Firehouse singer CJ Snare dead at 64

CJ Snare onstage
(Image credit: Paul Natkin via Getty Images)

Firehouse singer CJ Snare has died at the age of 64. The news was confirmed in a social media post from the band. 

"Today is a sad day for rock'n'roll," the band said. "It is with great sorrow we are letting the world know we have lost our brother: CJ Snare, the rock and roll warrior, lead vocalist, and a founding member of Firehouse. CJ Snare passed unexpectedly at home Friday night, April 5, 2024. He was a young 64 years old. As you are all aware, CJ was expected to be back on stage with the band this summer after recovering from surgery. 

"We are all in complete shock with CJ's untimely passing. CJ was arguably one of the best vocal talents of a generation, touring the world with Firehouse non-stop the past 34 years. 

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Snare family, Katherine Little, friends, and all our beloved fans all over the world. 'Reach for the Sky' CJ! You will be forever missed by family, friends, fans and your bandmates. You’re singing with the angels now."

Snare's partner Katherine Little also shared a message, saying, "In September of 2020, CJ was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. His initial prognosis was grim, but that didn’t stop him. We went for a second opinion and in September of 2021, he had a life-saving operation that gave us these last years with him. He was so incredibly positive during this whole disease.

"He was so strong. He never lost hope. All he wanted was to be the CJ that you all know and love. Last spring, he started having some more issues and he had another surgery in October 2023. This last surgery left him very weak and unable to live a full life. I’ve been by his side from day 1 and I would have never given up on him.

"CJ leaves behind three wonderful children that are all so very special to me. Life will never be the same. I’m not ready to face this. There is so much to say but words are incredibly difficult right now. Please respect our family during this time of grief and keep us in your thoughts."

Born Carl James Snare in 1959 in Washington, D.C., Snare co-founded Firehouse in 1984, alongside guitarist Bill Leverty, drummer Michael Foster and bassist Perry Richardson. They signed to Epic Records five years later and released their debut self-titled album in 1990. It sold more than two million copies in the US, while singles Love Of A Lifetime and When I Look Into Your Eyes – the latter from the following year's Hold Your Fire album – hit the Top 10 on the US singles chart. Both were co-written by Snare with Leverty.

While they were never able to repeat the success of the debut album, Hold Your Fire went Gold, and, unlike many of their glam metal contemporaries, Firehouse were able to ride out the grunge wave by dint of their popularity aboard. 1996's acoustic collection Good Acoustics received Gold sales awards in Malaysia, The Philippines and Thailand.

“We played in India for 40,000 people. And that was just us,” Snare told Classic Rock in 2007. “We do really good in Southeast Asia. During the grunge era when people were tearing this kind of music down, South America and Southeast Asia kept us going."

While Firehouse hadn't released an album of original material since 2003's Prime Time (put out a year later in the US), they continued to tour, with Snare going on hiatus in 2021 when his illness was diagnosed, and again in 2023.

"It breaks my heart to let you know that, because of doctor’s orders, I will not be performing with the band until I have recovered from an upcoming abdominal surgery," he wrote last September. He was replaced by former American Idol contestant Nate Peck.

"We will see each other again soon," said Peck, in tribute. "My condolences to family and friends. Fly high CJ, you will never be forgotten."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.