Nick Menza, a former drummer for metal band Megadeth, died Saturday night (May 21) during a show with his latest band, the progressive rock and jazz fusion group OHM. He was 51.
Nick Menza, who was a member of the band OHM, was performing at a Los Angeles-area club on Saturday when he suddenly collapsed and couldn’t be revived, CNN reports. J. Marshall Craig, a family spokesman, on Sunday confirmed the death to the Associated Press.
The news shocked many in the music industry, including Megadeth’s frontman Dave Mustaine, who tweeted that he was “gutted” upon hearing it. “Tell me this isn’t true,” he wrote on Twitter.
In 1989 Nick Nick Menza was asked by Dave Mustaine to join Megadeth. Nick 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, multi-platinum recording Rust in Peace and for the next ten years Nick Menza became associated with the band’s classic and most profitable era with 1990′s Rust In Piece, 1992′s Countdown to Extinction, 1994′s Youthanasia, and 1997′s Cryptic Writings.
Released worldwide on September 24, 1990, Rust in Peace was a hit with fans and critics alike, debuting at No. 23 in the US and No. 8 in the UK The album featured the singles “Holy Wars”, “The Punishment Due” and “Hangar 18″, both of which had music videos made of them and remain live staples. Rust in Peace went on to sell more than a million copies in the US and received Grammy nominations in 1991 and 1992 for Best Metal Performance.
What would become Megadeth’s most commercially successful effort, Countdown to Extinction. The album was the first to feature writing contributions from each band member, and was named by drummer Nick Menza. Released on July 14, 1992, Countdown to Extinction was an instant hit, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 album charts in the US, and No. 5 in the UK. Anchored by the Mainstream Rock hits “Symphony of Destruction” “Foreclosure of a Dream” and “Sweating Bullets” The album quickly went double platinum in the US, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance in 1993.
More success was followed from Youthanasia, released on November 1, 1994 debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the US, Certified gold in Canada after thirty minutes and was certified platinum in the US. Later in November, the band was invited twice to perform at David Letterman’s Late Show: the first time they performed “Train of Consequences”and “À Tout le Monde” on the second occasion.
On June 17, 1997, Capitol Records released Cryptic Writings. The album debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard Top 200, and was Megadeth’s sixth consecutive studio album to be certified platinum in the United States. “Trust”, a single from Cryptic Writings, became Megadeth’s highest charting single to date. The No. 5 Mainstream Rock Track was also nominated for a Best Metal Performance Grammy in 1998.
Megadeth joined Ozzfest 98 but, halfway through the tour, drummer Nick Menza discovered a tumor on his knee and was forced to leave to undergo surgery. Megadeth then hired a temporary replacement by Jimmy DeGrasso rather than cancel any dates.
When the time came to record a follow-up album, Nick Menza was not asked back and DeGrasso became the band’s official drummer. While in the hospital recovering from knee surgery, Nick received a phone call from Mustaine that simply said your services are not needed anymore.