Nick Menza, former drummer for the influential metal band Megadeth, died after collapsing on stage during a performance of his progressive jazz trio in Southern California, 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 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 a suspected 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."
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."
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.
Menza's mother, Rose, said her son did not suffer from a heart condition prior to the heart attack.