Megadeth's Dave Mustaine: My Life in 15 Songs

Singer/guitarist reflects on nearly four decades of thrash-metal masterpieces

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"The Skull Beneath the Skin"

Killing Is My Business ... and Business Is Good! (1985)

Me and Dave [Ellefson] were living in Hollywood, kind of squatting apartments and there was this one grocery store that we used to shoplift from. We would usually buy something – anything – just so that we did some kind of business there and then we'd grab something else. I remember waiting in line one time and there was a book that had something similar to that for the title and it showed a skull with the skin pulled back over half of it and I thought, "Well, that's a really interesting title." And then I ran with it because of the idea with our whole moniker and the way that the [mascot] character Vic was developed, with the see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil stuff.

Vic came to me like really in the early process of making the whole band. I wanted a mascot because Eddie was the mascot for Iron Maiden, and Motörhead had Snaggletooth. I thought it would just be, like, an image. So I came up with a skull with two crisscrossed human bones made into crucifixes so that it signified fucked-up religion, conflict in religion, but also like the symbol for poison, and then came the hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil thing. For me, it was all those metaphors in one image. We had this guy named Peyton Tuttle drew the very first version.

I remember I called up Alice Cooper one time later and I said, "Hey, I'm thinking about getting a tattoo. I want to get this tattoo of my mascot and the Billion Dollar Babies thing. What do you think about that?" And he goes, "No, I would get a tattoo of yourself." Consequently, no Vic tattoo.

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