As a pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s, but experienced numerous line-up changes, due partly to the band's notorious substance abuse problems. After finding sobriety and securing a stable line-up, Megadeth went on to release a string of platinum and gold albums, including the platinum-selling thrash metal landmark Rust in Peace in 1990 and the Grammy nominated, multi-platinum Countdown to Extinction in 1992. Megadeth disbanded in 2002 after Mustaine suffered a severe nerve injury to his left arm, but following extensive physical therapy, Mustaine reformed the band in 2004 and released The System Has Failed, followed by United Abominations in 2007; the albums deputed on the Billboard Top 200 chart at #18 and #8, respectively.
Megadeth is known for a distinctive guitar style, often involving complex, intricate musical passages, and trade off guitar solos. Mustaine is also known for his original "snarling" vocal style, as well as his recurring lyrical themes, often involving politics, war, addiction, and personal relationships.
As one of the most commercially successful heavy metal bands of all time, Megadeth has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, including six consecutive platinum albums, with seven consecutive Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance. In their 23 active years, Megadeth has had 20 official members, with Dave Mustaine remaining as the driving force, main songwriter, and sole original member. Megadeth is mentioned as one of the bands among the "Big Four of Thrash," along with Metallica, Slayer, and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating and popularizing the genre in the 1980s.
Fueled by the desire for revenge, Mustaine elevated the intensity of Megadeth's music, speeding up existing songs such as "The Mechanix", which Metallica's new line-up adapted into the much slower paced "The Four Horsemen". After unsuccessfully searching for a vocalist for nearly six months, Mustaine decided to handle lead vocal duties himself, while also serving as the band's primary lyricist, main songwriter, and co-lead and rhythm guitarist.
Early in 1984 Megadeth recorded a three song demo, featuring Mustaine, Ellefson, and Rausch, which contained early versions of "Last Rites/Loved to Death", "Skull Beneath the Skin", and "Mechanix". Kerry King (of Slayer fame), covered a handful of live dates while a permanent replacement was sought. After just a few shows in 1984, Lee Rausch was replaced by fusion drummer Gar Samuelson. On the strength of their three song demo, Megadeth signed with the New York based independent label Combat Records, and in December added second guitarist Chris Poland, a friend of Gar's from the fusion scene.
Early in 1985, the band was given $8,000 by Combat Records to record and produce their debut album. However, after spending half of that budget on drugs and alcohol, the band was forced to fire their original producer and produce the album themselves. Despite the resulting poor production, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, released in May 1985, was a well-received effort that blended elements of thrash, and speed metal.
The album features the first of many cover songs performed by Megadeth; a speed metal version of Nancy Sinatra's classic "These Boots Are Made For Walking" with lyrics altered by Mustaine. The song sparked controversy in later years when the song's original author, Lee Hazlewood, deemed Mustaine's changes to be "vile and offensive", and demanded that the song be removed from the album. Under threat of legal action, the song was removed from all pressings released after 1995. In 2002, however, the album was re-released with a partial version of the song, though with the altered lyrics censored by a "beep". In the Killing Is My Business... deluxe edition liner notes, Mustaine is strongly critical of Hazlewood, and notes he received royalties for almost 10 years before objecting to the altered version.
In the summer of 1985, the group toured the United States and Canada for the first time, supporting Killing Is My Business... with Exciter. During the tour, new guitarist Chris Poland abruptly left the band, and was replaced by touring guitarist Mike Albert. Poland later rejoined Megadeth in October 1985 however, shortly before they began work on their second album with Combat Records.
Considered to be a landmark thrash metal album, Allmusic cited Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? as "One of the most influential metal albums of its decade, and certainly one of the few truly definitive thrash albums". The album's title track "Peace Sells" was chosen to be the band's first music video, receiving regular airplay on MTV's Headbangers Ball. "Peace Sells" ranked #11 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs and the opening bass line was used for years as the theme for MTV News. Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? was the first Megadeth album to feature art by Ed Repka, who redesigned the band's mascot Vic Rattlehead to the current standard, and designed much of the band's artwork in later years.
