Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine has reflected on the departure of guitarist Marty Friedman, who left the thrash metal outfit in 2000.
In an interview in the new issue of Guitar World, Mustaine expresses regret at the circumstances surrounding Friedman’s exit, which took place following tension over a guitar solo on the band’s 1999 album Risk.
“I’ve always believed we should give the guitar player an opportunity to do a solo that he feels is right for the song,” he starts. “If someone plays something that doesn’t work for the part, then I may make some suggestions. If it’s still not happening, I might say, ‘Okay, this is what I want you to play here.’
“If a lead totally doesn’t work then I’m going to do the part myself. That’s what happened [on] Breadline. And Marty Friedman quit over the solo in Breadline.”
Mustaine explains that Friedman had written and recorded a solo for Breadline in the studio, but Megadeth management wanted the track to be a single, and thought his solo wasn’t right for the song.
“I said [to management], ‘Well, you have three choices. Either you mute the solo completely, have Marty come back and redo it, or I do it.’ And then I said, ‘If I do it, you’d better tell him.’ Well, I redid it and nobody told Marty.
“So we’re in there listening to the finished album and the solo comes on. It’s my solo, not Marty’s… I looked at him as tears ran down his face and I knew right away that nobody had told him. I knew that was probably going to be the end of Marty Friedman.”
Questioned on whether he could have asserted that it wasn’t his call to axe his solo from the track, Mustaine continues: “Having been a partner with Marty for so many years, as much of an enigma as he was, I could tell he was really upset and he had had enough.
“What happened to Marty was definitely not okay. Our management was supposed to tell him and, for whatever reason, they didn’t do it. I think that was a terrible thing to do to him.”
Marty Friedman appeared on some of Megadeth’s most iconic albums during his 10-year tenure. He played guitar on five LPs in total: Rust in Peace (1990), Countdown to Extinction (1992), Youthanasia (1994), Cryptic Writings (1997) and Risk (1999).
Megadeth are gearing up to release their 16th studio album, The Sick, The Dying… and The Dead! on September 2. The band’s first album since the departure of longtime bassist David Ellefson, three singles have been released thus far: We’ll Be Back, Soldier On! and the fastest song the band have ever written, Night Stalkers.
“I think that’s the fastest song we’ve ever done – 190 bpm – and it took a while to get working up to that speed,” Mustaine explains, also in the new issue of Guitar World.
“The song just needed that frantic pace because Night Stalker is a secret helicopter division of the military. They fly missions at night and no one knows what they’re gonna do until it happens.”
Elsewhere in the discussion, Megadeth guitarist Kiko Loureiro recalls Mustaine’s unwavering attitude to songwriting for The Sick, The Dying… and The Dead!, despite undergoing radiation and chemo treatments for cancer.
“He was coming from chemo and he was still showing up for work every day,” Loureiro says. “When you see him doing this, you’re like, ‘Fuck yeah, let’s work on this album, man!’ It was very inspiring to see him come in and pick up his guitar and not slow down. The songs, the whole thing. Everything was there.
“Nothing can destroy this guy, you know? We were like, ‘Are you sure you want to work today? If you go home, we can still work on some stuff.’ And he’d always say, ‘No way.’ He wanted to be there. And he put everything into the songs.”
Read the full interview with Dave Mustaine and Kiko Loureiro in the new issue of Guitar World, available via Magazines Direct.