Dave Mustaine has once again insisted that he “didn’t care” that the house band played the song “Master Of Puppets” from his former band METALLICA when MEGADETH was honored with its first-ever Grammy a year ago.
MEGADETH was nominated for a 2017 Grammy Award for “Best Metal Performance” for the title track of “Dystopia”. This marked the band’s twelfth Grammy nomination in this category (including nominations in the discontinued “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance” category).
Asked by Rolling Stone what it was like winning his first award, Mustaine said (see video below): “We’ve been nominated a lot of times, which is great — it’s very flattering. But there’s only so many times you can say, ‘Oh, I’m really happy I was just nominated.’ [Chuckles] Yeah, right! So I remember it when we actually did win, the way that they announced it, it was kind of backwards. Margaret Cho was the presenter, and she said, ‘And the winner is ‘Dystopia’,’ and it was supposed to have been the winner was MEGADETH, because it was about the band, not about the song. It took a second to sink in, and then we got up there. And then, on the way down there, the music is playing in the background, and I didn’t even care. We got up there and we did our thing. And somebody goes, ‘Did you hear the song they played when you got your award?’ And I was, like, ‘No.’ Evidently, they played a METALLICA song. And I said, ‘I don’t feel bad for ’em, ’cause they did a really, really bad job of it.’ Good thing is it didn’t say ‘METALLICA‘ on the freakin’ Grammy!”
Mustaine was also asked about the first time he met late METALLICA bassist Cliff Burton, which he used as an opportunity to recount how he supposedly inserted the main riff from LYNYRD SKYNYRD‘s “Sweet Home Alabama” into what became the METALLICA song “The Four Horsemen” (known in its original version as “The Mechanix”).
“Cliff and I became really, really, really close,” he said. “And I remember he had an affinity for LYNYRD SKYNYRD. And I remember driving to rehearsal one day. We were listening to ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. And Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer] goes [adopts Danish accent], ‘Oh, man, we have to slow this part down in the middle, man.’ And I went, ‘Okay.’ So I went [hums ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ riff]. I was playing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’, and he didn’t know it. And he goes [adopts Danish accent], ‘Fuck! That’s fucking brilliant, man.’ And I went, ‘Okay. Here we go.’ So I ditched the [last part of the ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ riff]. Dave Mustaine and LYNYRD SKYNYRD wrote ‘The Four Horsemen’.”
Mustaine was fired from METALLICA in 1983 — some three years before “Master Of Puppets” was released — over substance abuse and anger issues. Although he later conceded that he was “bitter” for a period of time after being dismissed, he insisted that any perceived feud with his former bandmates was an illusion.
Mustaine told Radio.com in a 2017 interview that he “didn’t even notice” “Master Of Puppets” being played as he walked toward the stage to give his acceptance speech. “It just sounded like some music in the background,” he said. “The funny thing is that when I went back and listened to my acceptance speech, and I heard the song, I was, like, ‘Wow!’ Everyone was asking me, ‘What about the METALLICA thing?’ And I said, ‘I didn’t hear it, I just saw it.’ ‘How could you not have heard it?’ I didn’t know what they were talking about. I thought that they were talking about METALLICA‘s performance. Because we split [after the pre-televised awards]. By the time they did their thing with Lady Gaga, we were across the street eating dinner. So I went back and listened to my acceptance speech and I went, ‘Wow!'”
He continued: “I didn’t mind them playing it at all, it’s a house band, and they’re doing cover songs. They were probably saying, ‘We don’t know any MEGADETH songs. How about if we do a METALLICA song?’ But when I went back and listened to it, I was, like, ‘Oh my God! That’s the worst version of ‘Master Of Puppets’ I’ve ever heard in my life!'”
When the interviewer pointed out to Mustaine that the house “house band seemed to be playing pretty random songs,” Mustaine agreed: “They could’ve done a Cyndi Lauper song! [Laughs] I was just happy to be up there. It’s about being recognized.”
The members of METALLICA have been mostly respectful while discussing their onetime member, with guitarist Kirk Hammett saying on a 2016 podcast: “I’ve always seen Dave as someone who was just really, really sad, really angry, really frustrated about his situation with METALLICA, and he never could let that go. And, you know, I’ve always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off. It’s the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you.”