In February 1987 Megadeth was added as the opening band on Alice Cooper's Constrictor tour, followed by a brief tour supporting Mercyful Fate in the US. Cooper, alarmed by the band's drug habits, summoned them to his bus one night to warn against constant excessive drug use. In March of that year, Megadeth began their first world tour as a headlining act in the United Kingdom, which featured support bands Overkill and Necros.
After years of problems stemming from substance abuse, both Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland were fired from Megadeth in July 1987, following the final show of the tour in Hawaii. Mustaine claimed that Samuelson had become too much to handle when intoxicated, and even had replacement drummer Chuck Behler flown out for the last few dates of the tour, fearing that Samuelson would not be able to finish with the band's commitments. Mustaine claimed that Poland had sold band equipment to fund his increasing drug habit, detailed in the song "Liar", which is also dedicated to Poland. He was initially replaced by Jay Reynolds of Malice, but as the band began work on their next album, Reynolds was replaced by his own guitar teacher Jeff Young, who joined Megadeth six weeks into the recording of their third album.
In January 1988 Megadeth released So Far, So Good... So What!, and while the album was eventually certified platinum in the US, it was initially panned by critics, with Allmusic complaining that the album "lacked conceptual unity and musical bite", and that it "wants to sound threatening but mostly comes off as forced and somewhat juvenile". So Far, So Good... featured the single "In My Darkest Hour", with music written by Mustaine as a tribute to fallen Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. The song remains a fan favorite, and has been performed at nearly every Megadeth show since. So Far, So Good... also featured a cover version of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the UK", with lyrics altered by Mustaine (who later admitted to hearing them wrong).
In June 1988, Megadeth appeared in Penelope Spheeris' documentary film The Decline of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years, which chronicled the Los Angeles heavy metal scene of the late 1980s, mostly focusing on glam metal. The video for In My Darkest Hour was filmed by Spheeris (who also directed the "Wake Up Dead" and "Anarchy in the UK" videos), and appears in the final scene of the movie. In Megadeth's 1991 Rusted Pieces VHS, Mustaine recalls the movie as a disappointment, which aligned Megadeth with "a bunch of shit bands".
Megadeth began their world tour in support of So Far, So Good... opening for Dio in Europe in February 1988, later joining Iron Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son summer tour in the US. Noticing problems developing with drummer Chuck Behler, Mustaine brought drummer Nick Menza in to act as Behler's drum technician. As with Gar Samuelson before him, Menza was to be ready to take over for Behler in the event that he could not continue with the tour.
In August 1988, Megadeth appeared at the Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington in the UK, alongside Kiss, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Guns N' Roses, and David Lee Roth, performing to an audience of more than 100,000 people. The band was soon added to the "Monsters of Rock" European tour, but dropped out after the first show. Shortly after that appearance, Mustaine fired both Chuck Behler and guitarist Jeff Young, and canceled their scheduled 1988 Australian tour. "On the road, things escalated from a small border skirmish into a full-on raging war" he later recalled, "I think a lot of us were inconsistent (on the 1988 tour) because of the guy we were waiting for after the show".
In July 1989, Nick Menza was hired to replace Behler on the drums. Unable to find a suitable lead guitarist in time, Megadeth recorded a cover version of Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy" as a three piece band. The version later appeared on the soundtrack to the 1989 Wes Craven horror movie Shocker. While the band was holding auditions for the new lead guitarist in the summer of 1989, Mustaine was arrested for driving while intoxicated and possession of narcotics, having crashed into a parked vehicle occupied by an off-duty police officer. He entered court ordered rehab soon after, and got sober for the first time in ten years.
A revitalized Megadeth entered Rumbo Studios in March 1990 with co-producer Mike Clink to begin work on what would become their biggest selling album to date, Rust In Peace. For the first time in their career, the band worked sober in the studio, alleviating many of the problems faced recording previous albums. Clink was also the first producer to successfully produce a Megadeth album from start to finish, without being fired.
