DAVID ELLEFSON On Upcoming NICK MENZA Documentary: 'It's A Really Heartfelt Story'

January 24, 2024

The official trailer for the documentary film "This Was My Life: The Story Of Nick Menza" will premiere on Saturday, January 27 at 12 p.m. PST at the Ellefson Coffee Co. booth the NAMM show inside the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. The premiere will be hosted by David Ellefson and Nick Menza's sister Donia Menza Ontiveros, and will be open to any NAMM attendees and media at the show. A question-and-answer session will follow the premiere and will include OHM:/ KINGS OF THRASH guitarist Chris Poland and close friend Dr. Randall Kertz, who was Ellefson's bass tech from 1989 to 1990.

The Ellefson Coffee Co. booth number 5030 will be located inside Hall D and will feature the VIP Rock & Roll Lounge Experience.

In a new interview with Francisco Zamudio of KNAC.COM, Ellefson stated about his involvement in the film (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "So I got asked to narrate this movie called 'This Was My Life: The Story Of Nick Menza'. And it's his life story, from birth until he passed. And obviously, 10 years in there was with MEGADETH, which is certainly one of the more public parts of his life as a professional drummer. So getting asked to narrate it, and then, like I always do — look, I've lived with Nick on the road; I spent 10 years in the yellow submarine with him, so I know a lot of that. I know a lot of people, obviously, to connect it. So when we did the interviews, reached out to people… [Former MEGADETH guitarist] Jeff Young actually really stepped in, too; he helped us get the facility where we filmed a lot of the interview footage. We were able to get with our other fallen brother, Bob Nalbandian, to get him to comment before he passed from cancer last year. Some crew members, tour managers — really, I think, a nice spread. His family, his mom, his dad. Nick's dad, Don Menza, is a very, very well, highly esteemed woodwind player. I mean, first chair tenor sax for Buddy Rich, Louie Bellson. So when Nick was a kid, I think he was born in Munich, he was at these jazz festivals in Europe with his dad, and guys like Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson were handing him the drumsticks, going, 'Have at it, kid. Hit the kit.' So, Nick's story is super colorful and very cool."

Ellefson added that it was "a lot of work" putting the Menza movie together. "It's an independent film. We're all kind of pitching in to make it happen," he said. "We set a deadline to get the thing finished now and to get it out. We, of course, will go to some of the film festivals. Most of this stuff now ends up digitally on the Netflix, Tubi, these kind of platforms. So I thought this is a good time to sort of roll out another little clip of it and show everybody kind of the spirit of what the movie's going to look like and some of the people that are in it and do a little Q&A after for the fans and some of the media that are there."

He continued: "It's a really heartfelt story. Nick sister, Donia, who's kind of the ambassador for all things Nick as far as his career and professionally from back in the day… I mean, it's her brother, so she has a real passion for this film and keeping Nick's story alive. Like she said, it's her way to stay connected to Nick since he left the planet clearly too early."

When Zamudio noted that Menza's death, while performing with OHM: in May 2016, was a fitting way for the drummer to go out, Ellefson concurred. "I said that too. I inducted him into the Metal Hall Of Fame, which is always the Wednesday night before NAMM," David said. "And I was asked to induct Nick posthumously, of course. So his family was there. I had not seen his family in a great many years, so it was nice to reconnect with them. And I felt the same thing.

"Nick's whole purpose in life and passion of life was behind those drums, man. And as sad as it is that he's no longer with us, what a great way to just, 'I'm out.' You know what I mean?" Ellefson added. "So it's sad that he's no longer with us, but it's like… Look, none of us get out of here alive, so it's a day we all face. And so I think that with this film, it's a way to sort of celebrate the greatness that Nick was, and for all of us to be around him. And his life touched so many people."

When it was first announced that the trailer for "This Was My Life: The Story Of Nick Menza" would premiere at NAMM, Ellefson said in a statement: "After several years in the making, it's a real honor to be able to give a sneak preview of what this film will ultimately look like. Nick had a storied career and an even more incredible life. I'm proud to be part of this documentary and very honored that we can utilize our booth during the NAMM show as the initial theater for fans to see this beautiful story unfold.”

