The Real Reason Dave Mustaine Left Metallica

Dave Mustaine is famous for two things, one of which is awesome and the other ... less so. On one hand, the guitarist-singer is the main man of Megadeth, one of the biggest bands in trash metal and a proud member of the genre's "Big Four" bands. On the other, he started his long way toward this position by getting kicked out of the biggest band of the genre and, for that matter, all of metal. We're talking, of course, about Metallica. Mustaine was actually the band's original guitarist, but got awkwardly booted out in 1983. The situation presumably wasn't helped by the fact that he was terribly hung over while receiving the news. 

As the story goes, Mustaine got fired from Metallica because of his penchant for excess — but hey, didn't that apply to pretty much everyone in the band at the time? Was there something else at play, here? Maybe that shady moment when a young James Hetfield kicked Mustaine's dog, and the guitarist responded by punching Hetfield in the face, according to former bassist Ron McGovney? That seems like a pretty good way to tear a band apart.    

Dave Mustaine was not a friendly drunk

If Ron McGovney's dog story is true, it probably didn't do any favors to Dave Mustaine's standing within the band's ranks. However, as Jon Wiederhorn of Loudwire told us in 2019, Mustaine himself attributes his firing to one simple fact: He was an awful drunk. That's not to say he drank any more than the other Metallica members (who, it should be noted, once referred to themselves as "Alcoholica"). The booze just affected him differently than the others. While James Hetfield, Cliff Burton and Lars Ulrich were drunks of the "loud, stupid and mischievous" variety, Mustaine was uninhibited and violent, with a tendency to physically push his bandmates around. The other three eventually grew weary of him, and on April 11, 1983, they fired Mustaine unceremoniously and without warning, before quite literally putting him on the bus back to California. The problem was, they were in New York at the time. 

The bus ride took four days, and Mustaine was understandably angry with the situation, especially as the band had already replaced him with Kirk Hammett and were heading to the studio to record Kill 'Em All, which Mustaine had helped write. As a silver lining, though, he had plenty of time to work on some new lyrics — and happened upon a political flyer that discussed nuclear weapons with the phrase: "The arsenal of megadeath can't be rid." The rest, as they say, is metal history.