Released worldwide on September 24, 1990, Rust In Peace was a hit with fans and critics alike, debuting at #23 on the Billboard Top 200 in the US, and #8 in the UK. The album showcased a much tighter sound, with Mustaine's writing style adopting a rhythmically complex progressive edge, prompting Allmusic to cite Rust in Peace as "Megadeth's strongest musical effort". The album featured the singles "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due", and "Hangar 18", both of which received music videos, and remain live staples. Rust in Peace went on to sell more than a million copies in the US, and received Grammy nominations in 1991 and 1992 for Best Metal Performance. In September 1990, Megadeth joined Slayer, Testament and Suicidal Tendencies for the European "Clash of the Titans" tour, and in October, they were added as the opening band on Judas Priest's Painkiller tour, culminating with a performance to 140,000 people in January 1991 at Rock in Rio 2 festival in Brazil. Following the success of the European tour, a "Clash of the Titans" US tour began in May 1991, featuring Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and opener Alice in Chains. In July, Megadeth's "Go to Hell" was featured on the Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack, and shortly after "Breakpoint" was featured on the Super Mario Bros soundtrack. In 1991, Megadeth also released their first home video, Rusted Pieces, which contained six of the band's music videos, along with a video interview with the band.
On July 14, 1992, Capitol Records released Countdown to Extinction. The album was an instant hit, debuting at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts in the US, and #5 in the UK. Anchored by the Mainstream Rock hits "Symphony of Destruction" (#29), "Foreclosure of a Dream" (#30), and "Sweating Bullets" (#27), the album quickly went double platinum in the US, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1993. The album's title song, "Countdown to Extinction" also gave Megadeth the distinction of being the only metal band to ever win the "Doris Day Music Award", presented to the band by the Humane Society of the United States in 1993 for "spotlighting species destruction and the horrific 'sport' of canned hunts".
The band released their second home video Exposure of a Dream, in November 1992, continuing in a similar to fashion to Rusted Pieces, the release featured all music videos previously released from Countdown. Megadeth began their world tour in support of Countdown to Extinction in December 1992 with Pantera and Suicidal Tendencies, followed by a North American tour beginning in January 1993 with Stone Temple Pilots. Just one month into the North American tour, however, the band were forced to cancel all remaining shows, including dates scheduled in Japan, as Mustaine again fell into substance abuse, and ended up in the hospital emergency room. After a seven week stint in rehab, Mustaine emerged clean once again, and the band returned to the studio to record "Angry Again", a song which was featured in the 1993 film Last Action Hero, and later nominated for a Grammy in 1994.
In June 1993 Megadeth returned to the stage, appearing as "special guests" at Metallica's Milton Keynes Bowl Festival, marking the first time the former bandmates played the same stage in ten years. The pairing prompted Mustaine's on stage announcement that "The ten years of bullshit is over between Metallica and Megadeth!", although problems would later resurface between the long-feuding bands. In July, Megadeth was added as the opening act for Aerosmith's Get A Grip US tour, but due to contractual disputes, and on stage remarks made by Mustaine about Aerosmith's "advancing" age, Megadeth was removed from the tour after just seven dates. Following their canceled US tour, Megadeth returned to the studio to record "99 Ways to Die", a song that appeared on The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience, a compilation album featuring songs intercut with commentary by Beavis and Butt-head, released in November 1993. The song was later nominated for a Grammy in 1995 for Best Metal Performance.
Following eight months in the studio, Youthanasia was released on November 1, 1994, debuting at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the US. The album was certified gold in Canada in just thirty minutes, and was certified platinum in the US faster than any other Megadeth album. With producer Max Norman still pushing for a slower, more commercial sound, Youthanasia followed the stylistic shift that began with Countdown to Extinction. While still retaining core metal elements, the album focused on stronger vocal melodies and more accessible, radio friendly arrangements. The band even enlisted noted fashion photographer Richard Avedon to further their new image, dropping their jeans and t-shirts for more style conscious look.
