By Jon Wiederhorn
Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine is planning a benefit concert to provide financial assistance for his former drummer Nick Menza, who collapsed Saturday night while performing onstage in Studio City, California. He was 51.
“We’re hoping to leave an open stage for all of the alumni from Megadeth to come onstage and play with us so we can leave behind something for Nick’s children, which I think have been left in a bad way,” Mustaine said in a radio station interview. “We wanted to get that stuff all set up and that’s where the wheels are turning.”
Mustaine says he was “gutted” by the news that Menza had died. The drummer played in Megadeth between 1989 and 2009 and performed on two of the band’s most popular and influential albums, 1990’s Rust in Peace and 1992’s Countdown to Extinction. Mustaine fired Menza in 1998 and he was replaced by Jimmy DeGrasso.
“Now is the time for everyone to remember Nick and his legacy of great performances,” Mustaine said before the Rock N Derby event at the Schaghticoke Fairgrounds in Schaghticoke, New York.
During the interview, Mustaine dismissed reports that he was recently at odds with Menza, who he he talked to about rejoining Megadeth for their recent album Dystopia before going with Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler instead.
“Contrary to popular belief, Nick and I were very, very close,” Mustaine said. “I think when you’re that close with somebody the temperature runs a lot hotter than in most relationships, so the the love is that much deeper and the anger is so much more hot and the sadness is so much more profound.”
Earlier that day, Mustaine released the following statement:
“I woke up this morning to a text message from my son, with the news of Nick Menza’s passing. Shocked, devastated and saddened don’t begin to describe my feelings.
“Originally a tech for the band, Nick soon displayed such talent and personality, it didn’t take long for us to realize he belonged on stage with us, behind the kit. We asked Nick to join MEGADETH as our drummer in 1989. At the time, the band already had its first platinum album, which only served to stoke the fire. We all wanted world domination — with so much of our lives and dreams ahead of us. As we navigated through the pitfalls of life and the music business, our first album with Nick, ‘Rust In Peace’, and subsequent albums ‘Countdown To Extinction’ and ‘Youthanasia’, kept up the momentum. We parted ways after ‘Cryptic Writings’. We, like all brothers, would disagree at times, but our bond was strong throughout.
“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.
“There were several times we discussed him coming back to the band, but for various reasons, it never came together. We’ve been in touch all along, he had come out to our shows recently, and he had remained a great friend, a true professional and a larger-than-life personality.
“The MEGADETH family take care of each other, and expect to hear soon about an initiative to help Nick’s children.
“All of us in this community are connected, take care of yourself and your loved ones.
“My deepest condolences go out to Nick’s family.”