David Ellefson Looks Back: The Day Dave Mustaine First Heard Metallica’s ‘Kill ‘Em All’
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The bad blood between Megadeth's Dave Mustaine and Metallica no longer exists — and hasn't for years — but it remains a crucial part of metal's history. After the band fired Mustaine in 1983, they retained his songwriting contributions and in a new episode of "No Fuckin' Regrets," the podcast hosted by Machine Head's Robb Flynn, Megadeth bassist David Ellefson looked back on the day Mustaine first heard Metallica's debut record, Kill 'Em All.
Recollecting the pivotal moment when Metallica's first album had finally arrived, Ellefson said (transcription via Metal Wani), "[The record] got sent out to us [by mail]. I remember [Megadeth's then-guitarist] Greg [Handevidt] — he remembers in detail sitting there for like an hour of silence, or 38 minutes of silence, opening the box, looking at the record, opening the shrink wrap and putting it on the turntable. It was obviously a weird moment, because me and Greg are there going, 'Oh my God. This is the moment.' It’s like that moment you probably see your ex with somebody else."
Kill 'Em All, comprised of the seven tracks featured on Metallica's 1982 demo, No Life 'Til Leather (which Mustaine had played on with "Mechanix" being reworked as "The Four Horsemen"), in addition to "Whiplash," "Phantom Lord" and "Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)," credited Mustaine with co-writes on a total of four songs, although he did not play on the album and was replaced by Kirk Hammett.
Ellefson went on, "The pictures are there, and we were sitting there listening to it. [Dave was] listening to it, just staring at the speakers in complete silence, studying the songs. And I remember me and Greg sitting around him, just kind of nervously going, 'Oh my God. What’s the reaction gonna be to this?' And I remember one of the first things [Mustaine] said — he goes, '[Hammett] fucking ripped off my solos.'"
"That was Dave‘s first reaction — that Kirk had played his solos," noted the bassist, who clarified, "They’re not entirely the same, but to some degree."
Ellefson said the solos were "a very personal thing to Dave" and that the material, as first presented on the demo with Mustaine's playing, was well-known in the local San Francisco area as it was a fiercely traded recorded among local headbangers.
"Dave definitely put the stamp and the die had been cast on that demo, the No Life ‘Til Leather demo. And you know how Dave plays — what he plays he plays night after night after night. It’s a written part of the song. It’s not some ad-libby, groovy jam solo. What’s been recorded, that’s there forever — that’s exactly the way it’s played night after night," detailed Ellefson.
"So to Dave, the solo was as much a part of the composition — it wasn’t a blues jam," the Megadeth bassist asserted. "And then, obviously, seeing the way the credits were on the record — songs Dave had written and brought it, and now the credits were divided up. So probably a lot like a divorce. He was pissed. And that was that moment that I think was, like, ‘Oh, God. Here’s the reality of it.’ And, of course, for me, I’m, like, ‘What’s the big deal? We’ve got our own band. We’re doing our own thing.’ But at the same time, we had to be respectful. Obviously, this was Dave coming out of this big group that we had not heard of yet — Metallica."
Earlier this month, Hammett relayed to Metal Hammer what his three favorite Metallica solos to play are and he hand-picked a trio of his own: "Hero of the Day," "Fade to Black" and "One," none of which were originally written by Mustaine.
David Ellefson on Robb Flynn's 'No Fuckin' Regrets' Podcast
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