CHENNAI: The name Nick Menza may not catch your attention as quickly as Nicki Minaj. But talk to any metal fan in the city, and you will hear unmistakable ‘reverence’. Menza was the former drummer of Megadeth — a band that makes up one of metal’s ‘big four’ alongside Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer. And he collapsed never to wake up again while doing what he loved best on Saturday, shortly after the start of a show. He was 51 years old.
You would think that word of his passing in California wouldn’t resonate with as much shock in Chennai. But believe it or not, one fan actually holds a piece of him at his home in Mylapore. Srikrishna Natesan, drummer of one of the city’s oldest progressive metal acts, Blind Image, recalls, “I wrote Nick Menza an email in 2009; of course, I didn’t expect a reply.”
A day later, he was amazed to find an attachment of a video in his inbox addressed from Menza. “In the video, he played around with a cymbal and went on to autograph it for me,” says an excited Krishna. The cymbal reached him shortly after, and it has been treasured ever since.
Other city-based drummers who grew up on albums like Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction back in the 90s also have vivid memories of the legend. “Holy Wars was one song that challenged me tremendously when we tried to cover it back in the day,” recalls Manu Krishnan, who has played with a range of bands including Escher’s Knot and Wolf’s Lair, and has been teaching the drums for years as well.
Not that the latest generation of musicians has been any less inspired. Pranav Kr who drums for Spine Shatter recalls, “I was about 15 when I heard Nick Menza for the first time, and I was just blown away.” The now 20-year-old reminisces, “Looking back, I’d say he’s the reason I got into metal in the first place.”