“Kiko is a top-notch professional, a maestro – and he did not want to hurt me or Megadeth”: Dave Mustaine pays tribute to outgoing guitarist Kiko Loureiro – and names his successor

Dave Mustaine (left) and Kiko Loureiro
(Image credit: Carlos Santiago/ Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Dave Mustaine has officially named Megadeth’s new electric guitar player, following Kiko Loureiro’s announcement that he would be stepping back from the band for the foreseeable future.

Loureiro, who dropped out of the band’s fall tour earlier this year citing family reasons, confirmed in a post yesterday (November 21) that he’d be extending his absence into 2024 as Megadeth eyes up yet another hectic year of touring.

In his statement, the Ibanez signature artist said he didn't “want to hinder any of the band’s plans,” and reflected on his “unbelievable journey” with the band.

At the time, fans began theorizing who his replacement would be, and now Mustaine – in a touching post that paid tribute to the heavy metal guitar hero – has finally put the rumors to bed by confirming the band’s immediate plans.

As many had been expecting, Mustaine confirmed that Teemu Mäntysaari, the young Finnish metaller who Loureiro hired and trained to fill his boots this year, would be carrying on as “the guitar player for Megadeth” for the foreseeable future.

“The 2023 tour is over, and it was long and arduous,” Mustaine said in his post. “Last year saw a substantial amount of touring, and it appears that 2024 is gearing up to be even more intense, with extensive touring commitments keeping us on the road for most of the year.

“We have had many conversations with Kiko about this, and they have all been very positive,” he continued. 

“Kiko is going to remain on an extended leave of absence due to our heavy touring commitments next year, and we are going to continue to move forward with Teemu Mäntysaari as the guitar player for Megadeth.”

The news puts to bed any fanciful theories concerning a sensational return for Marty Friedman, who recently rekindled his onstage relationship with his former bandmates in their first performance together in 23 years.

It is also a huge vote of confidence for young Mäntysaari from Mustaine, and a clear sign of just how highly the Finnish shredder is viewed by his new bandmates. 

We can’t say we’re surprised, though: Mäntysaari absolutely smashed his first live show with Megadeth (see the video below), and Loureiro himself vouched for the youngster by calling him “an amazing, incredible player.”

Similar to Loureiro’s own post, Mustaine’s update seemingly leaves the door open for the outgoing guitarist to return after 2024, should that be desired by both parties. 

Elsewhere in the post, Mustaine paid tribute to Loureiro – who was drafted in to replace Chris Broderick – saying Megadeth’s recent success would not have been possible without the services of the Brazilian virtuoso.

“I want you to know that I love, respect, and fully support Kiko’s decision,” he wrote. “He has emphasized his love for me, Megadeth, and all of you, our fans.

“Kiko is a top-notch professional, a maestro – and he did not want to hurt me or Megadeth. We came up with a solution to find a fill-in for him during that time and that’s when he presented and trained Teemu Mäntysaari to take over for us.

“In the beginning, this was only going to be until the first week of October. However, things rarely turn out the way they are planned.

“I would like to thank Kiko for his dedication and hard work these past 9 years, helping us to achieve a Grammy on Dystopia and the additional awards we have received on this latest record, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead! I could not have done this without Kiko Loureiro.”

This isn’t the first time Mustaine has reserved such praise for his right-hand man. Speaking to Guitar World earlier this year, the Gibson signature artist labeled Loureiro as the best-ever guitarist in Megadeth’s history.

“Megadeth has had guys like Jeff [Young] and Marty [Friedman], but Kiko is the best we’ve ever had,” Mustaine said. “I don’t say that because Kiko is in the band now; I say it because it’s the truth. Kiko is the best guitar player out of all of them.”

To keep up to date with Megadeth, head over to the band’s official Instagram account.

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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.