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MEGADETH

Current Members

Past Members

Biography

1983 to 1984

MEGADETH is the vehicle for which METALLICA refugee Dave Mustaine, a guitarist and composer of unquestionable, if erratic, genius, has made his mark upon the world. The band went through many incarnations, although bassist Dave Ellefson has remained a central lynchpin, until settling on their most stable and commercially successful guise of Mustaine, Ellefson, guitarist MARTY FRIEDMAN and drummer Nick Menza.

Initially fuelled by anger, resentment and an out of control lifestyle driven by drugs and alcohol excess, Mustaine has cleansed himself in full public view, taking MEGADETH to the top echelons in the annals of Metal history. By the late eighties the band could justifiably lay claim to their tag 'State of the art speed metal band'.

Mustaine's first act was titled PANIC, the band coming to a tragic end when a car crash, in which Mustaine was not involved, killed the driver and band's drummer. PANIC folded in 1981, providing the step up towards METALLICA. MEGADETH came together almost immediately after Mustaine's dismissal from METALLICA in April 1983, just four months before METALLICA were to record 'Kill 'Em All' (at his own admission for drunkenness) and the guitarist was quick to assemble another unit.

Local fanzines presumed the band to be titled FALLEN ANGEL, although in reality no hard and fast monickers were chosen. The FALLEN ANGEL concept fell by the wayside pretty swiftly and MEGADETH came into being with Mustaine, bassist Matt Kisselstein and drummer Lee Rausch.

This unit broke up after rehearsals and a fresh combo, including bassist Dave Ellefson, his room mate, Minnesota native Greg Handevidt, and Rausch was assembled. MEGADETH's debut live performance came with a show at San Francisco's Ruthie's club. At this juncture Mustaine announced a band line-up comprising vocalist Lor Kain, guitarists Dave Mustaine and Greg Handevidt, bassist Dave Ellefson with Richard Girod on drums. However, the group soon dispensed with Kain and Girod. Before long though Handevidt was out, with Mustaine citing the main reason for his dismissal being a lack of hair! Handevidt, after a spell in a job washing turkeys, resurfaced in 1987 with the band KUBLAI KAHN, releasing a solitary album 'Annihilation'. He then opted out of the music business to become a military mortician.

With Rausch opting out, later having brief tenures with both DARK ANGEL and WARGOD, the band then drafted in another drummer, Dijon Carruthers, but he too was to depart. Carruthers had persuaded the band, possibly motivated by fear of any racial prejudice, that his dusky complexion was a result of a Hispanic birth. The band discovered he was in fact black when his much darker brother, Kane Carruthers of the band THE UNTOUCHABLES was introduced to them at a party. The band duly fired Dijon, according to Mustaine: "Not because he was black, which didn't matter, but because he had lied to us". The first recordings came in the form of a three track demo that included 'Love You To Death', 'Skull Beneath The Skin' and 'Mechanix'.

1985

The band's first gigs on the club circuit, now including former jazz drummer Gar Samuelson, utilised SLAYER's Kerry King as stand in second guitarist for a total of five shows before Chris Poland was enrolled. Poland was previously with a female fronted pop act NO QUESTIONS, whose image involved jumpsuits and make-up, and had appeared on a 7" single 'Videobrat'. Poland had also been a member of WELKIN.

In a quite surreal twist of fate, the man who introduced both Samuelson and Poland to the band, Jay Jones, died in 1997, having been stabbed to death with a butter knife in a fight with his brother in law over a baloney sandwich.

It was intended that MEGADETH was to have a lead vocalist at this point but, according to Mustaine: "The dickhead that came to sing for us turned up wearing eye-liner and carrying a six pack". The mystery vocalist was shown the door (but only after the band had downed the beer!) and Mustaine was forced to sing lead. Interestingly though, Mustaine had harboured thoughts of requesting the services of DIAMOND HEAD frontman Sean Harris, although this never got beyond the talking stage.

MEGADETH's first album 'Killing Is My Business... And Business Is Good' was recorded on a shoestring budget, but still packed enough intensity to make the world's rock media sit up and take notice when issued by Combat in America and Music For Nations in Europe. A reported recording budget of $8000 was alleged to have been used in the main to feed addictions. Whatever the reality, Mustaine dispensed with allotted producer Karat Faye mid-way through proceedings and completed the engineering process himself.

The album included the Mustaine composed METALLICA track 'Mechanix' (retitled 'The Four Horsemen' for METALLICA's 'Kill 'Em All' album) and a twisted cover of the NANCY SINATRA hit 'These Boots Are Made For Walking', subsequently removed from later pressings due to objections by the copyright holder, songwriter Lee Hazlewood, who expressed horror at Mustaine's "perversion" of the original lyrics. Although marred by thin production, the debut was chock full of the trademark intense riffing that denoted MEGADETH as a unique entity in the rock field.

