Marsha Zazula, Cofounder of Metallica’s Early Label, Megaforce Records, Dies at 68

Marsha Zazula, Cofounder of Metallica’s Early Label, Megaforce Records, Dies at 68

Marsha Zazula, Cofounder of Metallica’s Early Label, Megaforce Records, Dies at 68

Megaforce Records co-founder Marsha Zazula — who launched the iconic label, which released the first albums from Metallica, Anthrax and many others, with her husband Jon in 1982 — died Saturday in her Florida home, a rep for the label confirms to Variety. The cause of death was cancer; she was 68.

“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,” the label said in a statement. “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.”

“We will love you to eternity,” her family wrote. “Rest in peace with our love.” She is survived by Jon, her husband of 41 years; their daughers Rikki and Blaire, and a step-daughter, Danielle; and four grandchildren.

Born in Brooklyn, Marsha was a guiding and stabilizing presence at a company — which also included Crazed Management — whose artists were often as unruly as their music. Along with Metallica (whose first two albums the label released), Anthrax, Testament, former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, Ministry, King’s X, Overkill and Raven were among the company’s biggest acts.

The Zazulas’ metal dynasty began in the early 1980s as a small independent record store called Rock and Roll Heaven, located at the Route 18 flea market in East Brunswick, New Jersey. The couple originally intended to focus on artists such as John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix. But it was Marsha who decided to focus on rare import copies of albums from the burgeoning “New Wave of British Heavy Metal,” such as Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, and other rising European acts, and stocked the store with like-minded publications such as Kerrang and Sounds. The couple began promoting shows — including an early show with the early metal band Anvil — in the area.

The couple’s reputation grew and before long, a demo from a San Francisco-based band called Metallica found its way to them. Realizing the group was, as Jon put it, “lightning in a bottle,” the couple brought the quartet to their home in New Jersey and created Megaforce Records to launch the group.

Metallica’s debut album, “Kill ‘Em All,” was released in July of 1983, effectively launching the thrash metal movement.

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Written by Oli Coleman