Jon "Jonny Z" Zazula died yesterday at 69 years old at his home in Florida. Zazula co-founded Megaforce Records with his wife Marsha Zazula in 1982 and was responsible for launching the careers of bands like Metallica and Anthrax. Tributes have begun to pour in memorializing Zazula, perhaps none more pertinent than Metallica's Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield alongside Anthrax's Charlie Benante and Scott Ian.
Megaforce's early releases included Metallica's Kill 'Em All and Mercyful Fate's Melissa in 1983, Anthrax's Fistful Of Metal and Metallica's Ride The Lightning in 1984, and then records like The Legacy by Testament and Feed The Fire by Overkill in the ensuing years. The Zazula couple was nothing short of monumental in getting metal off the ground and will both be missed greatly.
"Thank you Jonny for taking a chance on these crazy, noisy, uncompromising and undisciplined dudes from NorCal who didn't know what was up, down or sideways, but who were ready, willing and more than able to fuckin throw it all to the wind and go for it.
"Thank you for giving us a sense of belonging and ultimately, a sense of self-worth.
"I will forever be grateful for your friendship, advice and blind belief that the music we played could be shared with way more people who were just like us…outsiders and misfits!
"Rest In Peace my friend."
"God rest your soul Jonny. My heart is full of gratitude for taking a chance on me and my bandmates."
"I am in shock… I spoke to you 3 days ago and now you're gone. I'm so happy we had the times we had and that the last words we said to each other was 'I LOVE YOU' ?, My love to @divafauxreal Blair and Danielle. we made a difference in this business. You'll be reunited with Marsha now❤️❤️❤️ love you Z"
"By the way…
"I remember it like it was yesterday- Saturday afternoon, late '82 at Rock & Roll Heaven with Jonny. He'd just played me Metallica's No Life 'Til Leather demo. We were standing there sweating, a post-headbanging/air-guitaring fever had overcome us, Jonny staring at me wild-eyed shaking his head in an enthusiastic 'YES' motion. My riff-induced smile back at him was all he needed. A beat passed, breathing subsided to a point where Jonny could speak and he excitedly raved at me, 'I'm bringing them to NY, we're going to make an album, and if nobody will put it out I'll start my own label and I will put it out, and you guys will be next.'"
"And he did all of that.
"And he changed all of our worlds.
"Heavy music lost one of its great champions today when Jonny Z left this world far too soon. In 1982, when no one wanted to take a chance on four kids from California playing a crazy brand of metal, Jonny and Marsha did, and the rest, as they say, is history. He was a mentor, a manager, a label head and a father figure to us all . . . Metallica would not be who we are or where we are today without Jon Zazula and his wife, Marsha.
"Our love and sympathy go out to Jonny’s children and his grandchildren, whom he cherished and brought to our shows from the time they were in diapers. We hope they will be able to take some comfort in knowing that he is reunited with Marsha, and that he helped bring so much incredible music to so many. Hopefully there’s a great show goin’ on up there tonight to welcome you!
"We’ll miss you Jonny! James, Lars, Kirk & Robert
"? Kevin Hodapp"
"We are all gutted by today's loss of Jonny Z. If it weren’t for Jonny, there might not have been an Anthrax. His commitment, his guidance, his passion, and his friendship were integral in the success of the band, and he was a lifelong, much loved friend.
"Jonny loved metal, and he was truly a pioneer, and as he left an indelible mark in heavy music, his absence will be greatly felt.
"Jonny, give our love to Marsha, and safe travels to the both of you. ?"