Mike Howe, lead singer of band Metal Church that influenced thrash metal, dead at 55

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Mike Howe, the lead singer of the heavy metal band Metal Church, has died. He was 55.

The band confirmed on its official Facebook page Monday that Howe "passed away this morning at his home in Eureka, California."

"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 statement read. "We are devastated and at a loss for words. Please respect our privacy and the Howe family’s privacy during this most difficult time."

The statement did not disclose Howe's cause of death.

The American heavy metal band formed in the 1980s, with Howe joining as lead vocalist later that decade. The band is widely considered a formative influence on the thrash metal genre.

Howe rejoined the band in 2015 after it broke up in the mid-'90s. In an interview with Loudwire in April 2020, Howe opened up about focusing on his passion for carpentry during his time off from music.

"I went to my first backup profession which was carpentry," he said. "I always equate it back to a time in my life when I was young and my dad built a work bench in the basement of our house. It wasn’t a very good work bench and he wasn’t a talented good carpenter, but he did it. I was very fascinated that you could make things out of wood."

He added that he "never sang metal again until I got back into Metal Church."

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"My voice (as a metal singer) is only suited for Metal Church — I wouldn’t want to be in another metal band where I’m the singer," he added.

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In 2015, Howe told Louder he didn't rejoin the band “just for nostalgia."

"It had to be for the right reasons," he said. "It had to be the best stuff we’ve ever written, or it wouldn’t be worth it to anyone, especially the fans."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Howe, lead singer of Metal Church, dead at 55

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