Kirk Hammett appeared last week on The World of Wheeler Podcast, where he revealed his feelings about Dave Mustaine, whom he replaced in Metallica some 33 years ago.
In the podcast, embedded below, Hammett says he’s always understood Mustaine’s frustration over being fired from Metallica. Mustaine, who went on to form Megadeth, was fired from Metallica in 1983, shortly before the group recorded its debut album, Kill ’Em All, because of his drug and alcohol abuse and violent behavior. He was replaced by Hammett, who at the time was performing with the San Francisco thrash group Exodus.
Mustaine later said in interviews that Hammett “stole” his job and complained that he played lead parts Mustaine created. In a 1985 interview with Metal Force, Mustaine said, “It’s real funny how Kirk Hammett ripped off every lead break I’d played on [Metallica’s] No Life ’til Leather [demo] tape and got voted No. 1 guitarist in your magazine.”
Despite Mustaine’s past grievances, Hammett tells The World of Wheeler Podcast he never harbored a grudge or took it personally.
“I’ve never, ever, ever had a problem with Dave,” Hammett says. “I’ve always seen Dave as someone who was just really, really sad, really angry and really frustrated about his situation with Metallica, and he never could let that go. And I’ve always shown a lot of empathy for him, understanding that he was just pissed off.
“I mean, It’s the equivalent of the woman of your life leaving you. I mean, really—when your band kicks you out… I’ve never been kicked out, but I can imagine it’s a horrible experience, especially if it’s a band that you feel really passionately about. So I can understand Dave’s plight over all these years.”
“But I will also say that when we did these 30th-anniversary shows at the Fillmore, and we invited Dave to play on all those Kill ’Em All songs—man, it felt so good to have him playing onstage. It felt perfectly fine for me to, while Dave was playing the guitar solos, for me to go over to James and play the rhythm parts with James, and it just wasn’t a big deal at all.
“And I could see from the look on Dave’s face and just from his whole attitude that it was super cathartic for him. I could see how it was helping him. And so I just took it all in stride.
“And it’s interesting, because since then, I think, Dave’s relationship with us is a little bit better now. I’d like to think that that whole thing just kind of healed some scars that needed to be healed.”
You can listen to the entire podcast below. The passage where he talks about Mustaine begins at 24:45.