Megadeth bassist David Ellefson remembered the early days of Megadeth and the state of LA scene back in the day, explaining to Mitch Lafon(transcribed by UG):
“We kind of distanced ourselves a little bit as being known as sort of an L.A. band – because there was a stigma that it was a Sunset Strip, glam hair metal community.”
Asked if Megadeth was ever tempted to join the whole glam scene, Ellefson replied:
“No. It’s funny, right before I moved from Minnesota out to L.A. there were some bands coming up in the Minneapolis hard rock scene that were kind of doing that thing a little bit. Certainly nothing to the degree of Motley Crue. I’ve never seen Motley Crue in the Hustler magazine and thought, ‘Wow, this is really a band on the edge!’
“And of course, my desire to move to LA happened in the early ’80s, as I saw Van Halen taking off. And by this time Ozzy was tapping Randy Rhoads and Rudy Sarzo, started hearing about Ratt, of course Motley was on the radar…
“So by the time I got there in 1983, the big US Festival had already happened, I meet Dave as my upstairs neighbor within the first week of living there and he was very much from the fabric of the kind of music I wanted to be involved in – that I was involved in. He had Diamond Head picture discs, he knew the back history of Motorhead, he played shows with various bands.
“So by the time I got there, Motley Crue, Ratt, all these bands had already been been signed and were already firing off the runway.
“I remember going to the Troubadour down on Santa Monica Boulevard and I remember W.A.S.P. had just played their final show as they were getting signed to Capitol. So they were kind of one of the last major label bands of that genre to get signed and move on.
“Next up was probably Armoured Saint and they were not a hair metal band, nor a thrash metal band, maybe kind of a power metal band. And on the radio KMET they were playing things like Warrior, I remember hearing ‘Queen of the Reich’ by the Queensryche. So the hair metal thing was very much alive and happening.
“But getting teamed up with Dave was really a godsend. I knew right away – Dave’s a real deal. He’s a real writer, he’s got rockstar charisma, he’s not one of the wannabes out on the strip trying to be signed. In fact, he was pretty much against being on the strip. [Laughs]
“Troubadour was the place where I first met Lars [Ulrich] and James [Hetfield], they came to a show there. It was kind of a weird meeting of James and Lars and I’m with Dave. [Laughs] You know, this ‘Metallica meets Megadeth for the first time’ kind of thing.
“So there was a lot of people who were in the scene, part of it, everybody was getting signed and going on what would become their big MTV stardom.”
Asked if he’s hoping for more Big 4 shows, David replied:
“It’s gotta happen. I think it’s a wish for all of us. It’s like dying and going to headbanger heaven.
“The four of us became probably the bigger and more famous of the batch. I remember when Gene Hoglan was in Dark Angel and I remember Jim [Durkin] came to audition for Megadeth at one point, and Kerry King ended up filling in for us on the first few shows. We were all kind of friends in the neighborhood.
“And everybody loved Dave. I remember Vince Neil would see Dave and it was always hugs and high-fives. So even people of the different genres – they all kind of grew up together in L.A. I didn’t get to experience that because I moved there.
“But you could tell, Dave was very much well liked, very well respected in that scene. And I picked up on that right away, like ‘What we’re doing is very different form this, very unique, very original – probably not gonna be an overnight success.’ [Laughs]
“So I signed on, said ‘I’m in, let’s build this thing.’ I could see there were a whole bunch of other people around, Slayer, Megadeth, Dark Angel, Savage Grace, Omen… there was this whole scene growing up around us.”