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“Dave would show him something, and he’d f**kin’ play it right back”: David Ellefson on Kerry King’s brief tenure in Megadeth

Slayer’s Kerry King had a short but noteworthy stint in Megadeth back in 1984.

[L-R] David Ellefson and Kerry King

Credit: Getty Images

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While most will know Kerry King as the man behind some of Slayer‘s most legendary riffs, some may be unaware of his time thrashing with Megadeth back in the ’80s.

King enjoyed a short stint performing live with the band in 1984, before ultimately electing to focus solely on his first love, Slayer.

Now, former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson – who left the band in 2021 – has reflected on King’s short-lived time in the band. Speaking on the Disturbing The Priest podcast, Ellefson explains how the partnership may not have been long, but it left a strong impression.

“He could just recite these riffs right back,” Ellefson fondly recalls. “Dave would show him something, and he’d fuckin’ play it right back. I was like, ‘Jesus, man.’ This was cool… With my bass playing, we created a sound, we created a style – as bands should. Bands create something together.”

King seemed to slot perfectly into the dynamic of the band, and revelled in the opportunity to play alongside frontman Dave Mustaine.

“When Kerry came in, he was my age – so he was kind of in the right age group,” Ellefson explains. “His skills were a little more polished, and he really ‘got’ Dave.”

“He saw Dave play with Saxon at the Whisky with Metallica opening for them, and Kerry said it changed his life,” he continues. “It changed his musical arc, his whole career, and his guitar playing. He loved it – he loved being in a band with Dave,”

Ellefson still thinks of the era every time he goes past the old rehearsal space. “Curly Joe’s Studio… I drive by it all the time now when I go to Chris Poland’s rehearsal place… And I look and go, ‘That’s where we rehearsed all those early years when Kerry King came in,’” he says.

While King may not have continued riffing alongside Megadeth, his dedication to Slayer and carving out his own thrash legacy certainly paid off. This year, King is set to release his highly anticipated solo album, a record he promises will boast “Herculean speeds” and serve as “an extension of Slayer.”

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