KINGSVILLE — As a kid Glen Drover never asked his parents for toys, only music albums. His drive to play guitar was so strong he would strum on the strings of an old tennis racquet while watching his older brother Brian play.
Eventually the kid brother was handed the guitar.
Drover showed immediate talent and that Christmas, under the tree, was an acoustic guitar. More progress, and the following Christmas his parents gave him a knockoff Les Paul electric guitar and an amplifier. He hooked up the amp, started doing some heavy metal riffs with his brother, Shawn, who played drums, and soon blew a fuse.
“It was a small amp, only two watts, and I blew the fuse in the first days trying to keep up to my brother on drums. I was the first time we played together.”
With a blown amp now on his resume, Drover, age 10, began his road to rock ’n’ roll success and a four-year stint as lead guitarist with U.S. heavy metal band Megadeth.
It’s been a long and winding road for Drover, who now lives in Kingsville with his wife Tara, and son, Bladen. Drover, 51, grew up in a small town outside Montreal, honed his craft playing with garage bands and when the family moved to Mississauga, Glen and Shawn formed a three-piece band called RTR.
They put together demos at a studio owned by the Canadian rock band Triumph and one of the songs, Conquer or be Conquered, appeared on Capitol Records’ Moose Molten Metal, a 1986 compilation of recordings by 10 heavy metal bands from across Canada.
“It was a big thrill for us because it was on Capitol Records,” said Drover.
By 1993, RTR eventually morphed into Eidolon, a power metal band, which released seven studio albums with California-based Metal Blade Records.
“We never toured. We did festivals, some good ones overseas. That was fun, but we were primarily a recording band … we never broke out,” Drover said. “But these were all stepping stones. Without that I wouldn’t have gotten into King Diamond and without King Diamond I would never have gotten into Megadeth.”
Drover was always a big fan of King Diamond, a Danish band with members in Scandinavia and the United States. His brother Shawn also liked the band and he noticed there was a revolving door of guitarists on each King Diamond album.
“He said why don’t you do a few songs on video … and send it to their booking agent or management.” So, he did.
He sent the demo to Denmark, later spoke with the band’s booking agent, who said she would forward the tape to King Diamond. She also gave Drover the telephone number for the leader of the band, Kim Bendix Petersen, better known as King Diamond.
“I just bombarded him. I said, ‘I’m so and so. I just want to let you know I’m not some great fan. I want to let you know I’m for real. I’ve legitimately sent you a demo, I’ve seen all the changes in personnel with your guitar players.”Then he asked King to keep his name in mind if he needed a guitar player.
“He called one week later and said, ‘I got the tape and I love it.’ He said if something comes up, I’ll call you.”
Drover kept in contact with King Diamond and in 1997, many years after the initial contact, he got the call. At the time, he was working in the storage department with Royal Airlines at Pearson Airport in Toronto. It was Drover’s last job outside music.
“That was an exciting day. That was the day I joined a professional, touring band.”
Drover did two American tours with the band, a tour of Europe and various European festivals. During the time with King Diamond he married “the girl next door,” his Streetsville neighbour Tara.
In 2001, after three years with King Diamond, Drover decided it was time to part ways.
“It was very sporadic. It came to the point it was kind of simple. I think I went as far as I can with that band at the time. I don’t know where they are going. I have a son on the way, I’m going to do something different.”
He refocused on Eidolon, playing music festivals and making records for Metal Blade.
In 2004, Drover got a call from a friend in the music business who told him Dave Mustaine, the founder of Megadeth, was putting his band back together for a farewell tour after a three-year split.
The friend said he received the information from Mustaine’s media handler and joked about Drover joining the band.
“Within three days I had the gig. It was that fast.”
Drover said it was a tough decision to make. He son was now two.
“It almost stopped me, but with the support of my wife and family … I can focus on going forward because it was going to be hard. This was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down for obvious reasons.”
Megadeth was doing rehearsals in Arizona for its reunion concert in Reno, Nev., when Drover joined the band. He had to learn the work of four former Megadeth guitarists, all superb musicians, in three weeks. Everything had to be note perfect.
“I grew up ‘lifting music’ so I developed an ear at a very early age, so yes, that helped big time.”
Drover had been rehearsing with the band in Arizona for 2½ weeks when Mustaine decided to fire the drummer.
“Six days before the first show in Reno, (Mustaine) calls me on my cellphone after rehearsal … and says, ‘What about your brother.’ He had heard (Shawn) from the Eidolon days.”
Shawn was putting up drywall in his basement when he got the call from the brother. He flew down to Arizona for rehearsals for the show in Reno, just days ahead. Like his brother, Shawn is a quick read at lifting music.
