Megadeth’s bassist David Ellefson talked during a Musicians Institute event about how he met his bandmate Dave Mustaine.
“In a distant galaxy, far, far away, in 1983, there was a band here from California called Van Halen. They were really the trailblazers that lit up the west coast, being one of the first big and really hard rock, almost metal bands.
“Van Halen blew up and in 1981, I was rehearsing with my band in Minnesota and something just hit me, there was an instinct so heavy that just said, ‘You’ve got to get to LA!’ And I went up into the house that day and said, ‘Mom, dad, I’m quitting school, I’m gonna dye my hair blonde and move to California.’
“And they said, ‘Yeah, right.’ And so back to school I went. But in the next two years I came here to Hollywood, specifically to the Musicians Institute because this was at the epicenter of everything cool that was happening here in Hollywood – the guys from Toto would drop in and be instructors and all these great musicians that I was really fascinated with in the hard rock and metal community were dropping in. here.
“And I actually applied here and got accepted. So in the May of 1983, I moved from Minnesota and through the Musicians Institute I got a referral to an apartment at 1736 North Sycamore right over here.
“And one morning in that apartment, I wake up and I start playing the bass. It was ‘Runnin’ With the Devil’ by Van Halen [off their 1978 debut ‘Van Halen’] which is about eight really simple notes – well, one simple note played eight times. [Laughs]
“And this flower pot comes smashing down with a ‘Shut the fuck up!’ And and I was like, ‘Wow, these neighbors aren’t very friendly here in California like they are Minnesota.’
“Well, it turns out there was a blonde-haired guy walking around with the complex, I go up, knock on his door, it turns out of he’s right up above us. He happens to be what appears to be a budding young rock star by the name of Dave Mustaine.
“And he had just gotten released from this brand-new group I hadn’t heard of yet called Metallica. Metallica was was from Los Angeles, they had relocated up to San Francisco to acquire this bass player named Cliff Burton, and in so doing essentially planted themselves at where the whole Bay Area thrash scene started at.
“And so Dave and I – we meet, we start chatting, we jam a little bit. One of the very first songs he wrote coming home from his stint with Metallica was a song called ‘Megadeth,’ which was later retitled to ‘Set the World Afire’ – it didn’t make it on a record until our third album [1988’s ‘So Far, So Good… So What!’].
“But some of the earliest songs like ‘Killing Is My Business’ and ‘Peace Sells’ were songs that he was working on. He was very charismatic in his writing and quite honestly, Dave was the first rockstar that I met when I moved here.
“I mean, you could touch tell sitting in the room with him this guy was the real deal. There were a lot of people walking down the boulevard that looked like Vince Neil, a lot of people that looked like David Lee Roth, but Dave was the real deal.
“And by way of the two of us both being named Dave, our love for heavy metal – I’m kind of like the Minnesota nice kid from the farm and I meet Dave who’s a street kid from California – we formed Megadeth. So that happened as a result of the Musicians Institute.”
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I am a Brazilian journalist, a Classic Rock and Heavy Metal lover. Music has always been part of my life, helped me through tough moments and was with me to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After college I did a postgraduate degree in digital communication. This has helped me to make the website better and bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG