DAVE MUSTAINE Says 'The Climate Was Horrifying' In Wake Of DAVID ELLEFSON's Sex Video Scandal

September 6, 2022

In an interview with Cameron Buchholtz of the Rock 100.5 The KATT radio station at this past weekend's Rocklahoma festival in Pryor, Oklahoma, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine spoke about what it has been like to play with bassist James LoMenzo again after 11 years apart. LoMenzo was MEGADETH's bass player in the mid-2000s and recently stepped back in as a touring member for "The Metal Tour Of The Year". Dave said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Good. James is just a consummate gentleman — he's no maintenance whatsoever — and he's a rock star. He's been around the block. He's played with Ozzy [Osbourne] on gigantic stages, so it's not like I have to stay on top of him, where we've had some periods from Day One until even just recently where we had to have a little bit of some Rock School 101."

Asked if LoMenzo was the "first" and "only choice" for the bassist position in MEGADETH following David Ellefson's dismissal in May 2021 after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving Ellefson were posted online, Dave said: "When all of that stuff happened, I was pretty blown away. And I didn't want to do anything to harm anyone; there was already enough stuff going around. So I figured, 'You know what? I'm not gonna take anybody's side. All I know is that for now we need to do something.' The climate was just horrifying, to have something like that. So we parted ways [with Ellefson]. And I thought about, 'Do we get someone to come in as a session player? Or do I really, really, really go all in and start the search for a permanent guy?' And we didn't have the time. We had to have the record in — it had been two years since we started it and six years since 'Dystopia', so it was long overdue. And the idea for [TESTAMENT's] Steve [DiGiorgio] came up. He came out and recorded [the bass tracks on MEGADETH's latest album, 'The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!']; it was great.

"I, of course, would have liked to have had someone that plays like [Steve] play with MEGADETH, but he's in TESTAMENT, who are friends of mine," Dave explained. "And although we are not very close — me and the guys in TESTAMENT — I do consider them my friends and I do consider them a great band. And I would never jeopardize that by trying to steal Steve.

"So James's name kind of [came up], and I went, 'Oh my God! James! Yes!'" Mustaine added. "So we called him back. And James doesn't have to be told how to look, how to act, how to play. He knows how to do the interviews. He's like that old ROXETTE song: 'You've got the look.' He's been to MEGADETH camp, he's been to the top of the mountain with me and with Ozzy. And what more needs to be said?"

Ellefson's exit came just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving him were posted on Twitter. At the time, Ellefson released a statement on Instagram denying all social media chatter that he "groomed" an underage fan. He also filed a report with the police department in Scottsdale, Arizona alleging unlawful distribution of sexually explicit images of him by unknown offenders.

In the police report that Ellefson filed in May 2021, he admitted that he had been exchanging sexual text messages with a Dutch teenager, who captured a video of several of their virtual "masturbating encounters" without his consent and shared them with friends. (According to Ellefson, the woman was 19 at the time of their first virtual sexual encounter.) Ellefson, who lives in Scottsdale, first became aware of the video on May 9, 2021, when the claim "David Ellefson of MEGADETH is a pedophile" appeared on Instagram. Ellefson told police he was notified on May 14, 2021 by MEGADETH that the band would be parting ways with him. Three days later, he was fired.

During an October 2021 appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", Ellefson opened up about the circumstances that led to his dismissal from MEGADETH, saying: "I ran toward the bullets and dealt with it right away. The night [the messages and video were leaked online], a couple of people said, 'Hey, don't say anything.' In particular, the MEGADETH camp didn't want me to say anything. But my legal [advisers] said, 'Hey, I think you should say something. I think some people have done some really shitty things here and made some false allegations about you, and you have every right to defend yourself.' And I did. Ultimately, that led to my dismissal from MEGADETH. But I have every right, as anyone does, to defend yourself, especially when somebody is making false allegations about you like that. So I dealt with it that night, and quite honestly, that was it — it was over, and it was really kind of done. But then, as the MEGADETH camp in particular jumped in and had addressed it — and not that they shouldn't, but they did. That pretty quickly led to them making the decision to part ways with me and to move away from it."

Ellefson told "Trunk Nation" host Eddie Trunk that he initially "didn't even know what" the word "grooming" was, adding that he "had no idea" about the meaning of the term experts use to refer to the actions that sexual abusers take to get close to and gain the trust of those they are interested in. "And any allegations of anything being illegal [are false]," he said. "There was nothing. And that's why I immediately hired a criminal lawyer. I went right to the police department. And just for the record, the bad guy doesn't go to the police department. Okay? So, just to be clear. The guy who didn't do anything wrong, he goes to the police department. That's why I went to the police department and filed a police report and let them deal with it.

"I think there was a big fear of — there's always this talk of cancel culture and all this stuff," he continued. "And I was, like, 'Listen, that was not me.' And I had every right to stand up against that and defend myself against it. And I just turned that over to the lawyers and police department and let them deal with it, and they did."

In 2004, Ellefson filed an $18.5-million lawsuit against Mustaine, alleging the frontman shortchanged him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth Inc. over to him when the band broke up in 2002. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed and Ellefson rejoined MEGADETH in 2010.

Ellefson was in MEGADETH from the band's inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.

Dave Mustaine photo credit: Gibson

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