Poland was to depart and MEGADETH drafted the veteran former CAPTAIN BEEFHEART musician Mike Albert on guitar. The band undertook American dates with Canadians EXCITER, but within three months the situation was reversed, with Poland reassuming his role in time for the second leg of the American 'Killing For A Living' tour. A New Year's show in San Francisco caught the band on a bill that included EXODUS, METAL CHURCH and, somewhat awkwardly, METALLICA.

1986

The band's second album, produced by Mustaine and Randy Burns, was recorded prior to the band securing a major deal but would emerge remixed during 1986 as 'Peace Sells... But Who's Buying' on Capitol Records. The album had, in its original mixed form, been pressed up in a test batch by Music For Nations in anticipation of gaining the rights to release it, before the band announced that they had signed to Capitol. Thus white label copies do exist as one of the rarer MEGADETH collectibles.

The resulting tour, at first supporting MOTÖRHEAD (before friction between the two bands prompted MEGADETH's opting out), then as guests of ALICE COOPER, began to wide a developing rift between the two Daves and Samuelson and Poland. This was to rise to a head at MEGADETH's debut British gig headlining London's Hammersmith Odeon. The show, supported by METAL CHURCH, was to highlight the band's paper thin division between genius and chaos. With their gear impounded at customs and released only hours before the show, combined with onstage resentment, MEGADETH's show had many wondering whether they had been in the presence of the next metal sensation or a bunch of sorry burn-outs.

During a break between road dates Mustaine was to earn production credits on the debut album from SANCTUARY 'Refuge Denied' before the gig schedule resumed. Dates in North America saw KING DIAMOND and MAYHEM as support. By the tour's close in Hawaii, Samuelson, after numerous on the road disappearances and occasions where he would fall asleep at inopportune moments, was asked to leave. Poland persevered, but would lose his position as recording for a third album began.

It was to be many years before Samuelson re-emerged on the 1997 FATAL OPERA album 'The Eleventh Hour'. Poland issued the solo album 'Return To Metalopolis' before creating DAMN THE MACHINE then MUMBO'S BRAIN. (A further solo album 'Chasing The Sun' followed in 1999).

1987 to 1989

MEGADETH confirmed their revised line-up in November 1987. Alongside Mustaine and Ellefson were ex-BROKEN SILENCE guitarist Jeff Young and, from Detroit, drummer Chuck Behler, the latter having been Samuelson's drum technician. Behler's previous outfits included MASSACRE, STREET ELITE, THE MEANIES, SINCLAIR and EREBUS. In fact, the noted SLAYER drummer DAVE LOMBARDO had been offered the vacant drum position before Behler, but he reportedly turned the gig down because of Mustaine and co's acknowledged continuing drug problems.

Young had gained the position after he had taught ex-MALICE guitarist Jay Reynolds in order for his pupil to get the job. Although Reynolds briefly gained a place in MEGADETH, Young soon ousted him midway through recording of 'So Far, So Good... So What'.

With this fresh line-up, MEGADETH performed their second British show headlining the 'Christmas On Earth' festival atop a bevy of thrash acts including NUCLEAR ASSAULT, OVERKILL, LÄÄZ ROCKIT, VOIVOD and CRO-MAGS prior to American dates with DIO. By the tail end of these dates with the former RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH singer, and their album nestling in the American top 30, MEGADETH had turned a - ticket sales wise- very slow tour into their own vehicle. A brief rest period was quickly curtailed by more headline shows, this time with Germans WARLOCK as openers.

The 'So Far, So Good...So What' album featured a cover version of the SEX PISTOLS track 'Anarchy In The UK', which was to chart in Britain, even boasted guest guitar from SEX PISTOLS guitarist STEVE JONES. Expectations were high as the thrash movement reached its zenith and MEGADETH's third album clocked up advance North American sales of over 450'000.

The year could not go by though without controversy though. As the press stoking up the heat numerous METALLICA vs. MEGADETH articles it was alleged that Mustaine put in a claim that METALLICA's track 'Leper Messiah' off their 'Master Of Puppets' album was in fact a thinly disguised rework of an early track he wrote titled 'The Hills Ran Red'. METALLICA hit back with strong denials.

Back to business the same year, MEGADETH went into the studio to re-record a fresh version of 'These Boots Are Made For Walking' for inclusion on the 'Dudes' soundtrack album. 1988 saw MEGADETH returning to Europe for a headline tour with support from Seattle's SANCTUARY, a band that Mustaine had aided on the production front. Although many dates were sold out Mustaine threw the band straight into controversy when he made praising remarks about the IRA whilst onstage in Northern Ireland. Needless to say the audience were far from appreciative and began spitting at the frontman.

