Dave Ellefson Is a Salaried Member of Megadeth: “In Order to Have a Friendship, I Had to Give up Some Ownership”

  • Axl Rosenberg

Hey, remember when Megadeth “broke up” in 2002 before “reuniting” in 2004? It’s easy to forget that even happened because it was such a brief period, and because Megadeth is a glorified solo project anyway. Just like it’s easy to forget that when Dave Mustaine first “reunited” Megadeth, he did so without bassist Dave Ellefson, who had been, up ’til that time, the only other consistent member of the band. Ellefson re-joined ‘Death in 2010 (freeing James Lomenzo up for that White Lion reunion everyone so desperately craves), and, unsurprisingly, he has since gone back to being the only other consistent member of the band.

So what initially kept Ellefson away? It will probably not surprise you to learn that it was a beef with Mustaine over money and control.

According to a new interview Metal-Rules.com, in his upcoming memoir More Life with Deth, the bassist reveals that since he return to Megadeth, he has been “a salaried employee” and “the highest paid band member.” Which was not always the case. Says Ellefson:

“Yeah, from the beginning, I was always an equal owner. When Dave broke the group up in 2002, we left our business matters intact. When we reformed in 2004, our disagreements were very much about participation in ownership of the group. Relationships are not static. People have these views of bands — I know I do as well — that when I get into a band, we will be a family, a team, and a gang. That is definitely true as a group of musicians in a community. But you find that every band is its own business with personalities and hierarchies in collaborations and contributions. It is different inside each one of them. I’m not going to lie; going from being a co-founding owner to just a sideman musician was initially why I didn’t come back in 2004. I was not happy with the participations that were presented to me. In recent times, coming back, I found great joy in doing music with a lot of other people in other settings that helped me fall back in love with playing music. Now I can come back into or go into musical situations and be able to be there for a purpose and level of pay. Being a sideman absolves you from being involved in all the other stuff. At this point in my life I would rather leave that stuff on the sidelines. Like American Express says, ‘Membership Has Its Privileges.’ Being a sideman has its benefits. In my case, it helps retain a friendship, too. In order to have a friendship, I had to give up some ownership.”

Like I said, this may seem unfair to Ellefson, but it’s not really surprising (especially given everything we know about Dave Mustaine, a super-swell, easy-going dude who gets along with everyone all the time). And certainly if Ellefson is talking about it publicly, he’s made his peace with the situation. Which is very mature of him. Also, I’m sure he’s thrilled that he can now deny any accountability for Super Collider. “You thought that album was garbage? Don’t look at me, bruh, I just work here!”

Read the entire interview here.

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