Dave Mustaine says his influence on Metallica is “pretty f**king deep”: “I wrote many of the songs that made you famous”

Dave Mustaine
(Image credit: Medios y Media/Getty Images)

The contentious relationship between Dave Mustaine and Metallica is well documented, and though recent insights from the Megadeth frontman led many to believe such conflicts have been resolved – a reunion was discussed between Mustaine and James Hetfield not too long ago – it seems as though the conversation will always be a touchy one for the two heavy metal icons.

In a recent interview with Guitar World, Mustaine offered another in-depth reflection on his time with Metallica, and discussed his influence on the band, his opinion on Kirk Hammett tackling his guitar parts, and the current state of affairs surrounding a potential Megadeth/Metallica supergroup.

When the conversation touched on ‘Tallica – and the supposed competition with his own band – Mustaine began, “Metallica got a big head start, and they did so on the back of what I helped create. They became one of the biggest bands in the world, and here’s one of the biggest bands wasting their breath trying to discredit me by saying, ‘Dave’s not a good guitar player.’

“Excuse me, what the fuck did you say?” he continued. “I think I wrote many of the songs that made you famous, so you probably should recheck that bullshit statement.”

To that end, Mustaine then went on to discuss the “pretty fucking deep” influence has had on Metallica, frankly shooting back, “For a guy who ‘couldn’t play guitar’, I sure did fucking influence things. In the early days, I was the only guitar player in the band and wrote some of the songs that ended up on their earlier records.”

But Mustaine’s influence went beyond songwriting, apparently. In the same breath, the Gibson signature artist claimed Hetfield only played guitar because they “couldn’t find anyone else”, and that he was “terrified to talk to the crowd” during early live shows.

“We had one guy named Brad Parker, whose real name was Damian Phillips,” Mustaine went on. “He showed up and had an oversized feather earring; we did one show, and that was the end of him. And that was why we ended up having James play guitar. There was no other reason.

For a guy who ‘couldn’t play guitar’, I sure did fucking influence things

“Early on, James was terrified to talk to the crowd, and I would look at him and say, 'Talk, man. Get up there and fucking talk,' but James didn’t do it; he stayed in the background, and he’s the fucking singer. So I – the guy who can’t play guitar – went up to the mic and started talking.”

After discussing Hetfield, Mustaine then turned his attention to Kirk Hammett – the guitarist who replaced him back in 1983 – and seemingly suggested that, although he does “a noble job of trying” to play the guitar parts he wrote, he doesn’t put too much effort into doing so.

“If we look at the things I played, I guess Kirk Hammett did a noble job of trying; he took a swing,” Mustaine commented. “But I ask my guitar players for a bit more than taking a swing. 

“When they’re doing a previous guitar player’s solo, I ask them to do it right and pay tribute; that’s how you honor it. When you go into an established song and don’t do the solo right, that’s a problem.”

Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield

(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage via Getty)

Of course, when Mustaine talks about Metallica, the conversation is always going to touch on a potential pair-up between the two bands, with the Megadeth frontman now suggesting Hetfield and co are “afraid” of agreeing to a collaborative live show.

“The fact is simple: the world wants to see Megadeth and Metallica play together,” Mustaine asserted. “And in case anyone is wondering: there’s fucking money in that. The fans want to see Metallica and Megadeth share the stage.

“Does Megadeth need Metallica? No. But Metallica talks about their fans, but they don’t give them what they’ve been asking for. What are they afraid of? I don’t know. It’s not me; it’s them.”

Head over to Magazines Direct to pick up the latest issue of Guitar World, which goes on sale February 21.

In other Megadeth news, the band recently announced they would be reuniting with Marty Friedman for the first time in 23 years for an upcoming show at Tokyo's Budokan arena later this month.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.