Megadeth’s David Ellefson (photo: Ralph Arvesen)
A weird situation developed and then unravelled over the past couple of months concerning thrash metal giants Megadeth, their bass player Dave Ellefson, and a masturbation video. Yup, that’s right. But before we get into the embarrassing details, let’s rewind a little.
Megadeth formed in 1983 when mainman Dave Mustaine was unceremoniously booted out of fellow thrash titans Metallica. Dave Ellefson formed the band with Mustaine back then, and he remained a member until 2002. That means he played on all the classic albums — with Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying, So Far So Good So What, Rust in Peace, and Countdown to Extinction — among them.
By 2002, the relationship between Mustaine and Ellefson was strained. The bassist was out and legal battles commenced. It was ugly as shit, but they sorted it out because 2010 saw Ellefson’s return to the Megadeth ranks. Did that mean that all of the nonsense was behind them? Not really, if the reports are to be believed, but they buried it for the sake of the band and recorded three more albums. Almost four.
The latest Megadeth album, coming this year, has the working title The Sick, the Dying…and the Dead! Ellefson was working on it, but this week Mustaine confirmed that his bass parts will be recorded by a new yet to be announced bass player.
“I just wanna thank you for all the kinds [sic] words and support as we get ready for this next tour and continue to hunt for a new bass player,” Mustaine said on his Gimme Radio show, The Dave Mustaine Show. “We are making progress. The record’s being completed, and we’re gonna have someone coming in in a couple of weeks to replace the bass tracks that we had. Which should be relatively quick because the person we’re talking to is a stellar bass player. And hopefully this will be an ongoing thing after the recording. Or we will find someone prior to the recording that will be our permanent guy going forward.”
Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine (photo: Bizu)
OK, so what did Ellefson do to incur his bandleader’s wrath? Here’s where it gets messy.
Back in May, an Instagram user with the handle @woahworst posted that Ellefson had been harassing her friend, who at the time was seventeen, via video calls and IMs. On some of the videos, Ellefson appears to be masturbating and he later admitted to five such encounters. The age of consent in Ellefson’s state of Arizona is eighteen. So it’s a clear cut crime, right?
Not exactly. The woman in question, who is now nineteen, lives in the Netherlands where the age of consent is sixteen. As far as she was concerned, she initiated the calls and she was of age.
“These video calls happened, but I was the one who started them, and I was never a minor, I was always a consenting adult,” she has said. “Nothing inappropriate happened before that. It was all consensual, I am not a victim and I was not harassed in the slightest because I was the one who initiated it.”
It’s very uncomfortable but it raises important questions, particularly in this internet age. Ellefson effectively engaged in sexual activity with someone who was legally able to consent from where she sat but not where he sat.
That said, what he did can’t be condoned. The man is well into his fifties and he’s married. He’s embarrassed himself and his former bandmates, but more importantly his wife, family, and the young woman he’s thrown into the spotlight. At best, it’s creepy and fucking gross behaviour. Megadeth certainly thinks so.
“We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth and that we are officially parting ways with him,” Mustaine posted on social media. “We do not take this decision lightly. While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward. We look forward to seeing our fans on the road this summer, and we cannot wait to share our brand new music with the world. It is almost complete.”
A key phrase there is “already strained.” Under better circumstances, Mustaine might have been willing to see how this shook out and discover the results of any legal investigations. Rather, he took the opportunity to show Ellefson the door at the earliest opportunity.
For his part, Ellefson reported the incident to the police in Scottsdale, Arizona as “revenge porn.”
“Recently, a very private video was illegally posted on the internet and false allegations were made against me,” Ellefson said to Rolling Stone. “The actions in the video were between two consenting adults and were recorded without my knowledge. I am working with Scottsdale Police Department in their investigation into charges regarding revenge pornography to be filed against the person who posted this video. Also, my lawyers are preparing a defamation lawsuit to be filed against this person. This person will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Prior to that, Ellefson was quoted by Blabbermouth as saying:
“As you may or not know, some private and personal conversations and interactions have surfaced online, released with ill intention by a third party who was not authorized to have them or share them,” Ellefson said. “While certainly embarrassing, I want to address it as openly and honestly as possible. As much as it’s not something I’m proud of, these were private, adult interactions that were taken out of context and manipulated to inflict maximum damage to my reputation, my career, and family.”
So that’s where we are. Ellefson is out of work and left looking like a creepy old man who jerks off to teenagers online; because that’s what he is. Is it a legal issue? Probably not but it’s hard to feel sympathy for him being revealed as a creepy old man who jerks off to teenagers online. Feels like that last bit needs to be stressed.
We’ve written in the past about the likes of Jimmy Page, David Bowie, Johnny Thunders, etc. sleeping with fourteen year old Sable Starr and Lori Mattix when the rockers were in their twenties. Some will point to those incidents as being worse. But this isn’t about whataboutisms and pointing at behavior ignored in the past. This happened now, and Ellefson is facing the consequences.