Former Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland has revealed that the late Megadeth drummer Gar Samuelson was largely responsible for the success of the track ‘Peace Sells’ from the band’s hugely popular sophomore album ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?’
Speaking with Xtreme Metal Radio, Poland said that ‘Peace Sells,’ which was released as a single in 1986 and has since been listed by VH1 as the eleventh-best metal song of all time, was originally written as an eight-minute piece. However, Samuelson had other ideas for the track.
Poland explained: “Gar said, ‘You know what? This is too good a song to drag it out like this. Let’s shorten the arrangement, cut it down to size and make it a single.’”
Poland added that Samuelson was one of very few people capable of making such a suggestion to Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine: “Dave said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that.’ I honestly think Dave respected Gar’s opinion on stuff – he was the only guy in the band Dave wouldn’t mess with.”
With hindsight, Poland acknowledged that had it not been for Samuelson’s vision for ‘Peace Sells,’ things may have turned out differently for Megadeth: “He [Mustaine] totally respected Gar, and thank god he did, If Gar hadn’t talked Dave into shortening the song…”
Samuelson was fired from Megadeth in 1987 for his excessive drug taking and sadly passed away in 1999 at the age of 41 from liver failure. Mustaine dedicated the 2004 remastered version of ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying’ in Samuelson memory.
Poland said that despite the turbulent times, the original Megadeth lineup, which consisted of Dave Mustaine, Dave Ellefson, Chris Poland and Gar Samuelson had the perfect chemistry: “Me and Dave, with David Ellefson and Gar, we were like brothers – and we fought like brothers. When you get four guys in a room who all had pretty big egos about what they wanted to do, there is always that clash.”
He continued: “I think that’s what fuelled the fire for that band: competing with the other guy. That added a little extra something that a lot of bands don’t get.”
Poland added that Mustaine drew upon is anger over being fired from Metallica for inspiration: “You really have to give Dave credit. He was fuelled by hate for Metallica, so that added that extra angst to what we were doing. It was perfect timing – the chemistry was right.
“It was just the drugs that got in the way, that’s all.”