Mike Howe, the lead singer of the heavy metal band Metal Church, has died. He was 55.
The band confirmed on its official Facebook page Monday that Howe “passed away this morning at his home in Eureka, California.”
“It is with our deepest regrets that we must announce the passing of our brother, our friend and true legend of heavy metal music,” the statement read. “We are devastated and at a loss for words. Please respect our privacy and the Howe family’s privacy during this most difficult time.”
The statement did not disclose Howe’s cause of death.
The American heavy metal band formed in the 1980s, with Howe joining as lead vocalist later that decade. The band is widely considered a formative influence on the thrash metal genre.
Howe rejoined the band in 2015 after it broke up in the mid-’90s.
I was very jaded, I was very angry and hurt by the music business itself. It made me hate music, the business. To say that it’s very big for me because I love music, and music is a part of me and a part of my soul, like you, and everyone who’s involved in it. So to be like, I have to get away from it because it’s been hurt so bad by the music business. It was really a hard thing. So it took a while, but my love of music came back. I love all whole music; I think that there is something good in every music style if you look for it. Because it’s all a basic, Rock and Roll, whatever, it’s a blues-based. It’s just the fundamental elements of music that move people and souls in every kind of music. There is commercial stuff that’s like, yeah. So that’s what I do, and it’s an art form. Whatever resonates for me makes me feel good, and that’s what I look for in all kinds of music. For you, it might be different, and for that person over there, it might be different, but that’s what’s great about it. Is we all can find what we love and makes us feel good inside.
Howe originally joined the band in 1989, replacing the original vocalist David Wayne. The revised lineup released albums BLESSING THE DISGUISE (1989) and THE HUMAN FACTOR (1991), which are still the band’s most successful albums to date. HANGING IN THE BALANCE followed in 1993, but it was less successful than its predecessors. New music trends, politics, and wrong decisions led to internal conflicts, and as a result, the band broke up in 1995. Metal Church was re-established in 1998. The line-up was the band’s original members, the same line-up which recorded Metal Church’s first two albums in the mid-’80s. The band released the album MASTERPEACE In 1999. However, the line-up did not last for a long time together. Except for Kurdt Vanderhoof, the line-up fell apart one after another. Vocalist Ronny Munroe replaced David Wayne in 2001. The band released four albums with Munroe before he unexpectedly left the band in the fall of 2014. The future of the band was once again at stake. In April 2015, the band announced that Mike Howe had returned after more than a 20-year hiatus. The band’s eleventh album XI saw the light of day in March 2016.