Megadeth have parted ways with bassist David Ellefson amid allegations of sexual impropriety. “We are informing our fans that David Ellefson is no longer playing with Megadeth,” frontman Dave Mustaine said in a statement posted to the band’s Facebook account. “We do not take this decision lightly.”
Sexually explicit video of Ellefson, age 56, masturbating and photos of flirtatious exchanges with a woman surfaced online earlier this month. At the time, rumors spread online that he had been grooming an underage fan. He vehemently denied the accusations and posted a statement from the woman he claimed he had sent the material to who said she was of age the whole time they were in contact. Both his statement and hers have since been deleted.
“While we do not know every detail of what occurred, with an already strained relationship, what has already been revealed now is enough to make working together impossible moving forward,” Mustaine continued. “We look forward to seeing our fans on the road this summer, and we cannot wait to share our brand-new music with the world. It is almost complete.”
A representative for Ellefson did not immediately reply to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
On May 10th, Ellefson addressed the allegations with a since-deleted Instagram post. “As you may or not know, some private and personal conversations and interactions have surfaced online, released with ill intention by a third party who was not authorized to have them or share them,” Ellefson wrote at the time (via Blabbermouth). “While certainly embarrassing, I want to address it as openly and honestly as possible. As much as it’s not something I’m proud of, these were private, adult interactions that were taken out of context and manipulated to inflict maximum damage to my reputation my career, and family.”
Ellefson also included a statement from the woman he claimed was the recipient of his online messages. “I’m the girl people are talking about in the posts about David Ellefson right now and I just want to tell my side of the story because people are sharing misinformation and the situation is getting out of hand without the truth being out there,” she wrote. “Yes, those video calls did happen, but I was the one to initate [sic] them and never was I underage, I was always a consenting adult. Nothing inappropriate ever happened before that. It was all consensual, I’m not a victim and I have not been groomed in the slightest as I was the one to initiate it. I was just naive enough to record him and share it with a friend without his permission. In the end, it was all consensual and all online.”
“I don’t know how it got to this point, but a lot of information is being left out by the people purposely trying to harm him,” she continued. “I would ask that anyone sharing these personal private videos or any misinformation about them to please stop.”
Later that day, Megadeth released a statement saying they were “watching developments closely,” with regard to the allegations. “There are clearly aspects of David’s private life that he kept to himself,” it said. “As this situation unfolds, it is important that all voices could be heard clearly and respectfully. We look forward to the truth coming to light.” Ten days later, Ellefson deactivated his Twitter account.
Ellefson co-founded Megadeth with Mustaine in 1983 and stayed with the band through 2002 when Mustaine disbanded the group to deal with a medical condition. Once he was healed, he reformed Megadeth in 2004 without Ellefson. That same year, Blabbermouth reports Ellefson filed an $18.5 million lawsuit against Mustaine alleging Mustaine had withheld profits. The suit was dismissed and Ellefson re-joined the band in 2010.
Megadeth are scheduled to kick off a tour with Lamb of God, dubbed the Metal Tour of the Year, on August 20th in Austin. They have not yet announced a replacement bassist.