bulgaria on June 22, 2010 was sent via satellite to cinemas. This was the first time that Megadeth and Metallica had played the same stage since June 1993, and only the second time since 1983 that Mustaine, Hetfield, and Ulrich had shared the same stage. "Big four shows in more European countries followed. On January 25, 2011, another Big 4 show was announced, this time in the United States. The show took place on April 23, 2011 in Indio, CA at the Empire Polo Club and was the only scheduled stop in the United States at the time. Shortly after that show, a second American show, to be held at at Yankee Stadium in New York, was announced.
In September 2010, after the European "Big Four" shows, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax began The Jägermeister Music Tour in Dallas, TX where Megadeth continued to play their 1990 album Rust In Peace in its entirety and Slayer performed Seasons in the Abyss (1990). On October 21, 2010, during the final show of Jägermeister Music Tour, Kerry King joined Megadeth on stage at the Gibson Amphitheater in Hollywood, California, to perform Megadeth's classic "Rattlehead", the first time that Kerry King had performed onstage with Megadeth since Megadeth's very first shows in 1984. Megadeth and Slayer would again join forces for the European Carnage Tour in March and April 2011. Megadeth was also confirmed for the fourth annual Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival in July and August 2011.
In September 2010, Megadeth recorded a song entitled "Sudden Death" for the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. On June 18, 2010, IGN posted a video showcasing the completed version of the song within the game. Other Megadeth songs accompanying "Sudden Death" in the game are "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" and "This Day We Fight!". On September 24, 2010, "Sudden Death" was released as a single on iTunes. On September 28, 2010, Roadrunner Records made the track available for streaming on its website. On September 7, 2010, the band released Rust in Peace Live on CD, DVD, and Blu-ray, recorded at the Hollywood Palladium via Shout! Factory.
In an October 2010 interview with Crypt Magazine, Shawn Drover stated plans for another Megadeth album: "Yeah, we’re certainly talking about it. Right now we’re in tour mode, but we’re starting to discuss our game plan for next year, and I envision next year we’ll be recording a new record." Later that month, several Megadeth works were submitted for Grammy nominations: "Sudden Death" for Best Metal Performance, "The Right to Go Insane" (from Endgame) for Best Hard Rock Performance, and "Rust in Peace Live" for Best Rock Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. "Sudden Death" was nominated, making it the band's ninth Grammy nominated song. On November 17, 2010, Dave Mustaine announced in the band's official chat room that Megadeth would soon be recording their 13th album in Vic's Garage (Megadeth's own studio).
On July 4, 2011, in Hamburg, Megadeth debuted a new song entitled "Public Enemy No. 1". Mustaine subsequently announced on July 8, 2011, that the new album would be entitled Thirteen, though it would be stylized as "TH1RT3EN" on the album cover. He also confirmed in an interview with Rolling Stone on July 12, 2011 that "Sudden Death" (which earlier appeared in the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock), "Never Dead" and a title track, "13", would be included on the album. Thirteen was released on November 1, 2011, and charted at number 11 on the Billboard 200.
In an interview with KISW 99.9 FM in Seattle, Mustaine stated that, after four years of absence, there would be a new Gigantour tour in 2012. In October 2011 it was announced that Motörhead, Volbeat and Lacuna Coil will feature alongside Megadeth for the next Gigantour. In February 2012 Rob Zombie and Megadeth announced nine-date co-headlining U.S. tour scheduled for May 2012.
Super Collider (2012–present)
On September 11, 2012, it was announced that the band would re-release the Countdown to Extinction album for its 20th anniversary. Also announced was the band's 2012 fall tour which would feature the album performed live, similar to 2010's Rust in Peace anniversary tour. Additionally, in December 2012, another track from Thirteen, "Whose Life (Is It Anyways?)", was nominated for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance at the 55th Grammy Awards, but ultimately lost to Halestorm's "Love Bites (So Do I)".
The band revealed on August 22, 2012, that they would be returning to the studio with producer Johnny K to record their fourteenth album. December 18, 2012, Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover revealed on Twitter that the band had started recording for a new studio album. The album is expected to be released in spring or summer of 2013. On December 24, 2012, Mustaine announced that three new songs were "tracked and almost done".
In an interview at NAMM 2013, Dave Mustaine has stated that Megadeth have parted ways with Roadrunner Records for another label, and on February 12, 2013, Mustaine announced that their fourteenth album, Super Collider will be released on June 4 on Mustaine's new label, Tradecraft, distributed through Universal Music Group.
