Brian Howe (singer)

Last updated

Brian Howe
Brian howe 3-09.jpg
Howe in concert, March 2009
Background information
Birth nameBrian Anthony Howe
Born(1953-07-22)22 July 1953
Portsmouth, England, UK
Died6 May 2020(2020-05-06) (aged 66)
Lake Placid, Florida, U.S.
Genres Hard rock, pop rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, keyboards, saxophones
Years active1983–2020
LabelsTouchwood, Frontiers
Associated acts White Spirit, Ted Nugent, Bad Company
Website www.brianhowe.com

Brian Anthony Howe (22 July 1953 – 6 May 2020) was an English rock singer and songwriter, best known for replacing Paul Rodgers as the lead vocalist of Bad Company. Howe's career was jump-started in 1983 when Ted Nugent recruited him to handle lead vocals for his Penetrator album and front its subsequent world tour.

Contents

Early career

Howe was born in Portsmouth, England in 1953. [1] He sang with a local band called Shy who had one minor hit single in the UK but he quickly quit, seeking a harder rock band. He had a brief stint with the NWOBHM group White Spirit, having replaced their recently departed singer Bruce Ruff. However, the group quickly collapsed, and Howe never recorded an album with them. A sole cut, "Watch Out",surfaced on Neat Records' 60 Minutes Plus cassette compilation in 1982, also issued on vinyl as All Hell Let Loose by Neat in conjunction with Italy's Base Records label in 1983. The song was also released on CD by US-based label Prism Entertainment on their Metal Minded compilation in 1987.

With Ted Nugent

Howe's first gig in the U.S. was with Ted Nugent in 1984. He had been sending songs to Atlantic Records in London to try to get a deal. Atlantic said that they did not hear a single but they liked his voice. One day, Ashley Howe (not related but producer of Ted Nugent's upcoming album) was walking down the corridor of Atlantic’s offices and heard his voice. Ashley Howe had been looking for a singer for the next Ted Nugent album and thought that Howe would be a good fit. [2] Howe was soon in New York City and signed a contract to become the lead singer for Ted Nugent and sang on the Penetrator album. The contract was not favorable to Howe and he basically was working at a vastly reduced rate (~$450/week). [3] and then ultimately left to pursue a solo career and album due to lack of writing credits on songs such as "Tied Up In Love". After a call from Mick Jones of Foreigner, whom Howe tried to work with earlier in his career, Howe was introduced to Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke of Bad Company.

With Bad Company

In 1986, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke decided to regroup for a new project. Their label, Atlantic Records, however, insisted they resume the Bad Company name, but Paul Rodgers was already engaged with a new supergroup called The Firm. With Rodgers gone, the remaining two members partnered with ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe as the new lead singer. “Mick told me that I had to get away from Ted and go to New York where Mick and Simon wanted to meet up with me,” Howe related. “So I made up some story to leave and went to the Mayflower Hotel, where we decided to give things a go.” [4]

In addition, they hired Steve Price as the new bass player and Gregg Dechert (ex-Uriah Heep) on keyboards. Howe's vocal style brought more of a pop-rock sound to the band, which Atlantic Records, looking to bring the band back up to arena status, was looking for after declining turnouts to previous live performances and the dismal sales of Rough Diamonds. The band hired Foreigner producer Keith Olsen to produce the new line-up's initial album, 1986's Fame and Fortune . Reflecting the musical style of the mid-1980s, the album was laden with keyboards, unlike previous Bad Company albums, and was modestly commercially successful. The single "This Love" managed to reach No. 85 on the UK Singles Chart, but was not the success the band hoped for, but things were about to change.

In 1987, Dechert was dropped from the line-up as the group decided not to play up the keyboards in their sound as much. They toured that year supporting Deep Purple.

For the next Howe-era album, 1988's Dangerous Age , the band replaced Olsen with producer Terry Thomas, who got rid of most of the keyboards and returned the band to a guitar-driven sound. Thomas also added small amounts of keyboards as well as rhythm guitars and backing vocals and wrote most of the songs with the band. Dangerous Age fared better than its predecessor, spawning several MTV videos and the AOR hits "No Smoke Without A Fire" (#4), "One Night" (#9) and "Shake It Up" (#9, also No. 89 on the singles chart). The album went Gold and hit the Top 60. For the Dangerous Age tour, the band were augmented by Larry Oakes (keyboards, guitar), who had also played with Foreigner. Price and Oakes left at the conclusion of the tour.

