MEGADETH's DAVID ELLEFSON On Vibe Between Bands At 'Big Four' Shows: 'It Was Just True Brotherhood'

January 27, 2019

ANTHRAX bassist Frank Bello says that he would love to see more "Big Four" concerts before SLAYER finally calls it quits.

The so-called "Big Four" of 1980s thrash metal — METALLICA, MEGADETH, SLAYER and ANTHRAX — played together for the first time in history on June 16, 2010 in front of 81,000 fans at the Sonisphere festival at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland and shared a bill again for six more shows as part of the Sonisphere series that same year. They reunited again for several dates in 2011, including the last "Big Four" concert, which was held on September 14, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Since then, METALLICA, SLAYER and ANTHRAX have played a number of shows together, including the 2013 Soundwave festival in Australia. They also performed at the 2014 Heavy MTL festival in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

During an appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation", Bello and MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson were asked if ANTHRAX and MEGADETH would be interested in playing more "Big Four" shows before SLAYER completes its farewell tour.

"Of course," Bello said. "For us, it was a celebration. That was the best time. You know how big of a celebration for metal [it was].

"METALLICA doesn't need to do anything," he continued. "They were big enough, as people, to say, 'Yeah, let's celebrate this music and get together.' And that was for the fans. That's what I found out about that tour. That was for the fans. They don't need anybody. They play stadiums on their own. But this was so special. It was a feeling that you just don't feel. You don't feel like at normal rock shows. It was this great presence. Even the dinner we had the night before the first show. That was a feeling I don't think we can ever touch… No agents, no managers — just the bandmembers from all four."

Ellefson chimed in: "It was a secret, undisclosed location. We pull up in a car and Robert Trujillo [METALLICA bassist] is the door guy."

Bello continued: "No outside people. It was just the four bands being able to talk — the bandmembers. And we got back to a place that was beautiful, I thought."

Ellefson commented: "You know what was special about that? Usually you do these tours and you come in and it's the production meets and then the bands say 'hey' in the hallways from time to time. And it's kind of the last show, you're, like, 'Hey, could we say 'hey' to the headliner real quick?' And it happens at the very end. And you go, 'Wow! You guys are really cool. We should have hung out more on this tour.' And then it's over. METALLICA did it the opposite. They did it on the very first night. Let's break bread. Let's hang out. Let's get this sort of established from the beginning, so that every time we saw each other when we showed up on site at these big festivals, man, it was just true brotherhood."

Bello added: "And that set the pattern for those shows. I believe it became that kind of vibe — that tour had that vibe — because of that dinner. Look, I hadn't really hung with James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] in a long time before that. We've toured the world forever together, and just having dinner together, just sitting and eating, talking about life, kids, all that good stuff, that was big — that was big. And it was just us again — it was the musicians again. How it all started."

Last year, MEGADETH leader Dave Mustaine said that he would love play a "Big Four" show where all the bands "got treated fairly" instead of METALLICA performing a longer set and getting more stage space than the other groups on the bill. "It always kind of soured to me when you watch [METALLICA guitarist] Kirk Hammett say on the DVD ['The Big Four: Live From Sofia, Bulgaria'], when they're praying, and he says that 'we're the Big One,'" Mustaine told SiriusXM. "That just kind of shows you how the mentality was there — that it really wasn't the 'Big Four'; it was METALLICA and then the three of us."

Mustaine added: "I would love to see it done in a way where we all got treated fairly and we all played together, same amount of time, same kind of stage situation, but I don't think that's gonna happen. And it's cool, because SLAYER's gonna down in history, and they don't need the 'Big Four' to make them any more legendary than they already are. Nor do I."

Hammett said in a 2017 interview that he believed that the "Big Four" idea would be revisited again. He explained: "I see those shows as kind of like a celebration — a real celebration of each other, and a real celebration of the music that we all make, and a real celebration of the audience embracing [what] we've done. And why not have more of that?"

Six years ago, SLAYER frontman Tom Araya said that the only thing that was standing in the way of further "Big Four" shows was "the politics of character in one particular band," with some fans speculating that he was talking about Mustaine and MEGADETH.

In his autobiography, "Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir", Mustaine addressed the issue of where his band fit in the "Big Four" order. According to The New York Times, he assured the reader that he was not offended by being put behind SLAYER. But he added an interior monologue: "O.K., we'll play ahead of you guys on this trip, and God willing we'll do it again sometime in the near future and we can flip things around."

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