Chris Poland says that while he was “devastated” by the tragic passing of his OHM: bandmate and fellow former MEGADETH member Nick Menza, he now realizes “it was meant to be.”
On May 21, 2016, Nick collapsed after suffering a heart attack during a concert with OHM: at The Baked Potato in Studio City, California and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said Menza died of natural causes. The cause of Menza‘s death was listed as hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Menza hooked up with OHM: in 2015 after the passing of the band’s previous drummer, David Eagle, who suffered a heart attack and had open-heart surgery in May of that year.
In a brand new interview with Machine Music, Poland looked back on Menza‘s final days talked about the circumstances surrounding the drummer’s passing.
The guitarist, best known for his work on MEGADETH‘s first two albums — “Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good!” (1985) and “Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?” (1986) — said: “So, my [previous OHM:] drummer passed away, David Eagle, and that was tragic. But we wanted to [continue] the band, and so I asked Nick [to play with us], and he said, ‘Yeah, man. I’ll do it!’ And so he learned all our songs, and after we played them, we said, ‘Fuck this other thing, this heavy thing. Let’s do this!’ And I was so happy. He showed us what we needed in this band that’s been playing for, God, who knows how long. When he came in, he brought life and just muscle into the band. Every time we played, we had so much momentum. Every time we played, we sold out. We were supposed to go out to Europe to play this big festival in Poland. It was in the cards. But we didn’t know what Nick knew [about his medical condition]. He didn’t tell anybody. He kept coming into rehearsal. About a month or so before he passed away, for a week he’d come into rehearsal and bitch about how doctors don’t know anything. He saw a doctor, and the doctor told him what he didn’t want to hear.”
Poland continued: “The night when we played the Baked Potato, he was fine. As a matter of fact, he started the set off [and] it was like a different drummer had arrived. I had never heard him play so hard and so intense. It was like someone had unleashed this other drummer. By the third song, sweat is pouring down my face to try and keep up with Nick. So he looks at me and says, ‘Dude, are you okay?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m okay! What the fuck crawled up your ass?’ And so he laughed, and he looked at Pag [Robertino Pagliari, OHM:‘s bass player], and they’re both laughing at me. And I’m totally losing it. I’m trying to drink water and all that. And so Pag looks at Nick, he turns around to the mic to talk to the audience, Nick adjusts his hi-hat, puts his hands on his legs with his sticks and slowly leans over into the monitor. And there he is, just leaning into the monitor. And I thought he was just fucking with me, because he could see I was all up there to try and keep up with him, and I looked over and I say, ‘You fucking asshole!’ because I thought he was joking. And I see his eyes are wide open. And so I yelled out, ‘Call an ambulance!’ And the rest is history. That was it.”
Chris went on to describe the whole experience as “horrible” but added that he realized “a month and a half, two months later” that “it was meant to be, and that [Nick] knew what was going to happen.” He explained: “[Nick] had kept going north [to Tacoma, Washington] to see his [two] sons [who live with their mother]. And we were angry, like, ‘Wow, is he not into the band?’ He made, like, three trips up there and he was gone, and we couldn’t rehearse. And while he was up there, he was speaking with his ex-wife and her [current] husband, and he went, ‘You know what? If I go…’ Someone’s death came up, and Nick‘s [ex-]wife’s husband goes, ‘When I go, I wanna go having sex,’ and Nick got all pissed off and said, ‘Dude, you do not want to traumatize my wife like that. Don’t even think like that.’ And then Nick looks at him and says, ‘When I go, I’m gonna go on my drums.'”