Why Did Megadeth Frontman Dave Mustaine Leave Heavy Metal Gods Metallica?

"It’s a dreadful experience. It’s been hard, Lars," said Dave in the 2004 documentary 'Some Kind of Monster.'

Brandon Charles - Author

May 13 2024, Published 5:06 p.m. ET

Dave Mustaine in 2024
Source: Getty Images

How does it feel to be in one of the best-recognized metal bands in the world before they were the best metal band in the world? Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine has sold more than 50 million albums with his incredibly successful metal band over the last 40 years. But Metallica has sold more than 125 million albums. Before he started Megadeth, Dave was a member of Metallica.

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Dave Mustaine didn’t exactly leave Metallica by choice.

Dave didn’t leave Metallica so much as he was kicked out. In fact, it may be how most people think of Dave: the guy who got kicked out of Metallica, rather than Dave, the guy who sold 50 million albums as a member of Megadeth.

Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield performing in 2011
Source: Getty Images
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Dave’s ejection from Metallica was well documented in the groundbreaking 2004 documentary Some Kind of Monster. During the process of writing and recording the Metallica album of the same name, the band went through therapy. They brought in Dave and, for some reason, all parties agreed that this was a good thing to film. Lucky for us, it was actually released, and it is one of the most uncomfortable, jaw-dropping moments of heavy metal history.

Dave Mustaine, Kirk Hammett, and James Hetfield performing in 2011
Source: Getty Images
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In a scene with Dave and Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, Dave begins by saying, “I watched the people around the world say what a great guitar player Kirk is and what a piece of shit I am. And that I got kicked out of Metallica. And I wasn’t good enough for them. And that I was a loser. And I’ve had to deal with that for almost 20 years. It’s a dreadful experience. It’s been hard, Lars. It’s been hard to watch everything that you guys do and you touch turn to gold and everything I do f--king backfire.”

Source: YouTube
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Dave was kicked out of the band due to alcoholism

Dave’s struggles with alcoholism are well documented. In Loudwire the musician said, “I was very unpredictable and I embarrassed everyone around me. I still look back on those times as mostly fun, but usually the time when I would start to get to the point where violence would occur was when I was heading towards a blackout. That continued long after I left Metallica and it was the main reason why, in 1988, I decided I’m gonna stop. It just took a long f--king time to get the train slowed down.”

Dave Mustaine performing in 1988
Source: Getty Images
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40 years since being kicked out, Dave and Metallica are now cool.

The rift between Dave and Metallica was healed when Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer co-headlined the Big Four shows in 2010. Speaking to Guitar World magazine in 2023, Dave talked about the relationship.

When asked if he heard Metallica's new record, Dave said, "No, I have not heard Metallica's latest record. But there was a time around 20 years ago when we were not being friendly toward each other when I couldn't listen to their music when it came on the radio. But none of that bothers me anymore, and it's not why I haven't heard the record, especially after the Big Four thing that we did. I really think we should do that again."

If you or someone you know needs help, use SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find support for mental health and substance use disorders in your area or call 1-800-662-4357 for 24-hour assistance.

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