In May 2021, graphic exchanges including virtual “masturbating encounters” between Ellefson and a then-allegedly underage girl were leaked online, leading many to accuse the bassist of “grooming.” He denied such claims and insisted the exchanges — “while certainly embarrassing” — were not illegal and that the girl was not underage.
“When all of that stuff happened, I was pretty blown away. And I didn’t want to do anything to harm anyone; there was already enough stuff going around,” Mustaine revealed during an interview with radio station Rock 100.5 The KATT [as transcribed by Blabbermouth]. “So I figured, ‘You know what? I’m not gonna take anybody’s side. All I know is that for now we need to do something.’ The climate was just horrifying, to have something like that. So we parted ways [with Ellefson].”
Megadeth was already working on a new album and had tour dates lined up, leading Mustaine to ponder some tough decisions.
“I thought about, ‘Do we get someone to come in as a session player? Or do I really, really, really go all in and start the search for a permanent guy?’ And we didn’t have the time. We had to have the record in — it had been two years since we started it and six years since Dystopia, so it was long overdue.”
Testament’s Steve DiGiorgio eventually recorded bass tracks for the album which would become 2022’s The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead!. Still, he was not a permanent replacement for Ellefson.
“Although we are not very close, me and the guys in Testament, I do consider them my friends and I do consider them a great band,” Mustaine noted. “And I would never jeopardize that by trying to steal Steve.”
Instead, Megadeth opted to recruit James LoMenzo, who had previously been in the group from 2006-2010. According to Mustaine, the bassist’s return has gone swimmingly.
“James is just a consummate gentleman,” the frontman declared. “He’s no maintenance whatsoever, and he’s a rock star. He’s been around the block. He’s played with Ozzy [Osbourne] on gigantic stages, so it’s not like I have to stay on top of him, where we’ve had some periods from Day One until even just recently where we had to have a little bit of some Rock School 101.”
Megadeth are currently on a nationwide tour, with dates stretching through mid-October.
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