A sticker on initial releases of Youthanasia advertised the then-new concept of a band website, affectionately known as "Megadeth, Arizona". Fans could chat in the "Mega-diner", correspond with the band through email, request songs to be played live, and read columns and tour diaries written by band members.
Youthanasia's first single, "Train of Consequences",() reached #29 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock charts, and in November 1994, Megadeth appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman, performing the album's second single, "À Tout Le Monde". "À Tout Le Monde" also received a music video, which MTV refused to play, thinking its lyrics were an endorsement of suicide.
Live support for Youthanasia began in South America in November 1994, and would span eleven months, becoming Megadeth's most extensive tour to date. The band was joined by Corrosion of Conformity in both Europe and the US, and Flotsam and Jetsam, Korn and Fear Factory in the US. The tour culminated with an appearance at the Monsters of Rock festival in Brazil, co-headlining alongside Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne. In January 1995, Megadeth appeared on the soundtrack to the horror film Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight with the song "Diadems". Megadeth also contributed a cover version of "Paranoid" to Nativity in Black, the first Black Sabbath tribute album. The band's version of "Paranoid" was nominated for a Grammy in 1996 for Best Metal Performance, Megadeth's sixth nomination in as many years.
In March 1995, Megadeth released a special edition of Youthanasia in Europe, containing a bonus disc entitled Hidden Treasures. The bonus disc featured every one-off song by Megadeth, from film soundtracks, compilations, and tribute albums, including a new recording of the Sex Pistols' "Problems". Due to fan demand, the bonus disc was released as its own EP in the United States and Japan in July 1995.
In September 1996, Megadeth began working on songs for their next album in Nashville, tentatively titled Needles and Pins. The writing process was closely supervised by new manager Bud Prager, who also contributed musical ideas and lyrics to the songs. Many lyrics, and even song titles were changed at the request of Prager. Regarding Prager's writing influence, Mustaine later wrote "I figured maybe this guy (Prager) could help me get that intangible 'Number One' record I so badly wanted" Due to a problem with the album's original artwork, the album cover was replaced with a "voodoo symbol", and renamed Cryptic Writings.
On June 17, 1997, Capitol Records released Cryptic Writings. The album debuted at #10 on the Billboard Top 200, and was Megadeth's sixth consecutive studio album to be certified gold in the United States. Cryptic Writings scored Megadeth their highest charting single to date, the #1 Mainstream Rock Track, "Trust", which was also nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 1998. Press response to the album was mixed, but the album would go on to score four top 20 Mainstream Rock Tracks, including "Almost Honest" (#8), "Use The Man" (#15), and "A Secret Place" (#19) . When asked about the eclectic nature of the album, Mustaine later said "We divided it into thirds. One part of the record was really fast and aggressive, one third of it was the really melodic, in between stuff, and then the final third was really radio orientated music like Youthanasia". After more than a year away from the stage, Megadeth returned as a live act in June 1997, beginning a world tour with The Misfits, and later touring in the United States with Life of Agony and Coal Chamber. In July Megadeth joined Ozzfest 98, but halfway through the tour, drummer Nick Menza discovered a tumor on his knee, and was forced to leave the tour to undergo surgery. He was replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso, temporarily at first. Following the tour, however, DeGrasso replaced Menza permanently, after Mustaine claimed that Menza had "lied about having cancer".
In 1998, computer game development company 3D Realms announced that they would be using two unreleased Megadeth tracks on their promotional album Duke Nukem: Music to Score By. First was a rendition of the Duke Nukem theme song "Grabbag", originally composed by Lee Jackson, and second was a Megadeth song originally recorded in 1995, "New World Order", which later appeared on the remastered edition of Youthanasia.
Released on August 31, 1999, Risk was both a critical and commercial failure, and led to a backlash from many longtime fans. Although recent Megadeth albums had incorporated mainstream rock elements alongside a more traditional heavy metal sound, Risk was virtually devoid of metal, featuring instead dance, electronica, and disco influences. Risk was Megadeth's first release since 1985 not to be certified gold or higher in the US. The album's lead-off single, "Crush Em", appeared on the Universal Soldier: The Return soundtrack, and later became an official NHL song, played during hockey games.
