Monday, October 31, 2005

Megadeth: Smith Corona Days Revisited

LESTER BANGS: "What do you type on?"
WILLIAM: "Smith Corona Galaxis Deluxe."

- From Almost Famous

In 1983, Umlaut was one of the writers / editors / publishers of a Metal zine called Whiplash, whose operations were based out of my bedroom at my parents' house. Whiplash published the very first article on Dave Mustaine's post Metallica band Megadeth (then called "Megadeath") anywhere. At the same time, I "coordinated" the Megadeth Fan Club out of my bedroom at my parents' house. My parents had no appreciation for the Heavy Metal Empire that I supervised from under their roof. I can still hear my mom ask "Why do you get so much mail?"

Click HERE for a PDF of the Megadeth article from Whiplash #1 (Fall 1983). It's an example of the Almost Famous-like writing of Umlaut before he could buy alcohol legally.

Trivia: Almost Famous is Umlaut's favorite movie because he identifies with the main character so much.

K.J. and Umlaut have been friends since before the dawn of Christianity and he's opened up his archives for this space. Old Metal Geeks and those who have seen Some Kind Of Monster might find his latest Metal artifact interesting. The rest of you can click that mouse and surf on outta here. Bye bye.

Note: I had never seen this letter before and was amused by the props Mustaine gave me for the Whiplash article.

The exciting sequel to Cliff Notes!

Submitted by K.J. -

It’s amazing what a person can come across while cleaning out the garage. This letter arrived in my mailbox during the spring of 1983. The West Coast Heavy Metal community- myself included – was still reeling from news that celebrated six-string rager Dave Mustaine had been booted from Metallica. After Kirk Hammett abruptly quit Exodus and flew to New York as Dave’s replacement, Mustaine plotted a comeback.

He apparently brandished a manual Smith Corona typewriter to painstakingly hunt-and-peck through the following pages, in an effort to explain to me the embryonic formation of Megadeth. Scribed before the dawn of Microsoft Word, Mustaine spared no expense on white-out, which was smeared liberally across each page to correct the plentiful punctuation challenges riddling his note. Observe Dave’s liberal use of commas, as well.

Hardcores from The Day should note his reference to Umlaut’s founder, who also befriended the outspoken guitar god during this pivotal career transition.


Dear K.J.,

Well, this is the first, and, only chance you have to hear the real story behind the kicking out part of the Metallica story. I don’t know exactly the time those guys decided to get rid of me, but, they couldn’t of picked a better time. It’s real funny how they could lie to me, all that time from Indiana to New York, and, that was a long time! I guess that the fact that I kicked some guys ass in some alley in S.F., had some kind of unforgettable point of interest, because after that happened, they never gave me any kind of trouble, and, the respect that I had, as far as being able to take care of myself, was not questioned. The new band is a lot heavier than Metallica, because, as you know, I wrote the four of the best songs that we had, The Mechanics, Jump in the Fire, Metal Militia, and, the Phantom Lord, and, those were the songs that got the most recognition out of all the songs that we played. But, then I guess you know all that. Well, as far as the new band goes, it’s real heavy, as heavy as you’ll find that’s for sure. I really hope that you like what you hear, as it’s going to be the new, “Megadeth”/’Naipon’ demo tape will be out in the near future, and you can count on being one of the first one’s to hear it. I sincerely think that the stuff hat I’ve put together, is going to go over real good, because it’s so fucking heavy! I was really let down, by myself, because I thought that there was going to be some mail that said that, some people were inquiring, as to the disappearing act that I pulled in the East Coast. I wish that those guys could have had the balls to tell me that I was fucking up, and, not wait till the last minute…

As far as the story that Brian wrote… there couldn’t have been a better beginning to a band’s intro tape than what he wrote, and, the only fucked thing about it, is that were not using that name any more. The new band name is Megadeth, and, the people that are in the band, are myself, on lead guitar, David Ellefson on bass, Gregg Handevidt on rhythm guitar, Lor Kain on vocal and, Richard Girod, on drumming detail. The songs are, “No Time;” “Eye for Eye”, “Speak No Evil,” “When Hell Freezes Over,” “The Gambler,” “Head Lock,” “You Know Where to Go,” and, “Chose Your Master.” The band consists of a four piece rhythm section that deals out nothing but, the heavy, heavy stuff. Me, and, all the boys, all fill the parts where theres supposed to be singing, with total guitars, and, bass, and, the vocals, well, if we keep the guy that we have right not then we will really have to keep our eyes on this guy, per, he consumes quite a large amount of drugs. Though the fact that he sounds like Satan himself, and, that he can really scream, but, how much screaming can someone take?

So that’s the fact why we’re still looking for vocals. But, the main section of the band, is here, and, not only did I learn how to use eight fingers, on the neck, but I also, learned how to us my thumbs!

And, the possibility of using anything else that I have. Well, the music is just as, if not heavier than the stuff that I was doing in Metallica, since the fact that the heavy shit was mine. It kind of shows you where the direction of this act is headed. Well that’s it for this time, and, keep the people that want the heaviest, in mind for the mailing list of Megadeth, I was thinking of you heading the fan club section for me, because I’ve already got the merch end of it, and, the mailing taken care of, so, if you could possibly, next tine that you send out somekind of fanzine put some thing in for old Dave, since I could sure use the help these first few times, and, then when I get something out in the listenable scene then you can call me a jerk if it doesn’t strike you as real metal. Well that’s all for this time, tell anyone concerned that David Mustain has not been silenced, and, the vengence can be smelt.

Dave Mustaine


Megadeth - Ruthies Inn, Berkeley, CA - 1984 (Pic by Umlaut)... Soundcheck before the band's 2nd show ever.. Note KERRY KING of SLAYER on guitar (a temporary member of the band in the very beginning).

Megadeth - 1992 Capitol Records Promo Pic.. Over 15 million albums sold worldwide.

If for some reason you want to know more, check out the VH1 Behind The Music: Megadeth episode (available on DVD). It also features some of Umlaut's old photos from back in The Day.

Although both Umlaut and Drunk Ted were Old Metal in the early-80's (me in NorCal, he in SoCal), we would not become friends until The Grunge Age when he wrote for the legendary Flipside. Although Whiplash had a major distributor (Dutch East India in NYC) I have heard very few stories from people who actually bought it outside of the S.F. Bay Area.

Submitted by Drunk Ted:

Great Whiplash retrospective! Man, that brought back memories! I remember the day I picked up that magazine. I picked it up for the Raven & Venom (among others) interviews and got turned on to Metallica & Megadeth. (I think that's how I got turned onto Metallica... maybe not. It's definitely the first Metallica interview I've ever read. Unless Metal Forces beat you to one. Don't think so though.) I still remember ordering the live Trouble cassette through the ad you had in there. Took it to school and some girl ripped on me for listening to "Devil worshiping music". HA HA!

The ad that branded Ted a Satanist...