Released: 2014, Simon And Schuster
I have a slightly different perspective about this book than many readers might. I happened to have the pleasure of meeting Dave Ellefson in a professional/industry capacity and spending a little more time with him than any other person whose autobiography I have read. Secondly, I know the co-author, Joel McIver as well via professional channels. You would think that might colour my review and perhaps it has. An issue I had before starting this book was that I have not really been a big Megadeth fan for about two decades. I have enjoyed the last few albums, but from Youthansia (1994) to Endgame (2011) the band was much lower in my listening priority. Fortunately this is not a book about Megadeth and Dave Ellefson states that right up front. The ultimate Megadeth book has yet to be written because both Mustaine skipped about 20 years of Megadeth history in his book and Ellefson was out of the band for exactly 8 years (Feb 4th 2002 to Feb 4th, 2010) and doesn’t really talk much about the band after rejoining.
MY LIFE WITH DETH is a nice 238-page hardcover with a nice dust-jacket. Fellow sobriety enthusiast, Alice Cooper pens a nice Foreword. Scattered through out the book are many quotes from other musicians, all of them complimentary, which is not shocking as Ellefson has the deserved reputation of being one of the nice guys in a tough industry. There are roughly 50 pictures on glossy plates in the middle of the book that runs 16 chapters. There is his discography and in a nice touch instead of simply listing each project he has been with he writes a few sentences on each and his immediate, overall impression of that album. I personally would have liked to see more technical information so that if an Ellefson fan wanted to go find his work with Avian or Killing Machine they could do so. Lastly, There are little subsections called ‘A Thought’ where Ellefson shares some of his personal philosophy outside of the main narrative. All these extra features listed above enhance the story.
In case you may not know, Ellefson is a Christian and a former addict. Much of his writing is a reflection on his faith and recovery as it is stories about his professional and personal life. Getting the elephant out of the room quickly, Ellefson does spend quite a lot of time discussing Christianity, he is an ordained Minister after all. Fortunately perhaps for some, he does not get preachy, until the very end. None of this bothers me as I am a Christian but Ellefson is wise enough to temper writing about faith, and he even comments that there are those fans who still wish he was a drug addled, 80’s thrasher! His book is sub-titled ‘Discovering Meaning In A Life Of Rock and Roll', which is revealing. Compare this if you will to the sub-title of Vince Neil’s autobiography, which reads ‘To Hell and Back With One of Rock and Roll’s Most Notorious Frontmen’, and you get a very different perspective of the focus of each author.
MY LIFE WITH DETH is a fun, easy read with McIver and Ellefson cobbling together a relaxed chronological prose. It must be something to do with the connection unspoken bass players have. Ellefson has a good recollection of many interesting tales, not necessary the sex, drugs rock and roll stories but of industry people, recording sessions, and fellow musicians. Nothing really gets too ‘juicy’ or even controversial, except maybe the infamous lawsuit where he sued Mustaine, which he admits he regrets doing. I can see that because it seems out of character for him. Ellefson also has a third book (his second one that was published) of poetry, lyrics and art and photography and I’m surprised he did not mention it. With so many sex, drugs & rock & roll ‘tell-all’ tales on the market, this book may even seem a little dull, but that is one of it’s many strengths, and the quality that makes MY LIFE WITH DETH stand out from the pack.