Jon Zazula, co-founder of the genre-defining metal label Megaforce Records, has died. He was 69. According to a label rep who spoke with Variety, Zazula passed away on Tuesday February 1st in Florida while surrounded by his brother, daughters, grand-daughters and close friends. His late wife, Marsha, who he co-founded Megaforce with in 1982, died last January at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer.
Zazula, known by many as "Jonny Z," and his wife co-founded Megaforce in 1982 after they became involved in America's burgeoning metal scene through a record store they owned in East Brunswick, New Jersey, titled Rock and Roll Heaven. Through stocking European metal records and magazines, and eventually promoting regional metal shows, the Zazulas were sent a demo by a young band from San Francisco called Metallica, and quickly founded Megaforce Records in order to release what Jon called "lightning in a bottle."
After releasing 1983's Kill 'Em All and 1984's Ride the Lightning, the runaway success led to more opportunities with fellow thrash bands like Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, making Megaforce a quintessential powerhouse in the genre's heyday. Eventually, Megaforce's popularity allowed them to branch out and release music by acts such as Ace Frehley, King's X, Bad Brains, Mercyful Fate, Ministry and more, with a roster that continued to expand throughout the Nineties and up until the present day.
The Zazulas retired a few years back, but in 2020, Jon released a book titled "Heavy Tales: The Metal, The Music, The Madness" that tells the story of label's origins and how he built built one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in metal history. R.I.P. to a real one.