Megadeth was formed in late 1983 when Dave Mustaine (formerly of Metallica) threw a potted plant through the window of David Ellefson's apartment because Ellefson was practicing his bass too loud. When the band was formed Dijion Carruthers was their drummer and Greg Handevidt on guitars. They quickly replaced Carruthers with drummer Lee Rausch, recorded a demo and secured a few gigs in the San Francisco Bay area in February, 1984. Handevidt was fired for incompetence (he later formed Kublai Khan) They quickly found second guitarist Kerry King (Slayer), who played Megadeth's first three gigs: February 15th, 18th, and 19th, of 1984.
The band name was selected from a term referring to a million casualties, as a result of Nuclear Fallout. It was coined in 1953 by RAND military strategist Herman Kahn. The extra "a" was dropped by the band.
King left later that month when Mustaine wanted him to choose between Megadeth and Slayer. Then, Chris Poland was brought in, and more gigs were played, starting on April 15th, 1984. A demo was recorded with this lineup, and then Lee Rausch left (he would later that year show up in Dark Angel), and was replaced by Gar Samuelson. This lineup recorded the first two albums.
There were troubles with Chris Poland. He was replaced with Mike Albert for part of the 1985 tour, and was finally fired in 1987, for stealing Mustaine's guitars and other transgressions (read the lyrics to "Liar" for a somewhat biased but not entirely untrue account), and Gar Samuelson left as well (his parting wasn't entirely amicable either). Chuck Behler came in immediately, and several guitarists were tried out, including Jay Reynolds of Malice, who played a few gigs on the 1987 tour, before giving way to Jeff Young. This lineup recorded So Far, So Good... So What, but after a subsequent tour, both Young and Behler were fired.
Nick Menza, Chuck's drum tech, went behind the kit himself in 1989, and the band recorded, as a trio, "No More Mister Nice Guy", an Alice Cooper cover for the Shocker soundtrack. After tryouts that included Criss Oliva (Savatage), Jeff Waters (Annihilator), Eric Meyer (Dark Angel), Dimebag Darrell (Pantera and Damageplan), a 15 year old Darrell Roberts (W.A.S.P.), a 16 year old Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), Lee Altus (Heathen) and even Slash (Guns N' Roses and Velvet Revolver), Marty Friedman of Cacophony was hired in February of 1990, and this lineup lasted for about 8 years and produced four albums and most of the songs on an EP, before Nick Menza left due to a knee injury.
Jimmy DeGrasso (of Y&T and White Lion) was brought in, and Risk was recorded. Then, Marty Friedman left, citing a desire to play Japanese pop music, while Mustaine wanted to return to heavy metal. Thus, Al Pitrelli of Savatage, as well as Trans-Siberian Orchestra joined the band. A new album, The World Needs A Hero, was recorded and a tour with Iced Earth launched afterwards.
Dave Mustaine, citing an arm injury that left him unable to play guitar effectively, dissolved Megadeth in April 2002. On January 13, 2004, Mustaine, following his alleged "religious awakening," announced his plans to re-form Megadeth with former guitarist Chris Poland. David Ellefson, Al Pitrelli and Jimmy DeGrasso did not want to rejoin and went back to working on their other projects. They initially formed a band of their own which never got off the ground. Dave Ellefson went on to join Soulfly.
In August of 2004, the new album, The System Has Failed, was completed with the help of session drummer and bassist Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Sloas. Former guitarist Chris Poland was also brought back to record lead parts.
New guitarist Glen Drover and bassist James MacDonough were recruited for the tour, which would begin in September. Nick Menza briefly returned, but was dismissed after being deemed unfit to perform such a lengthy tour. Glen Drover's brother and Eidolon bandmate Shawn was brought in. This was confirmed as the permanent line-up by Dave Mustaine in 2005. Typically, though, this was not to last and MacDonough left at the beginning of 2006 to be replaced by James Lomenzo.
It was confirmed in mid-January 2008 - after considerable rumour - that Glen Drover had left Megadeth due to their heavy touring schedule conflicting with his family interests. Chris Broderick was immediately brought in to replace him.
James LoMenzo left Megadeth in February 2010, heralding the return of original bassist David Ellefson.
- "Rattlehead" on Speed Kills (The Very Best of Speed Metal (Music For Nations, 1985)
- "The Skull Beneath the Skin" on Welcome to the Metal Zone (Music For Nations, 1985)
- "Peace Sells" on Bullets Vol. 1 (Combat, 1986)
- "Peace Sells" on Heavy Metal Inferno (EMI, 1986)
- "Rattlehead" on Mad Trax II - Beyond Metal Zone (PGP RTB/Music For Nations, 1987, Yugoslavian press)
- "Peace Sells" on Metal Force (K-tel, 1987)
- "Skull Beneath the Skin" on Rising Metal (K-tel, 1988)
- "In my Darkest Hour" on Mega Metal (K-tel, 1989)
- "No More Mr. Nice Guy" on Wes Craven's Shocker soundtrack (SBK, 1989)
- "Rattlehead" on Protect the Innocent - 30 Metal Monsters (Telstar, 1989)
- "Peace Sells" on Giants of Rock - The Metal Decade 1986-87 Vol. 4 (EastWest, 1991)
- "99 Ways to Die" on The Beavis and Butthead Experience soundtrack (Geffen , 1993)
- "Skull Beneath the Skin" on Skullcrushers (Relativity, 1993)
- "Lucretia" and "Hangar 18" on Metal Attack (On Tour, 1993)
- "Angry Again" on Last Action Hero soundtrack (Columbia, 1993)
- "Diadems" on Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight soundtrack (Atlantic, 1994)
- "Symphony of Destruction" on Rock & Metal Factory (Disky, 1997)