Former Machine Head/Crowbar drummer Tony Costanza has died at age 52.
The news was confirmed by former Crisis bandmate guitarist Afzaal Deen, who paid tribute on Tuesday (Aug. 4) writing, “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.”
At press time, no cause of death was available.
Deen also posted a GoFundMe to help Costanza’s mother deal with funeral expenses, describing his friend as a, “Legendary, hard hitting and passionate musician who was highly underrated and deserved a lot more success than came his way in life. Tony was part of several reputable and professional touring bands including Machine Head (he was their original drummer), Crowbar and Crisis. Donate whatever you can afford; it is for a good cause.”
Costanza briefly joined San Francisco metal band Machine Head in 1992, staying long enough to work on a handful of songs from their debut album, Burn My Eyes, before going on to a long career playing a series of punk and hardcore bands, including Debris Inc. Crowbar, Crisis and Area 51.
In a 2008 interview with Sick Drummer magazine, Constanza said he started out taking lessons from jazz great Buddy Rich’s best friend, Irv Kluger, before becoming the vocalist for the band Papsmear in 1986 and then joining Machine Head.
Of his short tenure in the group, Costanza explained, “I left the band, because I was very young and new at playing drums, especially double bass. The band called for a lot of double bass. Basically, out of my own insecurities, I self-destructed. I wasn’t secure playing double bass and was being introduced to a lot of Bay Area… what’s a good name for that? Like a lot of bands that I looked up to. Music stars, such as Exodus, Metallica, Testament, Forbidden, Bay Area idols. Any regrets? I can’t regret what was meant to be, but I’ll never forget the opportunities.”
Drummer Chris Kontos, who replaced Costanza in Machine Head paid tribute, writing, “R.I.P. Tony Costanza. I’m thankful that you and I remained in contact over the past 27 years. Im so sad to hear about your passing bro. … He was a great drummer. Our legacy is forever connected by our participation in Machine Head.” The band’s singer, Rob Flynn, added, “Just got the news that our original drummer for Machine Head Tony Costanza passed away. Very sad to hear. Tony was involved in about half of the song on burn my eyes in someway or another, and we maintained our friendship throughout all these years.”
Check out more tributes below.
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R.I.P. Tony Costanza. I’m thankful that you and I remained in contact over the past 27 years. Im so sad to hear about your passing bro. After I played on the very first MH demo ever some time in June 1992 I moved to NYC for a short time. In that time Tony became the first drummer of Machine Head. They did a demo and a video for Fuck It All. He played the first string of live shows/parties in the Bay Area. When I came back home in October 92′ I actually was Tony’s drum tech for a few shows. Shortly after that the drum position became available for what ever reason it makes no difference now, that’s when I became the second drummer for MH. We wrote some more songs together and then recorded the “Fuck It All” demo that got the band signed. He came up with some really great drum parts. He had a very powerful style and it was a challenge to put my own spin on his contributions to the music and for sure kept a few of his parts. Tony was a very kind person and always supported and encouraged me over the years with music and then with BMX. We have both confided in each other when we hit hard times over time. Im thankful for his friendship and brotherhood. He was a great drummer. Our legacy is forever connected by our participation in Machine Head and the Fuck It All/Burn My Eyes 1992-1995 moment. Be thunder bro…be thunder! #machine_head #bme25
A post shared by Chris Kontos (@chris.kontos) on Aug 4, 2020 at 12:51pm PDT
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A post shared by robbflynn (@robbflynn) on Aug 4, 2020 at 9:38pm PDT