The band's next album, Holy Water written mostly by Brian Howe and Terry Thomas released in June 1990 on Atco, also produced by Thomas, was enormously successful both critically and commercially, attaining Top 40 and Platinum status by selling more than one million copies. Holy Water was the band's first album on the Atlantic subsidiary Atco Records. The album spun off the singles: "If You Needed Somebody" (#16), the title track "Holy Water" (#89) and "Walk Through Fire" (#28). "Holy Water" also hit No. 1 for two weeks on the AOR charts with "If You Needed Somebody" reaching No. 2. The album received significant radio airplay (five songs made the AOR charts in all) and spawned several video hits. Felix Krish played bass guitar on the CD while Paul Cullen was recruited for live shows. Mick Ralphs, who was taking care of personal and family matters, sat out for most of the Holy Water tour, although he did perform on the album. Ralphs was replaced on the road and in the videos by ex-Crawler guitarist Geoffrey Whitehorn. Ralphs returned later on during the tour and Whitehorn joined Procol Harum where he still plays to this day. Also joining at this time was ex-ASAP guitarist Dave "Bucket" Colwell as second guitarist. Heralded as one of the top 5 grossing tours of 1991, and supported by Damn Yankees, that year was one in which saw many other rock acts facing a downturn in concert attendance brought on by rising ticket prices and economic recession.

It was widely rumoured all summer that Howe and other members of the band, which he helped revive three years earlier, had been bickering over financial matters. Howe was rumoured to be leaving the band and ex-Kansas singer Steve Walsh was to take over for the remainder of the tour. Atlantic Records did not agree given the success of Holy Water and Howe's extraordinary vocal ability and he was asked to stay on. "Atlantic Records didn’t want me to leave and they told me so," Howe recalled. "They said, 'As long as you stay, we’ll cover you.' They didn’t have much time either for Mick and Simon, and they promised me that they would cover me and look after me if I stayed in the band and wrote the songs. I don’t know what that says about everything, but it was a very dysfunctional band. It really was. It wasn’t a pleasure. It wasn’t a happy band." [5]

The final studio album of the Howe era, 1992's Here Comes Trouble , featured the Top 40 hit "How About That" (#38) and "This Could Be The One" (#87). The album went Gold. Before touring in support of Here Comes Trouble, the band added ex-Foreigner, Roxy Music and Small Faces bassist Rick Wills and Colwell, a protégé of Ralphs, was now a full-time member. The band recorded a live album, What You Hear Is What You Get: The Best of Bad Company on the Here Comes Trouble tour. The critically acclaimed album released in November 1993, featured live versions of hits from both the Rodgers and Howe eras of the band. Throughout his time in Bad Company, Howe occasionally played saxophone. Howe left the band in 1994.

Solo

Howe released his first solo album, Tangled in Blue, in 1997 on Touchwood Records. It was re-released with one additional song under the name Touch in 2003 on MTM Music and Publishing.

Howe played a series of shows as part of an Iraq and Kuwait tour to entertain the troops overseas in March 2010, one of which was the "Change of Command ceremony" in Baghdad on 12 March 2010. The mini-tour was funded (and supported) by the US Forces Iraq/Entertainment Branch.

In late February 2010, Howe's second solo album, The Circus Bar, was released in United Kingdom to mostly positive reviews and after its subsequent North American release, has become, according to one American review, "one of the best solo albums of the past 25 years." The album is now available on iTunes in most countries.

In November 2011, Howe released the EP Emotions featuring "Christmas". "The song just came from trying to imagine how some people during Christmas end up alone," he says. "I actually wrote it during a period where I spent Christmas alone. And I thought, 'Oh, I don't like this very much.'" [6]

In October 2016, Howe began recording acoustic renditions of Bad Company classics, some of Brian's solo material and other songs for a future album titled Porch Sessions.

On 30 June 2017 the first new studio recording from Brian was released worldwide, on his own label, Howe's Business. 'Hot Tin Roof' has already been gaining critical acclaim and garnering airplay on classic rock outlets. To coincide with the release, a tour of Europe, the first for Brian since 1993, was announced with the first show in Sweden on 21 September. The tour will take in stops in Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and Italy, in anticipation of an even more extensive tour in 2018.

The line-up of his solo band was:

A previously unreleased song "Going Home" was released on June 29, 2020. "This is one of the last songs Brian wrote and recorded and, as it turns out, sadly it was very prophetic," said Howe's manager, Paul Easton. "The song really touched everybody in the office when they first heard it. And today, as we work on the release, it is still a tough one to listen to." [7]

Death

Howe died of cardiac arrest on 6 May 2020 while en route to a hospital in Florida, aged 66. [8] He had a history of heart illnesses including a heart attack in 2017. [9] Howe is survived by his sister Sandie and her husband, his three children, and his three grandchildren.

