The metal legend’s management has now confirmed the news, issuing an official statement that reads: “Nick collapsed during the third song into a set with his band OHM. Earliest reports indicate he suffered a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital” (via The Guardian).
All of Menza’s old Megadeth bandmates including both Daves – Mustaine and Ellefson – and guitarist Marty Friedman have all shared their shock and condolences via social media, while fellow drum icon Mike Portnoy, Testament’s Alex Skolnick, Toto’s Steve Lukather, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo, Anthrax and many more have tipped their hats to the influential muso with their own tributes.
Early Megadeth guitarist Chris Poland, who was performing on stage with Nick in Ohm at the time of his death, also shared a few words via Twitter (below).
While one fan who was present at the time of Menza’s death has shared an emotional account of the experience on an official Megadeth forum:
“Oh God, he passed? I was there when this happened. It was so sad. They were starting I believe the third or fourth song, and they sounded great.
“Then, Nick just collapses and the audience gasped. I think everyone thought that he just fell. Chris Poland said ‘Nick’ and he said it again when it was obvious there was something very wrong.
“This guy that was an EMT and I believe some sort of nurse was there. Chris and everybody shouted for anybody to call 911. It seemed like it took forever for the paramedics to arrive. It was probably less than five minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. They were working on him, and moving his drumkit so there would be room. It did not seem real at all…
“I arrived there early and was seated almost right in front of Chris. We chatted for awhile and then I saw Nick. He looked fine. His playing was amazing. He was really pounding away on the song he was playing before he collapsed.
“Just like the last four Ohm shows I have seen this year, Nick was playing on all cylinders. In fact, the show started off so cool with the lights being all out of focus, and Nick climbed out from behind his drum kit and arranged the lights with his sticks! You had to have been there to know what I mean. It seemed like a great night was ahead for all. Everybody was really pumped to see the band. It was electric to be honest.
“When the paramedics arrived, we were told to exit the club. I waited outside with some people in the back. I saw Chris Poland walking in and out of the club a few times, but nobody asked him anything. Finally, the club’s doorman told us the club was going to close because of what happened. I walked through the club and chatted really quickly with the bass player, Robertino [Pagliari].
“I walked outside and the ambulance was still out there. The door was open, and you could see they were still working on Nick. It was so heartbreaking. His sister was outside and asking for prayers for Nick. The ambulance roared away, and I remember just feeling numb. I still cant believe all of that happened and now, to find out Nick died.
“This was the worst thing I have ever witnessed. I don’t know what else to say…….. R.I.P. NICK MENZA.”
Menza performed on all of Megadeth’s releases from Rust In Peace to Cryptic Writings before leaving the band in ’98 and returning for a brief spell in 2004.
UPDATE 23/05/16: Megadeth frontman Dave Montaine has issued a statement, saying he is ‘devastated’ by the news of his former band-mate’s passing.
UPDATE26/05/16: Nick Menza’s cause of death has been confirmed.
Check out some of the touching tributes from his friends and peers in the music world below.
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
this deserves a repost, especially for those who did not see the magic Nick brought to OHM:… https://t.co/togD4UvOGd
— OHM (@OfficialOHM) May 22, 2016
Rest in Peace, my friend…
here is Nick Menza's appearance on Jeff Young's Music Without Boundaries Radio Show… https://t.co/6bu4Ww0b0R
— Jeff Young (@JEFFSCOTTYOUNG) May 22, 2016
— Dave Lombardo (@TheDaveLombardo) May 22, 2016
So sad to hear about the passing of Nick Menza…we hung many times back in the day…taken way too soon. #RIPNickMenza
— Mike Portnoy 🤘 (@MikePortnoy) May 22, 2016
Really sorry to hear of Nick Menza's passing..
We met when Megadeath was rehearsing next door to us in 1990.
Great drummer/ great guy…
— Steve Lukather (@stevelukather) May 22, 2016
Very sorry 2 hear of Nick Menza's passing. Didn't know him well, but always enjoyed his drumming live & on @Megadeth's essential albums. RIP
— Alex Skolnick (@AlexSkolnick) May 22, 2016
Woke up to the very bad news.
R.I.P. Nick Menza.
2016 is a bitch 😞
— Cristina Scabbia (@MissScabbia) May 22, 2016
Sorry to learn about the passing of Nick Menza RIP
— Richie Kotzen (@Richie_Kotzen) May 22, 2016
RIP Nick Menza- so sorry to hear about this…
— FrankBello (@TheFrankBello) May 22, 2016
— Nonpoint (@nonpoint) May 22, 2016
Sad to hear the news of Nick Menza. He played on some of my favorite records. RIP
— Brendon (@_Brendonsmall) May 22, 2016