Megadeth leader Dave Mustaine described the 2021 firing of bassist David Ellefson as "a hard decision that had to be made."

The lineup change took place after Ellefson was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct following the leak of sexually graphic exchanges with a female fan. He has always maintained his innocence of any illegal activity, and the woman has also claimed she was not underage at the time of the exchanges, calling any grooming accusations "misinformation." Megadeth have since reunited with another ex bassist, James LoMenzo.

"I have made mistakes myself and so I know what it feels like to have people gunning for you," Mustaine told Metal Hammer in a recent interview. "But what we had to remember is that Megadeth has a lot of moving parts to it. There are four band members, you've got their families, their management companies, the agencies, all of their technicians and on and on and on."

He added that it was difficult to "tap-dance" around the issue, but it was important to avoid "saying anything about anyone who is unable to defend themselves." He continued: "Let me just say this — it was a hard decision that had to be made. There were a lot of people involved and I had to make a decision, because unfortunately, when you're the leader, you're the one that has to suck it up and face the music."

Mustaine added: "All I wanted to do was make a clean break, and not hurt anyone, not hurt the fans and not hurt him. I just wanted to move on, and I hope the gentleman concerned is doing okay. I imagine there was some adjustment that had to take place when it happened."

Referring to a 2004 lawsuit Ellefson filed against Mustaine, which was later dismissed, Mustaine said: "I've forgiven him before when he sued me and I'll forgive him a thousand times. I just won't play music with him anymore."

Megadeth will release their new album, The Sick, the Dying… and the Dead, on Sept. 2.

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