MEGADETH's Dave Mustaine has paid tribute to the band's former drummer Lee Rauch, who passed away on Friday, June 23. No cause of death has been revealed. He was reportedly 58 years old.
Earlier today (Tuesday, June 27),Mustaine took to social media to share an early photo of Rauch behind his drum kit, and he included the following message: "One of MEGADETH's very first drummers, Lee Rauch, has passed away. He played on the recording of our 'Last Rites' demo tape in early 1984, and I can remember the good times during our rehearsals at Curly Joe's studio in LA.
"Farewell, my friend, till we meet again someday."
Lee's passing was announced by his brother Chris Rauch in a social media post on Friday. He wrote: "Today is a very sad day, we lost my brother William Lee Rauch.
"Lee was a very strong man of faith so I know he is with God now. He was an Awesome drummer, who helped launch one of the biggest metal names in history by being the first drummer for MEGADETH, playing along side Dave Mustaine, Kerry King and David Ellifson. His heart was set on making it big and came very close numerous times.
"Lee was a very loving and giving individual who was extremely hard working, he continued to play drums later in his life for the church which made him happy. He was a loving son and a very honorable man. Most of all, he was my brother and though I didn't always keep in touch the way I should have, I loved him very much and he will be greatly missed to my core.
"I love you brother, good journey. Hope you enjoy that setup they've got up there for you bro, bet its not as big as your blue set was though, lol.
"There will be a memorial service held for Lee, when we have the date and time I will relay it here. Please keep our family in your prayers."
In a 2004 interview with Bob Nalbandian, Mustaine was asked what happened to Rauch in the years after he left MEGADETH. Dave responded: "I don't know. He wasn't necessarily an original [MEGADETH] drummer. He was a guy that we really liked, and then one day sitting on the steps of Billy Cordero's house, when David Ellefson and I were squatting...we just kind of met this kid, went to his house and filtrated his bedroom and never left for a couple months. Lee was telling us how he had given his soul to Satan, and I know enough about black magic that if you really do the actual act of giving your soul to Satan, you have to have sex with Satan to consecrate the deal. You had to have sex and have a Satanic priest take the embodiment of Satan on so he can sodomize you. And I asked him, 'So, who was the priest?' And he said, 'My priest was a guy named David.' I was like...'I'm out of here!'"
Rauch performed with MEGADETH in 1984, alongside Mustaine, Ellefson and Kerry King (SLAYER). That same year, Rauch left MEGADETH due to internal conflict and was replaced by Gar Samuelson. After exiting MEGADETH, Rauch performed live with DARK ANGEL but never recorded anything with the group. He was also a member of WARGOD, which was launched by guitarist Michelle Meldrum.