Nick Menza, former drummer for the influential metal band Megadeth, died after collapsing on stage during a performance of his progressive jazz trio in Southern California, a family spokesman said Sunday.
Menza's latest band OHM was three songs into a semi-regular set at a Los Angeles-area club Saturday night when the drummer collapsed, J. Marshall Craig told The Associated Press. Friends and audience members rendered aid while paramedics were called.
The 51-year-old died at the club of a suspected massive heart attack, Craig said.
Menza was Megadeth's longest-serving drummer, performing on five records over nine years, including 1990's thrash metal landmark, Rust In Peace.
Dave Mustaine, singer, guitarist and co-founder of Megadeth, said in a statement that he awoke to a text message from his son with the news.
"Shocked, devastated, and saddened don't begin to describe my feelings," Mustaine said.
"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," Mustaine's statement said.
Marty Friedman, the band's guitarist from 1990 to 2000, wrote on Facebook that Menza was "a great and unique drummer" and "a trustworthy friend, a hilarious bandmate, as well as a very loving dad."
After leaving Megadeth in 1998, Menza pursued an interest in jazz and became an accomplished woodworker.
Mustaine said he discussed Menza returning to the band several times, "but for various reasons it never came together."
Menza's autobiography, co-written by Craig, will detail the drummer's life in and out of music and is set for a July release.
He is survived by his mother and father, the jazz saxophonist Don Menza, and two sons.
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