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Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California which was formed in 1983 by guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine, bassist Dave Ellefson and guitarist Greg Handevidt, following Mustaines expulsion from Metallica. The band has since released 13 studio albums. A pioneer of the American thrash metal movement, Megadeth rose to international fame in the 1980s and was ranked as one of the "Big Four of Thrash" along with Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the thrash metal sub-genre.
Over the bands 28 active years, over 20 different people have officially performed as part of the group, with Mustaine being the only constant member. Megadeth is known for its distinctive, technical instrumental style that often features dense, intricate passages and trade-off guitar solos. Megadeth is also known for recurring lyrical themes including politics, war, addiction, personal relationships, and religion. Megadeth has sold over 30 million albums worldwide with five consecutive albums being certified platinum or multi-platinum in the US. As of 2012, Megadeth has received ten Grammy nominations.
Dave Mustaine was originally the lead guitarist for Metallica a year after they formed in 1981. He stayed a part of the band until 1983 where he was fired from the group due to drinking, drug use, violent behavior and personality conflicts with James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and original Metallica bassist Ron McGovney. Two months after being fired, Mustaine and bassist Dave Ellefson formed Megadeth in Los Angeles. Mustaine later said, "After getting fired from Metallica, all I remember is that I wanted blood. Theirs. I wanted to be faster and heavier than them."
According to Mustaine, the name Megadeth represents the annihilation of power, while in itself is a corruption of the term megadeath. In his attempt to upstage his former band, Dave Mustaine wrote more aggressive compositions. One example of this was tempo increases made to his song "Mechanix", a song he wrote while in Metallica (and also went on to become a mainstay in Metallicas live performances in the form of the slower-paced "The Four Horsemen"). Mustaine and Ellefson searched for a singer unsuccessfully for six months, eventually agreeing that Mustaine should handle vocal duties. Mustaine also would serve as the bands main lyricist and songwriter in addition to handling rhythm and lead guitar duties.
In 1984, Megadeth recorded a three song demo tape, referred to as the 1984 Demo, featuring Mustaine, Ellefson and drummer Lee Rausch. The demo contained early versions of "Last Rites/Loved to Death", "Skull Beneath the Skin", and "Mechanix". The band did a few live performances in 1984, before replacing Lee Rausch with fusion drummer Gar Samuelson. Megadeth signed with the New York based independent label Combat Records. In December of that year, they added Chris Poland as a second guitarist.
In 1985, the band was given $8,000 by Combat Records to record and produce their debut album. After spending half of the albums budget on drugs, alcohol, and food, the band was forced to fire their original producer and produce the album themselves. Despite poor production, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! was released in May that year. The album was a well-received effort that blended elements of thrash and speed metal.
The album features a speed metal version of Nancy Sinatras classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin" with altered lyrics, the first of many cover songs performed by Megadeth. The song sparked controversy in later years when the songs original author, Lee Hazlewood, deemed Mustaines changes to be "vile and offensive" and demanded that the song be removed from the album. Under threat of legal action, it was removed from albums released after 1995. In 2002, the album was re-released with a partial version of the same song with the altered lyrics censored. In the Killing Is My Business... deluxe edition liner notes, Mustaine is strongly critical of Hazlewood, noting that he received royalties for almost 10 years before objecting to the altered version. "These Boots Are Made for Walkin" was also used in the 1987 movie Dudes.
In the second quarter of 1985, the group toured the United States and Canada for the first time, supporting Killing Is My Business... with Exciter. Guitarist Chris Poland joined Megadeth as the tour kicked off, but abruptly left the band and was replaced by touring guitarist Mike Albert. Poland later rejoined Megadeth in October 1985, shortly before they began work on their second album with Combat Records.
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