Dave Mustaine Admits Postponing Serious Surgery To Avoid Conflict With Metallica

In an interview with The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, Megadeth lead vocalist Dave Mustaine recalled the time he postponed his severe neck surgery to refrain from disagreements with Metallica.

Dave Mustaine announced in 2019 that he was diagnosed with throat cancer. Later he received many radiation and chemo treatments to overcome it, and his family and fans were his big supporters throughout this challenging process. It became a life-changing experience for him as he became more aware of this health issue and tried to raise awareness from then on.

Unfortunately, it was not the only health problem he faced throughout his decades-long career. As he has been into metal music since his teenage years, he has been known for his headbands on the stage. Although headbanging is a way of getting in the zone during performances, it caused some health problems for him starting from the 2000s.

As he revealed in a recent interview, Mustaine had been headbanging for a long time. He ultimately got diagnosed with degenerative disc disease on his neck and needed a frenectomy operation. He revealed that before his performance with Big Four in 2011, the doctor said he would have to undergo emergency surgery, and he probably wouldn’t be able to walk again. So, his manager shared the news with Metallica management. Mustaine noted that the guy on the management accused him of being a coward.

Dave Mustaine said the following about his health issue due to headbanging:

“I’d been headbanging for so long I got degenerative disc disease in my neck. There are two forms of stenosis – there’s one where the bone closes in on the nerve, and there’s the other where the nerve swells up inside of the hole. I had both of those, and they were going to do a frenectomy where they bore a hole around the nerve.”

Mustaine added the following about his urgent neck surgery:

“I was in the emergency room right near my birthday, and we were supposed to play Yankee Stadium with the Big 4. I couldn’t move my arm — it had frozen, and I went in, and the guy said, ‘You need emergency surgery right now. You’re probably not going to walk again.’ I said, ‘Okay,’ and I told my manager Mark Adelman – we were managed by Irving Azoff’s group up in Hollywood – and he called up and told Metallica’s management that I needed emergency surgery on my spine or I wouldn’t be able to probably play or walk again. And the guy called me a ‘p*ssy,’ and I thought, ‘Oh boy.'”

The vocalist said he was given a shot and wore a neck brace before going on the stage that day. There were notes on the scene written ‘Don’t headbang’ to remind him of it. As he mentioned, he had an operation after he returned to his home. Mustaine noted that the process was long-lasting, and he still has a neck brace he uses from time to time not to lean forward.

Dave Mustaine continued:

“They gave me a shot; they fixed me up, I flew out there, I drove to the stage in a golf cart with a neck brace on. All over the stage, there was a paper that said ‘Don’t headbang’ because my neck was barely holding on. Then I went home, and I went to Marina del Ray and had my neck fused together.

It took a long time. I still have that neck brace, and I need it from time to time because my neck kind of leans forward a little bit. All the headbanging and stuff has made these muscles in here [points to neck] really disproportionate. They had to go through the front in order to get to the bone here [points to left clavicle], and this muscle in the front is much like a corset, so they pulled it aside, and this side [points to left of his neck beneath the jaw] had to come across farther because they had to go in here [points near left clavicle again] so when all these muscles grew back, they kind of grew in sideways and then they had to grow over.”

You can check out the interview below.