“I remember walking into the studio and wading through miles of 2-inch tape all over the floor. He said, ‘It's about aliens, so play something that sounds like you're coming from outer space’”: How Marty Friedman wrote one of his greatest Megadeth solos

Marty Friedman performs onstage with Megadeth at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 29, 1991
(Image credit: Lisa Lake/Getty Images)

Looking back on his band's 1990 thrash metal landmark, Rust in Peace, in 2018, Megadeth's Dave Mustaine reflected in wonder at just how much the band's sound expanded during the album's creation. 

The secret ingredient to this transformation, he said? The band's then-new guitarist, Marty Friedman. 

Friedman's lead contributions to Rust in Peace in particular are some of the high-water marks not only of Megadeth's discography, but of metal electric guitar playing in general. And perhaps the best of the album's high-flying, brilliantly-composed guitar solos can be found in Hangar 18, an all-out assault that – even almost 25 years after Friedman's departure from Megadeth – remains a concert staple and calling card for the group. 

Ranked by Guitar World as the 21st greatest guitar solo of all time, it's unquestionably one of Friedman's great achievements on the instrument, but it's also one that – a post on his website reveals – taught him an invaluable lesson about guitar composition. 

Hangar 18, Friedman says, “was actually much longer, but got seriously edited. I remember walking into the studio and wading through the miles of 2 inch tape all over the floor. Clink [Mike Clink, Rust in Peace's co-producer] said, ‘Check out the lyrics of this song. It's about aliens and Martians, so play something that sounds like you are coming from outer space.’”

Clink's pointer, Friedman says, was one that's stuck with him ever since.

“That was good advice,” Friedman writes, “and from then on, I really paid a lot more attention to the lyrics in a song than I had before.”

The “Story Behind The Song” piece on Friedman's site contains a track-by-track breakdown of Rust in Peace from the guitarist, including a particularly poignant anecdote about Tornado of Souls, one of the tunes Friedman performed with the thrash legends during a three-song onstage reunion with them in 2023

“When I finished the solo to [Tornado of Souls], Mustaine came into the studio, listened to it down once, turned around and without saying a word, shook my hand,” Friedman recounts. “It was at that moment that I felt like I was truly the guitarist for this band.”

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.