Mike Howe, the much-loved lead singer of heavy metal band Metal Church, has died at the age of 55.
The musician passed away at his home in Eureka, California, according to a statement shared on the band’s official Facebook page.
“It is with our deepest regrets that we must announce the passing of our brother, our friend and true legend of heavy metal music,” read the post. “Mike Howe passed away this morning at his home in Eureka, California.
“We are devastated and at a loss for words. Please respect our privacy and the Howe family’s privacy during this most difficult time.”
As the news circulated, a host of well-wishers stepped forward to share their condolences on social media.
“So sorry to hear of the passing of Mike Howe from @metalchurchis1,” fellow musician Mike Portnoy said on Twitter. “I can’t say I knew him well, but I did spend a weekend with him and the band in the studio while they were recording his first album with the band (Blessing In Disguise) back in 1988. Gone way too soon #RIPMikeHowe.”
“RIP my sweet friend,” tweeted Queensrÿche’s Todd La Torre. “I have no words for this loss. Love and respect to you always. #mikehowe #metalchurch #legend4ever.”
Comedian and presenter Don Jamieson said: “RIP Mike [email protected] & deepest sympathies to his bandmates. Such a great guy & talented singer. 💔”
“RIP Mike Howe @metalchurchis1,” commented radio personality Eddie Trunk. “Condolences to the band, his friends and family.”
“RIP Mike Howe, one of the nicest dudes who’s ever come thru my work,” wrote @cuteordeath. “He saw me carrying a big folding table for their hospitality and he jumped up and ran over to help. I tell that story all the time because he’s one of the first artists who treated me, working floor, as human.”
“We are so sad to hear of the passing of Metal Church lead singer, Mike Howe,” read a message from Indianapolis’ Karma Records: “Not much made me happier than hearing that he rejoined the band and not much makes me sadder than hearing this news. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP to one of the best!”
“I’m shocked and saddened to hear about the great Mike Howe passing away,” stated @HVYMTLDVL. “Mike’s vocals in Heretic and Metal Church were amazing. He was extremely charismatic, and you could see how much he loved to perform. Rest In Peace, Mr. Howe.
Deemed a major influence on thrash metal, Metal Church was formed in 1980 and released 12 studio albums over the years. The band has had more than 20 members, past and present, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Replacing singer David Wayne, Howe first joined Metal Church in 1988. After the band’s first breakup in 1996, Howe left music and took up carpentry. He eventually returned to Metal Church in 2015.
In 2020, Howe spoke about the emotional reaction he had to the band breaking up, and how he became disillusioned with the music industry.
“When Metal Church broke up it was a very sad thing,” he told Loudwire. “I loved being in Metal Church and I felt that was my identity. I left primarily because of the business of music and how difficult it was navigating management, record companies, and outside forces that were ruining the band and my love of music.
“When I quit Metal Church and went off the road, I felt damaged about music in general that I loved. I felt hurt and angry about it all.”
Of returning to the band, he added: “It was awesome for me because my oldest son was 18 when I came back to Metal Church and he came to shows.
“I took him on the first Monsters of Rock Cruise that I did and that was the greatest thing for me. I could tell he had a great time and it’s something I’ll never forget.”