Where did Megadeth‘s mascot Vic Rattlehead come from?

Let’s find out!

Who Is Vic Rattlehead + Why Is the Mascot Significant?

Vic Rattlehead is the skull-faced mascot for thrash legends Megadeth.

Although he hasn’t appeared on every single studio album cover in the manner Iron Maiden’s iconic mascot Eddie has, Vic is still one of the most distinguished figures in heavy metal imagery.

Why Is He Named Vic Rattlehead?

The name is based on a combination of a couple things.

The first name isn’t just some cool-sounding hotshot name, as much as “Vic” does sound plain cool. And, no, it isn’t short for Victor either, but it is short for something else — victim.

Dave Mustaine relayed years ago that Vic’s last name was derived from something his mother said, which was not to headbang so much because he will “rattle something loose up there.”

Thus, Vic Rattlehead.

What Is the Symbolism of Vic Rattlehead?

In Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir, the Megadeth leader recalls the earliest version of the band’s mascot and logo.

“I had already loosely conceptualized a logo for Megadeth and with the help of a friend named Peyton Tuttle had sketched out some original artwork well before the first album was recorded. I had drawn the logo myself because I had wanted to get a tattoo, one that incorporated my feelings about religion and repression of freedom and expression,” he writes, explaining, “The logo featured a skull and crossbones, with an additional pair of the latter placed in such a way that they looked almost like twin crucifixes. Ultimately, this led to the creation of our mascot, Vic Rattlehead, a skeletal creature whose eyes, ears and mouth are covered or clamped shut — ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ — and whose mythical evolution was the centerpiece of a song called ‘Skull Beneath the Skin,’ the third track on Killing Is My Business.”

Mustaine, a big fan of comics books, in particular, The Punisher, also states, “Vic had been born not so much out of my contempt for organized religion but out of my fascination for comic book lore.”

When Did Vic Rattlehead First Appear With Megadeth?

Mustaine’s sketch was seen on early backdrop banners and promotional flyers with the intention of being featured in the band’s first album, Killing Is My Buisness… And Business Is Good!, but the label (Combat Records) screwed it up.

In the memoir, Mustaine notes that he isn’t sure if the label lost the sketch or just ignored it, but that the intention was to use it as the cover art, a mishap that was corrected when the record was reissued with an image close to Dave’s original vision.

Instead, the one below, which Mustaine calls “a plastic Halloween skull and a variety of dime-store accoutrements,” was used by Combat.

Killing is My Business

Combat

What Megadeth Album Covers Is Vic Rattlehead On?

For a while, it looked like Megadeth were going to follow the Maiden model and feature their mascot as the centerpiece of each album, which they did all the way through Rust in Peace, breaking the trend on 1992’s Countdown to Extinction. Since, Vic has been an on-and-off centerpiece of album art.

The album covers the mascot has appeared on are as follows:

  • Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good! (1985)
  • Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying? (1986)
  • So Far, So Good… So What! (1988)
  • Rust In Peace (1990)
  • The World Needs a Hero (2001)
  • The System Has Failed (2004)
  • United Abominations (2007)
  • Th1rt3en (2011)
  • Dystopia (2016)
  • The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead! (2022)

Who Has Drawn Vic Rattlehead?

The most well-known visual artist for Megadeth is certainly Ed Repka, who is responsible for the classic Peace Sells and Rust in Peace album covers. Repka’s distinct style has also graced albums by Municipal Waste, Death, Nuclear Assault, Sanctuary, 3 Inches of Blood, Gruesome, Atheist and many more.

Hugh Syme, another iconic visual artist in rock and metal, contributed artwork for Megadeth throughout the ’90s and took his first and only crack at rendering Vic Rattlehead on 2001’s The World Needs a Hero. Syme is most famous for his work with Rush on every one of their studio albums except for the first two.

Mike Learn has been a frequent artwork collaborator, depicting Vic on 2007’s United Abominations and 2011’s Th1rt3en.

Finally, Brent Elliott White has been the most recent contributor, designing the art for 2016’s Dystopia and 2022’s The Sick, The Dying… And The Dead!.

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