Megadeth has fired their founding bassist, David Ellefson, due to allegations of grooming. No evidence of grooming has been made public at this time, and both Ellefson and the woman involved denied the accusations, but Megadeth cites “an already strained relationship” as another factor in the decision.
“We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth and that we are officially parting ways with him,” Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine stated earlier today, May 24. “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 is now enough to make working together impossible moving forward.”
On a lighter note, he concludes, “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.”
Mustaine has always been Megadeth’s main musician, and the only permanent member since Ellefson temporarily split from the band in 2002 due to a royalties dispute, in addition to Mustaine’s decision to release a solo album as Megadeth soon-after, called The System Has Failed. Ellefson had returned in 2010 and stuck with them until now. Their last album was 2016’s Dystopia, but Ellefson also worked on another album that they now say is “almost complete,” tentatively titled The Sick, The Dying and The Dead.
Megadeth plan to embark on a co-headlining tour with Lamb of God in August-October 2021, supported by two other popular metal bands, Trivium and In Flames. They’re calling it ‘The Metal Tour of the Year,’ and it will be Mustaine’s first full tour since recovering from throat cancer last year. Megadeth is expected to announce a new bass player before then.
Ellefson was accused of grooming by an anonymous Instagram account, who claimed that there was leaked video evidence of highly-explicit video calls and conversations between the famous bassist and a woman he had allegedly met when she was 17. In his response, Ellefson stated, “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.”
The woman reportedly involved in the relationship added a statement of her own, “Yes, those video calls did happen, but I was the one to initiate them and never was I underage, I was always a consenting adult. Nothing inappropriate ever happened before that. It was all consensual, I’m not a victim and I have not been groomed in the slightest as I was the one to initiate it. I was just naive enough to record him and share it with a friend without his permission.”
No crime has been proven, although it does prove infidelity to Ellefson’s wife of 28 years, Julie, through interactions that were allegedly completely consensual and entirely online. Something of tangential interest is that Ellefson has previously been outspoken about his Christian faith and reportedly runs a church service as a Lutheran pastor.
Megadeth initially addressed the allegations on their Facebook account by stating, “We are aware of the recent statements regarding David Ellefson, and are watching developments closely. As it relates to creativity and business, we are all familiar with one another. However, there are clearly aspects of David’s private life that he has kept to himself. As this situation unfolds, it is important that all voices be heard clearly and respectfully. We look forward to the truth coming to light.” The bassist deleted his Twitter account around that time, and no more details of the accusations or events that transpired have made it to the public at this time.
Ellefson had also planned a small solo “tour” for September 2021 called “David Ellefson’s Bass Chronicles.” It’s a story-telling tour, where he hopes to talk about his experience as Megadeth’s bassist between performances of his music. It’s also a way to promote the story-telling behind his forthcoming horror film, Dwellers, and his book Rockstar Hitman, both of which he co-created with writer/director Drew Fortier, who will also be the guitarist in Ellefson’s backing band on the tour. Ellefson released two solo albums over the past few years, an original record called Sleeping Giants (2019) and a covers record called No Cover (2020).
Photo credit: Marv Watson