DAVID ELLEFSON: 'When I Came Back To MEGADETH In 2010, I Saved Their F***ing Ass'

July 3, 2023

In a new interview with Sense Music Media, David Ellefson once again opened up about his dismissal from MEGADETH more than two years ago, just days after sexually tinged messages and explicit video footage involving the bassist were posted on Twitter. Asked which other musicians were particularly supportive of him the months immediately following his firing from MEGADETH, Ellefson said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, first of all, pretty much everybody. Because it was a bullshit situation. Twiggy from MARILYN MANSON… [Laughs] A whole bunch of people who I'd been friends with. Nergal [of BEHEMOTH] has become a friend. And I know he publicly spoke out in my defense and was very supportive to me. And I didn't even know him. I was a fan of his band. I just met him recently here when we were in Poland with [my new band] DIETH, and now I've become definitely friends with him. He's a real mensch; he's a standup guy; he's not afraid to speak up and step up. And I think that says a lot about someone's character."

David continued: "I read something really great. Jason Flom, who is [from] Lava Records. He signed a bunch of great stuff — TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA. Just a great guy. He put up something the other day. He said, 'I'd rather be excluded for who I included than to be included because of who I excluded.' And I thought, 'Man, that says it all.'

"What I found out is the people who distanced themselves from me are the ones who were guilty of shit way worse than anything I fucking did. Let me tell you that right now. And that's where some friends came alongside me and said, 'Man, I had something similar happen. And when my band or my boss or my people distanced from me, it's, like, the mirror popped up' of, like, 'Oh, shit' — they saw themselves in the mirror. Which is why I set out immediately to settle the score — meaning, to say, 'Fuck you. How dare you do this to me, or anybody?' Of course, everybody immediately, 'cause everybody's trying to protect their reputation and their public image and all that… I mean, I understand — I understand on one level the embarrassment or whatever of, like, 'Oh my gosh. What is this?' But it's, like, man, I think sometimes in situations that we've been in the longest, we find out we really aren't that close after all, at the end of the day.

"I knew that when I came back to MEGADETH in 2010, I saved their fucking ass, because there was no one else who was gonna be playing 'Rust In Peace' [in its entirety on that tour], and it was a perfect setup for that," Ellefson added. "And, you know, look, after 11, almost 12 years there, if that journey's over, well, move on. And I didn't sit around and lick my wounds and cry. I'm not making a career now of throwing rocks at them. It's, like, why? Just fucking move on, man. So I had a lot of really wonderful supporters — like I said, pretty much everybody. And look, I think the other reality of it is a lot of people kind of [went], 'Oh, shit. That could happen to any of us,' some related thing like that, the sort of celebrity shaming and all this kind of shit. Look, you live, you learn, you move on.

"Look, I'm only famous 'cause I'm a musician. [Laughs] And I always say, 'Be famous for what you do. Don't just do things to go be famous.' I'm not a social media influencer and all this kind of bullshit. I play songs — songs that, fortunately, a lot of people like. So that's why I ever got any notoriety in the first place, and, honestly, that's what I'd rather be known for, is doing that. So that's the thing that I've kept doing."

Shortly before Ellefson was dismissed 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, 2021 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.

Last month, Ellefson told Andrew McKaysmith of the "Scars And Guitars" podcast that he was prepared for his latest exit from MEGADETH.

"When my departure from MEGADETH happened, a lot of people were hitting me [up and saying], 'Oh my God. It's so terrible. It's so terrible,'" he recalled. "[And I said], 'Yeah, believe me, it's not.' [Laughs] It really isn't. I was ready for it. I didn't think it was gonna go down that way; I didn't see that coming. But the fact that it happened, I was not sad about it. I was okay with it. Because I knew there's another journey ahead, and that journey wasn't gonna start until I was out of the old one.

"When you're in a group, you're in a setting, you've gotta play company man and you kind of go along with the narrative that's been set forth.

"There was a lot of things, a lot of the narrative in that band that I never agreed with," Ellefson admitted. "A lot of that band was started on a grudge and a hardship of the firing [of MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine] from METALLICA. That was never my story. I was always a METALLICA fan and I became friends with those guys. I have nothing but gratitude for that group and those gentlemen for what they've done for all of us, and I think they deserve the biggest applause. So it was hard to be in a band that always had this saltiness around that whole narrative, because it was never my narrative. So I went along to get along, but now I don't have to do that. And now I can be on my own path. These are my words; it's my story now. And maybe the events that happened a couple of years ago, I needed to have my own story to tell. 'Cause when you quit a band, everyone's pissed at you; they hate you: 'Oh, fuck you. You quit. You quit my favorite band.' But when you get tossed out… And I'm not looking for the sympathy card. You don't have to feel sorry for me; you don't have to do any of that. But it's interesting that, I guess the way it happened… it went down in a way that it was certainly visible enough and on a level that… It was sort of, like, okay, well, what's gonna happen next? And I just tried to be faithful to just following my heart, following the path."

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.

Photo credit: Maciej Pieloch

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