DAVID ELLEFSON On Hearing METALLICA For The First Time: ‘It Felt Like Something You Shouldn’t Be Doing’


Bassist  told the Bass Musician Magazine about his first impresion when Dave Mustaine played him Metallica’s “No Life ‘Til Leather.”

“Greg Handevidt [the original second guitarist of Megadeth, who was only briefly in the band in 1983 with drummer Dijon Carruthers], he was the other guy who was vital to the formation of Megadeth. He was there in our earliest days.

“I remember after Greg and I met Dave Mustaine, who lived in the apartment above us, we went downstairs and that night, Greg goes, ‘Dude, we’ve got to go play with that guy.’ We loved his music – he had something of a whole other level that was going on in LA…

“What Dave was doing and this band that he had just left, that we had not heard of yet, called Metallica, Dave was playing for me and Greg the ‘No Life ‘Til Leather’ demo that he had played on.

“There was an aggression, a darkness about it that was just hauntingly cool. It felt like something you shouldn’t be doing, which is why we wanted to do it – especially being from Jackson, MN.”

On the days when he was a beginner:

“I think I followed the passion that I had for the kind of music that I wanted to do. I had a rock n’ roll soul for whatever reason, so even in jazz band, I wanted to rock.

“I picked up the bass at about age 11, and I remember I got a Hondo II Stratocaster from the local music store. I remember I wanted to play riffs and cool chord changes. I’m of the belief that your instrument chooses you.

“Why the bass, of all things, growing up on a farm in Jackson, MN? I remember looking at Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s ‘Not Fragile,’ and I remember opening up that gatefold and going, ‘There’s Randy Bachman with a Strat; there’s Fred Turner with a Rickenbacker; Blair Thornton over there with a Gibson, I guess, SG or Les Paul-type guitar.’

“And for whatever reason, that bass just called to me. That was the one. Then as I got into KISS, and to me, it was about that presence – that larger-than-life presence. The music’s important – it’s important to practice.

“I came home every day after school and went right into the basement, trying to avoid hard farm work. I would try to get down there and put some time in every day before my dad would call, ‘David, we need you outside,’ and do farm work…

“I think music calls to us, and I guess for those of us who are either crazy enough, un-thinking enough or just stubborn enough, we go pursue it.”