Former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza has died at age 51 after collapsing on stage on Saturday night at a small jazz club in Los Angeles.
New York Daily News reports that Menza is thought to have suffered a heart attack while performing at the Baked Potato with his band, OHM. The drummer’s management team issued a statement shortly after his death, confirming the news that he did indeed pass away.
“Nick collapsed during the third song into a set with his band OHM. Earliest reports indicate he suffered a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital.”
Marty Friedman, former lead guitarist for Megadeth, took to Facebook after hearing the news, offering his condolences to Menza’s friends and loved ones.
“We all know the great and unique drummer that Nick Menza was, but he was also a trustworthy friend, a hilarious bandmate, as well as a very loving dad. I’m beyond sad, did not see this coming at all. RIP Brother.”
Menza, a father of two, spent close to two weeks with sons shortly before his death, according to biographer J Marshall Craig, who was in the process of finishing up a comic book version of Menza’s biography.
“He just spend nearly two weeks with the boys in the Pacific north-west and was absolutely glowing. He was scheduled to fly to my home in Cape Cod tomorrow so that we could finish the comic-book version of the book we wrote on his life, MenzaLife, both of which were slated for release late next month. This morning we are all too numb to think about anything but Nick’s family.”
Menza was a member of one the “big four” thrash metal bands, Megadeth, for nearly 10 years. He caught the eye of drummer Chuck Behler and joined the band in 1989. In 1998, Menza was reportedly booted from the group after he took a break for medical reasons during the band’s Cryptic Writings tour. He began doing solo work afterwards, teaming up with other musicians to create his album, Menza: Life After Deth.
In 2002, Menza re-joined Megadeth, but the reunion only lasted a few days, after the band’s guitarist stated that Menza “just wasn’t prepared” for a full scale US tour, physically.
In 2006, Menza joined metal band Orphaned to Hatred. He left the band in 2011, and in 2015, officially joined OHM, founded by former Megadeth drummer Chris Poland. Menza replaced OHM’s previous drummer, David Eagle, who also passed away from a heart attack. Eagle underwent open heart surgery in May, 2015.
Menza is credited with helping create some of the most influential metal music of all time, making a permanent mark on the genre that numerous musicians and fans tried to emulate. Many fans credit Menza for their interest in learning how to play the drums after being mesmerized by his unique style and efforts. Menza’s friend, Allen Hall, wrote that not only was Menza a talented musician, but also a caring soul that liked to help others.
“He would take the shirt off his back to help you if you needed it. He had a passion for artwork, not just metal music.”
Menza was the son of jazz musician, Don Menza. He was born in Munich, Germany, but grew up in California, where he learned to play drums at an early age. He was engaged to former girlfriend Bethan Manning, but the couple split up in 1996. Last week, it was announced that Nick Menza would reveal his new “rhythm-on-canvas” artwork collection on June 15.
[Photo by AP/Jim Cooper]