Discography

Solo

Singles

EP

Emotions (2011)

with Ted Nugent

with Bad Company

Megadeth

Howe co-wrote the song "I'll Get Even" from Megadeth's Cryptic Writings (1997)

Related Research Articles

Bad Company English hard rock group

Bad Company are an English rock supergroup formed in Albury, Surrey in 1973 by singer Paul Rodgers, guitarist Mick Ralphs, drummer Simon Kirke and later adding bassist Boz Burrell. Peter Grant, who managed the rock band Led Zeppelin, also managed Bad Company until 1982.

Mick Ralphs English musician

Michael Geoffrey Ralphs is an English guitarist and songwriter, who was a founding member of rock bands Mott the Hoople and Bad Company.

The Amboy Dukes were an American rock band formed in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, and later based in Detroit, Michigan. They are known for their one hit single "Journey to the Center of the Mind". The band's name comes from the title of a novel by Irving Shulman. In the UK, the group's records were released under the name of The American Amboy Dukes, because of the existence of a British group with the same name.

<i>Holy Water</i> (Bad Company album) 1990 studio album by Bad Company

Holy Water is the ninth studio album by the English hard rock band Bad Company, and their third with Brian Howe as lead vocalist. The album was released on 12 June 1990. It went platinum, selling over 1,000,000 units, and climbed to No. 35 on The Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. The first single, "Holy Water", was a No. 1 Billboard Album Rock Track for two weeks during the summer of 1990 as the band toured the United States with Damn Yankees. The single "If You Needed Somebody" became a major hit in early 1991, reaching No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Album Rock Tracks chart. "Boys Cry Tough" (#3), "Stranger, Stranger" (#9) and "Walk Through Fire" also received substantial airplay.

<i>Ted Nugent</i> (album) 1975 studio album by Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent is the debut studio album by American hard rock musician Ted Nugent. The album was released in September 1975, by Epic Records. It was released after the disbanding of his former group The Amboy Dukes.

Damn Yankees (band)

Damn Yankees was an American rock supergroup formed in 1989 consisting of Tommy Shaw of Styx, Jack Blades of Night Ranger, Ted Nugent of The Amboy Dukes, and Michael Cartellone.

The Firm (rock band)

The Firm were a British rock supergroup formed in 1984, featuring singer Paul Rodgers, guitarist Jimmy Page, drummer Chris Slade and bass player Tony Franklin.

Robert Hart (musician)

Robert Hart is an English vocalist and songwriter. He is currently the lead singer of Manfred Mann's Earth Band and the band Diesel. He has performed as a solo artist, and with The Distance and also with former Whitesnake members in the band called Company of Snakes and with Bad Company. He also fronted The Jones Gang, a rock group formed by Hart, Rick Wills and Kenney Jones. He now performs as a solo artist as well as touring with his own band XBad Company, with Dave "Bucket" Colwell and Garry "Harry" James. He was the first English writer to be signed to Disney owned Hollywood Records. He has also written several Number 1 hits, and written a number of songs for film soundtracks, whilst being signed to Roy Orbison's Still Working Music, Disney's Hollywood Records, and Island Records.

<i>Here Comes Trouble</i> (Bad Company album) 1992 studio album by Bad Company

Here Comes Trouble is the 10th studio album by the English hard rock band Bad Company, it would be the last studio album with Brian Howe as lead vocalist. The album was released in September 1992. The title track received some airplay on classic rock radio, although "How About That" was the biggest single from the album, spending six weeks at the top of the Album Rock Tracks chart in the US.

<i>Dangerous Age</i> 1988 studio album by Bad Company

Dangerous Age is the eighth studio album by hard rock band Bad Company. The album was released on August 23, 1988. It was their second album with Brian Howe as lead vocalist and first with Steve Price credited as bass guitarist. It was produced and largely co-written by Terry Thomas. It helped bring the group back into the spotlight, with major radio airplay for the tracks "No Smoke Without a Fire"(#4), "One Night"(#9) and "Shake It Up"(#9) all reaching the top 10 on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart.

<i>Fame and Fortune</i> 1986 studio album by Bad Company

Fame and Fortune is the seventh studio album by Bad Company, released in 1986. It was the first album released by the reformed group, featuring original members Mick Ralphs (guitar) and Simon Kirke (drums), with the addition of new frontman Brian Howe substituting for original singer Paul Rodgers. While original bassist Boz Burrell appears credited as part of the line-up, the liner notes reveal that session player Steve Price played on the album.