Donia added: "The Menza family is super excited to finally see this film come to fruition, and even more excited to have David narrating the exciting and unique life that Nick lived. I am honored to be a part of this film and to be able to share stories of my wonderful and loving brother."

Said director Holly Mollohan Grayson: "This special project is one that is very close to my heart. I'm a part of the generation that spent the entirety of their teenage years in the 1990s. The soundtrack of our lives played every day on MTV and 'Headbangers Ball'. That was the period of time when Nick was making his mark as a metal legend in MEGADETH, so, of course, I was very familiar with his work. I am honored to be able to explore who he was beyond his amazing talent for the drums."

"This Was My Life: The Story of Nick Menza" will be released later this year.

Menza's longtime personal manager Robert Bolger stated: "Going through all of Nick's personal and private VHS tape collection, photos and audio files was by far the best part of making this documentary. There's so much material I went through, listening to all the unreleased drum tracks, gathering all the footage from the live shows, backstage, on the tour bus, in the studio, fans and the interviews was an absolute amazing task piecing everything together. What amazing life Nick lived and a legacy he left behind."

Ellefson previously stated about his involvement with the film: "The making of the Nick Menza documentary has been such a joy for all of us, like a sort of MEGA family reunion where we shared stories, laughs and even a few tears around Nick and what he meant to so many of us. I think this film and soundtrack will touch the hearts of the fans and viewers in the same way, as we remember his larger-than-life character behind the drum kit, but also his lovable charm and warmth that made him the beloved one of a treasured musical legacy."

The Menza family previously stated: "We are excited for the fans to see the life Nick lived before, during, and after MEGADETH, it was quite the journey. Stay tuned for an epic documentary. As Nick would say, 'It's gonna be RAD."

"This Was My Life" will be the first-ever film to memorialize Menza's legacy and celebrate his life exactly how it was. It is described in a press release as "an unflinching exploration into the life of one of the most successful thrash-metal drummers of all time, authorized by the Menza family. From his childhood all the way through to the end of his life including a true blow-by-blow account of the repeated failed attempts of the classic 'Rust In Peace' lineup."

"This Was My Life" will feature rare and never-before-seen photos and video footage from Nick's archived VHS tape collection, personally filmed by Menza himself from 1988 through 1991. Included will be exclusive content showcasing Nick working at the studio, personal home movies, casual time and party time with his fellow bandmembers, as well as other well-known artists of the era that Nick toured with.

"This Was My Life" will include interviews with the Menza family and close friends, and former MEGADETH members Chris Poland, Jeff Young, former LAMB OF GOD/MEGADETH drummer Chris Adler, former MEGADETH tour manager Skip Rickert, Nick's drum tech Rob Corsie, legendary rock and roll photographer Gene Kirkland, film director, late metal historian, journalist and filmmaker Bob Nalbandian, James Rota and Emily Burton of FIREBALL MINISTRY, Terri Evans, Peter Flyn, John "Gumby" Goodwin, Bert Wolf, David Randi, Rob Schaefer, Juan "Nico" Alvarez, Robertino "Pag" Pagliari, Iki Levy of Soultone cymbals, and David Corral of L.A. CALLING.

Late in the evening on May 21, 2016, Nick collapsed behind his drum kit after suffering a heart attack during a concert with Chris Poland and Robertino "Pag" Pagliari in their band OHM: at The Baked Potato in Studio City, California and was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner said Menza died of hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

Menza rightfully earned his place as heavy metal's fiercest drummer during MEGADETH's 10-year peak at the top. The highlight of his career, Nick said, was playing Rock In Rio before more than 100,000 people. The lowest point was being fired by MEGADETH mainman Dave Mustaine while he was still in a hospital bed after surgery to remove what doctors feared was a cancerous growth.

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