Nick Menza, the drummer for Megadeth from 1989 to 1998, died on Saturday night from an apparent heart attack while playing with his band OHM in Studio City, CA. He was 51.
Menza’s management confirmed his death, saying “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.”
David Ellefson said “Condolences to the Nick Menza family and friends. We have lost a gentle giant… A true artist and friend to us all. #ripnickmenza”
Marty Friedman, former guitarist for the band, said on Facebook “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 was the son of jazz sax player Don Menza and took up the drums at the age of two. Influenced by the drummers with which his father played such as Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd and Louie Belson, Nick continued to improve and made his professional debut at the age of 18 in the band Rhodes with Kelle Rhodes, brother of Randy Rhodes.
Nick eventually started to play on numerous studio sessions for a wide range of artists before being seen by Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler and brought on as the band’s drum technician. When Behler left the group in 1989, Menza was made his permanent replacement.
While with Megadeth, Menza played on the classic albums Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction, Youthanasia and Cryptic Writings.
During the summer of 1998, Menza was diagnosed with a tumor on his knee which, although benign, caused him to be away from the band for some time. While gone, he was replaced permanently by Jimmy DeGrasso.
Following his departure, Menza went into the studio with Anthony Gallo, Jason Levin and Ty Longley to record the album Life After Death but the release and supporting tour were delayed when Longley was killed during the Great White Station club fire and, a year later, Levin died of heart failure.
In 2004, he reunited briefly with Megadeth before moving on to Orphaned to Hatred in 2006; however, he nearly lost an arm a year later in an accident with a power saw. He later played with Deltanaut.
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