It's rare a musician gets bounced from a major group like Metallica for drug abuse and being difficult (the former usually causes the latter) and starts another successful group. In most cases, you soon read the musician's obit or hear that he's entered rehab. Megadeth's prime mover guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine went the rehab route but that was later.
Launched in '83 (after Mustaine's stint with Metallica), Megadeth's debut "Killing Is My Business-And Business Is Good" hit less than two years later.
Next, the group released the lesser "Peace Sells-But Who's Buying?" At this point, guitarist Jeff Young and drummer Chuck Behler joined Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson. "So Far, So Good-So What" followed with "Mary Jane" and covers of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and the Sex Pistol's "Anarchy In The UK." It was after that album Mustaine checked into rehab and it appeared to take hold.
It turned out, Young and Behler were not long-term players. Guitarist Marty Friedman and drummer Nick Menza replaced them. This line-up produced Megadeth's pinnacle "Rust In Peace" ('90).
"Countdown To Extinction," with "Sweating Bullets" was released two years later with the group's most accessible and popular album "Youthanasia" hitting stores in '94.
Three years later, Megadeth scored again with "Cryptic Writings." They took a bit of a break before coming out with "The World Needs A Hero." And that might have been the end of it.
In '02 Mustaine suffered a debilitating arm injury. The group's future looked to be in serious jeopardy. But Mustaine was never the type to just fade away. After a three year lay-off Megadeth returned with "System Has Failed," the group's 10th album. It re-teamed Mustaine with guitarist Chris Poland and added two new members; bassist Jimmie Lee Sloas and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. In its first week, it cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Album Chart.
'05's highlight was the arrival of the 18 track, "Greatest Hits: Back To The Start."
A career retrospective can be liberating or an anchor. It often implies the group is done. That impression may inspire a band to prove there is something left in the tank. Others see it as the end of an era and time to make a clean break. For Megadeth, it was the latter. Mustaine dismissed the band and started from scratch picking up Canadian Thrash Metal vets Glen and Shawn Drover. The brothers played guitar and drums, respectively. Also added was James Lomenzo (JLo), former bassist for Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society. In keeping with the "new" motif, Megadeth signed with Roadrunner Records for the release of "United Abominations."
The group returned to 'the basics'. "When you break it down, Megadeth is guitar, bass, drums and guitar solos," explained Mustaine. "When it starts going in directions where there's a little bit too much stuff going on that can't be done onstage, it loses heaviness because that stuff probably shouldn't be there anyway." Good call. Initial sales were better for "United Abominations" than for any other Megadeth effort in the previous decade.
To his credit Mustaine congratulated Metallica when they were inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in '09. Invited to attend the ceremony, Megadeth had European tour commitments (with Judas Priest) that nixed his participation.
With the tour finished, Megadeth went into the studio in September, '08, with English producer Andy Sneap. But Sneap's visa difficulties delayed the project. Still, "Endgame's" recording ended in late spring with the 12-track album arriving that September (a year after it was begun).
"This has been a long, grueling, enduring process but it's been so worth it, and I'm so excited," said Mustaine. "I'm more excited about this record then I've been in any record since back in the '80s." Mustaine's enthusiasm was warranted. "Endgame" made its debut at #9 on the Billboard album chart. "Head Crusher" was the lead single.
The video for "The Right To Go Insane" had a few tense moments. Based on a true story of an Army vet who snapped and stole a tank, the Bill Fishman directed clip featured Mustaine sneaking onto a military facility, stealing a M68a tank and crashing into things. It was filmed in South El Monte, CA, where the original '95 incident took place. But no one had thought to inform the authorities about the tank so panic ensued with concerns about possible terrorist/criminal activity. Police stormed the set to investigate. "The cops are here - it can get pretty hairy with this video shoot," said Mustaine reporting live to a local radio station. A month later, the video premiered without incident.
Prior to "The Right To Go Insane" shoot but just in time for Megadeth's 20th Anniversary Rust In Peace tour, Mustaine announced that Ellefson was returning to the fold after an eight year absence. "This shows the power of brotherly love and forgiveness," wrote Mustaine in a statement. Ellefson had a widely publicized feud with Mustaine over royalties and rights to the Megadeth name.
