Noisey is reporting that Nick Menza, a former drummer for thrash metal pioneer Megadeth, has died. Menza collapsed on stage during a performance with his new band, Ohm, on Saturday night. The cause of death is being listed as heart failure.
Menza joined Megadeth in 1989, after serving for a year for as the drum technician—and potential stand-in, in the event that substance abuse rendered him unable to tour—for his predecessor, Chuck Behler. Menza ultimately played for nine years with the group, the second-longest tenure for a drummer in a band with a notoriously high turnover rate, at least for anyone who wasn’t bassist David Ellefson or frontman Dave Mustaine.
Menza’s run with the group—stretching from 1990’s Rust In Peace to 1997’s Cryptic Writings—is generally viewed as “classic” Megadeth, with Rust In Peace moving the band from underground success into the wider mainstream metal world. His drums appear on a number of the band’s most well-known songs, including “Symphony Of Destruction,” Hanger 18,” and “Trust,” the success of which marked Megadeth’s transition into more commercial rock.
Menza left the group in 1998, after being forced to take a leave of absence to have a benign tumor removed from his knee. (According to Menza, he was summarily dismissed by Mustaine in favor of the man who was supposed to be his temporary replacement, Jimmy DeGrasso.) Menza returned to the band in 2004 for a reunion after its brief, mid-2000s split, only to be fired a few days later after Mustaine declared that he wasn’t prepared for the rigors of touring with the band.
Outside of Megadeth, Menza contributed drums to a number of other metal bands, including Memorain and Deltanaut, and played on solo albums by his Megadeth contemporary, Marty Friedman. He joined Ohm last year, where he played alongside Chris Poland, another veteran of the band. He was memorialized on social media yesterday by several of his former bandmates, including Mustaine and Friedman. Menza was 51.