David Ellefson on Megadeth Firing: ‘You Find Out Who Your Friends Are… When the Shit Hits the Fan’

Over a year after David Ellefson was dismissed from Megadeth following an online scandal involving sexually explicit text messages, the bassist spoke about his sudden departure in a new interview.

“You find out who your friends are and you find out who your friends aren’t pretty fucking quick when the shit hits the fan,” Ellefson told Real Music With Gary Stuckey (via Blabbermouth). “‘Cause everybody wants to be around you when you’re picking up your Grammy.”

He added, “Look, life is… You’re never on top all the time. Your life ebbs and flows, your career ebbs and flows — all of that. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a career musician and I’ve had to go with the ebbs and flows of the good, the bad and the otherwise, sometimes from within, sometimes from without.”

Megadeth announced they were “officially parting ways” with their founding bassist Ellefson in May 2021 after sexually explicit messages involving the bassist and an allegedly underage fan leaked on the internet. Ellefson was accused of “grooming” the woman, who he claimed was 19 at the time of their first virtual sexual encounter.

“Recently, a very private video was illegally posted on the internet and false allegations were made against me,” Ellefson said in a statement 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.”

Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine said at the time of Ellefson’s dismissal, “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.”

Ellefson’s firing came while the band were recording their new LP The Sick, the Dying … and the Dead!, which forced Mustaine to re-record Ellefson’s bass parts; they enlisted Testament’s Steve Di Giorgio, “one of those just really amazingly talented players,” Mustaine recently told Rolling Stone.

“With everything that had taken place over the past, 10, 20 years with my relationship with our past bass player,” Mustaine says, possibly hinting at the lawsuit Ellefson filed against Mustaine before the former band mates reconciled, “it just became time to… it’s so uncomfortable for me to talk about. It was hard on me letting him go. And I’m happier now than I’ve ever been.”

Ellefson added on Real Music With Gary Stuckey, “There’s all kinds of internal and external forces at work, and I think the trick is to be galvanized to be able to withstand the storms and come out the other side and still keep rocking.”