Drummer and ex-Megadeth member Nick Menza passed away this weekend after collapsing on stage during a performance in Southern California. He was 51.
Menza was best known to many as the Megadeth’s drummer throughout the 1990’s, a time when the thrash group released many of their most successful albums to date. He was a member of the band from 1989 to 1998 and again in 2004. He played in numerous other bands, and most recently joined progressive jazz group OHM.
At the time of the incident, Menza was playing at The Baked Potato in Studio City, CA – a venue the group frequents. OHM was three songs into the set when Menza passed out, said manager Steve Bauer. Paramedics were unable to revive the drummer. No official cause of death has been released yet by officials.
Those close to Menza were devastated. “The group’s bassist texted me last night after it happened,” Bauer told CNN. “We are all still in shock.” In an interview with radio station Q103, frontman Dave Mustaine had much to say about his relationship with Menza. (Source: Blabbermouth)
“Contrary to popular belief, Nick and I were very, very close. I think when you’re that close with somebody, the temperatures run a lot hotter than in most relationships, so the love is that much more deeper and the anger is so much more hot and the sadness is so much more profound. So I think that’s when you know that you’re really in a relationship with somebody that matters to you… Nick and I were really, really close. And people think that we had this failed reunion attempt. There were several times that we tried to reconcile stuff, and it just didn’t happen for whatever reason — I don’t know why, but it didn’t.”
While Menza is best known for his contributions to metal, his roots lie in jazz. The lifelong drummer first played as a toddler, when he was placed on composer and drummer Jack DeJohnette’s kit and began to play. Menza grew up listening to DeJohnette’s era of fusion jazz. He began to play professionally at 18 when he brought these influences to the band Rhoads with Kelle Rhoads, the brother of the late Randy Rhoads.
Menza played in all sorts of styles, recorded with John Fogerty, and eventually caught the attention of then-drummer Chuck Behler. Menza was hired as Behler’s tech and in 1989, after Behler’s departure, was invited to join the band.During Menza’s tenure, Megadeth left a massive legacy as a metal band. Alongside Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, the group became a part of the “Big Four.” Throughout the 90’s, the band recorded some of its most successful records to date, including as “Rust in Peace,” “Countdown to Extinction,” and “Youthanasia.”
Update (05/26): According to TMZ, authorities have ruled out drugs as a factor of Manza’s death. After conducting research, law enforcement figures stated that they found no recent history of drug use and autopsy results supported these claims. Sources told TMZ that Menza used some drugs early in his career, but has remained sober for the past 8 years.
Fans reported to Blabbermouth.net that “It appeared to be a seizure but [Nick] stopped breathing. Two patrons took over and began CPR until EMS arrived. EMS worked on him for 25-plus minutes, including adrenaline shots, three shocks and non-stop compressions.”