In July 1999, Megadeth recorded a cover version of the Black Sabbath song "Never Say Die", which appeared on the second Nativity in Black tribute album. They began their world tour in support of Risk in September 1999, playing alongside Iron Maiden during the European leg. Three months into the tour, longtime guitarist Marty Friedman announced that he would be leaving the band, citing musical differences. As Mustaine later explained: "I told (Marty) after Risk that we had to go back to our roots and play metal, and he quit". Megadeth enlisted guitarist Al Pitrelli, formerly of Savatage, Alice Cooper, and currently of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, as Friedman's replacement in January 2000.
Megadeth returned to the studio in April 2000, to begin work on their ninth studio release. However, one month into production the band was given the opportunity to join the "Maximum Rock" tour, alongside Anthrax and Mötley Crüe. Megadeth put the recording on hold, and toured North America throughout the summer of 2000.
Megadeth and Capitol Records parted ways in October 2000, after fourteen years. The label returned the band's newest recordings, and in return released a greatest hits record, Capitol Punishment: The Megadeth Years. The album also featured two new tracks, "Kill the King", and "Dread and the Fugitive Mind", both of which showcased the band's return to their metal roots following Risk.
Touring in support of The World Needs a Hero began in the summer of 2001 in Europe supporting AC/DC, followed by an American tour with Iced Earth and Endo in September. The tour was cut short however, following the attacks on America on September 11, the band were forced to cancel all scheduled dates, including a DVD shoot set in Argentina. Instead the band played two shows in Arizona in November, which were filmed and later released as Rude Awakening, Megadeth's first official live release. The DVD went gold on July 23, 2002. In February 2002, Mustaine remixed and remastered Megadeth's first album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, with modern mixing and mastering techniques used on modern metal albums, and added bonus tracks.
On April 3, 2002, Mustaine announced in a press release that he was disbanding Megadeth, officially due to his arm injury. For the next four months, Mustaine underwent intense physical therapy five days a week. Slowly, Mustaine began to play again, but was forced to "re-teach" his left hand.
In order to fulfill contract obligations with Sanctuary Records, Megadeth released a compilation album, Still Alive... and Well? on September 10, 2002. The first half of the album contains live tracks recorded at the Web Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, on November 17, 2001. The second half of the album contains studio recordings taken from The World Needs a Hero.
Following nearly a year of recovery, including physical and electric shock therapy, Mustaine began work on what was to be his first solo album. The new material was recorded with session musicians Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Sloas in October 2003, but the project was put on hold when Mustaine agreed to remix and remaster Megadeth's eight album back catalog with Capitol Records. Mustaine re-recorded some parts that were lost over time, or altered without his knowledge in the initial mixing process.
On September 14, 2004 Megadeth released their comeback album, The System Has Failed on Sanctuary Records in the US and EMI in Europe. Heralded as a return to form, Revolver magazine gave the album four stars, calling The System Has Failed "Megadeth's most vengeful, poignant and musically complex offering since Countdown to Extinction". The album debuted on the Billboard pop albums chart at #18, and was led by the single "Die Dead Enough", which reached #21 on the US Mainstream Rock charts. Mustaine announced that the album would be the band's last, followed by a farewell tour, after which he would focus on a solo career.
Megadeth began the Blackmail the Universe world tour in October 2004, enlisting touring bassist James MacDonough (Iced Earth), and guitarist Glen Drover (Eidolon, King Diamond). While in rehearsal for the tour, newly returned drummer Nick Menza once again parted ways with the band, as he was unable to prepare for the physical demands of a full US tour. He was replaced just five days before the first show by Shawn Drover, brother to new guitarist Glen Drover, and also a member of the Canadian thrash metal band Eidolon. The band toured the US with Exodus, and later in Europe with Diamond Head and Dungeon. In June 2005, Capitol Records released a greatest hits album to replace the now out of print Capitol Punishment, entitled Greatest Hits: Back to the Start, which featured the new remixed and remastered versions of songs from the first eight albums. In 2006 The band played in Dubai for the annual Dubai Desert Rock Festival.
