Megaforce Records Cofounder Jon Zazula Dead at 69
Jon Zazula, cofounder of legendary metal label Megaforce Records, has died at the age of 69.
Zazula’s daughter, Rikki Zazula, confirmed the news on Facebook.
“The world lost a true legend today,” she wrote. “Our dad lived a life as fast, hard, heavy, powerful and impactful as the music he brought to the world. His passion and persistence fueled the careers of arguably the most influential metal bands and industry greats of a generation.”
You can see the full post below.
Zazula, also known as Jonny Z, founded Megaforce in 1983 with his wife Marsha (who died last January at the age of 68). The label released Metallica’s first two albums, 1983’s Kill ‘Em All and 1984’s Ride the Lightning, helping to catapult the band and thrash metal into the mainstream. Megaforce also released albums by Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, King's X and dozens of other metal bands.
Megaforce had humble beginnings, launching as a kiosk in a flea market. When Metallica sold roughly 3,000 tickets for their August 1984 gig at new York’s Roseland Ballroom shortly after the release of Ride the Lightning, it was considered a massive win for both the band and label. Reflecting on the band’s sophomore LP in his 2019 memoir Heavy Tales, Zazula wrote, “They did it again, those mothafuckas.”
Zazula talked to UCR last October about hearing Metallica's No Life 'Til Leather demo for the first time and taking them into the studio to record Kill 'Em All. "The whole game that went on in my mind was to put out an album better than their unbelievable demo," he said.
"I felt if we didn’t deliver the ultimate debut album of Metallica, people were going to say right away, 'Wow, that’s a great album, but did you hear the demo? Get the demo.' So we had to do better than the demo, which is what we did. That set the standard for what we did on all Megaforce Records. We didn’t release demos, we went in the studio with budgets and released real records."
Rikki Zazula concluded her post with a message for her father's myriad supporters to rally behind. "RIP daddy. You will truly be deeply missed but never forgotten," she wrote. "Your LegaZ will live on forever, not only in us and your grandchildren but in every headbanger on this planet for all of eternity!"