The troubled times were far from over however when after an impressive appearance at the Castle Donington 'Monsters Of Rock' festival MEGADETH once more split down the middle with Young and Behler out, the drummer joining BLACK & WHITE. Young unsuccessfully auditioned for melodic Rockers DANGER DANGER.

Mustaine launched into a vitriolic stream of abuse about his former guitar partner even going so far as to suggest that Young was in love with WARLOCK chanteuse Doro Pesch and could not handle the fact that Pesch was supposedly writing love letters to Mustaine.

1988 had MEGADETH bouncing straight back and celebrating a top twenty British singles hit with their version of ALICE COOPER's 'No More Mr. Nice Guy' taken from the soundtrack to Wes Craven's 'Shocker' movie. Recording for this track was to be the first with new ex-RHOADS drummer Nick Menza. The new drummer had coincidentally been Behler's drum technician in the same way that Behler had been Samuelson's. It took Menza three stabs to land the job though as, after two failed auditions, Mustaine persevered and taught the songs to Menza. It transpired that Menza's ability was there all along, but the prospect of joining an act like MEGADETH had reduced him to a bag of nerves at auditions.

1990 to 1992

The position of new lead guitarist for MEGADETH fuelled rumours concerning HEATHEN's Lee Altus, SAVATAGE's Criss Oliva, PANTERA's Diamond Darryl and Jeff Waters of ANNIHILATOR. Waters nearly got the gig, but Darryl was in fact offered the position. The PANTERA guitarist insisted though that his brother, PANTERA drummer Vinnie, also be given a place and as such the negotiations broke down.

Mustaine pulled in old acquaintance CHRIS POLAND to perform on the demo recordings for a new album, but it was to be former DEUCE, VIXEN, HAWAII and CACOPHONY man MARTY FRIEDMAN who landed the job. The result of this union was 'Rust In Peace', released in September 1990 and produced by Mike Clink. Recording took place with Mustaine undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment, but the resultant album was to be their most mature effort to date giving them a further hit. 'Rust In Peace', viewed by many fans as the pinnacle of MEGADETH's artistic achievement, provided Mustaine with a wide canvas in which he put down his observations on the Irish conflict, war in the Middle East, nuclear weapons, esoterica and aliens.

UK touring in March of 1991 saw strong support from both THE ALMIGHTY and ALICE IN CHAINS. MEGADETH forged part of the immense 'Clash Of The Titans' touring bill that caught the band appearing alongside fellow heavyweights ANTHRAX and SLAYER. The North American dates, with openers ALICE IN CHAINS, proved a huge success with sell out attendance's. The band dropped in a couple of San Francisco club shows billed as VIC & THE RATTLEHEADS and by October the 'Clash Of The Titans' touring package, now with support from TESTAMENT and SUICIDAL TENDANCIES, hit Britain and Europe. The live work was far from over however, as returning to America the band were to hook up with British metal legends JUDAS PRIEST for their 'Painkiller' tour.

July 1992's 'Countdown To Extinction' would propel MEGADETH into the major league with the momentum gained from previous strong releases, just missing out on the US number 1 position and propelling Megadeth past the two million sales mark for the first time. The album, co-produced by Dave Mustaine and Max Norman, proved transitional in merging thrash with a more formatted hard rock approach. Megadeth added to their arsenal of classics with strong tracks such as the title number, 'Skin O' My Teeth', 'Sweating Bullets' and the near mantric 'Symphony Of Destruction'.

1993 to 1996

Despite now enjoying heady success, during 1993 Dave Mustaine was, by his own later admission, still teetering on the edge. MEGADETH performed a less than secretive gig billed as VIC AND THE RATTLEHEADS at Nottingham's Rock City venue on 3rd June. This show preceded the newsworthy spectacle of the band billed as special guests to METALLICA's festival gig at the Milton Keynes Bowl two days later, sharing the billing with DIAMOND HEAD and THE ALMIGHTY. A 1993 support tour of North America to AEROSMITH was curtailed when, in Houston, Texas, MEGADETH were forced out, Mustaine apparently simply unable to perform. AEROSMITH themselves were also none too pleased at remarks Mustaine made about their age. The vocalist entered into a de-tox programme and in the lull Ellefson busied himself with production for Texan metal act HELSTAR for their 'Multiples Of Black' album.

With the pressure now off, MEGADETH reunited for two interim projects that were to give an indication as to future material, namely the 'Angry Again' track for the 'Last Action Hero' movie soundtrack and '99 Ways To Die' submitted for the Beavis & Butthead compilation album on Geffen. MARTY FRIEDMAN also found the time for a solo album.