On October 9, 2005, following the successes of The System Has Failed and the Blackmail the Universe world tour, Mustaine announced on stage in Argentina to a sold out crowd at the Pepsi Music Rock Festival that Megadeth would continue to record and tour with the line "...And we will be back!". This concert was officially released on DVD as That One Night: Live in Buenos Aires in March of 2007. The DVD went gold on July 19, 2007. The 2 CD version was released on September 4, 2007.
In February, 2006 bass player James MacDonough parted ways with the band for what MacDonough called "personal differences". He was replaced by bassist James Lomenzo, who had previously worked with David Lee Roth, White Lion and Black Label Society. On March 16, 2006 the new Megadeth line-up made their live debut headlining the Dubai Desert Rock festival held in the United Arab Emirates, alongside Testament and 3 Doors Down.
On March 21, 2006, Capitol Records released a two disc DVD titled Arsenal of Megadeth, which included archive footage, interviews, live shows, and many of the band's music videos. Due to licensing issues, movie soundtrack videos, as well as videos not released by Capitol Records were not included on the DVD. The DVD went gold on July 27, 2007.
United Abominations was released on May 15, 2007. It debuted a week later at #8 in the US, the band's highest charting position since 1994's Youthanasia, and sold 54,000 copies in its first week. In March 2007 Megadeth commenced a tour through Canada and the United States as an opening act for the newly-reformed Heaven and Hell, followed by a summer festival tour through Europe. In September 2007 Megadeth returned to the United States as the headline act on their Tour Of Duty tour, which also included the Pacific rim and Australia.
On January 13, 2008, Dave Mustaine confirmed that Glen Drover had quit Megadeth to focus on his family, and was replaced by Chris Broderick (formerly of Nevermore and Jag Panzer). The new line-up made its live debut in Finland on February 4, and returned to the US for Gigantour 2008 in the spring. Commenting on leaving the band, Drover said "I am aware of the rumors that I left Megadeth to focus on family life. My family life has always been my priority. In the end, I was unhappy with the situation, which magnified me wanting to spend more time with my family and realizing that it's time for me to move on to the next chapter in my musical career, I have a lot of great memories and met a ton of great people along the way, both fans and people in the industry."
Mustaine said he is happy with Drover's decision and is pleased that his replacement is Broderick. Mustaine also said "Chris is doing just fine". Former Nevermore bandmate Van Williams commented that Megadeth is "getting one hell of a good player, more importantly they're getting a great guy to hang out with and a true friend. Broderick said "I realize I have some big shoes to fill and I will do my best. With regards to what kind of an addition Chris Broderick will be for Megadeth, Dave Mustaine in an interview said "...thoroughly thrilled with Chris... it reminds me a lot like when Ozzy found Randy Rhoads."
A compilaton album called Anthology: Set The World Afire was released on September 30, 2008.
In late September it was announced on their official website that Megadeth will tour the UK with Judas Priest and Testament in February 2009, recently added three Swedish dates, one Italy date and one Danish date.
October 10th: First notes were recorded on guitar.
Controversial and misunderstood lyrics have also caused problems for the band, as the music video for "In My Darkest Hour" was banned from MTV in 1988 when the music channel deemed the song to be pro-suicide. The music video for "À Tout le Monde" was later banned by MTV, again wrongly interpreted as being pro- suicide, when in fact it was written from the perspective of a dying man, saying his last words to his loved ones..
Addiction is also a common theme, as in "Use the Man", "Burnt Ice", and "Addicted to Chaos", about a former substance abuse counselor who died of a drug overdose. Recently, some lyrics have taken on religious themes, including "Truth Be Told", which tells the biblical story of Cain and Abel, and "Shadow of Deth", with spoken lyrics taken directly from Psalm 23 of the King James Bible.
