Legions of rock fans everywhere owe a great debt to delinquent and absent fathers whose inability to man-up left the children in their wake full of anger, bitterness, reckless abandon and a desire to take all this out in the form of music.
And sometimes through self-destruction these children make great music, get famous and tumble through life living on the edge of death. And once in a while redemption not only blindsides the star but the fans as well.
Mustaine (released in 2010) is an entertaining, very raw and yet a self-indulgent memoir of Megadeth founder and front man Dave Mustaine. Mustaine pulls no punches (and in some of the stories he literally pulls no punches) when it comes to his drug use, alcohol abuse and philandering ways. He also has no problem and almost obsessively explains his side of the story from day one. In one paragraph he may exalt himself, in the next he’ll tear himself apart. Metallica still bothers him and you can see why if what he says is indeed accurate. Metal fans have to wonder what Metallica would be with Dave Mustaine on-board.
Mustaine (the man) however is a rare breed. Who would have thought the singer/guitarist for the band Megadeth would have ever found Christ. And then continue with Megadeth! The chapter recounting his conversion is gripping yet somewhat anti-climactic. You’d think a man who lived the stereotypical rock ‘n roll lifestyle, hit bottom multiple times, had anger issues and has spent his life fighting the demons of his childhood would have a story of seeing Jesus.
But he didn’t. His conversion was no more theatrical than most who find God which in hindsight is probably a good thing. After two decades of self-destruction Mustaine finally, in rehab of course, realized he needed help:
I sat there that evening, staring at the flames, thinking about my life…about the choices I’d made and the consequences of those choices, both positive and negative. Something was missing.
I can’t do this anymore. This has to be the end of it. – Page 306
Mustaine walked to a nearby chapel, held hands with a chaplain and invited Christ into his life. No doves, no thunder, no vision. Just a simple conversion from a broken man who finally discovered the Truth. He told his estranged wife what happened and she laughed. Not because it was funny but because this already godly woman had friends telling her it would happen.
It’s truly amazing how God works in our lives. Mustaine, like many rockers from the 80s, is very lucky to be alive. He does not re-tell stories of a near-death drug overdose though he clearly had some harrowing close calls. But he abused enough substances (usually at the same time) that would likely kill a weaker man. I find it amazing he ever had the strength to record such great records. (If you’re not a metal fan than you can’t appreciate his music.)
Megadeth lives on and so does Mustaine. Now in his 50s, Megadeth released its 13th album last year aptly titled Thirteen and continues to tour. In Mustaine one cannot miss just how much his sudden departure from Metallica really bothers him even after all these years. Empathetically, I can certainly understand how building the foundation of one of the biggest music acts today only to be kicked off just as Metallica began its ascendency into the stratosphere could be the proverbial thorn in his side. I too have felt slighted by people in the course of my lifetime, albeit nothing to the extent of what was done to Mustaine, and I too have wanted to somehow set the record straight and at times hoped for their failure just as Mustaine fastidiously watched for Metallica’s downfall.
Here’s the thing. Christian doctrine understands God to be an all-knowing, omnipresent being who lives out of the confines of time. To put it simply, God already knows the beginning and the end. For example, once you’ve read a book you know the beginning, middle and the end of the characters’ lives and you can return to the book anywhere in the timeline of the book. This is how it is with God in our lives.
In 1986, Metallica’s bassist Cliff Burton died when the band’s tour bus overturned in Sweden. I am not hear to debate why and when God does or does not intervene, but I have to wonder if it’s ever occurred to Mustaine that perhaps he is alive today because he was not on that tour bus.
Instead, God, who knows the pages of our lives, saw that sometime in 2002 the world famous heavy metal guitarist Dave Mustaine would turn to Him. And then in 2010 His child would write about his conversion introducing the Gospel to, what one could argue, an untapped segment of society who desperately needs to hear some Good News.