Birth School Metallica Death - Vol I
trio Budgie. It was the mention of the last band which led a young guitarist from the recently dissolved Orange County group Panic to pick up the phone and introduce himself to McGovney as ‘the best guitar player you’ve ever heard’.

    David Scott Mustaine was born on September 13, 1961, in La Mesa, San Diego County, the fourth child, and first son, of parents John and Emily. John was the West Coast branch manager for Bank of America and an alcoholic, an affliction that exacerbated the breakdown of his marriage in 1965, when Dave was just four. The boy’s childhood was unsettled and unhappy: post-divorce, John determined to make his former wife’s life a living hell, and so Emily and her children were forced to adopt an itinerant lifestyle, moving all over California in order to stay one step ahead of her vengeful ex-husband. ‘For the most part,’ recalled Mustaine, ‘we were a family on the run.’
    This fractured lifestyle did little for Mustaine’s schooling, but the perennial new kid learned to make friends quickly and had a talent for sports and music. Upon graduation from elementary school, he was rewarded with a gift of an acoustic guitar from his mother, a thoughtful and generous gesture at a time when the family were subsisting on food stamps and Emily’s meagre earnings as a domestic maid. He dutifully set about teaching himself the basic chord shapes.
    At the age of fourteen Mustaine joined his first band, teaming up with his brother-in-law Mark Balli and guitarist John Vorhees to play Bowie, Kiss and Zeppelin covers at backyard parties and barbecues. Soon enough, to his delight, he discovered that his chosen instrument made him popular with females other than those to whom he was related.
    ‘I knew this cute girl who was going out with a friend of a friend, and as soon as she knew I played guitar she dumped him and became my girlfriend,’ he recalled. ‘I thought, “This is great. You mean I get laid just because I can play this thing? Cool.”’
    Having discovered sex and rock ’n’ roll, it was perhaps inevitable that Mustaine would soon secure access to the third vital component of a typical Seventies Californian adolescence: drugs. The guitarist was just thirteen when he first got high, byfifteen he was dealing marijuana out of his family’s Huntington Beach apartment. The trade earned Mustaine money, new friends and a reputation: for the first time in his life he felt important and valued.
    ‘I was a rock ’n’ roll rebel,’ he later recalled in his best-selling autobiography
Mustaine: A Life in Metal
. ‘I had a guitar strung across my back, I had a knife in my belt, and I had a sneer on my face. And that was it. That was enough.’
    ‘My first impression of him was, “He’s a conceited asshole,”’ recalled Ron McGovney. It was McGovney who answered the phone to Mustaine when the guitarist answered Lars Ulrich’s
Recycler
ad: the bassist stuck his head into the garage where Hetfield and Ulrich were jamming and said, ‘Which one of you wants to get this telephone call, because this guy’s head will not fit through the door if he ever shows up over here.’
    ‘The first time I met Lars I went to his house in Newport Beach and we listened to the “Hit the Lights” demo that Lloyd Grant had played on,’ says Mustaine. ‘I remember telling Lars that it needed more guitar solos. A little later I got a call to come down and jam with James and Ron. I was warming up and they just walked off into the other room, which I thought was pretty rude. I said “Are we going to audition or what?” and James said, “No, you’ve got the job.”’
    ‘Things are happening a bit over here now,’ wrote Ulrich in a year-end letter to Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler. ‘This geezer in LA is doing a compilation album of ten new, young LA HM bands and our band are on it with a track called “Hit the Lights”. Good break … Anyway, our band is called Metallica and I’ll send you a copy when

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