Ex-Megadeth Drummer Nick Menza Dies After Collapsing on Stage

(Image credit: Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Drummer Nick Menza, who played on many of Megadeth's classic albums, died after he collapsed on stage late Saturday night during a show. He was 51.

Menza was into the third song with his new band, Ohm, when he collapsed, according to Ohm's manager Steve Bauer. Paramedics were not able to revive him. The band was playing at The Baked Potato in Studio City, California. Earliest reports indicate he suffered a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital. No other details are being released at this time.

One person who was present at The Baked Potato last night told Blabbermouth.net: "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."

Bauer, Ohm's manager, told CNN: "The group's bassist texted me last night after it happened. We are all still in shock."

"TELL ME THIS ISN’T TRUE!” Dave Mustaine tweeted Sunday. “I woke at 4 AM to hear Nick Menza passed away on 5/21 playing his drums w/Ohm at the Baked Potato.” He added in a follow-up tweet, “I am gutted.”

Guitarist Marty Friedman, who performed with Menza in Megadeth and as a solo artist, wrote on Facebook, “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.”

Nick's biographer and friend J. Marshall Craig added: "We ask for prayers for Nick's family, his family, and especially his two sons and their mother, Teri. He just spent nearly two weeks with the boys in the Pacific Northwest and was absolutely glowing. He was scheduled to fly to my home in Cape Cod tomorrow so that we could finish the comic-book version of the book we wrote on his life, 'MenzaLife', both of which were slated for release late next month. This morning we are all too numb to think about anything but Nick's family.”

Officials haven't released a cause of death.

Menza played drums on Megadeth’s classic 1990 album Rust in Peace and 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, as well as 1994’s Youthanasia and 1997’s Cryptic Writings. He left the band in 1998 while touring for Cryptic Writings due to knee problems caused by a benign tumor. He was replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso. Though Menza was drumming again when Megadeth recorded the follow-up, 1999’s Risk, he was not asked back.

The son of jazz musician Don Menza, the younger Menza was two years old when he was seated at the drum kit of Jack DeJohnette during an intermission and proceeded to play. He was later tutored by such notable drummers as Buddy Rich, Steve Gadd, Nick Ceroli, Jeff Porcaro and Louie Bellson.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Guitar World Staff

Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.