Megadeth is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles in 1983 by vocalist/guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson. Known for their technically complex guitar work and musicianship, Megadeth is one of the "big four" of American thrash metal along with Metallica, Anthrax, and Slayer, responsible for the genre's development and popularization. Their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, and lyrical themes of death, war, politics, personal relationships, and religion.
In 1985, Megadeth released its debut album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, on the independent record label Combat Records, to moderate success. It caught the attention of bigger labels, which led to Megadeth signing with Capitol Records. Their first major-label album, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, was released in 1986 and was a major hit with the underground metal scene. Band members' substance abuse issues and personal disputes had brought Megadeth negative publicity during the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the band went on to release a number of platinum-selling albums, including So Far, So Good... So What! , Rust in Peace , and Countdown to Extinction . These albums, along with worldwide tours, brought them public recognition.
Megadeth has had numerous guitarists, drummers and bassists throughout its 38-year career, with Mustaine being the only remaining original member of the group. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when Mustaine suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without Ellefson, who had taken legal action against him. Ellefson settled out of court and rejoined in 2010, but was fired from the band in 2021 amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Megadeth's current lineup includes Mustaine, guitarist Kiko Loureiro and drummer Dirk Verbeuren; former bassist James LoMenzo currently serves as touring bassist.
Megadeth has sold 38 million records worldwide, earned platinum certification in the United States for six of its fifteen studio albums, and received twelve Grammy nominations. Megadeth won its first Grammy Award in 2017 for the song "Dystopia" in the Best Metal Performance category. The band's mascot, Vic Rattlehead, regularly appears on album artwork and live shows. The group has drawn controversy for its music and lyrics, including album bans and canceled concerts; MTV refused to play two of the band's music videos that the network considered to condone suicide. Megadeth has hosted its own music festival Gigantour, several times since July 2005, and held its first annual MegaCruise in October 2019.
On April 11, 1983, Dave Mustaine was fired from Metallica just prior to the band recording their debut album Kill 'Em All due to substance abuse and personal conflicts with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. As Metallica's lead guitarist since 1981, Mustaine had composed some of the group's early songs and helped hone the band into a tight live unit. Afterward, Mustaine vowed revenge by forming a band that was faster and heavier than Metallica. On the bus trip back to Los Angeles, Mustaine found a pamphlet by California senator Alan Cranston that read: "The arsenal of megadeath can't be rid no matter what the peace treaties come to." The term "Megadeath" stuck with Mustaine and he wrote a song with the spelling slightly changed to Megadeth, which, according to Mustaine, represented the annihilation of power.
After arriving back in Los Angeles, Mustaine began the search for new bandmates for his band. He formed the band Fallen Angels, and after numerous band members, the band's name was changed to Megadeth. As the founder of the band, he added to the band his new neighbors David Ellefson and Greg Handevidt, who had moved from Minnesota to Los Angeles and played bass and guitar. While Handevidt would only last a few months, Mustaine and Ellefson formed a tight musical bond. Despite his enthusiasm, Mustaine had trouble finding other members to fill out the lineup. He and Ellefson auditioned about 15 drummers, hoping to find one who understood metre changes in music. After briefly playing with Dijon Carruthers, they selected Lee Rausch. Following six months of trying to find a lead singer, Mustaine decided to perform lead vocals himself.
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