Brian Howe, hard rock singer who fronted Bad Company, dies aged 66

<span>Photograph: John Atashian/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: John Atashian/Getty Images

Brian Howe, the singer who fronted the British rock supergroup Bad Company for eight years, has died aged 66. He had a heart attack at his Florida home.

Howe’s manager Paul Easton said: “It is with deep and profound sadness that we announce the untimely passing of a loving father, friend and musical icon.”

Bad Company originally formed in 1973 by Free singer Paul Rodgers and Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs. After Rodgers left to form another supergroup with Jimmy Page, the Firm, Bad Company recruited Howe in 1986, and he went on to perform on four subsequent albums.

The band was at a low ebb when Howe joined, having fallen from their peak 70s popularity with platinum-selling albums such as their self-titled debut, Straight Shooter, and Run With the Pack. But after helping to steer them away from the poppier sound of flop album Fame and Fortune, he returned them to success with 1990’s Holy Water, another platinum-seller in the US.

He said in a December 2019 interview: “I kind of stamped my foot a little bit and said, ‘Guys, this is a rock’n’roll band! We need to toughen things up a little bit. This is a guitar band, you know! This is a bluesy guitar band, and we need to get back on that.’ And with tremendous resistance, they were finally pushed into it, I guess.”

He left Bad Company in 1994, later complaining: “The band was getting very very sloppy live. I quite simply, along with [songwriter-producer-guitarist] Terry Thomas, got tired of doing all the work.”

Brian Howe performing in Florida in 2014.
Brian Howe performing in Florida in 2014. Photograph: Zuma Press Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Howe was born in 1953 in Portsmouth, and initially performed with heavy metal band White Spirit. He was hired to perform vocals with US guitarist Ted Nugent, touring with him and singing on his 1984 album Penetrator. Following his subsequent spell with Bad Company, he released three solo albums and briefly collaborated with Megadeth.

He suffered an earlier heart attack in September 2017, later saying: “It was a bad one, apparently – I don’t remember anything about it. I was driving. And I was found in my car at a stop sign, unconscious … It took me a long time to recover.”

He continued touring until close to the end of his life, with dates across the US throughout 2019.