While he was an original member of the band, Dave Mustaine would no longer be in Metallica by the time they released their debut album Kill ‘Em All. Dave would go on to form Megadeth in 1983, the same year that Kill ‘Em All was released. When Dave got around to hearing that record though, he was not happy.
Per a past conversation on No Fuckin’ Regrets – the podcast run by Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn – ex-Megadeth bassist David Ellefson recalls the moment when Mustaine first heard Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. He says that Dave was pissed off, and actually felt ripped off by Kirk Hammett (with Mustaine claiming that Hammett had ripped off his solos). Here is everything that Ellefson had to say about that experience (as transcribed by Blabbermouth):
“[The record] got sent out to us [by mail]. I remember [Megadeth’s then-guitarist] Greg [Handevidt] — he remembers in detail sitting there for like an hour of silence, or 38 minutes of silence, opening the box, looking at the record, opening the shrink wrap and putting it on the turntable. It was obviously a weird moment, ’cause me and Greg are there going, ‘Oh my God. This is the moment.’ It’s like that moment you probably see your ex with somebody else. The pictures are there, and we were sitting there listening to it.
“[Dave was] listening to it, just staring at the speakers in complete silence, studying the songs. And I remember me and Greg sitting around him, just kind of nervously going, ‘Oh my God. What’s the reaction gonna be to this?’ And I remember one of the first things he said, he goes, ‘He fucking ripped off my solos.’ That was Dave’s first reaction — that Kirk [Hammett] had played his solos. They’re not entirely the same, but to some degree.”
Ellefson goes on to add, “I remember that was a very personal thing to Dave — the solos. At that point, those [Metallica] songs at least were well known in the [San Francisco] Bay Area, and people knew of those songs, and that [‘No Life ‘Til Leather’] demo had been traded around, so people knew. Dave definitely put the stamp and the die had been cast on that demo, the ‘No Life ‘Til Leather’ demo. And you know how Dave plays — what he plays he plays night after night after night. It’s a written part of the song. It’s not some ad-libby, groovy jam solo. What’s been recorded, that’s there forever — that’s exactly the way it’s played night after night.
“So to Dave, the solo was as much a part of the composition — it wasn’t a blues jam. And then, obviously, seeing the way the credits were on the record — songs Dave had written and brought it, and now the credits were divided up. So probably a lot like a divorce. He was pissed. And that was that moment that I think was, like, ‘Oh, God. Here’s the reality of it.’ And, of course, for me, I’m, like, ‘What’s the big deal? We’ve got our own band. We’re doing our own thing.’ But at the same time, we had to be respectful. Obviously, this was Dave coming out of this big group that we had not heard of yet, Metallica.”
What do you make of Mustaine’s reaction to listening to that Metallica album?