Marsha Zazula, co-founder of the groundbreaking Jersey-based heavy metal record label Megaforce, has died at the age of 68.
Her husband and business partner Jon Zazula posted on Facebook this morning:
“APRIL 21, 1952 -JANUARY 10 2021
“We will love you to eternity
“REST IN PEACE WITH OUR LOVE.”
Megaforce is best known for releasing Metallica’s first two albums, Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning, in 1983 and 1984, respectively. But the label also has featured, on its roster, artists such as Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Ace Frehley, Ministry, King’s X, M.O.D., Raven, Warren Haynes and the Disco Biscuits, and is still active.
“Marsha Z is the Metal Matriarch of the East Coast,” said Metallica’s James Hetfield on the band’s Instagram account. “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.”
The Zazulas started building their metal empire at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven record store in East Brunswick (it later moved to Clark) and remained based in New Jersey throughout their ’80s and ’90s heyday.
While Jon, who published an autobiography in 2019 (“Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness. As Lived by Jon Zazula”), is the more public face of the label, he and Marsha were always very much a team.
“Marsha has been my partner and worked side-by-side with me the whole way through,” he said in an interview last year. “We’ve been married 40 years. When I had no one to find the answer for impossible questions Marsha was there. It was Marsha who signed King’s X and picked out the first Motörhead record to sell at Rock N’ Roll Heaven. She’s my angel and I dare say that you’d find anyone who would stick with someone as crazy as me all these years.”
In a separate interview, Jon also said Megaforce and its artists “were like family. And that’s the vibe that I put out and that Marsha put out. If you couldn’t relate to me, you could relate to Marsha.”
Explaining why he wrote “Heavy Tales,” Jon said that part of his motivation was showing how much Marsha contributed.
“I just wanted to get that story down — that it took two people,” he said. “I wanted our love story in there.”
Megaforce posted on Facebook that “The world of music owes a debt of gratitude to Marsha Zazula, who along with her husband Jon gave birth to some of the most musically significant artists. Marsha was one of a kind and taught the world to be fiercely independent. Megaforce and our artists will never forget her. In our hearts she will always be a guiding force. R.I.P.”
The family says those who wish to express sympathy can do so by donating to Broadway Cares in Zazula’s name.
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