Author: Nick Menza with J. Marshall Craig
Title: Megalife-The Autobiography of Nick Menza
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Reviewed: Jan 2019
I’m sure most people have heard the phrase ’just the drummer’. Although I’m not a drummer, I’ve never agreed with that sentiment. Would anyone say a locomotive is ‘just’ the engine? However, there are quite a few people who do, perhaps subconsciously, carry that attitude and this perhaps demonstrated in how few books are written about drummers. Let’s look at the numbers. There are almost 1000 books about Hard Rock and Heavy Metal that have been published, and there are maybe 10 of them are about drummers? 1% maybe? Setting aside the prolific Neal Peart for a moment, there have been a very few books written by Hard Rock and Heavy Metal drummers; Carmine Appice (King Kobra), Peter Criss (Kiss), Herman Harebell (Scorpions), Bobby Blotter (Ratt), King Fowley (Deceased), and Tommy Lee (Motely Crue) have all penned their autobiography and they are the only ones I can think of. Biographies of drummers are even more rare! Greg Prato’s biography of Eric Carr (Kiss) from 2010 is the only one that comes to mind. I’m sure there are a few more but you get my point…people don’t really write about the drummer.
Most readers will recall that Nick Menza was the drummer for Megadeth for about a decade (1989-1998) and part of the organization for a few more. This is his story. I felt privileged to read this, and as a side note I was the first media person to get a copy and be asked to review it. The pleasure was all mine as MEGALIFE was a truly fascinating read.
MEGALIFE itself is a well-produced, designed and laid-out book. There are quite a few photos, shots of memorabilia and so on. There are also some excerpts from interviews as well as extended quotes from family and friends about Nick. Naturally Nick talks a lot about Megadeth but never bragging nor really slamming his former employers as it were. It seems he took the high road, not getting into enormously explicit detail but it was clear that certain people in Megadeth …let’s cut to the chase)…that Mustaine was very hard to work for.
However, the whole book is not just Megadeth. We have to keep in mind his other projects like Ohm over the years and we get introduced to his various other projects. There were little sections called ‘Rim Shots’ which were scattered across the book, just little stories, jokes, theories and more which broke the book up into fun, easily readable sections. There was a gear section as well, as many drum guys were curious about cymbals and so forth. There were some revealing rock and roll stories of sex, drugs and rock and roll but Menza seemed to have his head on straight…most of the time, it is Heavy Metal after all.
MEGALIFE was a really insight into the drummer who had a love for comedy, laughing and some general weirdness like conspiracy theories and aliens. He seemed like he was quite the character! The book does have a note of sadness because, as you may recall, Menza passed away while on stage drumming, doing what he loved. As cliche as it sounds, what a way to go,doing what you love, although the description of his final moments were indeed tragic and graphic. Aside from the tragic ending, this book really was a celebration of him and his life.
With MEGALIFE, Craig does a great service to the memory of the late Nick Menza with his thoughtful and in-depth exploration of the drummers life and career. A must read for all fans. Side Note: Feel free to read my interview with author of MEGALIFE, J. Marshall Craig as well.