Dave Mustaine Discusses The Time He Punched James Hetfield 

Dave Mustaine Discusses The Time He Punched James Hetfield 
Original Photo Credits: Dave Mustaine - Ralph Arvesen, CC BY 2.0 (www.flickr.com/photos/rarvesen/27420120171/) | James Hetfield - Carlos Rodríguez/Andes, CC BY-SA 2.0 (www.flickr.com/photos/agenciaandes_ec/30666672645/in/album-72157674508677462/), via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this month, Megadeth released their new album, “The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!” The album sold 48,000 equivalent album unites in the U.S. in its first week to land at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart. It also marked the band’s eighth top 10-charting album. The record features 12 new tracks and two cover songs. 

Megadeth mainman Dave Mustaine has been making the publicity rounds to promote the record. Recently he participated in a Q&A session with fans for Revolver magazine, and he spoke about his relationship with Metallica frontman and former Metallica bandmate James Hetfield.

“I saw the thing with James on stage where he was saying that he was going through a rough patch,” Mustaine said. “I was sad to see that because it’s been one of those really weird love-hate relationships. And the whole reason that I ever even pursued any of this was I really liked those guys. If I didn’t like ’em, I would just say, ‘F*cking flush the toilet and be done with it.’ He’s always been somebody that I really liked playing with. I wished things wouldn’t have ended the way that they did. But que sera, sera.”

Mustaine said back when he was in Metallica, he slugged Hetfield, and he thinks it led to his dismissal. “It was a dumb thing that I did by taking my dog up to practice, and it was even dumber to punch [James]. I really respect him and I respect his playing. And I hope he knows that there are a lot of people out there, like me, that like him as a person and don’t give two f*cks about him being in Metallica.”

Mustaine said in 2009 that he was hurt by getting kicked out of Metallica for allegedly drinking too much. “I said, ‘What?! No second chance, no warning? C’mon, we all drink. C’mon.'” he recalled. “And [they were like], ‘No, that’s it. You’re gone.’ And I was like, ‘All right.'”

“I was selling pot,” Mustaine continued. “When I would go play in concert, people knew that my pot was sitting in my apartment just saying, ‘Go ahead and keep me company.’ So I was broken in on. People stole everything that I had; all my stash. And I figured, screw this. I’m gonna get some dogs to stay in the apartment when I leave. So I got two dogs and I took one of them up to a rehearsal one time and she put her paws up on Ron’s [McGovney, Metallica’s then-bassist] car. And James kicked it right in the side. And I was like, ‘What did you do?’ [And I was like] ‘It’s a dog, it’s what they do. You don’t kick animals.’ So we went into the house, and we started arguing some more. And I ended up punching him in the face and I think that was the root of why I lost my job.”

Though he wrote a portion of Metallica’s early material, Mustaine did not play on a Metallica record and he didn’t attend their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. Drummer Lars Ulrich explained the decision not to include Mustaine in the induction. “You’ve got to kind of cap it somewhere,” he said. “Dave Mustaine never played on any Metallica records. No disrespect to him. But there [were] half a dozen other people that were in the lineup in the early days. We thought . . . the fair thing to do would be to include anybody that played on a Metallica record. Dave Mustaine was in the band for 11 months, predominantly in 1982… I’m not trying to play it down. I have nothing but respect and admiration for his accomplishments since.”

B.J. Lisko
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