MEGADETH relocated to Phoenix, Arizona to record the Max Norman produced 'Youthanasia' album, released in November 1994, even constructing a brand new studio titled Fat Planet in which to lay down tracks. The album was to break into the American top five and go double platinum as MEGADETH embarked on an almost year long world tour. Interestingly, the 'Youthanasia' album artwork was banned in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore for depicting an old woman hanging babies out on a clothes line. The babies depicted in the video for the album track 'Train Of Consequences' were also censored by MTV world-wide.

With Mustaine's continual battle against addiction a harsh regime of no alcohol was put into force for all MEGADETH shows. The close of 1994 saw MEGADETH touring South America with support from British rockers THE ALMIGHTY. 1995 North American dates saw FEAR FACTORY as openers. One obscure gig saw the band playing a one off show in Tel Aviv, Israel. MEGADETH took a further foray into South America in September 1995 as part of the 'Monsters Of Rock' bill alongside OZZY OSBOURNE, ALICE COOPER, FAITH NO MORE and PARADISE LOST, to round off a gruelling eleven months on the road. With the close of the tour Mustaine busied himself with the MD45 project, a punk industrial project in collaboration with FEAR's Lee Ving.

1997 to 2007

MEGADETH made a respectable return in July 1997 with the 'Cryptic Writings' album which entered the American charts at number 10 selling 75'000 units in its first week of release. The album was surprisingly produced by ex-GIANT man Dann Huff. Used to unrelenting recording schedules Mustaine was somewhat taken aback when Huff, a committed Christian, explained he could not work on Sunday as he had to take his family to Church. MEGADETH solved this potential personality problem by Mustaine attending church with his family too. As time would reveal, this course of action would have consequences for the band further down the line.

Behind the scenes, MEGADETH had switched management from Ron Lafitte to Bud Prager, an industry veteran best known for his successes with AOR giants FOREIGNER. 'Cryptic Writings' would display a much more radio orientated direction than any previous band product, a trend which would pervade over ensuing releases. Fans would voice concern not only at MEGADETH's shift in musical values but their new found penchant for short haircuts and snappy clothes - a far cry from the band's Thrash roots.

The band toured Britain in June 1997, supported by KILL II THIS, still comfortably selling out venues. Returning to America where 'Cryptic Writings' remained firmly lodged in the album charts MEGADETH, with tour guests LIFE OF AGONY, set about touring with gusto to push the album past the Gold sales mark. Dates in Mexico had JUDAS PRIEST as special guests. In spite of its shortcomings, 'Cryptic Writings' still managed to surpass a million sales in the USA. The first half million copies were printed on a silver background, with subsequent manufacturing runs on black. In 1998 an interesting EP saw issue, 'Cryptic Death' hosting instrumental re-works of five tracks from the album.

Nick Menza took a leave of absence in 1998, actually later revealed to have been let go due to health concerns, turning up on the FIREBALL MINISTRY album 'Ou Est La Rock?' with ex-THE OBSESSED and GOATSNAKE bassist Guy Pinhas in 1999. Brian Howe stood in on drums for MEGADETH's inclusion of 'I'll Get Even' to the Sci-Fi cartoon inspired soundtrack record 'Songs Of The Witchblade' in 1998. That same year an erstwhile MEGADETH member, guitarist Jeff Young re-surfaced in a somewhat unlikely source, contributing to Brazilian Flamenco artist BADI ASSAD's 'Chameleon' album.

Eventually a permanent replacement was located in ex-Y&T, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES and WHITE LION drummer Jimmy DeGrasso. The resulting album 'Risk' found MEGADETH ploughing deeper into commercial territory. It drew an outcry of protest from fans and would only manage 350,000 sales in the USA. Nevertheless, the band put in a series of well attended American dates in 2000 as part of the 'Maximum Rock' tour alongside MÖTLEY CRÜE and ANTHRAX.

2000 saw ex-DANGER DANGER, ALICE COOPER, ASIA, WIDOWMAKER, SAVATAGE, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT and STEPHEN PEARCY guitarist Al Pitrelli replacing Friedman. Pitrelli, although highly respected as a musician, was acknowledged by many as a "guitar for hire" having been involved outside of the Rock community with artists as diverse as KOOL & THE GANG, CELINE DION and MICHAEL BOLTON.

The band contributed their take on 'Never Say Die' for the BLACK SABBATH tribute album 'Nativity In Black 2'. MEGADETH got back onto the road guesting, alongside ANTHRAX, for MÖTLEY CRÜE. Mustaine would find a rare moment to donate a song to another artist. The unlikely recipient of 'The Day The Music Died' being the 'Get To You' album from JEANNINE ST. CLAIR.

