One of Megadeth’s most famous hits, perhaps the band’s biggest is the title track from 1986’s Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying. The intro bass line was famously used as the theme music for MTV News breaks for many years, meaning the song got played once an hour on the network. In a new interview, Ellefson revealed the song only took a couple of hours to write.
Ellefson was on Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn’s podcast, No Fuckin’ Regrets With Robb Flynn and revealed the process of writing the famous track. “Dave [Mustaine] wrote the riff,” Ellefson said. “I had a bass. It was a B.C. Rich Eagle bass, and I seem to think it was a fretless bass… Me and Dave were living with Karat Faye, who was the engineer [and] co-producer on the ‘Killing Is My Business’ record… We were sitting there, and Dave picks the bass up, and he starts noodling.
“He goes, ‘Hey, Junior, come over here and play this.’ So we started working on that, trying to get that figured out. And we go to rehearsal that night… We went down there, and that song just kind of wrote itself that night. Dave had the riffs, Gar [Samuelson, MEGADETH’s then-drummer] started playing. We sort of put it together. [We had] a few suggestions here and there. I mean, that song, literally, within a couple of hours was done… I don’t know if it was that night. It might have been. We were sitting there driving, and we had the radio on…
“And I remember Dave just looks at me and he goes, ‘Hey, what do you think about ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?’ [And I said], ‘Cool. It sounds great.’ And wheels were turning. Dave would just kind of sit there, and wheels were always turning and ideas were coming up. And that became that song. And he wrote the lyrics, I think, pretty quickly; it kind of fell out.”
Previously, Mustaine said of the track to Rolling Stone “Prior to that song, everything was just shred-festing and just playing really fast, aggressive stuff,” he said. “But as soon as ‘Peace Sells’ came out, it was like, ‘Wow, this is really a song-song,’ something that, unbeknownst to myself, would stand the test of time, something that would be my friend forever. Never had I gotten that feeling from our previous songs. I never thought, ‘Hey, you’re gonna be playing this song every night for the rest of your life.'”
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