DAVID ELLEFSON: 'The Only Thing Harder Than Getting To The Top Is Staying At The Top'

November 17, 2022

In a new interview with "On The Road To Rock", former MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson spoke about the importance of musicians branching out and playing other styles of music, especially in the later years of their careers. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I've done the grind. I've done the whole 'build the house, keep the house going' in rock and roll, and I've done all that successfully, fortunately. And the only thing harder than getting to the top is staying at the top. And no one stays at the top forever, 'cause there's someone else coming up behind you.

"New genres [are] always driven by younger artists coming up," he explained. "Those of us that have been fortunate enough to create a genre ourselves and carve our place in it, it's cool that we can just kind of stay in that lane and do that. But at the same time, once that lane has been created, which it has for me in thrash and speed metal and that kind of stuff, it is cool to be able to go do some other things, 'cause every day you wake up, that isn't always exactly what you wanna do; there are other things. And I think I've proven now with a lot of these records that I've put out over the years I'm a pretty wide, versatile musician. I'm not just a 'metal dude,' even though every poster on your wall is stuff I listen to and go see. So, my heart is… Look, W.A.S.P. came to town the other night. I went down to go see Blackie [Lawless] and ARMORED SAINT. When KISS comes through, 'Let's go see KISS tonight.' Same with [IRON] MAIDEN, Alice [Cooper], et cetera. So I'm there a hundred percent as a loyalist and a fan myself. But when I create things, it's fun to do it with musicians who… We've grown up together, so we're well known. My rolodex is full of those musicians, because we all grew up together. We weren't famous at one point, and now we all are. So those are the guys I reach to. If I need a drummer, if I wanna partner with, in [the] case [of my recently released album] Jeff Scott Soto, call Jeff. He's that guy. You can count on him; you can rely on him. And sometimes my friends are looking to do other things too. They've made their mark for doing what they do, and it's fun to go try some new things and kind of reinvent our own wheel as we're doing it."

Ellefson left Jackson, Minnesota in the early '80s to move to Los Angeles, where he met former METALLICA guitarist Dave Mustaine, and the pair launched the multi-platinum, Grammy-winning hard rock act MEGADETH, going on to become one of the "Big Four" of thrash metal. Ellefson's smalltown Jackson roots have been immortalized in MEGADETH lore as the subject of classic songs including the smash hit "Foreclosure Of A Dream" and the underground classic "Mary Jane".

Ellefson, who has lived in Scottsdale, Arizona since 1994, was fired from MEGADETH in May 2021, just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist 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 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.)

David, a Christian who launched the Mega Life Ministries worship group in 2007, studied for a year at Concordia Lutheran Seminary in St. Louis a decade ago.

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

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