Drummer Lee Rauch, best known for playing on Megadeth‘s 1984 demo Last Rites, has died at the age of 58.
The news was confirmed by Rauch’s brother Chris, who penned a tribute to his musician brother on social media.
“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 (sic). 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,” wrote Chris, whose full tribute can be seen posted below.
Rauch’s time with Megadeth was brief. After his exit from Metallica, Dave Mustaine returned to Los Angeles to seek out bandmates for a new group. After striking up a friendship with bassist David Ellefson, they began to audition drummers and settled upon Rauch.
The trio of Mustaine, Ellefson and Rauch recorded the three song demo tape Last Rites in 1984. It featured the tracks “Last Rites / Loved to Deth,” “The Skull Beneath the Skin” and “Mechanix,” all three of which would eventually appear on their debut album.
While still finding their footing in 1984, the band briefly worked with Slayer’s Kerry King as a second guitarist and they eventually decided to replace Rauch with drummer Gar Samuelson. Samuelson’s bandmate Chris Poland eventually auditioned and joined Megadeth a couple months later in 1984 setting the lineup for the first album, 1985’s Killing Is My Business … And Business Is Good! Though he didn’t appear on the album, Rauch is credited with the demos that appeared with the album’s 2002 reissue.
After his short stint in Megadeth, Rauch landed on his feet with another well-known thrash metal outfit, playing drums with Dark Angel. But once again, he time there was brief only appearing as a touring drummer but leaving before he recorded any material with the band. His third try with a metal act came in 1986 when he joined Wargod, taking over behind the kit for their previous drummer Gene Hoglan. But this time, the band split up in 1987, leaving Rauch once again out of a drumming job. After his brushes with success, the musician returned home where he played locally over the years in Ohio.
Megadeth, Last Rites Demo
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