Dave Muscatine – On a path to self-destruction, the man voted the world’s best heavy metal guitarist has a close encounter of the highest kind!
Dave was the lead guitarist with global megastars Metallica in the early 1980’s, lead singer and lead guitarist with Megadeth from 1983, and voted the world’s best heavy metal guitar player in 2009.
The top musician rose to fame in the early 1980’s post-punk revival of heavy metal rock music. An outstanding guitarist, he secured his place in Metallica whilst warming up for the audition. He sounded so good in practice that they decided to forget the audition and the band all went to the pub. Sadly, this was the worst place for a guy like Dave who had a serious addiction problem even in the early days. Record Company owner Dave Slagel said,
“Dave is an incredibly talented guy – but he also had an incredibly large problem with alcohol and drugs. He’d get wasted and become a real crazy person… and the other guys just couldn’t deal with that after a while… I could see they were beginning to get fed up of seeing Dave drunk out of his mind all the time.”
Consequently, Dave’s place in Metallica only lasted two years. There were a couple of altercations, incidents of verbal abuse and aggressive behaviour to wards other members of the band, an evening where Dave poured beer all over the bass player’s guitar, damaging the instrument and causing the musician to be thrown across the room by an electric shock, all culminating in Dave getting fired from the band following the recording of their debut album in New York. The band had had enough, and so they packed up Dave’s gear, drove him to the Bus Treminal, and put him on a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles. It was on this bus ride that Mustaine wrote the song “Set The World Afire” which was eventually recorded for the 1988 Megadeth album ‘So Far, So Good, So What.’
Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s Dave fronted Megadeth and the band became increasingly popular and well respected in heavy metal circles. A crisis came in 2002 when he suffered a bout of radial neuropathy caused by falling asleep with his left arm over the back of a chair. This left Dave with a largely paralysed left hand and he was unable to play the guitar for over four months and was only able to play again following months of intense daily therapy. Dave says,
“I went into retirement because of my arm. It broke up the band… I was having problems with [them all and] I hated being around these guys so when the arm injury happened, it was a welcome relief and an indication that I had to stop.”
The period of rest gave Dave time to think and to explore. His personal life was turned upside down and it was during this oeriod of self-analysis that he became a Christian. Dave made a full recovery, contrary to the Doctor’s expectatiions, and Megadeth was reformed, but with different values.
In 2003, Megadeth were the headline act at a show in Greece. The performance included two acts that Dave could no longer play alongside following his Christian conversion. When he discovered that the bands ‘Rotting Christ’ and ‘Dissection’ were due to play, he mentioned his intention to withdraw from the show, at least on the nights these bands were performing. Dave felt he could not perform alongside groups who were satanic or blasphemous towards Jesus Christ. In the end, the concert organisers took these two bands out and asked Megadeth to play, as they were the headline act! Dave was a little embarrassed as he did not want to stop the others from playing, he simply didn’t want to be on the same stage on the same night. Talking of his conversion, he later said in an interview,
“Looking up at the cross, I said six simple words, ‘What have I got to lose?’ Afterwards my whole life changed. It’s been hard, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Rather go my whole life believing that there is a God and find out there isn’t than live my whole life thinking there isn’t a God and then find out, when I die, that there is!”
Joining Alcoholics Anonymous and going through the treatment programme helped with sobriety, but Dave noticed it was not helping him to focus on his Christian commitment. He eventually left AA so that he could spend more time focusing on his faith. He has since made it his policy not to appear with any band that is seen as black metal or satanic, which is why he declined to appear in the music festival in Greece. His greater focus on his faith also gave him stronger views which he feels are in line with the teachings of the bible.
Strong Views and Controversy
He has been considered particularly outspoken on the subject of homosexuality. In an answer to a question about Judas Priest having an overt homosexual image, he said,
“I don’t wanna talk about this. The last thing I need is a bunch of homos picketing us”, and in 2012 in an interview on KIRO FM he was asked if he would support legislation to make gay marriage legal and said, “I’m Christian. The answer to that would be no.”
Although many would disagree with his strong views on some subjects, nobody could deny that this incredibly talented musician’s life has been ‘saved’ by his encounter with Jesus Christ. Dave Mustaine was on a path of self destruction which was also causing serious problems for those around him. Since his conversion in 2003, he has become a new man with new values without losing his talent or his involvement in a very popular musical genre. Dave has been able to influence a whole generation of people with a newfound faith which has undoubtedly saved him from a very premature death. Dave also believes his extraordinary talent is a gift from God.
“To be the number one rated guitar player in the world is a gift from God and I’m stoked about it, but I think Christ is better than I am, anyway! Either way, I don’t put too much earthly merit on it.”
Story by Ralph Burden
* Featured image photo 1 attribution: by Athanasius Soter, public Domain photo, 2010