Former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza has died after suffering what one concert-goer described as a seizure during a performance by his band Ohm at the Baked Potato in Studio City, California, last night, May 21. He was 51.
The bystander described the incident as, “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.” Current reports indicate he died of a heart attack.
A Facebook post from The Baked Potato stated simply: “RIP Nick Menza.”
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. #nickmenzarip
— Dave Mustaine (@DaveMustaine) May 22, 2016
— Thrash Metal Hards (@ThrasherManiacs) May 22, 2016
Born in Germany on July 23, 1964, his father was jazz saxophonist Don Menza who worked with Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton and was a member of the band on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Nick’s first experience behind the drums was at the age of two, when someone sat him on Jack DeJohnette’s stool during the intermission of a gig and he started to play.
Menza joined Megadeth in 1989 and appeared on four of their most successful albums (1990’s Rust in Peace, 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, 1994’s Youthanasia and 1997’s Cryptic Writings) before departing the group in 1998. According to the bio on Menza’s website, Menza was diagnosed with a tumor on his knee while Megadeth were on tour. The band continued its dates with Jimmy DeGrasso as his replacement as Menza received treatment. While in the hospital, Menza received a call from frontman Dave Mustaine telling him that he was fired.
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.”