Nick Menza, ex-drummer of the thrash metal band Megadeth during their most commercially successful period, passed away on this day in 2016. The prominent musician collapsed on stage during a show with his band OHM at The Baked Potato in Studio City, California. Despite momentary efforts, he could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the venue.
Nick Menza was born on July 23, 1964, in Munich, Germany. He began playing the drums at the age of two. Reared on a diet of classic jazz and R&B, he turned professional at the age of 18 and swiftly earned himself an impressive CV of session work, performing alongside musicians from all manner of diverse genres. He eventually caught the attention of then Megadeth drummer Chuck Behler, eventually becoming his drum tech and occasionally filling in for his boss. As a result of his close relationship with the Megadeth camp, he was picked by Dave Mustaine as the perfect replacement for Behler when the latter quit the band.
Drummers are, in most cases, the unsung heroes of heavy metal. But Nick Menza's contribution to the sound and style of heavy music over the last 30 years was significant, particularly with regard to the precision and power that have become standard fixtures in modern metal. Menza joined Megadeth in 1989, replacing former incumbent Chuck Behler. The first album the retooled lineup made together was 1990's Rust In Peace, a record that single-handedly redefined what metal should sound like as the century neared its end.
As Mustaine's confidence as a songwriter and guitarist reached peak levels, so his new comrades provided stellar support and Menza, in particular, was fundamental to the evolution of Megadeth's anti-establishment sound.
An autobiography of Nick Menza was published in 2011 named "Megalife: The Autobiography of Nick Menza."
Menza was part of the transition period that turned Megadeth from a cult band to a metal icon. He died doing what he loved best, drumming. Passionate Megadeth fans as well as metal heads in general fondly remember him on his death anniversary.