<i>Company of Strangers</i> (Bad Company album) 1995 studio album by Bad Company

Company of Strangers is the eleventh studio album by the English blues rock band Bad Company, and their first with lead singer Robert Hart. The album was released in June 1995. To date, it is the band's latest studio album of all-new material.

<i>What You Hear Is What You Get: The Best of Bad Company</i> 1993 live album by Bad Company

What You Hear Is What You Get is a live album by hard rock band Bad Company, with Brian Howe in place of Paul Rodgers as lead vocalist. Released in 1993, the album covers the 1992 U.S tour, with much of the recording done at various California dates. The band's introduction was done by Ralphs' guitar technician, Gary Gilmore.

<i>In Concert: Merchants of Cool</i> 2002 live album by Bad Company

In Concert: Merchants of Cool is a live album and DVD by English hard rock band Bad Company. It was recorded principally at The Paramount Theater, Denver, Colorado and The Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, California, in January 2002. It features hits from both Bad Company and precursor band Free as well as two new studio tracks, "Joe Fabulous" and "Saving Grace". It is their only album not to feature guitarist Mick Ralphs. Longtime session guitarist Dave “Bucket” Colwell, who had appeared on the three previous studio albums, plays in Mick’s place. Additionally, Jaz Lochrie plays bass instead of Boz Burrell. The band covers two songs from the Beatles, "Ticket to Ride" and "I Feel Fine", as well as one from Paul Rodgers' and Simon Kirke's former band Free, "All Right Now".

<i>Penetrator</i> (album) 1984 studio album by Ted Nugent

Penetrator is the eighth studio album by American hard rock guitarist Ted Nugent. The album was released in January 1984, by Atlantic Records.

Jason Hartless American drummer

Jason Hartless is an American drummer and Record Label Executive, best known for being the drummer for guitarist and fellow Detroit native, Ted Nugent. Hartless currently tours with American rock band Sponge and has also performed and/or recorded with Mitch Ryder, Tantric and Joe Lynn Turner. Since the age of 12, Hartless has also toured as the support act with bands such as Mötley Crüe, Godsmack, Ted Nugent, Theory of a Deadman, Mountain, and Warrior Soul.

<i>Live in Concert 1977 & 1979</i> 2016 live album by Bad Company

Live in Concert 1977 & 1979 is a double live album by the English hard rock band Bad Company, released on CD and as an mp3 download in 2016. It is an archival album with recordings taken from two concerts from their tours in 1977 and 1979. Disc one contains material from a concert at The Summit in Houston, Texas on May 23, 1977. Disc 2 contains material from a concert at Wembley Arena in London on March 9, 1979.

This Love (Bad Company song) 1986 single by Bad Company

"This Love" is a song by English rock band Bad Company. The song was released as the lead single from the band's seventh studio album Fame and Fortune, the group's first single since reforming earlier that year with ex-Ted Nugent vocalist Brian Howe.

Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy: The Very Best of Bad Company is a compilation album released by Bad Company in 2015 on Atlantic Records. The 19-track collection spans 1974 through 1982 and features many of groups best known songs, like "Can't Get Enough", "Feel Like Makin' Love" and "Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy".

References

  1. Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (7 May 2020). "Brian Howe, hard rock singer who fronted Bad Company, dies aged 66". The Guardian . London. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  2. Sullivan, Bill (27 March 2010). "Brian Howe gets candid about his Ted Nugent and Bad Company past and reveals his plans for the future". Rockandrollreport.com.
  3. "Episode 146 – Brian Howe former lead singer of Bad Company". Thehustle.podbean.com.
  4. "Brian Howe Bad Company and beyond". loudersound.com.
  5. "Why Bad Company struggled through recording Holy Water". Ultimateclassicrock.com.
  6. Runnells, Charles (3 December 2014). "Former Bad Company singer releases 'Christmas' single". The News-Press. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  7. "Stream 'Going Home,' a Posthumous Song Brian Howe, as Premiered By the Family of the Former Bad Company Singer". Rock Cellar Magazine. 29 June 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  8. Saunders, Emmeline (7 May 2020). "Bad Company frontman Brian Howe dies of heart attack on way to hospital". Irishmirror.ie. Retrieved 7 May 2020.
  9. "Bad Company Singer Brian Anthony Howe Dead at 66". Tmz.com. Retrieved 7 May 2020.