A severe injury suffered in January by Megadeth founder/frontman Dave Mustaine has brought about the end of the veteran metal group after 19 years. It is unknown how the vocalist/guitarist sustained severe nerve damage to his left arm and hand while the band was taking a break from last year's extensive touring schedule in support of its Sanctuary debut, "The World Needs a Hero."
"It was diagnosed as radial neuropathy -- specifically, a 'compressed radial nerve,'" Mustaine explained in a statement released today (April 3). "My doctors tell me it will take about a year to make as complete a recovery as I can, and even then, we don't know how complete that is going to be. I am working hard with a great team of doctors and physical therapists daily, and God willing, someday I hope to play guitar again."
The injury forced Mustaine to re-evaluate his career and his future, according to the statement. "For the time being I have decided to exit Megadeth, and explore other areas of the music business where I might make a contribution without being able to play my instrument." He also plans "to devote more time, energy and attention to my wife Pam and my two children, Justis and Electra."
"I have had a terrific time singing and playing for you while I was in Megadeth," he added. "And I can never thank you, our fans past and present, enough for your loyalty and affection over the years."
Mustaine founded Megadeth as a thrash metal act with bassist Dave Ellefson, Slayer guitarist Kerry King, and drummer Lee Rauch in 1983, after he was dismissed from Metallica. Rauch and King soon exited and were replaced by Gar Samuelson and Chris Poland, respectively, and the band released its first album, "Killing Is My Business ... And Business Is Good," in 1985 via Combat.
After a switch to Capitol, the group built its fanbase over the course of four albums. Members continued to come and go, with Mustaine and Ellefson remaining as the only consistent members. But Megadeth broke through with its fifth album, 1992's "Countdown to Extinction," which reached No. 2 on The Billboard 200. The band followed it in 1994 with "Youthanasia," which reached No. 4. Megadeth's next four Capitol releases featured two top-20 entries on The Billboard 200 -- 1997's "Cryptic Writings" (No. 10) and 1999's "Risk" (No. 16). Between 1990 and 1997, seven of the group's songs were nominated for best metal performance Grammy Awards.
The move to Sanctuary and the switch to former Suicidal Tendencies drummer Jimmy DeGrasso and guitarist Al Pitrelli (Savatage, Alice Cooper) produced "The World Needs a Hero." The set debuted last June at No. 16 on The Billboard 200, and has sold 194,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan.
Last month the group released its first live album, "Rude Awakening." The two-disc, 24-track set, which shares its title with a companion home video release due Tuesday (April 9), was captured during the band's 2001 international tour.