Marsha Zazula, a co-founder of Megaforce Records, lost her battle with cancer on Friday, January 10, 2021, dying at 68.

Marsha is survived by her husband Jon and daughters Danielle, Rikki and Blaire, and five grandchildren. As co-founder of Megaforce Records, Marsha was a pivotal figure in the burgeoning American heavy metal and thrash scene.

In the early ’80s, the Zazula’s ran a small independent record store called Rock and Roll Heaven in East Brunswick, New Jersey, selling and promoting rare, imported records from NWOBHM artists such as Def Leppard and Iron Maiden.

After receiving a demo from a then-unheard-of San Francisco-based band called Metallica, the couple encouraged the young quartet to visit their home in New Jersey. This meeting would provide the genesis for Megaforce Records, and help to launch Metallica’s now-iconic debut album, Kill ‘Em All, released July 1983.

Under Marsha’s creative direction, thrash as a genre was born, giving artists like Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, and Overkill a platform on which to create their art and influence the entire metal community for decades to come.

Megaforce would go on to discover many of hard rock’s superstars, and release classic albums from Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, Ministry, Ace Frehley, Disco Biscuits, Kings X, and Raven.

Read comments and tributes to Marsha’s passing below:

“She was a mother and mentor to many, and a role model as a woman breaking the glass ceiling in an industry run by men. She had balls, beauty, brains and vision.” – Jon Zazula via Variety

“Marsha Z is the Metal Matriarch of the East Coast. 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.” – James Hetfield, Metallica, via Instagram

“Marsha was an incredibly selfless matriarch who had an enormous impact on my life and the lives of countless others… I will forever be grateful to her, Jonny and the entire Megaforce family for taking a chance on a gang of misfits and outsiders like ourselves and for helping connect us to a larger and like-minded audience.” – Lars Ulrich, Metallica, via Variety

“She kept things balanced. She was this steady hand, a calming force, during these intense moments — and there were intense moments! Jonny and Marsha were really a team; she was there for every decision. Jonny, bless him, was the stereotypical hot-headed, East Coast label executive — patience and calm may not have been his strong suits — and she balanced him out.” – Alex Skolnick, Testament, via Variety

“It’s with much sadness that we hear of the passing of Marsha Zazula. A true pioneer, along with Jonny Z. Those two were responsible for changing all our lives. Hard to put into words what a world this might be without their belief and dedication to metal and all of us. Our love to her family.” – Anthrax, via Facebook

The Zazula family requests those who wish to express sympathy to consider donating to Broadway Cares in Marsha’s name.

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