Larger than Life Jon Zazula a.k.a. Jonny Z Leaves Heavy Legacy for his Global Family of Metalheads
Adrenaline PR mourns the loss, yet celebrates the remarkable life, of a legend and champion in the world of heavy metal and hard rock music. Jonathan David Zazula, a.k.a. Jonny Z died February 1 at his home in Florida surrounded by his daughters, family and dearest friends. Predeceased by his wife and partner Marsha, Jon is survived by his daughters Danielle, Rikki and Blaire, five grandchildren and the entire heavy metal clan of misfits and headbangers around the world. As co-founders of Megaforce Records and CraZed Management, Marsha and Jon discovered so many of scene superstars and championed the metal underground by launching the careers of mega-giants Metallica, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Ministry, Ace Frehley, Disco Biscuits, Kings X and Raven.
“I am gutted, but have nothing but gratitude and love and appreciation for Jonny Z and Marsha, their whole family and our extended heavy metal family around the world. None of us would be here if it were not for Jonny and Marsha. Rest in Peace my dearest friends” says Maria Ferrero, CEO of Adrenaline PR and the Zazula’s very first employee. “The Zazulas taught me everything about love, life, tenacity, perseverance, forgiveness and more. I thank them for allowing me to be me.” “By the way”…
Jon Zazula, known the world over as Jonny Z, lived an intense life, as penned in his memoir titled HEAVY TALES The Metal, The Music, The Madness. Born in 1952, he began his extraordinary journey in the Eastchester projects of the Bronx, NY. Always different, it wasn’t until his aunts gifted him with his first 7” 45 singles that he found out Music was where he belonged. Unlike so many of his peers, instead of collecting baseball cards and playing stickball, Jonbuilt a monumental record collection and constantly attended concerts. His music and self-discovery were symbiotic. As he ventured into the city to legendary venues for the sounds of up and coming acts such as Stevie Wonder, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and the Young Rascals he quickly became a music devotee and a regular at the historic Fillmore East and experienced the rise of ground breakers Led Zeppelin, The Jeff Beck Group and Cream. His life was changed when he claimed to have lost his hearing for three days from Jack Bruce’s bass.
It was the 60s, and with the rising revolution of youth gone wild, psychedelic drugs and music, Jonny’s self-discovery grew to new heights. Always searching for the next new and exciting artist, he frequented the streets of Manhattan’s Greenwich Village soaking in the scene and sounds. Captain Beefheart, Jefferson Airplane, lyrics penned by Dylan and The Grateful Dead, would became his soundtrack.
It was even music that brought him his true love and life partner, Marsha (from Brooklyn). They were inseparable from the start. Their intellectual prowess and passion for Avante Garde music helped foster the American Metal scene that would eventually take over the world.
Within the pages of HEAVY TALES, Jon’s memoirs released October 2019, he exposes his erroneous experiences on Wall Street which eventually led to a career in the music business. The journey from a small record stand at a New Jersey Flea Market (opened out of desperation to earn enough money to put food on the table) to become one of the largest and most influential Metal establishments in the Northeast. From here the Zazulas began to promote concerts bringing bands like Anvil, Raven, Venom, Manowar and others to the stage for the first time. It was at this historic location that a customer returning from a trip from the Bay Area brought Jonny a Metallica demo tape and insisted he play it on the store’s beat up stereo immediately. As legend goes Jonny flipped out before the first song even ended. After listening to the rest of the tape he was immediately convinced that this was something he wanted to get involved with. A phone call was made from a pay phone outside the flea market entrance to a name visible on the tape and the rest became history.
In July of 1983 in order to bring Metallica‘s first album release Kill ‘Em All to the public, MegaForce Records and CraZed Management were born. Jonand Marsha would continue to release and work with artists such as Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Ace Frehley, Vio-Lence, Ministry, Blue Cheer, Venom, Mercyful Fate. SOD, Exciter, Manowar, Raven, Kings X and even Warren Haynes and the Disco Biscuits. There’s more, but these are the stand outs.
In 2001 MegaForce was sold but Jon stayed with his fingers in the business, promoting several concerts and in 2014 he took a stab at managing several acts, including Shattered Sun, Exodus and Soilwork, with his lifelong friends and business associates Metal Maria Ferrero and Testament’s Chuck Billy.
After working with Venom Inc and other projects near to his heart Jon decided to “retire” in 2018 Jon and Marsha had the distinguished honor of being awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award into the Hall of Heavy Metal History in January of 2019 for their work in reshaping American Heavy Metal during its Golden Era. Together, Jonny and Marsha built a musical dynasty out of modest beginnings unmatched by any other underground Heavy Metal label, a partnership that stood the test of time, deaths, egos, and grunge.
Everyone raise your horns high, fly your metal flag, crank your tunes!