Nick Menza
Nick Menza, formally of Megadeth, died during a performance in Los AngelesWiki Commons

A former drummer with US thrash metal band Megadeth has died after suffering a "massive heart attack" on stage in Los Angeles. Nick Menza was playing one of his regular sessions with his band OHM at the Baked Potato, a jazz club in Studio City, when he collapsed on Saturday, 21 May.

The news was confirmed by the 51-year-old's manager, Rob Bolger, after he was taken to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival. Menza's management issued a statement confirming the news. It read: "Nick collapsed during the third song into a set with his band OHM. Earliest reports indicate he suffered a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead upon arrival at hospital."

Menza had joined Megadeth in 1989 and played on four albums, but left the band after he had to have knee surgery after the discovery of a tumour during a tour for the 1997 album Cryptic Writings. He had been playing regular sessions at a club founded in 2002 by another ex-Megadeth performer, guitarist Chris Poland.

Menza was born in Munich whilst his father was stationed there whilst serving in the US Army. His father, Don, was a famous jazz musician, and Nick first played with Megadeth in Bradford in 1988, after being invited by lead singer Dave Mustaine.

He played on the 1990 Rust in Peace album before playing on the Cryptic Writings, Youthanasia and Countdown to Extinction albums. Countdown To Extinction was by far Megadeth's most commercially successful album reaching number two in the US charts and number five in the UK.

Nick Menza 1
Nick Menza, pictured on a mixing console earlier this yearJ Marshall Craig / Facebook

His former manager Rob Bolger said: "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 are slated for release late next month. Earliest reports indicate he suffered a massive heart attack."

After performing with Megadeth, he drummed on three of guitarist Marty Friedman's albums including Scenes, Introduction and True Obsessions. He also released solo work including Life After Deth in 2002 and had been due to finish work on a comic book version of his biography.

Friedman, who left Megadeth two years after Menza, 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."