The group's "TH1RT3EN" dropped in '11. "This record is the culmination of my work over the 13 records I recorded," said Mustaine. "There are moments on "TH1RT3EN" that capture my every emotion, and other moments where I am releasing feelings I never knew existed!"
After completing the American leg of the Countdown To Extinction 20th anniversary tour Megadeth returned to the studio to complete "Super Collider," the band's fourteenth studio album. They completed recording on a date that seemed to reference their previous set. "More 13 weirdness-we finished the record on 31313," tweeted Mustaine. "13 of 14 songs used; song 13 left off."
"Super Collider" was the group's first album released on Mustaine's own label, Tradecraft (following the band's split from Roadrunner Records) and it was the first album since '97's "Cryptic Writings" not to feature a lineup change from the preceding album. The tracks were recorded at Vic's Garage, the band's self-built studio in San Marcos, CA.
Selling 29,000 copies in its debut week, "Super Collider" landed at #6 on the Billboard 200.
Megadeth also released "Countdown To Extinction: Live." The album was recorded at the Fox Theater in L.A. the previous December during the band's "Countdown To Extinction 20th Anniversary Tour." The 19-song set included "Symphony Of Destruction," "Foreclosure Of A Dream," "Sweating Bullets," and "Hangar 18."
Adding to an already productive year, Ellefson published his autobiography, "My Life With Deth." "My autobiography is not the usual tale of Rock 'n' Roll woe, but rather something I hope will truly inspire people," said Ellefson. "I have dedicated my life to my craft, and with a lot of hard work, sacrifice and a little luck along the way, made the dream come true."
In October, '14 Drover and Broderick quit Megadeth one day apart, after tenures of ten and seven years, respectively. The split left Mustaine and Ellefson as the only current members.
"I wish Dave and everyone in Megadeth all the best. I am working on a few things of my own, and hope that when they come out, you'll all dig it," said Broderick in a statement.
With so much swirling around Megadeth it was almost anticlimactic when they officially confirmed that Lamb Of God drummer Chris Adler would be a guest player on their next studio album. And just a few days later, the group announced the addition of guitarist Kiko Loureiro. The pair were brought in after an attempt to reunite the band's "Rust In Peace" era lineup failed.
Megadeth, with Loureiro and Alder, made their debut at the '15 Quebec City Summer Festival.
That same year, the new line-up unfurled Megadeth's 15th studio album, "Dystopia." "I knew from the start that I wanted to go back to my roots, and I wanted to make a thrash record," said Mustaine.
To support the album, Megadeth went on tour but not without further changes. Dirk Verbeuren made his live debut with Megadeth at the '16 Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, OH. Adler who was on tour with Lamb Of God, was initially replaced by Tony Laureano before Verbeuren stepped in.
Then "Rust In Peace" era drummer Nick Menza, passed away after collapsing on stage during an L.A. performance by his progressive Jazz trio OHM. The 51-year-old succumbed to heart failure.
Verbeuren was eventually named a full-time Megadeth member, ending his run with Soilwork. But just days later the group had to cancel the remaining dates of their European tour because Ellefson fractured his foot at the Rockmaraton festival in Dunaujvaros, Hungary. He "was walking across the ground (backstage before the show) and fell."
Finding another form of impairment, Mustaine celebrated his 55th birthday with a launch party for his beer, A Tout Le Monde. Fans got the first chance to try the brew.
Back on track, Megadeth picked up the Best Metal Performance Grammy for the title song from "Dystopia." It was the group's first win after twelve nominations.
1985 Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good!
1986 Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?
1988 So Far, So Good... So What!
1990 Rust In Peace
1992 Countdown To Extinction
1997 Cryptic Writings
2001 The World Needs A Hero
2004 The System Has Failed
2007 United Abominations
2013 Super Collider
Megadeth's "The World Needs A Hero" was released in '01. About that album Ellefson said, "When we were writing the material, we figured if it sounds like older Megadeth it was a keeper, and if it sounds like anything recent throw it out." That's also good advice for Megadeth albums.