Opening night arrives. “I knew we were going to be great. You have to remember we were so over-rehearsed. I was in the best shape I’ve ever been, playing, mentally, physically. We were like a machine, you couldn’t touch us … we were that dangerous at that point … we were that well-oiled.”
With Megadeth, Drover toured the Pacific Rim four times, Canada, the U.S., Europe and the U.K, Ireland, Iceland and Dubai.
Obviously, the guy is incredibly good. You’re at a world-class level. That’s such a high-profile gig to get in the world of rock ’n’ roll and metal. A guitarist from Megadeth, that is way, way up there. There would be people all over the world lining to get that gig and to be the guy.
Drover said there is no such thing as job security in the world of rock music. Turnover is constant.
“Sometime before I left the band, I stopped counting at 37 people that were fired or quit, mostly fired, band members, crew, management, you name it, bus drivers, all across the board. It’s heavy. (Mustaine) likes to change things around a lot. He wants things to be done a certain way and God bless him, it’s his creation, it’s his vision, and if he sees something he doesn’t like, too bad … he’s going to fix it.”
Drover did one studio album with Megadeth, 2007’s critically acclaimed United Abominations, which debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Top 200 charts. He also appeared on a live DVD, That One Night, filmed in Argentina. It was the band’s best-selling DVD.
“We played 27 songs that night, 18 of them made it. They took the best of the batch, we only had one shot, one take … we were a little bit nervous that night,” he said.
Drover left the band in 2008.
“All I will say and I know it sounds cliché, it was personal problems, musical differences. I wasn’t happy with certain things which were magnifying the fact I was really missing my son, who was two when I joined the band. I didn’t want to wake up someday and he’s 15 years old and I’ve missed everything.”
Ben Guthrie, a heavy metal guitarist from Kingsville who played with local bands Brown Water and 50 Watt Head, said any list of top metal bands would include groups like Metallica, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath — and Megadeth. “Obviously, the guy is incredibly good. You’re at a world-class level. That’s such a high-profile gig to get in the world of rock ’n’ roll and metal. A guitarist from Megadeth, that is way, way up there. There would be people all over the world lining to get that gig and to be the guy,” Guthrie said.
In 2011, Drover and a number of other top musicians, like keyboardist Jim Gilmour, released a 10-track instrumental album called Metalusion. It was mix of metal, jazz fusion and progressive rock which included cover versions of songs performed by American jazz fusion guitarist Al Di Meola, French jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa.
Drover then toured several times with Testament, subbing for guitarist Alex Skolnick, who also played for Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
“If I had to pick one band out of those three, King Diamond, Megadeth and Testament, Testament overall was the most fun because they’re like a bunch of kids. They’re hungry, they want to get out on stage; it’s exciting, not for the money, it was all for the right reasons.”
Ironically, Drover played one U.S. and Canadian tour with Testament that included Megadeth and Exodus.
Most recently, in 2019, Drover brought together a collection of musicians from Europe and North America to form Walls of Blood with songs co-written by Glen and Shawn. Drover brought in session musicians and asked vocalists he admired to perform. Drover played lead guitar and keyboards.
The disc, called Imperium, features 10 heavy metal songs, with guest appearance by singers like Tim Owens (Judas Priest, Iced Earth), Chuck Billy (Testament), Todd La Torre (Queensryche) and Henning Basse (Metallium, Firewind).“Because of technology and what we can do now, everybody has some sort of recording setup at home. So, all the singers did the vocals in their own respective studios. The job for me was to make it cohesive, so it sounds like they were all there. I think I accomplished all that and I’m very proud of that album.”
Drover is now working on a similar recording. He and his brother will write the songs and perform. Basse, from Germany, will provide the vocals and Joe DiBiase, an American bass player Drover has long admired, will fill out the band.
From his home studio in Kingsville, Drover also does guest solos for bands, session work, producing and mixing. And he’s had a 15-year relationship with JamPlay, which provides question-and-answer clinics on guitar playing.
Drover, his wife and son, moved to Kingsville from Mississauga in 2013.
He said he wanted his son to experience a less-rushed, small town way of life. His wife’s parents, who were originally from Essex County, had also moved back to the area.
Drover said his son is also becoming an accomplished guitarist.
“I said, ‘Let’s go jam downstairs’ in the studio and we started jamming and his tempo and locking in with me was so natural … it is in his blood.”
Drover said coming to Kingsville was good move for him and his family.
“We wanted to simplify our life. We want to go to a nice quiet town,” he said.