Fans of classic heavy metal got some bad news this week, as legendary Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine revealed that he’s battling cancer. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time for the band, who had big plans for a 35th-anniversary tour later this year, along with a special cruise, and a series of gigs that were dedicated to the 25th anniversary of their album ‘Youthanasia.’
Mustaine, 57 years old, took to the band’s official website and his personal social media accounts to share news of his diagnosis with devastated fans. Although the news has meant that almost all of the special events the band had lined up for later in the year have now been canceled, the iconic guitarist and vocalist is in an upbeat mood about his prognosis. He’s suffering from throat cancer – which has obvious implications for his ability to sing in future – but he assured fans that he’s already commenced treatment, and has a plan worked out with his doctors that offers a 90% survival rate. He closed his message by promising that Megadeth will be back playing live dates’ ASAP.’
Slowing down or taking breaks isn’t something that Megadeth or Mustaine do regularly. Although the band had a period of inactivity before reuniting in 2004, they’ve largely been on the road ever since their reformation, releasing new music on an almost annual basis at the same time as re-issuing special anniversary editions of their classic hits. Mustaine has been a big name in the thrash and metal world for even longer than his band has – he was in the original lineup of Metallica before being fired from the band after clashing with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield. Chief among Mustaine’s sins in Ulrich’s eyes was the charge of ‘trying to make Metallica sexy,’ although he’s never elaborated on what he meant by that comment. Mustaine has never forgiven Ulrich, who saw to it that Mustaine was essentially abandoned in an airport with all his gear at the end of a tour, although in the end, it was his ejection from Metallica which allowed him to forge his own musical legacy. Had he not been fired, the world of heavy metal may never have seen Megadeth at all – and a world without Megadeth doesn’t bear thinking about. Years later, Mustaine would go on to join Metallica on stage at Metallica’s own 30th-anniversary shows, although it’s generally believed that he and Ulrich still didn’t speak.
Prior to the announcement, Megadeth’s calendar for the year was full-on. A 35th-anniversary tour coincided with a special Halloween event, at which they planned to play their album ‘Youthanasia’ in full. All have now been canceled, although there are still two dates on the calendar. It would appear that – at least in some form – the band are still planning to play the ‘Rock in Rio’ event, and are also forging ahead with their ‘Megacruise,’ which is a heavy metal festival on board a luxury cruise liner.
While the idea of a band booking a cruise for their fans may seem strange, it’s been done before. Chris Jericho of the rock band ‘Fozzy’ successfully booked out a ‘rock and wrestling’ tour last year, which was so successful that it’s being repeated in 2019. Megadeth are no strangers to unconventional marketing ideas either – they’re one of only a handful of bands who have their own official Mobile Slots. The fictional band Spinal Tap were the first musical act to join the online casino world, although they’ve since been joined by Guns n Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and many more. Whether it’s inside a casino game or out on the high seas, Mustaine and his gang have always been keen to find new ways to reach their audience.
It remains to be seen what part the band will be able to play at ‘Rock in Rio,’ but their participation in the cruise wasn’t expected to be extensive. Megadeth was scheduled to play a headline set, but there were numerous other acts booked for the cruise including a Megadeth tribute act. They’d also promised that auditions would be held for a fan to play with the band, so it’s even possible that the rest of the band will be able to play, accompanied by a fan standing in for Mustaine on vocals. Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Dragonforce, Overkill, Testament, and Queensryche have all been confirmed as performing, so fans who’ve already purchased tickets are unlikely to feel they’ve been short-changed. Many of the bands who feature on the cruise have already taken to social media to send Mustaine their best wishes.
To date, Megadeth has released fifteen studio albums, along with various special editions and live compilations. There had been rumors of the band returning to the studio later this year to put together their sixteenth album, with some of the work already being done. The new album didn’t have an official launch date, and it would now make sense to assume that it may be some time before they’re able to resume work on the project. Given Mustaine’s optimism regarding his condition, it’s to be hoped that his doctors caught the cancer at an early stage, and that it can be treated relatively easily, with as short a recovery time as possible.
Megadeth might be best known for ‘Countdown to Extinction,’ but despite the diagnosis, it seems Mustaine doesn’t feel like a clock has started ticking for him just yet. In his Instagram post, he mentioned that while he’s recovering, he’ll continue working on the new album in the studio with the rest of the band – he’ll be able to play guitar even if he temporarily isn’t able to lend his voice to the proceedings. We’re sure all music fans around the world will join us in wishing nothing but the very best for Mustaine, and we hope to see him tearing up a stage again in the very near future. Get well soon, Dave – we’re all looking forward to that new album!