On Nick Menza and 2016 Sucking

Dave Mustaine, Nick Menza, and some smug lizard.

I’m a metal head. I’m a metal head, and Nick Menza died yesterday. I’m a metal head, and Nick Menza died yesterday of a sudden heart attack. It’s funny how something happening to someone you’ve never met can hurt you on so many levels, especially when their life has had such a profound effect on yours.

Who was Nick Menza? A legendary drummer with the misfortune of forever being overshadowed. Even in his death, people will remember 2016 as the year Bowie and Prince died. But not me. Not metal heads. We’ll remember Nick.

Nick played drums in Megadeth during their most influential and arguably most creative era. He joined the band for their album called “Rust in Peace,” which metal heads often cite as one of the greatest metal albums of all time. He left the band after “Cryptic Writings,” which metal heads aren’t so fond of, but I’d fight for it.

Megadeth is known for its guitar work, but Nick helped introduce jazz fusion into metal drumming, making it okay for drummers to be smooth instead of robotic technicians.

There’s an ongoing argument among metal heads over whether Megadeth is better than Metallica. In 2016, decades after both bands’ heyday, I’d argue Megadeth’s influence endures, and much of that is the drum work.

Nick was a part of something that changed music and the arts in general. He couldn’t have possibly understood the measure of his effect, but that is everything an artist, be it a musician, author, painter, whatever, can hope to achieve. Nick did that. Good for him. I’m eternally grateful.

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