Whether you love his vocals, hate them, or simply tolerate them long enough to enjoy the rest of the music, Dave Mustaine‘s vocals on every Megadeth record have been….unique, to put it lightly. It’s hard to imagine anyone putting the redheaded frontman of one of the world’s biggest thrash bands at the top of any vocalist lists. And while that’s mostly been the case for his entire career, he says the 2011 neck surgery he underwent irreparably changed his voice forever.
While speaking with Australia’s Heavy (transcribed by Blabbermouth), Mustaine was asked whether there was anything he could do in his youth that he couldn’t quite do anymore. While he remained positive about his health and capabilities, he pointed to the metal plate in his neck as a major hindrance for his vocals.
“Well, I don’t really know what I cannot do that I used to do 40 years ago. I think that probably the only thing I have any difficulty doing is getting up in a certain pitch now that I’ve had my neck operated on and had a metal plate put into my spine because of the damage that happened to my neck.
“It’s a wonder, based on everything that’s happened, the guy upstairs is even letting me continue to do what I love.
“I don’t wanna be a victim — I can’t stand people who play the victim — so I’m not gonna give you a litany of all my injuries. But suffice to say, I feel great right now, and I don’t really think there’s anything that I cannot do.
“I won’t jump out of an airplane anymore because of the plate in my neck. And because… you may have seen something about this, but I’m gonna be an Opa [grandfather]; my son [Justis] is gonna be a dad. I remember when I found out we were gonna have Justis, I stopped skydiving. That’s one thing I don’t do anymore.
“I think given what’s happened to me with the stenosis and the broken neck bone, and I’ve got another broken bone in my back from riding horses, playing polo… ‘Cause I don’t know how to play polo, and for some stupid reason my wife convinced me to get out there and do it. And I ended up with a broken bone in my back. Go figure. Love makes you do some strange things, man.”
Mustaine went under the knife back in September 2011 to deal with spinal stenosis, a condition that his doctors blamed on years of headbanging. According to the National Institutes of Health, spinal stenosis happens “when the spaces in the spine narrow and create pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.” That sounds absolutely excruciating and has ended professional athletes’ careers like Mets third baseman David Wright, so the fact Mustaine can still go out and play as much as he does is amazing.
Due to his change in vocals, the band actually tunes lower to meet his new register. It’s been going on for a few years now and it’s a good thing. The last thing you want is for Mustaine to strain to hit the high notes. When he used to do that, his vocals went from tolerable to strangled cat real fast.
And while we may make fun of Mustaine from time to time, we’re glad he’s still doing what he’s doing. Just so long as he stays off the horse. Literally.
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