Risk had seriously wounded MEGADETH's standing and Capitol Records let the band go, putting out a compilation 'Capitol Punishment' in 2000 as a parting shot. The record boasted the inclusion of two fresh tracks recorded with Pitrelli, 'Kill The King', and 'Dread And The Fugitive Mind', plus a closing MEGADETH medley mix.

MEGADETH would switch labels to the newly founded Sanctuary concern, led by IRON MAIDEN manager Rod Smallwood, for their 2001 release 'The World Needs A Hero'. This album had actually been recorded earlier for Capitol Records but handed back to the band upon the split. With Mustaine promising a return to heavier past form the omens looked good as the lead single 'Motor Psycho' rocketed straight in at the number one position for American Rock radio plays in its first week of release. The album duly debuted high at no. 16 in the American charts selling over 60'000 copies in its first week.

Meantime it was revealed that the singer now part owned a restaurant in Phoenix along with ALICE COOPER and a number of sports celebrities. The menu naturally included 'Megadeth Meatloaf'! Touring in the UK found MEGADETH supported by the Finnish 'Thrash cello' quartet APOCALYPTICA.

MEGADETH's projected Malaysian date as part of their 2001 Far Eastern dates at the Warp Club on August 2 in Kuala Lumpur was cancelled when the Malaysian government objected to the band's imagery deeming it "unsuitable for the youth of Malaysia". The band were warned off in the strongest terms and threatened with arrest if they attempted to play the concert.

The bands North American bout of touring suffered no such problems commencing at the Saltair in Magna, Utah on September 7th and running through to a close in New York at the Irving Plaza on October 16th. Support band ENDO opened the proceedings and the headliners set list would fluctuate throughout as fans had been invited to vote for their favourite tracks. Meantime, ex-member MARTY FRIEDMAN finally re-emerged touting his new project RED DYE #2. The guitarist would also collude with UFO guitarist Michael Schenker on an all instrumental studio project.

MEGADETH, riding on a renewed commercial high, would be the subject of strong rumours hinting at a joint METALLICA / MEGADETH tour in the future- possibly even involving a bi-partisan band unit dubbed 'META-MEGA' by Mustaine.

With the close of US dates, Mustaine, along with producer Bill Kennedy, headed back into the studio undertaking a re-mix of the band's debut album 'Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good'. The revised version would include tracks from earlier demos but initially not their take on NANCY SINATRA's 'The Boots Are Made For Walking', permission being denied from the original lyric writer following MEGADETH"s less than subtle change of words on their original session. As it transpired 'Boots...' did make the final running order as did bonus demo versions of 'Last Rites (Loved To Death)', 'Mechanix' and 'The Skull Beneath The Skin'.

As the year drew to a close, with MEGADETH now proudly sitting on a combined 15 million album sales to date, it would be revealed that Mustaine had embarked upon a studio project with DIAMOND HEAD guitarist Brian Tatler. Also in the works would be the MEGADETH's first live offering, a double CD and DVD affair entitled 'Rude Awakening' issued in March.

On April 3rd 2002 fans would be shocked to learn though that Mustaine had suffered a severe nerve damage injury to his left arm and subsequently announced his departure from the band- to all intents and purposes folding MEGADETH. This announcement came only hours after conjecture that Mustaine was likely to pull out of the band after he had reportedly 'found God'. What had actually happened was that the singer had lapsed from a lengthy period of sobriety and cut the circulation to the radial ulna nerve in his arm whilst falling asleep on it in the La Hacienda Rehabilitation Center in Hunt, Texas.

The fallout from Mustaine's shock announcement would be almost immediate with fast flowing rumours that Dave Ellefson was to join METALLICA. The bassist was keen to get back to work though, writing songs for DRY KILL LOGIC's second album and acting as co-producer for the Canadian band WARMACHINE.

Meantime Al Pitrelli's next career move was so sudden it did not have time to generate any speculation, the guitarist announced on the 7th of April as rejoining SAVATAGE ousting previous incumbent Jack Frost. However, before taking up this post Pitrelli would undertake live work with former SKID ROW vocalist SEBASTIAN BACH. Within days a further supposed revelation saw Pirelli's MEGADETH colleague Dave Ellefson coming onboard to supply bass, although these rumours would prove to be unfounded.

Fans would be ultimately relieved when the MEGADETH alumni guitarists Al Pitrelli and MARTY FRIEDMAN, bassist David Ellefson and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso revealed a new band union and were on the search for a lead vocalist. Friedman and Ellefson would also put in a surprise showing on STEVE RICHARDS 'Southbound Train' album, performing on the BUDDY HOLLY track 'That Makes It Tough'. Ellefson would also act as producer on demos for Phoenix based TWIST DEAD FABLE. The bassist would also be the subject of speculation that he had joined forces with ex-ANTHRAX guitarist Dan Spitz and IRON MAIDEN drummer Nicko McBrain in a new band project.

