Former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza died Saturday at the age of 51 after collapsing onstage during a concert at the Baked Potato in Los Angeles.
Rolling Stone reports the drummer's management confirmed the death in a statement: "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."
The son of Buddy Rich's longtime jazz saxophonist Don Menza, Nick began his career as a session musician before he was recruited by then-Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler to serve as drum tech; after Behler left the band, leader Dave Mustaine asked Menza to join Megadeth in 1989.
Menza provided drums on four Megadeth studio albums, including their 1990 classic “Rust In Peace” and 1992's “Countdown To Extinction.”
Menza's tenure in Megadeth ended in 1998, when knee problems and a benign tumor forced him to leave the band's tour in support of 1997’s “Cryptic Writings”; Menza was abruptly replaced on a permanent basis by drummer Jimmy DeGrasso, the former Suicidal Tendencies member who also performed alongside Mustaine in his MD.45 side project.
OHM and former Megadeth bandmate Marty Friedman paid tribute to the drummer, writing, “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.”
Megadeth bassist David Ellefson tweeted: “Condolences to the Nick Menza family and friends. We have lost a gentle giant... A true artist and friend to us all.”
Megadeth mainman Dave Musaine tweeted: “TELL ME THIS ISN'T TRUE! I woke at 4 AM to hear Nick Menza passed away on 5/21 playing his drums w/Ohm at the Baked Potato”
Mustaine offered a personal tribute on Sunday, writing “I woke up this morning to a text message from my son, with the news of Nick Menza's passing. Shocked, devastated, and saddened don't begin to describe my feelings.
“Originally a tech for the band, Nick soon displayed such talent and personality, it didn’t take long for us to realize he belonged on stage with us, behind the kit. We asked Nick to join Megadeth as our drummer in 1989. At the time, the band already had its first platinum album, which only served to stoke the fire. We all wanted world domination- with so much of our lives and dreams ahead of us. As we navigated through the pitfalls of life and the music business, our first album with Nick, Rust In Peace, and subsequent albums Countdown To Extinction and Youthanasia, kept up the momentum. We parted ways after Cryptic Writings. We, like all brothers, would disagree at times, but our bond was strong throughout.
“As a player, Nick had a very powerful jazzy flair, unpredictable and always entertaining. And as great a drummer as he was, the time spent with him as a person, a bandmate, and a friend was even more fun. There were several times we discussed him coming back to the band, but for various reasons it never came together. We've been in touch all along, he had come out to our shows recently, and he had remained a great friend, a true professional and a larger than life personality.
“The Megadeth family take care of each other, and expect to hear soon about an initiative to help Nick's children. All of us in this community are connected, take care of yourself and your loved ones.
“My deepest condolences go out to Nick's family.”
TELL ME THIS ISN'T TRUE! I woke at 4 AM to hear Nick Menza passed away on 5/21 playing his drums w/Ohm at the Baked Potato. #nickmenzarip— Dave Mustaine (@DaveMustaine) May 22, 2016
Condolences to the Nick Menza family and friends. We have lost a gentle giant... A true artist and friend to us all. #ripnickmenza— David Ellefson (@ellefsondavid) May 22, 2016
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