In a new interview with Andrew Daly of Metal Edge magazine, former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson spoke about the way he was fired by Dave Mustaine in May 2021, just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I think it was unnecessary. And it was undoubtedly done with spite and bitterness, which I did not deserve. Considering all that I've done for MEGADETH and all that I've tolerated over the years, I'd say the whole thing was uncalled for. And it certainly was not what we discussed regarding how the transition would happen. What went down came blindly out of nowhere. So, I basically had the option to take it or retaliate, which I was given free license to do. My team said, 'Hey, if you want to go at this guy, go for it. We've never seen something so unethical on every level. Do what you need to do.' But I said, 'No. I'll just sit back, let it sort itself out, and let the music do the talking.'"
Asked if he feels Mustaine is intimidated by the music Ellefson is making with other projects, such as DIETH and KINGS OF THRASH, David said: "I do. I also think he hates the idea of me succeeding outside that arena. Because now, I get to be the one who helps create the music, make the decisions, and basically, be in charge. It wasn't that way in MEGADETH, which I think many people know by now. But people love that band because of the music we created together. Those songs will stand forever despite all the stuff that happened behind the scene. So, when all that went down, I just said, 'We have a great legacy, but it's over now. Do you want to have a shootout or let the music speak for itself?' I chose to let the music I make speak for itself. And I think it speaks volumes. I'm pretty convinced that the stuff I've put out since leaving MEGADETH is as good or better than anything they've done."
Ellefson added "the intimidation factor" is why Dave has continued to take shots at him and fellow KINGS OF THRASH member Jeff Young through the media. "It's 100% why that's been happening," Ellefson said. "I've watched the quality of MEGADETH diminish over the last five years, which was very frustrating. I'd bring ideas to the table and try to help the situation, but those ideas would be either shut down or removed after the fact. It was very aggressive and frustrating to be intentionally diminished or removed from the process. So, I said, 'Okay, I see what's going on here.' An old saying goes, 'Kids that don't share their toys don't have friends.' So, I just said, 'I'll take my toys and play with someone else.' This is simple shit you learn in kindergarten, but not so much in that band."
Read the entire interview at Metal Edge.
Shortly before Ellefson was fired from MEGADETH, he 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 report, Ellefson 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 by MEGADETH that the band would be parting ways with him. Three days later, he was fired.
Mustaine — who formed MEGADETH with Ellefson in 1983 — released a statement on May 24, 2021 announcing the bassist's departure from the band. In the statement, Dave said: "We do not take this decision lightly. While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward."
Two days after Mustaine announced Ellefson's latest departure from MEGADETH, the bassist released a follow-up statement in which he vowed to file a "defamation lawsuit" against the person who "illegally posted a very private video" of the bassist and made "false allegations" against him. He also said he was working with the police in Scottsdale "in their investigation into charges regarding revenge pornography to be filed against the person who posted the video. This person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Ellefson wrote. He went on to say that he was "taking this time to be with my family" and wished his "bandmates" the best with their tour.
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.