R.I.P. former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza (1964-2016)
Blabbermouth has reported that former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza passed away yesterday at the age of 51 while performing with the band OHM: at The Baked Potato in Studio City, California.
The Blabbermouth article states in part:
“One person who was present at The Baked Potato last night told BLABBERMOUTH.NET: “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.””
Wikipedia describes Menza‘s history in part as follows (with slight edits):
“Nick Menza (July 23, 1964 – May 21, 2016) was a professional drummer best known for his work in Megadeth from 1989 to 1998 and in 2004. He recorded drums on four of Megadeth‘s albums: Rust in Peace (1990), Countdown to Extinction (1992), Youthanasia (1994) and Cryptic Writings (1997).
Moving on to session playing including styles ranging from R&B to gospel, funk and heavy metal, recording with the likes of John Fogerty, Nick caught the attention of then Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler and became his tech. He had also been chosen to play in Slayer on South of Heaven, but original drummer Dave Lombardo came back and beat Menza in the audition. When Megadeth needed a drummer in 1989, Nick Menza was asked by Dave Mustaine to join the band. Mustaine noted that Menza previously filled in on drums when Behler was unable to. Menza first played live with Megadeth on May 12, 1988 in Bradford, England. This prior experience and personal relationship led to the invitation to join Megadeth for the 1990 recording Rust in Peace.
For the next ten years, Nick became associated with Megadeth‘s “classic” period and also his Greg Voelker Rack System. This included a double-bass drum kit with the tom-toms mounted on a lower chrome rack and all cymbal crashes mounted on a higher rack, which was supported by two chrome bars behind the drummer. This was later adopted by Megadeth on 2004’s Blackmail the Universe tour, which featured a similar rack system.
During his stint in Megadeth, Nick also played drums on his bandmate Marty Friedman‘s three solo albums Scenes (1992), Introduction (1994), and True Obsessions (1996).
By the summer of 1998, while the band was still touring in support of Cryptic Writings, Menza was having knee problems and sought medical advice. He was informed he had a tumor, which was later found to be benign, and had it removed. As a result, Megadeth hired a temporary replacement by Jimmy DeGrasso rather than cancel any dates. When the time came to record a follow-up album, Menza was not asked back and DeGrasso became the band’s official drummer. Menza has said in several interviews that, while in the hospital recovering from knee surgery, he received a phone call from Mustaine that simply said “Your services are not needed anymore”. After his departure, he began work on Menza: Life After Deth with guitarist Anthony Gallo, bassist Jason Levin, and guitarist Ty Longley. The album was initially intended to have a 2002 release date and tour to follow, however, on the tour in 2003 with the reformed Great White, Longley was among the 100 people killed in The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island and a year later Jason Levin died of heart failure, Menza and Gallo were devastated and the Life After Deth tour was never announced. Guest guitarist Christian Nesmith son of Monkees Mike Nesmith did some leads and Menza hired producer Max Norman (Ozzy Osbourne, Megadeth).
Following the reissue of the entire Megadeth catalog, Menza was invited to reunite with Megadeth in 2004. Days after a reunion was announced Menza was fired after rehearsals and replaced with Shawn Drover. Dave Mustaine said that this was because Nick “just wasn’t prepared” for a full scale US tour, physically.”
The Blabbermouth article goes on to state in part:
Menza claimed in a 2015 interview that the attempted reunion of the “Rust In Peace” lineup failed to materialize because Dave Mustaine “didn’t wanna show me any love at all.”
“The drummer said that he was approached by Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson to replace Shawn Drover at the end of 2014, and that he had started working out new tracks with the band. But the plan collapsed after he was offered a contract he described as “very unfair.”
In addition to Menza, OHM: featured another ex-MEGADETH member, guitarist Chris Poland.
Menza joined OHM: last year after the passing of the band’s previous drummer, David Eagle, who suffered a heart attack and had open-heart surgery in May 2015.”