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This is the sixth edition of a multi-part blog series produced in partnership with Altan Insights on the key events and factors shaping the modern music memorabilia market. Altan Insights provides data and quantitative analysis to help collectors and businesses navigate the emerging collectible asset markets.

​​Megadeth: Megastars of the Thrash Metal Universe

Emerging from the Los Angeles metal scene in the early 1980s, Megadeth, spearheaded by Dave Mustaine, has etched its name into the halls of heavy metal history.

Founded after Mustaine’s departure from Metallica, Megadeth has become a cornerstone of the thrash metal genre. With a notable front-man driving the show, Megadeth has managed to not only cement its place within a competitive metal scene, but has also secured the admiration and respect of fans, with the Cyber Army providing one of music’s strongest followings.

The band’s debut album, Killing Is My Business…And Business Is Good!, released in 1985, served as a declaration of intent for the fast rising act. Backed by Mustaine’s blistering guitar riffs, combined with his easily recognizable vocals, it didn’t take long for Megadeth to establish itself as a formidable force within the world of thrash metal. In a later interview, Mustaine would note that the debut album, and the emergence of Megadeth, were borne from a desire to be faster and heavier than Metallica, a theme that would continue throughout the 1980s and 1990s. With an initial album that showcased Mustaine’s songwriting prowess while offering timely and relatable context, the album would go on to become one of Combat Records’ highest selling releases despite failing to chart on the Billboard 200.
Megadeth’s subsequent albums, Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying? (1986) and Rust in Peace (1988), further solidified their position as thrash metal royalty. Peace Sells…, with its anti-war and socially conscious themes, expanded the band’s reach into the realm of extreme metal while also incorporating a unique blend of the more common progressive metal. The album’s title track provided an indictment of the global arms trade and became somewhat of a protest song for a generation that felt a growing sense of disillusion with the world around them.
Throughout the late 1980s, productions like Rust in Peace delivered songs such as “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” “Hangar 18,” and “Tornado of Souls” which played a role in laying the foundation for what would become a breakout stretch over the next decade. Known as the “big four” of thrash metal, Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica, and Slayer each carved their own path up the Billboard charts as various renditions of metal became increasingly popular both in the states and in Europe.

The early 1990s witnessed Megadeth’s commercial breakthrough with albums like Countdown to Extinction (1992) and Youthanasia (1994). Countdown to Extinction propelled the band into mainstream success as it was the band’s first certified platinum record and reached number two on the Billboard 200. Youthanasia followed with a top-four Billboard appearance and yet another RIAA Platinum award while three years later, Cryptic Writing also hit the top-ten.

Much like their big-four counterparts, Megadeth started to weave radio-friendly singles within their albums to broaden their appeal and attract new listeners while retaining their core fanbase.

Despite lineup changes and various personnel struggles, Megadeth continued to release critically acclaimed albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. After their 1999 album Risk left much to be desired with its attempt to garner mainstream success, The World Needs a Hero went live in 2001 with a quick climb to #16 on the Billboard chart and a return to metal supremacy for Mustaine and Co.

Megadeth Memorabilia Market

This influence extends beyond their music, as the market for Megadeth memorabilia offers a diverse and dynamic range of collectibles from guitars and stage-worn clothing to handwritten lyrics and original posters.

Stage-used guitars played by Mustaine have realized five-figures at auction in various styles, ranging from Jackson King V double-necks to Dana Bourgeois acoustic guitars.

The Realest has opened its inaugural auction with a significant collection of Megadeth memorabilia on the block. There are multiple setlists, including one from a show in Prior Lake, Minnesota that is signed by members of the band in addition to Tama drum sticks personally autographed by their user, Dirk Verbeuren.

This Summer, Megadeth embarked on a tour across Europe and The Realest will be showcasing collectibles from their performances. We’ve previously highlighted the market for concert posters and three limited edition originals, including a pair from intimate yet equally iconic shows, will be available through the marketplace hosted by The Realest. As with all of the memorabilia sold through the site, collectors can rest assured knowing all posters and autographs have been authenticated as original as opposed to reprints that can be found on other secondary market sites.

The headline item of the event is an iconic Gibson Flying V guitar that was used on stage by Dave Mustaine. In an opaque market where authenticity is often questionable at best, this guitar has been personally presented by Mustaine and Megadeth management with authentication covering both the instrument and Mustaine’s signature. With an impressive 40 bids and counting, the Gibson is nearing $4,000 with more than 5 days remaining in the event.

In total, 36 different Megadeth collectibles are up for auction with each of them having already secured at least one bid. To explore the Megadeth memorabilia market and their latest auction hosted by The Realest, head over to