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Ex-Megadeth Guitarist Chris Poland Recalls Dave Mustaine’s Reaction to Death of Cliff Burton

Dave Mustaine
Terry Wyatt, Getty Images

2016 is the 30th anniversary of the release of Megadeth‘s second album Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? Joel Gausten spoke with guitarist Chris Poland in an extensive interview about the album and that era of Megadeth. In the interview, Poland talks about his rocky relationship with Dave Mustaine, his struggles with sobriety and numerous other topics including the death of Mustaine’s former Metallica bandmate Cliff Burton.

Mustaine’s former bandmate Cliff Burton was killed in a bus accident in September of 1986. Poland says that even though there was friction between the bands at the time, Burton’s passing was deeply felt by Megadeth’s members, especially Mustaine.

“Dave took that so hard,” Poland says. “That was really rough on him, because those guys drove to rehearsal together…He was out of it for days, just crying constantly.”

Poland also spoke about Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying, which was released on Sept. 19, 1986. It was the first Megadeth album to land on the Billboard 200 chart, peaking at No. 76. On the strength of songs like the title track and “Wake Up Dead,” it would go platinum in the U.S.

As far as the recording of the album, Poland says, “We had rehearsed that record for a year in front of an audience before we recorded it. As far as drug abuse during the making of that record, some days we worked 18-hour days. We were doing opiates, and Randy Burns (the album’s co-producer) was doing speed.”

“When things got to the point where we were kind of fading, he would just give us a little speed and we’d do another five hours,” Poland recalls. “That’s how we did it on that little tiny budget we had, which I think was like $26,000 or something. It wasn’t like we were passed out on chairs or anything; we were working our asses off.”

As for the finished product, Poland says, “I really like all the songs; it was a real strong record, man. My only qualm was, I know we were playing a lot different style than Metallica, but the production on Master Of Puppets [released that previous March] was just so good that it just hurt every time I listened to it. Both records came out at the same time, and it was like, ‘If we could have gotten that vibe and that sound with our production…’”

Poland continues, “I’m not sure we could have, because you get what you get, you are what you are. The mic’s on; it only records what you give it. Maybe we weren’t sonically in the same cool space those guys were at the time, guitar-wise and recording technique-wise. I think honestly, Peace Sells… and Master Of Puppets are the two best records of that whole era.”

You can read the entire feature at this location.

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