Mike Howe, the singer from the heavy metal band Metal Church, died Monday morning at his home in Eureka, Calif. He was 55.
The band's official Facebook page made the announcement.
"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 post read. "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."
Led by Kurdt Vanderhoof, Metal Church was formed in 1980 and has been credited as a vital influence on thrash metal. The band has released 12 studio albums and counted over 20 members, past and present. It's had three albums that charted on the Billboard 200: 1987's The Dark, 1989's Blessing in Disguise, and 2016's XI. Howe first joined the band in 1988, replacing then-singer David Wayne.
Frank Hoensch/Redferns Mike Howe of Metal Church
Howe rejoined Metal Church in 2015, after stepping away from music after the band broke up in 1996. During his nearly 20-year absence, the artist supported his family and pursued his first profession of carpentry. After he came back to Metal Church, the group put out two full-length albums and a collection of new songs, B-sides, plus covers.
Last year, Howe spoke about feeling "hurt and angry" after leaving his band.
"When Metal Church broke up it was a very sad thing. I loved being in Metal Church and I felt that was my identity," he told Loudwire. "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."
So, of course, it was a great feeling for the singer to come back and introduce his oldest son to his music. "It was awesome for me because my oldest son was 18 when I came back to Metal Church and he came to shows," Howe explained. "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."