Mike Howe, lead singer of the veteran band Metal Church, has died at the age of 55. No cause of death has been reported, but the band announced his passing via Facebook on Monday evening (July 26th).
“It is with our deepest regrets that we must announce the passing of our brother, our friend and true legend of heavy metal music. Mike Howe passed away this morning at his home in Eureka, California,” reads the band’s statement. “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 band formed in 1980 in the Bay Area as Shrapnel, impacting the thrash metal scene that was about to explode a couple years later. They moved to Aberdeen, Washington, early in their career and changed their name to Metal Church in 1983.
Howe replaced singer David Wayne in 1988, first appearing on 1989’s Blessing in Disguise, which features “Badlands,” one of the band’s best-known songs. He remained with the group until their initial breakup in 1996, appearing on two more albums during that time — 1991’s The Human Factor and 1993’s Hanging in the Balance.
Metal Church reunited in 1998 with Wayne as their singer in place of Howe. The band was then fronted by vocalist Ronnie Munroe for from 2003 through 2014. However, Howe eventually rejoined the band in 2015 (after a near 20-year absence), and had been their singer up until his death. Following his reunion with the band, Howe recorded two more albums with Metal Church — 2016’s XI and 2018’s Damned If You Do.
Prior to his initial stint with Metal Church, Howe sang in the L.A. metal band Heretic. Sadly, Howe is the second Metal Church singer to pass away, following Wayne’s death in 2005.
Our condolences go out to Mike Howe’s family, friends, and bandmates during this difficult time. See Howe performing “Badlands” with Metal Church at the 2016 Wacken festival below.