Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian has reflected on being around Metallica when they fired Megadeth vocalist Dave Mustaine from the band in April 1983.
Ian recently sat down with Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn for his No Fuckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn podcast. During the episode, the guitarist revealed that he was at Metalica’s rehearsal studio in Queens, New York when the band decided to give Dave Mustaine the boot — mere days before recording their debut album.
According to Ian, the members of Metallica were concerned about how Mustaine’s relationship with alcohol would impact the band.
“They all drank, but Dave drank more than they did,” Scott recalled. “The difference with Dave was, from my memory of that time, ’cause we were there all the time — we were hanging out with them all the time — all those other guys would get drunk and it was always fun, and Dave was kind of the not-fun guy when he would get too drunk.
“I mean, everybody knows one. I think that was basically the beginning of the end, because now they were living together, and they were in close quarters all the time together, and I think they realized, they were, like, ‘How the hell are we gonna keep doing this and move forward if we’re constantly worrying about this?'”
Scott Ian went on to recall the nonchalant way that then-Metallica bassist Cliff Burton broke the news that Mustaine had got the flick to him.
“I remember walking in one day and Cliff was standing outside having a smoke,” he recalled. “I [said], ‘Hey, man, what’s up?’ He was, like, ‘Not much. We fired Mustaine. He’s on a bus, he’s on a Greyhound back to the Bay Area.
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“It’s Cliff, so he was that total ballbuster wise-ass. And he was just kind of smirking at me. And I’m, like, ‘Shut up. You’re playing a show week. Who’s gonna play guitar?’ He was, like, ‘We’ve already got a guy coming.’ I said, ‘Get the fuck outta here.’ He goes, ‘Go upstairs. Ask James.'”
He continued, “So I go up to the room. They’re just kind of dicking around in the room. I don’t see Dave. And I’m, like, ‘What’s going on? Cliff tells me you guys fired Dave.’ And Lars [Ulrich] was, like, ‘We did. Early this morning, we put him on a bus. He’s already five hours on the way back to California.'”
When Ian asked what the band planned to do about recording, Lars revealed that they already had a guy from EXODUS making his way to the studio.
As Ian tells it, Dave Mustaine was the centre of attention during the band’s early days. “People don’t know that,” he said. “James wasn’t James yet. When I first met James, he would drink and he would change, but James, he was kind of like a shy, quiet dude. Dave was the mouthpiece. Dave was the guy.”
He continued,” He was the frontman — a hundred percent… He was the attitude; he was the personality — it was everything. And I was kind of, like, ‘You think this is the right idea?’ And [they said], ‘We had to. We couldn’t deal with it anymore. He was getting us into trouble.'” You can listen to the interview in its entirety below.