Metal Church frontman Mike Howe has died at the age of 56.
In a statement on social media, the band say, "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. We are devastated and at a loss for words. Please respect our privacy and the Howe family’s privacy during this most difficult time."
Howe started his career in music as the frontman of Detroit-based Hellion, before moving to Los Angeles and becoming the singer for Metal Blade-signed Heretic in 1986. After appearing on the band's debut album The Breaking Point, he departed to join Metal Church in 1988, replacing original singer David Wayne.
Howe stayed with Metal Church until they split in 1996, singing on 1989's Blessing In Disguise, 1991's The Human Factor and Hanging In The Balance in 1993. In 2015 he rejoined the band - who had first reformed in 1998 - and recorded 2016's XI, and Damned If You Do in 2018.
“I didn’t want to come back to just for nostalgia," said Howe. "It had to be for the right reasons. It had to be the best stuff we’ve ever written, or it wouldn’t be worth it to anyone, especially the fans."
The following year he told The Metal Voice why he returned to the band he'd left almost two decades earlier, saying "It was guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof’s power of persuasion and hearing the amazing riffs and songs he put together in the demos stage – and the allure of getting together and having that magical writing and chemistry that we had back in the late 80s."
No cause of death has been announced.