This summer has turned into the summer of the former junkie confessional autobiography.
First up was Dave Mustaine, a founding member of Metallica and since 1983, the leader of Megadeth. His book, Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir (HarperCollins), contains so many tales of alcohol and drug abuse that you’re almost guaranteed to wake up the next morning with a hangover and a bad case of opiate withdrawal.
Mustaine knows rehab because he’s been through it 17 times. “You go in there, get sobered up but there was no really giving you the tools to cope with stuff. It’s like sobering up a drunken horse thief. As soon as he sobers up, what have you got? A horse thief.” Dave’s spiral to near-death was rooted largely in unresolved emotional pain that went back decades.
The most frightening rehab episode involved falling asleep in an awkward position in a chair. When he woke up, his left arm was asleep and wouldn’t wake up. Doctors said he’d never play guitar again.
“There’s a little nerve on the inside of my bicep on my left arm. It’s about 4 millimetres around and it got crunched like when you chew on a drinking straw. It needed to grow back and it grows at a millimeter per month. Then there was the physical therapy that followed that: 13 months of picking up needles with some tweezers and sticking them into a pegboard and turning a doorknob. It was 17 months before I could pick up a guitar again.
“When you’re a guitar player and you have that taken away from you, it’s devastating. It was THIS HAND,” he says gesturing with what he calls “the moneymaker.”
This incident — and Mustaine’s ability to recover — convinced him that perhaps a higher power was showing him the error of his ways and that he could reform them. That’s when the wannabe Satanist and part-time practitioner of black magic embraced Christianity.
“If anyone needed to have a life-changing event take place, it was me. I didn’t realize that God was all I needed until He was all I had.”
Mustaine is a fascinating look into the darker sides of being a famous metal musician. Recommended.
Next week: Steven Adler, the guy who was thrown out of Guns ‘N Roses for taking too many drugs.
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