DeGrasso joined STONE SOUR on a temporary basis for their October US dates, filling in for regular Joel Ekman who had fractured his wrist. The Friedman / Ellefson / DeGrasso axis would unite for road work in early 2003 in support of the guitarist's 'Music For Speeding' solo album. Dave Mustaine issued a press statement in May revealing he was set to work on a solo record.

MEGADETH fans would be further appeased when word arrived of the September 2003 'Guitarevolution' tour of North America fronted up by ex-band members MARTY FRIEDMAN and CHRIS POLAND with his band OHM in union with ex-TESTAMENT guitarist Alex Skolnick's Jazz based ALEX SKOLNICK TRIO. Friedman's band for the occasion would prove noteworthy, comprising WATCHTOWER and SPASTIC INK guitarist Ron Jarzombek, the RAZOR and WARDOG credited bass player Chris Catero and his former MEGADETH colleague drummer Jimmy DeGrasso.

Al Pitrelli meantime engaged in a left field project dubbed O'2L in alliance with keyboard player Jane Mangini. The eponymous album saw the guitarist pursuing a wide range of Jazz, World, Rock, Funk, Electronica and New Age Ellefson too kept in the public eye, laying down bass guitar for four tracks on the new SOULFLY album. As rumours circulating in October of 2003 put Mustaine in the recording studio laying down new material Jimmy De Grasso would be confirmed as part of the much vaunted WHITE LION reformation. Dave Mustaine would be back in the studio in early 2004, co-writing a track for Christian Rock band PILLAR.

In mid January Mustaine issued a press release confirming new MEGADETH material was on the horizon. Work had begun on bringing old, previously unused songs up to full strength and compiling new material since October of 2003. Although the classic 'Rust In Peace' line-up had been mooted, Mustaine finally built up a studio band comprising his former comrade in arms guitarist CHRIS POLAND with a rhythm section of bassist Jimmy Sloas from Christian bands DOGS OF PEACE and THE IMPERIALS and the FRANK ZAPPA, STING and DURAN DURAN credited Jazz drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Capitol Records planned a full re-release schedule of remastered catalogue albums to coincide with fresh product. Amongst the re-works would be the MD45 project album, boasting completely newly recorded lead vocals from Dave Mustaine. All of the archive MEGADETH albums boasted the addition of extra tracks in the form of rare period B sides and previously unheard demos. 'Rust In Peace' saw inclusion of working demos featuring lead guitar work from CHRIS POLAND but unfortunately what was intended by Mustaine as an acknowledgement of Poland's contributions backfired somewhat when the ex-guitarist sued him for their presence on the remaster. The case was settled out of court.

A new release 'The System Has Failed', set for September issue through Sanctuary Records, was recorded at Phase Four studios in Tempe, Arizona the album was originally set to feature cover artwork by Ed Repka, the artist that had crafted many of MEGADETH's classic sleeves, but this idea was scotched when cost became an issue. The album would be preceded by the single 'Die Dead Enough'.

Former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson announced the formation of his new act F5, actually founded back in 2002. For this venture he would be joined by guitarists Steve Conley and John Davis, drummer David Small and singer Dale Steele F5 worked on recordings with producer Ryan Greene for an album release.

Fans would welcome the re-instatement of Nick Menza to the MEGADETH drum stool in July. That same month Dave Mustaine took some uncharacteristic verbal swings at former longstanding ally Dave Ellefson. Within days of this broadside Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Mustaine in the Manhattan Federal Court, alleging the singer shortchanged him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth Inc. over to him when the band broke up in 2002. Mustaine swiftly counter-sued, alleging that in May of 2004 Ellefson executed a settlement agreement in which he gave up his 20% interest in MEGADETH. Unfortunately for the ex-bassist his case was thrown out of court. Subsequently, a further legal agreement put restrictions on Ellefson's right to use the MEGADETH name in interviews or articles.

ANNIHILATOR guitarist Jeff Waters, a man already holding a placing in MEGADETH's history, would be in talks with Mustaine for the live line-up of the band. However, it would be Glen Drover, a veteran of EIDOLON and KING DIAMOND, that secured the position. Shortly afterward, ICED EARTH bassist James MacDonough was confirmed too. MacDonough's early career had seen terms of duty with Florida outfits MAD AXE, DELTA 9, INVADER, ORACLE and BRUTAL ASSAULT.

