David Ellefson, founding bassist of Grammy-winning thrash band Megadeth, has been dismissed from the band following allegations of sexual misconduct with a teenager. Singer-guitarist Dave Mustaine issued a statement via the band’s Twitter on Monday morning.
“We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth and that we are officially parting ways with him,” wrote Mustaine. “We do not take this decision lightly. While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward. We look forward to seeing our fans on the road this summer, and we cannot wait to share our brand new music with the world. It is almost complete.”
On May 10, two sexually explicit videos of Ellefson, 56, were leaked by an anonymous third party on the internet and shared to Twitter; at least one of the videos revealed him masturbating. Also leaked were screenshots of intimate messages exchanged between Ellefson and a fan, whom others have identified as a 19-year-old woman. On social media, users alleged that Ellefson groomed said fan, who was thought to be underage, into a sexual relationship.
Ellefson addressed the leaks on his Instagram page, which is now private. “As much as it’s not something I’m proud of, these were private, adult interactions that were taken out of context and manipulated to inflict maximum damage to my reputation, my career and family,” he wrote, referring to his wife of 27 years, Julie Ellefson, and their two adult children. “The other party involved has made a statement which you can see... I thank her for doing so and hope that this clarifies that the situation was not at all as presented.”
Ellefson shared a screenshot of a post written by the fan alleged to be underage. Under the now-defunct Instagram alias “edophosauruses,” she addressed the leaks and attested to recording the videos. “Yes, those video calls did happen, but I was the one who initiated them, and never was I underage,” she stated. “I was always a consenting adult. Nothing inappropriate ever happened before that.”
Representatives for the band could not be reached for comment.
Mustaine and Ellefson cofounded Megadeth in 1983 after Mustaine was fired from Metallica. Megadeth released its debut album ‘Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!’ in 1985. The group went on to record several platinum albums, including 1992’s ‘Countdown to Extinction,’ which peaked at No 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Two years after the band’s dissolution in 2002, Mustaine released ‘The System Has Failed,’ a solo album under the banner of Megadeth. This sparked a years-long feud with Ellefson, who claimed legal ownership of Megadeth’s name. In 2010, Ellefson called a truce and rejoined the band; in 2017, they won their first-ever Grammy for best metal performance, for their song ‘Dystopia.’
Megadeth had plans to release a new album in 2021, tentatively titled ‘The Sick, The Dying… and The Dead!’ Megadeth will still embark on their North American tour, co-headlining with Lamb of God. The tour kicks off August 20 in Austin, Texas.