Jon “Jonny Z” Zazula – co-founder of Megaforce Records, the label that released Metallica’s debut album, kill them all – died at the age of 69.
Confirming the news on Facebook, Zazula’s daughter Rikki hailed her father as a “true legend”. “Our father lived a life as fast, hard, heavy, powerful and impactful as the music he brought to the world,” she says. “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.
She continues, “Although we are devastated he is gone, they are finally reunited. And it seems impossible to imagine a world without him. For all of us who knew and loved him, 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 reportedly died of complications related to chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and osteopenia, a rare neuropathic disorder.
Before founding Megaforce Records in 1982, Jon Zazula and his late wife Marsha owned Rock N’ Roll Heaven, a record store in a flea market in East Brunswick, New Jersey. Metallica’s 1982 demo, No life to the leather – which included Turn on the lights, motor breathing and seek and destroy — was one of the store’s best-selling items.
As broadcaster Eddie Trunk commented in a 2016 interview with classic rockhe was a customer of Zazula at his record store when he started working in radio.
He said: “One day he came to my radio station and said, ‘I have this band, and I can’t find anyone to play it. Can you broadcast it on air? He pulled out of the bag Kill them all. Just to get him out of there, I played a song from it, and he scribbled on the album cover, “Eddie, you were the first.” Thank you, Johnny Z.’
“He said, ‘If I can ever get this band off the ground, I’m going to hire you to work for my record label. “”
Brand new Megaforce Records released Metallica’s debut album, Kill them all in 1983, with their second effort, ride the lightning, in 1984. Zazula acted as the band’s first manager during this time. Metallica’s third album, Puppeteerwas released in 1986 via Elektra.
Trunk continued, “A few years later, Metallica blew up, and he called me and said, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is I’m launching my house of records and that I’m going to hire you. The bad news is that Metallica is leaving me.
“Kill them all was not only a game-changer in terms of introducing a new genre of metal, but it was a game-changer personally for me, as it indirectly brought me into the world of music.
Besides Metallica’s first two albums, Megaforce Records has also released albums by Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, King’s X, Stormtroopers of Death, Raven and more.
Honoring Zazula in an Instagram post earlier today, Metallica wrote, “Heavy music lost one of its great champions today when Jonny Z left this world far too soon. In 1982 when no one wanted take a chance on four California kids playing a crazy brand of metal, Jonny and Marsha did it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“He was a mentor, manager, label head and father figure to all of us…Metallica wouldn’t be who we are or where we are today without Jon Zazula and his wife, Marsha.
“Our love and sympathy goes out to Jonny’s children and grandchildren, whom he has cherished and brought to our shows since they were in diapers. We hope they can find some comfort in knowing that reunited with Marsha and helped bring so much amazing music to so many people. Hope there’s a great show up there tonight to greet you!
Drummer Lars Ulrich went on to pen his own tribute, writing, “Thank you Jonny for taking a chance with those crazy, loud, uncompromising, unruly dudes at NorCal who didn’t know what was up, down or sideways , but who were ready, willing and more than able to throw it all away and go in. Thank you for giving us a sense of belonging and ultimately a sense of self worth.
Frontman James Hetfield simply wrote, “God rest your soul Jonny. My heart is full of gratitude for taking a chance on me and my bandmates.
Zazula publishes her autobiography, Heavy Tales: The Metal. The music. Madness. As experienced by Jon Zazulain 2019, detailing the story of how he and his wife signed one of the most influential bands in music history.