Megadeth's Dave Mustaine Regrets Punching James Hetfield in the Early Days of Metallica

"I really respect him, and I respect his playing"
Megadeth's Dave Mustaine Regrets Punching James Hetfield in the Early Days of Metallica
Photo: Ralph Arvesen
Before the dawn of Megadeth, Dave Mustaine was the original lead guitarist of Metallica. Though he was fired (and replaced by Kirk Hammett) in 1983 before he could appear on any of the band's albums, Mustaine left his mark on the group — namely, bandleader James Hetfield's face, by way of punching it. However, the Megadeth founder now says that he regrets the famous altercation: "It was a dumb thing that I did."

In a new video interview posted by Revolver Magazine yesterday (September 21), Mustaine spends 10 minutes answering questions from fans. When asked, probably for the umpteenth time, about his forced exit from Metallica, the musician was pensive in reflecting on the epoch, seemingly with a level of tenderness and remorse.

"Hetfield's still one of my favourite guitar players," Mustaine said, going on to reference some fan footage of Hetfield getting emotional onstage and admitting his insecurities with Metallica earlier this year, saying: "I saw the thing with James. He was saying that he was going through a rough patch." This had also prompted his former bandmate to reach out via text to check in, although it's admittedly been "one of those really weird love-hate relationships."

Of Metallica, Mustaine continued: "I really liked those guys. If I didn't like them, I would just say, you know, fuckin' flush the toilet and be done with it. [Hetfield's] always been somebody that I really liked playing with. I wished things wouldn't have ended the way that they did."

Reflecting on the Hetfield punch, which was motivated by him allegedly kicking Mustaine's dog, the Megadeth rocker conceded, "It was a dumb thing that I did by taking my dog up to practice, and it was even dumber to punch him." He has previously touched on his penchant for bringing his dogs to early Metallica band practices, to the great annoyance of his previous bandmates.

Mustaine added: "I really respect him, and I respect his playing. And I hope he knows that there are a lot of people out there, like me, that like him as a person, and don't give two fucks about him being in Metallica."

All that being said, the Megadeth mega-mind also recently claimed that he was the "alpha male" of Metallica's founding members in an interview with Classic Rock, and he told Exclaim! about his strict membership requirements for Megadeth.

Watch Mustaine answer fan questions below.


Megadeth released their 16th studio album The Sick, the Dying... and the Dead! earlier this month, while Metallica's "Enter Sandman" was found to have America's most commonly misheard lyric.