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5 Albums I Can't Live Without

5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: David Ellefson of Megadeth/DIETH

(Credit: Christophe Gateau/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Name  David Ellefson

Best known for  Playing the bass, global coffee geek, my new band DIETH, and the guy who played the “Peace Sells…but Who’s Buying” bass riff on MTV.

Current city  Somewhere between Scottsdale, Arizona and Gdańsk, Poland and everywhere in between!

Really want to be in  In Costa Rica. One of my favorite spots on the planet where you can just fall off the edge of the world for a bit… A trip there is long overdue!

Excited about  Playing festivals in Europe and my band DIETH’s debut album To Hell and Back. And, singing some lead vocals for the first time in my career on the album. Check out the song “Walk With Me Forever” from DIETH for more details….

My current music collection has a lot of  Metal, hard rock as they were my favorite albums growing up.

And a little bit of  Yacht Rock! I love 1970s adult contemporary, such as Gordon Lightfoot and Neil Diamond, but also Gerry Rafferty, Jay Ferguson, Gary Wright, England Dan and John Ford Coley and the guitar driven hits of the ‘70s. These are just nostalgic throwbacks for me to remember the feeling of when I first heard their songs on the radio as a young boy.

Preferred format  I buy everything on Apple’s digital store and I put it into my iPhone. And if I’m buying a classic rock album I grew up on, I will actually go out and buy it again on old vintage vinyl, not to listen to it, but so I can relive the experience of holding the LP, looking at the photos and reading the credits and lyrics on the sleeve.  My latest purchase was Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Not Fragilefrom 1974 which I got for $10 on Amazon!

I love digital music because it’s so portable and most of my listening moments are on airplanes and in my car. I buy everything on iTunes because I want to own it and support the cause. I even buy a copy of my own records when they come out so I feel proper ownership as a creator and end-user fan.




5 Albums I Can’t Live Without:



Destroyer, Kiss

Simply put, Kiss is my version of the Beatles. I heard the song “Shout It Out Loud” on the school bus radio in summer of 1976 and that changed everything. Along with bands like Styx, Sweet, BTO (and the likes) who shaped my love of hard rock, I had to have the Destroyeralbum in my collection to hear more from this amazing band. Once I saw them perform on the Paul Lynde Halloween Special that fall, Kiss flat out changed my life forever, and from there I went all-in as an aspiring electric bassist and an uncompromised pursuit of rock stardom….at age 12!



Van Halen, Van Halen

Soon after I went through my Kiss phase, my interest grew for albums that had mesmerizing album covers, such as Cheap Trick, Sex Pistols, and Van Halen I. The album cover said this album was going to be cool! From the needle drop of “Runnin’ With the Devil” until the very end of “On Fire” this was themost brilliant thing I had ever heard in my life. In fact, it would be the inspiration for me to move from Minnesota to California to begin my own professional career a few years later in 1983.  Eddie Van Halen made all of us kids want to go play guitar and the lush harmony vocals were so on point that it was almost pop music with it’s perfect pitch and song within a song context. Most of my harmony background vocal work during my professional music career can be credited directly to Michael Anthony. I would never be the same person after hearing this album and that’s a good thing!



Unleashed in the East, Judas Priest

After a few years digging into American FM rock with bands like Aerosmith, Boston, Styx, and Nazareth, Unleashed in the East landed on my turntable around 1979 or ‘80 and it took me to a whole new level of understanding heavy music. Although I came to love hard rock in previous years, I quickly learned I had never really heard heavy metaluntil Judas Priest. This album opened with a feeling like you were actually in the audience at the concert in Japan where it was recorded. The double bass drum opening on “Exciter” was next level punishing, the guitar work was so crisp with rich tone and of course Rob Halford’s vocals were simply beyond human. All of these individual and collective elements raised the bar and become the gold standard by which all heavy metal would be measured by me in years to follow.



Moving Pictures, Rush

As a bassist, this album sits at the very top of any genre for inventive, clever and well executed performances. Since I started with Rush on the All the World’s a Stagelive album, I followed them into the early ‘80s and this album is the perfect mix of great songs, radio hits and full blown musician chops.



Meliora, Ghost

The first time I heard this album was at 4:00 a.m. on the way to the airport from a gig in Des Moines and it just blew me away! I bought it immediately on iTunes and listened to it nonstop for weeks. I love the vocal melodies, the clever guitar riffing, 1960s keyboard lines, and, of course, the haunting lyrical stories. It didn’t sound to me at all like the album cover image, but rather more like a montage of ‘70s guitar rock, which I already like!



Honorable Mentions:


Tell the World: The Very Best of Ratt, Ratt

I just love Ratt’s albums from the 1980s and this greatest hits is one of my go-to airplane albums. It has all the hits and a few deep cuts and it always takes me back to a happy place of when I relocated from Minnesota to Los Angeles in 1983.


Killers, Iron Maiden

Just like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden took my sense of heavy metal to yet another level, but this time with the bass guitar at the forefront. Steve Harris’ playing was simply astounding and as a bassist myself, I loved that he was the leader, main songwriter, and driving force of the group. And true to form, the album cover was a selling point for any young metalhead.


Not Fragile, Bachman-Turner Overdrive

This record started it all for me at age 10. I grew up on a farm in Jackson, Minnesota and my dad would hire vocational students at the local school to work on the farm each year. In 1974, the hired man had Not Fragileon 8-track tape and I’d beg to ride in the tractor with him so I could listen to it. This began my incessant need to buy and collect albums, cassettes, and 8-track tapes and opened my eyes to the sound of heavy rock n roll music.