Megaforce Records founder Jon ‘Jonny Z’ Zazula dies at 69
Jon Zazula, founder of Megaforce Records, has died aged 69. The news came from a post on her daughter Rikki Zazula’s Facebook.
The world lost a true legend today… Our father lived a life as fast, hard, heavy, powerful and impactful as the music he brought to the world. His passion and perseverance fueled the careers of the most influential metal bands and industry greats of a generation. To us, he was simply dad… Our father and mother were a powerful partnership in love, life and business. Together they believed in the incredible, their passion, rebellious outlook and persistence built an empire from a vinyl box in a flea market – to a record label, a management company and a music house. edition selling several platinum discs. Although we are devastated he is gone, they are finally reunited. And it seems impossible to imagine a world without it. For all of us who knew and loved him…by the way…keep it heavy! RIP dad, you will be so deeply missed, but never forgotten…your LegaZ will live forever, not only in us and your grandchildren, but in every headbanger on this planet for all eternity!
Zazula founded Megaforce Records in the early 1980s with his wife, Marsha, and helped relaunch the legendary Metallica’s career when he signed them. He was given a copy of the band No life to the leather demo by a customer at his record stand in a New Jersey flea market and contacted the band in hopes of working together.
“When I put it on, it was like lightning. It was like I was hit by, I don’t know what, like a beam. And I listened to all of that, it was like I was losing my mind,” Zazula told us in October of 2019. “That’s America’s answer – I just said that to Motorhead and the new wave of British heavy metal – that would be the start of America’s own scene in this vein.”
“I basically said to Marsha, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m going to do something with this band. I have to be part of the legacy.’ I knew there would be a legacy.”
He had booked local shows in New Jersey at the time, with bands such as Venom, Raven, Anvil and Manowar, and told Lars Ulrich he would send Metallica money to rent a U-Haul. to come and perform in New York. Eventually he released the band’s first two full albums – 1983 Kill them all and 1984 Ride the lightning.
Throughout his career, Zazula has also worked with notable names in heavy music such as Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Mercyful Fate, Ministry and more. Check out our 2019 interview with Zazula to learn more about her iconic musical endeavors below. The rest of his metal career is detailed in his memoirs, Heavy Tales: The Metal. The music. Madness.
Loudwire sends our condolences to Zazula’s loved ones – may he rest in peace.
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