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Former Megadeth Drummer Nick Menza Has Died (Onstage) At 51

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Less than five months in, we’re chalking 2016 up as the cruellest year in history for iconic musicians. Having performed in Megadeth‘s revered ‘classic’ lineup for almost a decade, Nick Menza is one of the most prolific drummers of our time, and now, his iconic solos and soul-cleansing snare hits will live on in history.

Menza was performing with his band OHM over the weekend, when he collapsed three songs into the set – early reports stated that he suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead upon arrival at a hospital.

The news first broke on the Internet through a tweet made by Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine; “TELL ME THIS ISN’T TRUE! I woke at 4 AM to hear Nick Menza passed away on 5/21 playing his drums w/Ohm at the Baked Potato,” he wrote.

Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman – who has performed with Menza in both Megadeth and a solo project – commemorated his late friend on Facebook, writing: “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.”

Though it was hardly his only achievement, Menza is best known for being a maniac with a pair of drumsticks in Megadeth – starting out as a tech hand, Menza performed full-time in the band from 1989 to 1998.

Read a heartfelt commemoration message from Dave Mustaine:

I woke up this morning to a text message from my son, with the news of Nick Menza’s passing. Shocked, devastated, and saddened don’t begin to describe my feelings.

Originally a tech for the band, Nick soon displayed such talent and personality, it didn’t take long for us to realize he belonged onstage with us behind the kit. We asked Nick to join Megadeth as our drummer in 1989. At the time, the band already had its first [gold] album, which only served to stoke the fire. We all wanted world domination, with so much of our lives and dreams ahead of us. As we navigated through the pitfalls of life and the music business, our first album with Nick, Rust in Peace, and subsequent albums Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia, kept up the momentum. We parted ways after Cryptic Writings. We, like all brothers, would disagree at times, but our bond was strong throughout.

As a player, Nick had a very powerful jazzy flair, unpredictable and always entertaining. And, as great a drummer as he was, the time spent with him as a person, a bandmate and a friend was even more fun. There were several times we discussed him coming back to the band, but for various reasons it never came together. We’ve been in touch all along, he had come out to our shows recently and he had remained a great friend, a true professional and a larger than life personality.

The Megadeth family take care of each other, and expect to hear soon about an initiative to help Nick’s children. All of us in this community are connected, take care of yourself and your loved ones.

My deepest condolences go out to Nick’s family.

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