A video clip for the track 'Die Dead Enough' would launch promotion for the comeback album 'The System Has Failed'. The album sold 45,935 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at No. 18 on The Billboard 200 chart. In Canada the album sold 5,046 units on its debut at no. 10, setting a new high in the band's career by debuting in the highest chart position in the band's history. Meantime, the recently issued Capitol remasters series was also released as a box set compilation entitled 'Hell Wasn't Built In A Day: The Complete Remasters'.

On the touring front MEGADETH drafted up and coming act EARSHOT as support although October West Coast dates saw Christian Nu-Metal band 12 STONES and fellow veteran Thrashers EXODUS as openers. However, within days of this announcement 12 STONES dropped off the tour. With just days to go before the tour, commencing 23rd October in Reno, Nevada, it would be revealed that Nick Menza, apparently not up to full physical strength, had vacated the drum stool in favour of EIDOLON's Shawn Drover. With the MEGADETH tour doing brisk business, Mustaine's choice of opener EARSHOT dropped off the billing on 5th November.

To close the year, Mustaine would also find himself in an on screen project, as part of the 2005 'Rock School' documentary chronicling the pioneering work of Paul Green's School Of Rock Music in Philadelphia. The singer fronted up a version of 'Peace Sells' backed by musicians from the school.

European shows throughout February saw NWoBHM veterans DIAMOND HEAD chosen as support act. MEGADETH put in Japanese and Australian headliners, the latter with opening act DUNGEON, in April. Mustaine's faith put the band back into the news when Greek concerts, on June 17th and 18th in Athens and Thessaloniki, saw the ousting of domestic Black Metal band ROTTING CHRIST. In objecting to their presence, Mustaine stated as part of a lengthy explanation that he "would prefer not to play on concerts with Satanic bands". Apparently Mustaine claimed that ROTTING CHRIST could play, but in that event MEGADETH would withdraw.

MEGADETH unveiled the 'Gigantour' festival trek for US action in late July, heading a bill comprising DREAM THEATER, FEAR FACTORY, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, SYMPHONY X, NEVERMORE, DRY KILL LOGIC and West Virginians BOBAFLEX. DREAM THEATER fulfilled these dates until September, when their position was taken by ANTHRAX. Apparently Dave Mustaine was not only instrumental in hand picking the bands for this bill but also insisting on a "fan-friendly" ticket price of $35. MEGADETH also scheduled its only second ever performance in Israel, on 22nd June at the Tel Aviv 'Metalist' festival. Unfortunately MEGADETH's performance would be stopped by police just four songs into their set due to the collapse of safety barriers.

To coincide with this intensive live activity a MEGADETH retrospective album, 'Greatest Hits: Back To The Start', boasting a track list voted for by fans, and a two disc DVD entitled 'Arsenal Of Megadeth' emerged. The album shifted just over 17,000 copies in its first week of US sales to debut at no. 65 on the national Billboard charts.

The 2nd August 'Gigantour' stop proved memorable when DREAM THEATER's set at the Nokia Live venue in Dallas saw the inclusion of an encore tribute to fallen guitar hero "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott of PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN. The band performed a rendition of PANTERA's 'Cemetery Gates' with Dave Mustaine alongside, Burton C. Bell of FEAR FACTORY and Russell Allen of SYMPHONY X, putting in a rare onstage guest showing.

A MEGADETH tribute album, 'Hanger Of Souls' released by 2M Producciones, featured a whole crop of Argentinean Heavy Metal bands including JERIKO, LORD DIVINE, JESUS MARTYR, RENACER, MASTIFAL, BETO VAZQUEZ INFINITY, HUMANIMAL, SERPENTOR, PLAN 4 and TREN LOCO plus CELESTY from FINLAND, Spaniards RED WINE, HAMKA of France and Brazilians SAYOWA.

Intriguingly, Dave Mustaine announced that he would declare his intentions as to the future of MEGADETH following the band's 9th October concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The frontman duly announced from the stage "I told you earlier tonight that I was gonna let all of you know first before the rest of the world what our decision was "whether or not we were gonna continue with MEGADETH or not ..." before a rendition of 'Coming Home'. Once the song was complete Mustaine simply stated "Yes".

