Former Bad Company singer Brian Howe has died, just weeks after moving to Lake Placid from his longtime home on Fort Myers Beach. He was 66.
Howe died of a heart attack Wednesday, according to manager Paul Easton and a news release Thursday.
The British singer was found still conscious in his Lake Placid, Florida home, according to the release. “Though EMTs were able to have a short conversation with him, he slipped away and they were unable to revive him.”
It was Howe’s second heart attack. His first one happened Sept. 26, 2017, while he was driving on Fort Myers Beach, he told The News-Press last year. Doctors opened the heart blockage with two stents.
Fans, friends and musicians reacted to Howe’s death with shock and fond memories Thursday.
Howe’s longtime friend, former AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams of Fort Myers, said he was saddened to hear the news.
“I always enjoyed Brian’s company and had many a good laugh with him as two old Brits together,” Williams said. “Great voice. He will be missed as a friend and a talent.”
Vincent Wolanin of Sanibel Island — whose management company TopNotch Entertainment Corp represented Howe during his Bad Company days — said Howe’s death was a loss for the rock world.
“Brian Howe was a great singer,” Wolanin said. “One of the best, most powerful in rock history.”
Howe lived on Fort Myers Beach for 35 years before moving last month to a cabin in Lake Placid. He fell in love with Southwest Florida while touring with Ted Nugent and later Bad Company.
He was best known for his eight years with classic rockers Bad Company. He joined the band in 1986, replacing original singer Paul Rodgers.
Together, they co-wrote and recorded four gold- and platinum-selling studio albums and the hit songs “If You Needed Somebody,” “How About That” and “Walk Through Fire.”
In case you missed it: Brian Howe talks about his heart attack, why he left the band, a new Nashville career, etc.
But it wasn’t easy replacing a band’s beloved original singer, Howe told The News-Press last year.
“At the time, I was barely out of my 20s, and I was full of piss and vinegar, and I really thought I could do it easily — I’ll show them,” he said. “But sadly, life’s not that simple.”
His relationship with the band’s founding members was full of resentment, jealousy and bickering by the time they got to their last studio album, “Here Comes Trouble.”
“They didn’t write many of the songs on that record, and they hated the fact that the band had become successful again and they hadn’t had much input into it,” Howe said last year. “And the resentment became almost to the point of them accusing me of being big-headed or cocky or whatever you want to call it.”
Eventually, Howe struck out on his own in 1994 and recorded several solo albums, including 1997’s “Tangled in Blue” and 2017’s “Hot Tin Roof.” But none of those albums had the same success as his work with Bad Company.
Still, Howe said he regretted nothing from his rock ‘n’ roll career.
“Basically, it was a lovely ride,” he said last year. “It’s fantastic to be accepted as a guy who can write songs that people actually like.
“I never really quite got over the fact that when I walk out onstage, the audience knows the songs probably better than I do. And that’s a tremendous compliment for any artist of any stature at all. If they know the words to songs that you have written in your bedroom — wow.
“It’s a very strange, surreal life. But it’s incredible. It’s incredible. I’ve loved my life. I’ve loved it.”
Howe had been on tour with his band earlier this year, but then the coronavirus forced concert venues to shut down, according to the news release from Marseille & Company Management. He’d been looking forward to restarting the tour as soon as possible.
“I feel we are all put in this world for a reason” his son Michael said in the release. “The passion for music was my father’s, and I am so happy that his legacy will live on.”
Fort Myers rock drummer Steve Luongo got to know Howe in 2016, when they appeared on the cover of Gulfshore Life magazine with Williams of AC/DC. Until then, Luongo knew Howe only by his voice and his reputation.
“People said he was hard to get along with,” says Luongo of The John Entwistle Band and Rat Race Choir. “But he was as charming a guy, as nice a guy as you’d ever want to meet.”
Then there was that one-of-a-kind voice. “That was the first thing I knew about Brian Howe, that he was a powerful, strong rock singer,” Luongo said. “He was a great singer. He had a beautiful, strong rock ‘n’ roll voice that you could identify. He sounded like Brian Howe.”
Howe was born in the seaport town of Portsmouth, England. His father was a semi-pro club singer who performed 1950s pop hits at night and worked as a welder during the day.
He was 3 when he sang his first song in public, crooning the Perry Como hit “Catch a Falling Star” at a talent show.
As a teenager, he played in a few low-key garage bands before joining glam rockers Mighty Glad. “(It was) a lot of David Bowie,” he told The News-Press in 2001. “We wore make-up and tousled our hair up and all the rest of the crap that went with that music.”
He later joined the bands Flyin’ High and Shy, a Portsmouth band that scored the No. 60 hit “Girl (It’s All I Have)” in 1980. A couple years later, he moved to London, joined the harder-rocking band White Spirit and started spending more time songwriting.
He’d regularly send tapes of his music to Atlantic Records in hopes of getting a contract. “I would get a refusal letter about every week,” he told The News-Press.
Finally, an Atlantic representative told him they didn’t like his songs, but they did like his voice. That led to him joining Nugent’s band in 1983, touring with the hard rocker for 18 months and singing on the bestselling 1984 album “Penetrator.”
Howe had been thinking about signing a long-term contract with Nugent when his old friend, Foreigner singer Mick Jones, called and told him that Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke of Bad Company were thinking about forming a new band.
Howe — who wanted to write songs, but wasn’t doing much of that with Nugent — eventually left Nugent and joined the new band in 1986. They decided to keep the Bad Company name.
He and Bad Company co-wrote and recorded four hit studio albums between 1986 and 1992: “Fame and Fortune,” “Dangerous Age,” “Holy Water” and “Here Comes Trouble.”
Still, jealousy, resentment and bitterness continued within the band. Things got worse when their 1992 album didn’t sell as well as previous ones.
Howe eventually decided to go solo in 1994.
“We finished the `Here Comes Trouble Tour’ in Orlando,” Howe told The News-Press in 2001. “I looked about the stage and said this is the last time I’ve ever gonna have to work with you jerks.
“That was 1994. I was exhausted, going through a divorce, and I had really lost a taste for music or at least the people involved in the business. I was living in paradise and was in absolute misery.”
Since then, Howe stayed busy making music, recording a regular podcast called “Howe About That with Brian Howe” and spending a lot of time working with animal charities. He recorded songs for fundraisers and served on the boards for the Boca Raton dog rescue Have a Heart and the Guatemala nonprofit AYUDA (Spanish for “help”).
His love of animals was obvious from his Fort Myers Beach house, where he lived with about 10 dogs and birds.
“I think we as a human race should be a bit more compassionate,” Howe told The News-Press in 2014. “As the saying goes, you can always trust people by the way they treat animals. And I think there’s a truism there.”
Howe is survived by his sister Sandie, his son Michael and daughters Victoria and Ella, along with his grandchildren Kira, Alexandria, and Aurora, according to the news release. The release didn’t include their full names.
“Finding the appropriate words to express the pain in our hearts over losing my brother has been difficult.” his sister said in the release. “Our family would like to thank you for your compassion and the outpouring of love we are receiving.”
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