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David Ellefson reflects on Megadeth dismissal: “You find out who your friends are when the s**t hits the fan”

Former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson reflects on his ejection from Dave Mustaine’s band and opens up about his mindset when it comes to facing negative experiences



David Ellefson has reflected on his dismissal from Megadeth and opened up about his outlook when it comes to facing negative experiences. 

The former Megadeth bassist was forced to leave the band in 2021 after intimate videos of him pleasuring himself and exchanging explicit messages with a fan were leaked. Although the incident saw him fired from the thrash giants – the band he co-founded with frontman Dave Mustaine – Ellefson explains how he’s been taking positives from what was a difficult and challenging time.

In conversation with Real Music With Gary Stuckey, the musician says (as transcribed by Blabbermouth): “You find out who your friends are and you find out who your friends aren’t pretty fucking quick when the shit hits the fan.”.

He continues, “Look, life is… You’re never on top all the time. Your life ebbs and flows, your career ebbs and flows — all of that. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a career musician and I’ve had to go with the ebbs and flows of the good, the bad and the otherwise, sometimes from within, sometimes from without.”

Recalling moments from his career which saw him go through similarly negative experiences, Ellefson says: “In the early ’90s, just when we thought everything was going awesome, Seattle music showed up.

“No one saw that coming. So there’s all kinds of internal and external forces at work, and I think the trick is to be galvanised to be able to withstand the storms and come out the other side and still keep rocking.”

Explaining more about his approach to working in the music industry, he adds: “The truth of it is sometimes the reward of the music and being on stage and the success and being able to be comfortable and the livelihood, those are all factors.

“You can’t just base it on any one or two things, especially when you’re in the music ‘business.’ If it were just always about having fun, well, there’d be a lot of people working day jobs while having fun. But when you’re in it to win it and make music your business, you also have to put your big-boy pants on and realise it isn’t all gonna go your way.

“And I think that’s the hardest thing — is learning how to compromise and learning which battles are the ones that you wanna win and which hill it is that you’re willing to die on. And oftentimes most of ’em, they seem like mountains but they’re really just mole hills [laughs]; they’re really not that big of a deal. And maybe that’s just my upbringing in the Midwest as I learned to just kind of maybe be a little more ‘go with the flow’ with that stuff.”

Listen to the full interview below:

Earlier this week, Ellefson named who he thinks would make up thrash metal’s ‘Big Six’, if the iconic ‘Big Four’ was to be expanded.

When questioned as to what band he’d select for a hypothetical fifth spot within the circle of thrash elite while in conversation with Yes! You CAN Play Guitar!, he says: “Well, I think if you opened that gate at all, it’d have to be ‘Big 6’, because you’d let in Exodus and then you’d probably let in Overkill” he explains (transcription via Blabbermouth).

“‘Cause you’d have to get a West Coast [band] and an East Coast [act], ’cause I think it starts to go like that.”

In October, Ellefson will be taking his supergroup, Kings Of Thrash, to the stage, performing a small run of shows across the US alongside two other former Megadeth members, Jeff Young and Chris Poland. During the run, the band will be playing two classic Megadeth albums in full, 1985’s Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! and 1988’s So Far, So Good… So What!.