Ex-MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson performed in his former hometown of Jackson, Minnesota during this summer's Jackson County Fair. The homecoming event took place on Friday, July 29. David talked about his rock and roll journey before the races at Jackson Motorplex and reunited with his high school bandmates from TOZ — including fellow original MEGADETH member Greg Handevidt (guitar) — after the races.
Speaking to Explore Okoboji about how his involvement with this year's Jackson County Fair came about, Ellefson said: "Tom Holthe from the board of the Fair operation had contacted me. I've known him for many years and he's been a friend to me as much as anything. And, of course, I've got a lifetime of friends in Jackson. So, when he reached out to me for this event, I was actually really excited about it — not just the homecoming, but an opportunity to play the Jackson County Fair which I haven't played at since I was probably 15 years old, with my band TOZ. And I remember playing at the Pavilion, that was pretty new at the time back in that day.
"You know, look, any gig is a gig to be grateful for, in my opinion — from the smallest little intimate gig all the way up to the biggest stadium that I've ever played," he continued. "Every opportunity to perform for people is a privilege, and especially to do it back in Jackson, and again at the Jackson County Fair, which is the biggest gig in town. So, for me, I was excited about it. I said 'yes' immediately. I'm really looking forward to it. But on top of it, when Tom asked me, he said, 'Hey, would you be willing to call some of the guys up from your old band TOZ and sort of put the old band back together again?', I thought this is a great opportunity to do this, just to reconnect with some lifelong friends of mine where it all started in music for me, back in Jackson. And I've had my journey around the globe many times now, and to bring it all back home to Jackson again is just… What a cool treat and a privilege."
Ellefson left Jackson in the early '80s to move to Los Angeles, where he met former METALLICA guitarist Dave Mustaine, and the pair co-founded 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.
Last October, Ellefson told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that there is a perception that people of faith must set a higher standard of how they live with and treat others. "It's almost like you're this entity that's floating up toward the heavens: 'Oh, he's such a wonderful man. He's a man of faith. He's got his family. And then this happens.' It's, like, 'What the hell is this?'" he said.
"I mean, look, admittedly I've sort of trained the public to think that I'm one of the more well-behaved rock stars out there, and for the most part I have been," he continued. "But at the same time, and this isn't to claim anything other than just, oops, shit happens. That is what it is."
Ellefson was in MEGADETH from the band's inception in 1983 to 2002, and again from 2010 until his latest exit.
In July 2021, Mustaine addressed the possibility of Ellefson returning to MEGADETH while filming one of his own video messages on Cameo. Asked by Rock Feed if Ellefson could once again play with MEGADETH at some point down the line, Mustaine said: "Any chance on Ellefson coming back later on? The answer to that is no."
Last month, the MEGADETH frontman alluded to the 2004 lawsuit Ellefson once filed against him for what the bassist claimed at the time were millions in outstanding royalties (the case was later dismissed),telling Metal Hammer magazine: "I've forgiven him before when he sued me, and I'll forgive him a thousand times. I just won't play music with him anymore."
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