Why Dave Mustaine’s Metallica Reunion Talks Failed

Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine says he had a discussion with former Metallica bandmate James Hetfield over reuniting for a musical project – but the talks ended suddenly.

Despite being fired in 1983, Mustaine said he was “really friendly” during their conversation. Everything seemed to stall, however, as a result of the long-standing disagreement over songwriting credits on Metallica’s No Life ’Til Leather. Plans for an extended version of the demo were abandoned in 2015 when the parties couldn’t reach an agreement.

Mustaine revealed the potential reunion when he was asked by Guitar World if his “reputation for being outspoken” had hindered or helped his career. “There’s three sides to every story, right?” Mustaine said. “There’s my side, there would be the other person’s side, and then there would be the truth – which is somewhere right in the middle.”

He then referred to “one of the last conversations I ever had with James Hetfield,” in which “we were talking about getting back together and doing a project. Something had come up about the publishing discrepancy that we have been arguing about for years and years and years, and I told James, ‘I’ll do it but we’ve got to get this stuff sorted out first’ – and he said, ‘Oh yeah, sure.’”

That’s when things went wrong. “I said, ‘Now these two songs you and me split, 50/50. Lars [Ulrich] didn’t write on this song – you know that. I don’t know why you gave him percentages but I’m not going to sign another deal that’s gonna confirm that, because I never agreed to that,’” Mustaine remembered. “‘And James said, ‘Well, Lars has a different recollection of that,’ and I said, ‘That’s fine; there’s his side of the story, my side and the truth is somewhere.’”

Mustaine said Hetfield reacted as if those words “blew his mind, and we haven’t talked since. You know, I was trying to be really friendly with him. He told me that the last three projects they did bombed, and they wanted to go back and use all the stuff that I was on, and I said sure. As soon as I said that ‘three stories’ bit, it was over!”

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