METALLICA frontman James Hetfield has paid tribute to Megaforce Records co-founder Marsha Zazula, who died on Sunday (January 10) at the age of 68. Marsha co-founded Megaforce in 1983 with her husband Jon (a.k.a. Jonny Z). Megaforce is widely credited for launching the career of METALLICA by releasing the band’s first two albums, 1983’s “Kill ‘Em All” and 1984’s “Ride The Lightning”, before METALLICA landed a major label deal with Elektra. Megaforce‘s roster has also included such artists as ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, OVERKILL, Ace Frehley, MINISTRY, KING’S X, STORMTROOPERS OF DEATH and RAVEN. Daughter Rikki Zazula confirmed her mother’s passing, writing in a Facebook post: “RIP Mom April 21, 1952 -January 10, 2021 Your love, Your strength, Your memory and Your music has changed lives and will continue to FOREVER.”
Hetfield said in a statement,
“Marsha Z is the Metal Matriarch of the East Coast. She was our mother when I had none. She made great sacrifices for METALLICA to grow. Thank you, Marsha. Love and positive energy to the Zazula family.”
METALLICA also paid tribute in an Instagram post, writing: “Rest In Peace, Marsha. Thank you for everything. Much love to @thejonzazula & the Zazula family.”
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METALLICA drummer Lars Ulrich took to his Instagram to write: “Thank you Marsha for making it happen… For supporting us, for encouraging us, for advising us, for sheltering us, for feeding us, and most importantly for cheering us on and along with your husband Jonny, believing in the possibilities of how a gang of misfits and outsiders like ourselves could connect with a larger and likeminded audience…”
ANTHRAX said: “It’s with much sadness that we hear of the passing of Marsha Zazula. A true pioneer along with Jonny Z. Those two were responsible for changing all our lives. Hard to put into words what a world this might be without their belief and dedication to metal and all of us. Our love to her family.”
Born in 1952, Jonny began his extraordinary journey as a renegade youth who went from living on the streets of the Bronx in New York City, to later working on Wall Street, and eventually (and unexpectedly) transitioning into the music business and discovering METALLICA, ANTHRAX and others.
After Wall Street, Jonny Z began selling records at a flea market store in 1981 to put food on the table for his family. Dubbed Rock N’ Roll Heaven, the store eventually blossomed into a major record store that influenced the heavy metal movement as we know it today. In the winter of 1982, Jonny Z received an unexpected demo tape from unsigned underground band called METALLICA. Eager and determined to have the music heard by the entire world, Jonny and Marsha founded Megaforce the following year and released “Kill ‘Em All”. Through this release, Megaforce cemented its position as the de-facto music label in America for heavy metal.
Jon‘s acclaimed autobiography, “Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived By Jon Zazula”, was released in October 2019. The book tells the story of how the Zazulas ended up signing a band that shaped the sound of heavy metal for decades to come.
“It’s all a blessing when you work hard and you stay smart and you go into the game and then eventually something comes your way and you’re ready for it. And you’re able to jump upon it and ride it,” Jonny told Variety. “We were very fortunate, Marsha and I, that we have them to choose as a band that became the biggest band in the world. Not to mention a bunch of other great bands that made history.”