Former Megadeth guitarist Jeff Young says he turned down the chance to play in David Lee Roth’s band

Jeff Young
(Image credit: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage via Getty)

At the onset of the ‘90s, David Lee Roth was in the market for a new electric guitar player to support his solo musical exploits following the departure of a young Steve Vai, who left the former Van Halen vocalist’s group to pursue a solo career of his own.

Vai, who had worked with Roth since 1985 and helped him record 1988’s Skyscraper LP, was ultimately replaced by a 19-year-old Jason Becker – another virtuoso who would go on to record just one album with Roth, 1991’s A Little Ain’t Enough.

If things had panned out differently, though, Roth would have been linking up with another high-profile guitar star, who had recently been fired by Megadeth in 1989 by the band’s leader, Dave Mustaine. That is, if the guitar player in question hadn’t “passed on” the opportunity to audition for Roth.

In a recent interview with The Metal Voice, Jeff Young – who had worked with Megadeth recording and touring their 1988 album, So Far, So Good... So What! – recalled the time he had been approached to try out for the role, but ultimately turned it down.

When asked if he had passed on the job, Young confirmed he had. “Jason Becker got the [gig] after I passed, which I'm glad, because that gave him a chance to do one really killer project before he got sick,” he said, referencing Becker’s diagnosis with ALS around the time A Little Ain’t Enough was assembled.

"And he was a buddy of mine, so I was relieved” he continued. “Once I saw his movie [Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, 2012], I was really glad I passed on it. I was being managed by Diamond Dave management, and that's how I got that offer.”

When asked if his decision was based on whether or not he saw himself as the “right fit” for it, Young went on, “No, I turned it down. I thought he’d end up in [Las] Vegas, and that was all the way back then, and where did he end up?”

The answer to Young’s question is, of course, Las Vegas, with the former Van Halen frontman performing as part of a residency in the city back in 2020. However, though Roth had another Vegas residency planned for last year – tipped to be his farewell concert – this was canceled due to Covid.

“I just don’t really like his voice, to be honest,” Young concluded matter of factly.

Currently, Young has linked up with fellow former Megadeth member David Ellefson for his latest project, Kings of Thrash. Last year, the pair embarked on "The Mega Years" tour, which – as the name implies – saw the pair perform tracks from their own Megadeth repertoire.

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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.