Megadeth’s David Ellefson Credits Van Halen, Styx + Judas Priest for Changing His Life
Megadeth bassist David Ellefson sat down with Lonn Friend for an interview at the NAMM show in Anaheim, Calif. last month. In the video above, you can watch the two flip through the book 108 Rock Star Guitars. Ellefson opens up talking about how Styx, Judas Priest and former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony all helped mold him as a musician.
Ellefson says that Anthony in particular is a huge influence on him both as a bass player and a vocalist. He said, “When we [Megadeth] were writing Peace Sells, we were in the band room, writing Peace Sells, and at the end, [sings] 'Peace sells, but who's…,' I immediately go, [sings higher] 'Peace sells, but who's buying.' I immediately go for that … I call it the 'Michael Anthony harmony.' 'We've gotta get the 'Michael Anthony harmony' in here.'"
He added, “So anytime I'm on a bandstand and there's a vocal, I'm like, 'I'll take the Michael Anthony part.' So he's defined in my book as ... basically, he's an instrumentation.” Ellefson said he got the chance to meet Anthony and tell him how much he has inspired him over the years. “He's very humble," says the bassist. "But it's always nice to tell people who changed your life, to let them know what they did."
Ellefson also said that Styx’s 1977 album The Grand Illusion changed his life. He explained that listening to Styx led him to discover Judas Priest and the rest is history. “I was 10 years old on the school bus in rural Minnesota… and that’s where I would hear Styx and Sweet and Kiss and BTO and Supertramp every morning. Basically the BTO Rickenbacker 4001 led me to this [Styx], led me to Gene Simmons’ Grabber bass, which led me right over to Michael Anthony’s P bass [Fender Precision] and then straight to K.K. Downing.”
When looking at a photo of K.K. Downing’s famed Flying V guitar in the 108 Rock Star Guitars book he said, “Unleashed In The East changed the course of my life forever. I’d like to think in a good way. It took me from rock to hard rock and once that came out full on into metal and I never looked back.”
Next month, Ellefson is heading to Australia for a five-date spoken-word tour. ‘An Evening With David Ellefson’ will feature behind-the-scenes stories of Megadth as well as stories from life on the road and more. The shows will also feature a bass demonstration and Q&A session. For more info click here.
Meanwhile, the bassist recently said that band’s latest album is “pretty much written,” and that they just have to go in and record it. He also revealed the plan for finding a new drummer and guitarist for the band. Read more here.
The 108 Rock Star Guitars book is available now at Amazon.
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