Megadeth’s David Ellefson: I was on Metallica’s “short list” to replace Jason Newsted

"I know that there was a conversation about considering me"

Megadeth's David Ellefson
Megadeth’s David Ellefson, photo by David Brendan Hall

    Back when Metallica were auditioning bassists to replace Jason Newsted, Megadeth were in the process of disbanding. Hence, the timing would have been right for David Ellefson to try out for the coveted Metallica gig.

    Newsted parted ways with Metallica in January 2001, and while the band enlisted producer Bob Rock to play bass tracks for what would be their 2003 album, St. Anger, they were also holding auditions for the open bass position. Robert Trujillo landed the job in February 2003 after beating out the likes of Eric Avery (Jane’s Addiction), Jeordie White (Marilyn Manson), Pepper Keenan (Corrosion of Conformity, Down), and others, who had also auditioned, as famously captured in the documentary Some Kind of Monster.

    While Ellefson never made it to the audition stage, he says in a new interview with The Metal Voice that he was definitely considered for the gig.


    “They didn’t call me,” revealed Ellefson. “I know that there was a conversation about considering me. I know Lars [Ulrich] and Dave [Mustaine] had chatted, ’cause [Metallica] were putting their short list together. And, to be honest with you… I mean, look, Metallica are great, and I’m a fan of theirs and friends with them, and I would be there to be of service with them in whatever way, but they, I think, made their decision right around the time when Megadeth had disbanded in 2002.”

    Of course, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine had been a member of Metallica in their early days, and the relationship he’s had with Metallica over the years has been contentious, to say the least. In fact, Mustaine once told CBS (as reported by Blabbermouth) that Ellefson’s name came up as a possible replacement for the late Cliff Burton back in the ’80s, as well.

    “When Cliff died, there was a moment where Dave’s name had come up and I was a little concerned,” said Mustaine. “I didn’t want to lose my bassist and I certainly didn’t want to have another reason to be upset.”


    Megadeth would resume band activities in 2004, but Ellefson wouldn’t rejoin the band until 2010. The thrash metal veterans are currently working on their 16th album for a 2019 release, with Ellefson telling The Metal Voice in the same interview, “As we talk about this next record we said [our last album] Dystopia is the benchmark — it seems to be what fans like to hear: a combination of melodies, amazing playing and the thrash stuff — a kind of a greatest hits of everything Megadeth has ever done. All this can be heard on Dystopia. Too early to say what it will sound like, but Dystopia is a benchmark for us.”

    Listen to the full interview with The Metal Voice below.

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