On April 23, 2013, "Super Collider" was released as a single available for purchase through iTunes.
As Megadeth's primary lyricist, Mustaine is known for his often controversial, political, and more recently, personal lyrics. War and nuclear war are common topics, including the military-industrial complex in songs such as "Architecture of Aggression", "Hangar 18", "Return to Hangar", and "Take No Prisoners", as well as the aftermath of war in songs such as "Dawn Patrol" and "Ashes in Your Mouth". The name Megadeth is a deliberate misspelling of the word megadeath, a term coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn to describe one million deaths, popularized in his 1960 book On Thermonuclear War. Politics are also a common theme in Megadeth songs, as seen in Mustaine's scathing assessment of Tipper Gore, the PMRC, and music censorship in the song "Hook In Mouth". Mustaine takes an environmentalist stance in "Countdown to Extinction" and "Dawn Patrol", and shows a general cynicism regarding politics in songs like "Symphony of Destruction", "Peace Sells", "The World Needs a Hero" and "Blackmail the Universe". The United Nations is criticized for its ineffectiveness in "United Abominations" and "Peace Sells".
Controversial and misunderstood lyrics have also caused problems for the band. For instance, the music video for "In My Darkest Hour" was banned from MTV in 1988 when the music channel deemed the song to be pro-suicide. The music video for "À Tout le Monde" was later banned by MTV, also interpreted as being pro-suicide. According to Mustaine, the song was written from the perspective of a dying man, saying his last words to his loved ones.
Addiction is also a common theme in songs such as "Use the Man", "Burnt Ice", and "Addicted to Chaos". "Use the Man" is about a former substance abuse counselor who died of a drug overdose. Some lyrics have taken on overtly Christian themes, such as "Never Walk Alone... A Call to Arms", and "Shadow of Deth", with spoken lyrics taken directly from Psalm 23 of the King James Bible. "My Kingdom", "Looking Down the Cross" and "Of Mice and Men" also feature Christian themes.
Mustaine dabbled in black magic in his teenage years, which became the theme for the song "The Conjuring" off Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. Mustaine stated that it was emotionally difficult to play because of his conversion to Christianity.
Dave Mustaine is notorious for making inflammatory statements in the press, usually regarding feuds and problems with former Metallica bandmates or other bands, including Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies and Pantera. The oldest of these, and best-known among fans, was Mustaine's long-standing feud with Metallica members James Hetfield and in particular Lars Ulrich. This feud stemmed from his ejection from the band, the method with which it was conducted, and disagreements on songwriting credits. After more than two decades, this feud has been resolved and Mustaine and the members of Metallica are once again good friends.
In April 1988, at a concert in Antrim, Northern Ireland, Mustaine unknowingly dedicated the final song to the IRA. Before the final song, "Anarchy in the UK", Mustaine said, "this one's for the cause!" Loyalists took offense at this statement and a fight amongst the audience ensued. The band had to travel in a bulletproof bus for the remainder of the tour of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Mustaine later alleged that he had been misled by T-shirt bootleggers about the meaning of the expression "the cause". This incident served as inspiration for the song "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due".
In July 2004, former bassist Dave Ellefson sued Mustaine for $18.5 million in Manhattan Federal Court. Ellefson alleged that Mustaine short changed him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth over to him when they disbanded in 2002. Ellefson also accused Mustaine of locking him out of merchandise and publishing royalties. The suit was dismissed in 2005, and Mustaine filed a countersuit that was settled out of court.
In recent years, Dave Mustaine has become a born-again Christian. Minor controversy was sparked by Mustaine's announcement that Megadeth will not play certain songs live anymore due to his new identification as a Christian. In May 2005, Mustaine also allegedly threatened to cancel shows in Greece and Israel with extreme metal bands Rotting Christ and Dissection due to the bands' anti-Christian beliefs. This caused the two bands to cancel their appearances.
- Dave Mustaine – lead vocals, guitar (1983–2002, 2004–present)
- Dave Ellefson – bass, backing vocals (1983–2002, 2010–present)
- Shawn Drover – drums, percussion (2004–present)
- Chris Broderick – guitar, backing vocals (2008–present)
- Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! (1985)
- Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? (1986)
- So Far, So Good... So What! (1988)
- Rust in Peace (1990)
- Countdown to Extinction (1992)
- Youthanasia (1994)
- Cryptic Writings (1997)
- Risk (1999)
- The World Needs a Hero (2001)
- The System Has Failed (2004)
- United Abominations (2007)
- Endgame (2009)
- Thirteen (2011)
- Super Collider (2013)
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Image from Discogs