Lombardo left the band during their tour to promote Reign in Blood, stating, “I wasn’t making any money. I figured if we were gonna be doing this professionally, on a major label, I wanted my rent and utilities paid.” Tony Scaglione of WHIPLASH was enlisted to replace Lombardo. Unhappy with the change, producer Rick Rubin repeatedly called Lombardo asking his return. Lombardo initially refused before eventually returning to the band in 1987.
Lombardo now said: “A funny story — I was going to join MEGADETH when I left SLAYER the first time in ’86. It was very much on the down-low — probably [Dave] Mustaine doesn’t remember this. But they had opened up for Alice Cooper during the [1986’s] Peace Sells tour, and I went to the Long Beach Arena, and I met with the guys.
“And the main issue at that time was — when I saw the guys, they didn’t look very healthy,” he continued. “I think it was a very dark period for them, and I had heard rumors of drugs and stuff like that. I was no saint, but I kept it in check, and they just didn’t look healthy to me, I didn’t see a healthy path for myself.
“Sure enough, [MEGADETH drummer at the time] Gar Samuelson died [in 1999] — and he was an amazing drummer. MEGADETH and SLAYER played many times together, and so yeah, I just didn’t see things go well, and then I, of course, rethought my position, and with a little bit of coercion from Rick Rubin, I returned [to SLAYER].