The former drummer with the US metal band Megadeth Nick Menza, has died after collapsing on stage at a gig at the Baked Potato, a small jazz club in Los Angeles, California, early this morning (Sunday). Nick who was 51 is said to have suffered a heart attack during one of his regular sessions with his three piece jazz band OHM. Nick collapsed during the third song into a set with his band.

Dave Mustaine, co-founder of Megadeth, said on Twitter that he awoke at 4am to the news. “Tell me this isn’t true,” he wrote.

Marty Friedman, the former Megadeth guitarist, 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.”

Menza’s biographer J Marshall Craig said “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 north-west 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.”

Allen Hall posted: “We lost an amazing talent and fantastic person yesterday. Nick Menza was the nicest and most sincere guy you should ever hope to meet. He would take the shirt off his back to help you if you needed it. He had a passion for artwork, not just metal music. His tastes were far wider than that genre”

Born in Germany on July 23, 1964, Nick’s 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. He played the sax on the Pink Panther movie that we are all familiar with.

Nick played with Megadeth on several of its most successful albums in the early 1990s, including Rust in Peace, Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia. He left the band when he had to have knee surgery during a tour for the 1997 album Cryptic Writings.

Nick had been playing regular sessions at the Baked Potato club with OHM, founded in 2002 by another Megadeth veteran, the guitarist Chris Poland.

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

Menza’s autobiography, co-written by J. Marshall Craig, will detail the drummer’s life in and out of music and is set for a July release

He is survived by his parents, wife Teri and two sons.

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