Word arrived in January 2006 that the former MEGADETH rhythm section of bassist David Ellefson and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso was featured in RONNIE MONTROSE's live band and on his album 'Ronnie Montrose and Friends: 10x10'. As February opened, MEGADETH revealed they had parted ways with bassist James MacDonough, prompting rumours of a reunion with Ellefson. However, within days it was learned that former BLACK LABEL SOCIETY, ACE FREHLEY, SLASH'S SNAKEPIT and WHITE LION bassist James Lomenzo had been drafted. The new look band debuted their new four-stringer in the exotic climes of Dubai in United Arab Emirates as headliners of the March 16th 'Desert Rock' festival. In April the group was recording tracks at Sarm Studios in the UK with producer Jeff Balding for a new album billed 'United Abominations'. Recording sessions, which also took place in Los Angeles and Nashville, would include a cover version of LED ZEPPELIN's 'Out On The Tiles'. Meantime, ex-bassist James McDonough enrolled himself into New York's SPEED KILL HATE and temporarily covered for NEVERMORE's Jim Sheppard, the bassist forced out of action in order to undergo a procedure for Crohn's Disease.

MEGADETH signed a new label deal with Roadrunner Records in mid May. The second installment of 'Gigantour' rolled out across the USA in the autumn, commencing September 6th in Boise, Idaho. The trek featured also LAMB OF GOD, ARCH ENEMY, OPETH, OVERKILL, THE SMASHUP, INTO ETERNITY and SANCTITY. Japanese dates were lined up for October, during which the band debuted new track 'Gears Of War' at the Nagoya show on October 17th, upfront of Australian shows backed by SOULFLY, ARCH ENEMY and CALIBAN. 'United Abominations' was mixed during November by SABBAT guitarist Andy Sneap.

MEGADETH played a one-off "mini-concert" at a "Gears of War - Match Made In Hell" event on Halloween, to promote the Xbox 360 game 'Gears Of War'.

The album 'United Abominations' was preceded with an unusual single choice, a brand new re-recording of 1994 stage favourite 'Tout Le Monde'. The 2007 uptempo version, re-branded as 'A Tout Le Monde (Set Me Free)', would notably be a duet with LACUNA COIL's Cristina Scabbia and retained MARTY FRIEDMAN's original lead guitar solo alongside a new solo from Glen Drover.

Image Entertainment gave a March 6th 2007 release of the 'That One Night: Live In Buenos Aires' live DVD, filmed live at Obras Stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina on October 9th 2005. That same month MEGADETH acted as special guests to HEAVEN AND HELL's Canadian and US shows lasting into May.

In April Dave Mustaine informed 'Guitar & Bass' magazine that he had concerns over the band's future when he revealed further health complications, stating "This is my last real shot at achieving anything significant. If I don't do it this time, there probably will never be a next time. I'm 45, I have a nerve disorder in my back called stenosis, an overgrowth of bone closing off the hole in the vertebrae where the nerve emerges to go to the arm, and it's making it harder for me to play. Prior to the damage to my arm, I was already starting to feel weird things happening and my arm was starting to go numb."

The 'United Abominations' album emerged in May 2007. European festival appearances throughout the summer included gigs at Nürnberg, Germany's 'Rock Im Park' event, the Roeselare, Belgium 'Schwung Festival', Nürburgring, Germany's 'Rock Am Ring', Tampere, Finland's 'Sauna Open Air', Nijmegen, Holland's 'Fields Of Rock' festival, Zaragoza, Spain's 'Monsters Of Rock', Clisson, France's 'Hellfest' and Milan, Italy's 'Gods Of Metal'. These shows were punctuated by a series of UK headliners.

MEGADETH inducted new guitarist Chris Broderick, of NEVERMORE and JAG PANZER repute, as replacement for Glen Drover at the end of 2007.

As the retrospective 'Anthology: Set The World Afire' set hit stores, the group commenced recordings with producer Andy Sneap for a fresh album, branded 'Endgame', at Dave Mustaine's custom Vic's Garage studios on 10th October 2008.

MEGADETH united with JUDAS PRIEST and TESTAMENT for February 2009 'Priest Feast' UK tour dates. In side activity, Dave Mustaine donated a guest guitar solo to the track 'Lunatic' included on the STATIC-X album 'Cult Of Static'.

The band co-headlined four shows in Canada alongside SLAYER in late June dubbed 'Canadian Carnage', will also featured MACHINE HEAD and SUICIDE SILENCE, seeing MEGADETH and SLAYER each closing two of the four shows. At the first of these shows, held on 24th June at the General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia the band performed the new song 'Headcrusher' for the first time. SLAYER and MEGADETH paired up again for New Zealand and Australian shows in October.

MEGADETH, EXODUS and TESTAMENT pulled resources together for a US tour commencing 18th January 2010. Interestingly, ex-band member Glen Drover filled in for Alex Skolnick on TESTAMENT's on these dates. Drover was also working up a solo album, which featured Jim Gilmour of SAGA, and Chris Sutherland, of KIM MITCHELL, on drums, Paul Yee on bass plus guest solos from Jeff Loomis, of NEVERMORE, and Fredrik Åkesson, of OPETH and ARCH ENEMY.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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