Jon “Johnny Z” Zazula, co-founder of the influential label Megaforce Records, has died at age 69.

According to Variety, Zazula passed Tuesday while surrounded by family and friends in Florida. A statement posted to the Megaforce Instagram reads, “The world of rock and metal would not be what it is today without Jon Zazula. Jon’s love of music and musicians was unwavering. A giant was lost today. Rest In Peace Jon.”

Zazula launched Megaforce alongside his wife, Marsha Zazula, in 1982, and soon signed a then-unknown Metallica to their first-ever record deal. Megaforce would eventually become the home of artists including Anthrax and Testament.

Marsha Zazula passed away in January 2021.

The story of Megaforce Records — and of the Zazulas’ relationship — is detailed in Jon’s 2019 book Heavy Tales: The Metal. The Music. The Madness.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.