Tony Costanza, the original drummer for Machine Head, has passed away at the age of 52. Afzaal Nasiruddeen, his onetime bandmate in Crisis, confirmed the news in a statement:

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to accept and inform everyone concerned that I lost my brother, band mate, home boy and family today.

Tony Costanza was one of a kind. A man with a huge heart, love and loyalty for the ones close to him.

I cannot relate to this reality of loss yet. I know he had a lot of admirers, and I was one of his biggest. He would have literally taken a bullet for me. Thats the kind of gangster brother he was.

Tony died in his sleep this morning so I am sure he was at peace and in no pain.

I wish his Mother all the strength she can muster as she will need every ounce of it.

I will be starting a GofundMe page for her and Tony‘s funeral expenses. Please help if you knew him and care.

Please hold your loved ones close as the sense of loss is insurmountable sometimes.

Tony my friend, I will love you and cherish our memories together, forever. Hope you are in a better pace now. Rest In Peace.

Tony joined Machine Head in 1991, performed with them for their first few shows, and wrote the drum parts for several songs that ended up on their 1994 debut album Burn My Eyes, and though he played on the 1993 demo that preceded that album, he left the band before the album was recorded. He also sang in Papsmear before joining Machine Head and later joined Crisis, Debris Inc, and Crowbar, whose 2001 album Sonic Excess in Its Purest Form he played on.

Rest in peace, Tony.

Update: Machine Head frontman Robb Flynn penned a lengthy tribute, which reads in part:

So sad to hear about Tony Costanza passing away today.

The first 6 month of Machine Head’s existence happened because he joined.

I began talking to Tony around March 1992 for the first time. I can’t exactly remember how we got in touch, he was from Las Vegas and this was before the Internet, before cell phones, it’s possible that a guy who used to work for Vio-lence name Joey copobianco put me in touch with him.

We started talking on the phone about Machine Head, and eventually he relocated to the Bay Area. It seemed in a lot of ways, he was ready to start a new life, he has been the singer for the early-Grindcore band Papsmear and I had actually met him the year prior with Mitch from Napalm Death when Mitch, Shane and him came up to a show in the Bay Area

It’s a little foggy, but I want to say he might’ve moved in with me for the first few weeks he was up here. One hilarious memory I have, is of him staying the night at Genevra‘s apartment, we all got super drunk on purple Kool-Aid and fucking MOONSHINE, and apparently he had eaten some kind of Chinese squid-based dish earlier that night, later on, hammered out of his mind, threw up purple squid all over her carpet. Genevra was pissed for a minute, but we couldn’t help laugh hysterically about it later on, it was just so funny to see all these little purple squids all over the floor.

I had already fleshed out a couple of the early MH songs on the drums with my friend Gary, and then later on a whirlwind 2 day jam with Chris Kontos, but that was the only time that we had heard the songs played as a band.

So to have Tony there, regularly jamming “Death Church”, "Blood For Blood" and “Fuck It All” at the Emeryville warehouse in a room we shared with 6 other punk rock bands was pretty thrilling… Some of the songs that he worked out with us from-the-start would’ve been "A Thousand Lies”,”I’m Your God Now”, “Nation on Fire" and “Rage to Overcome", and even part of a “Davidian” riff.

Read the rest here. Robb Flynn also points out that a GoFundMe was launched to help with funeral expenses.

Listen to Machine Head's 1993 demo and watch a video of Tony playing with Crowbar in 2001 below...