In April 1988, at a concert in Antrim, Northern Ireland, Mustaine "unknowingly" dedicated the final song to the IRA. Mustaine later alleged that he had been misled as to the meaning of the expression "the cause" by T-Shirt bootleggers outside the venue where they were performing. Before the final song, "Anarchy in the UK", Mustaine said, "This one's for The Cause!". A fight amongst the audience ensued, as protestants took offense and, according to Mustaine, the band had to travel in a "bulletproof bus" for the remainder of the tour of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This incident served as inspiration for one of Megadeth's most well-known songs, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due".
In July 2004, former bassist David Ellefson sued Mustaine for $18.5 million in Manhattan Federal Court. Ellefson alleged that Mustaine short changed him on profits and backed out of a deal to turn Megadeth over to him when the band broke up in 2002. Ellefson also accused Mustaine of locking him out of merchandise and publishing royalties. The suit was dismissed in 2005, and Mustaine filed a countersuit, which was later settled out of court.
Also sparking minor controversy was Mustaine's announcement that Megadeth will not play certain songs live anymore, due to Mustaine's new identification as a Christian. In recent years Dave Mustaine has become a Born again Christian. In May 2005 Mustaine also allegedly threatened to cancel shows in Greece and Israel with extreme metal bands Rotting Christ and Dissection, due to the bands' perceived anti-Christian beliefs, which in turn caused the two bands to cancel their appearances.
As an early pioneer of thrash metal, Megadeth helped pave the way for the burgeoning extreme metal movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and is often cited as an influence by later metal acts, including Pantera, Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, and In Flames.
Peace Sells... but Who's Buying? is considered a landmark in the history of thrash metal, with Allmusic calling the album "One of the most influential metal albums of its decade, and certainly one of the few truly definitive thrash albums," as well as "one of the best beginning-to-end metal albums ever". In May 2006 VH1 ranked "Peace Sells" #11 on the 40 Greatest Metal Songs of all time countdown.
In 2004, Guitar World magazine ranked Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman together at #19 on the 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time.
Perhaps the earliest Megadeth reference occurred in the 1988 Oliver Stone film Talk Radio in a famous scene where Michael Wincott, playing a heavy metal stoner, sings the chorus to "Peace Sells" to an exasperated Eric Bogosian after ranting anarchically about the downfall of society.
The fictional cartoon band Dethklok poses the same way as in one of Megadeth's pictures. Megadeth is mentioned in the film Wayne's World 2, Honey Hornee (Kim Basinger) asks Garth (Dana Carvey) "Don't you just love music?" to which Garth replies "Got any Megadeth?". Stephen Frears' 1996 film "The Van" (based on the Irish novel by Roddy Doyle), starring Colm Meaney and Donal O'Kelly, includes a clip where the two "fish & chips van" owners wait outside a Megadeth concert selling fast food to metalheads. The band is mentioned in the 1991 film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, when the two are in Hell, Bill (Alex Winter) says "Ted, you know, if I die, you can have my Megadeth collection". In School of Rock, Jack Black's former band is named "MaggotDeth" in reference to Megadeth. In the 1993 movie Airborne, when the main character walks into Wiley's (Seth Green) room, you see a large poster of Countdown to Extinction album cover. In the 1991 movie Cape Fear Danielle has a poster of the Rust In Peace album cover on her wall.
Megadeth is featured on the soundtracks Shocker, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Last Action Hero, Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight, Super Mario Bros., Universal Soldier: The Return and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and the band's music has also appeared in video games, one being the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Peace Sells is featured on the radio station V-Rock in the 2002 videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, as well as in the 2003 video game True Crime: Streets of LA. A cover version of "Symphony of Destruction" appears in the Playstation 2 video games Guitar Hero and WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006, as well as Flatout 2. A cover version of "Hangar 18" appears in the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 video game Guitar Hero II. Megadeth has also written the song Gears of War influenced by the 2006 Xbox 360 game of the same name, the song is on their newest album, United Abominations. The video game NFL Street 3 features a remix of Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction during gameplay. It is confirmed Megadeth's song Peace Sells will be on Rock Band 2 in addition to the album Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?. The song Sleepwalker was added to Rock Band as a downloadable song.