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Former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza collapses on stage in L.A. and dies

Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, back left, with other members of the band in 1997. From left: guitarist Marty Friedman, singer and guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson.

Megadeth drummer Nick Menza, back left, with other members of the band in 1997. From left: guitarist Marty Friedman, singer and guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson.

(Ethan Miller / Las Vegas Sun)

Nick Menza, former drummer for the influential metal band Megadeth, died after collapsing on stage during a performance of his progressive jazz trio in Los Angeles, a family spokesman said Sunday.

Menza’s latest band, OHM, was three songs into a semi-regular set at the Baked Potato in Studio City on 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 what is thought to be a 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.”

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Dave Mustaine, co-founder of Megadeth, said on Twitter that he awoke at 4 a.m. to the news.

“Tell me this isn’t true,” Mustaine wrote.

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.”

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After leaving Megadeth in 1998, Menza pursued an interest in jazz and became an accomplished woodworker.

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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