Mike Howe, the singer from the heavy metal band Metal Church, died by suicide. Just four days after Howe was pronounced dead at a Eureka, California home, his cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to hanging, with his death officially being ruled a suicide by authorities, a spokesperson for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department told TMZ. The spokesperson added that alcohol and drugs were not believed to be factors in Howe's death and no controlled substances or paraphernalia were found in the home where he died.
Howe passed away Monday, July 26 at the age of 55. According to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department, authorities received a call just after 10 a.m. reporting an unexpected death at a home in Eureka. When they arrived on the scene, Howe was found dead. His death was later confirmed on the band's official Facebook page, though no cause of death was provided at the time.
"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 post read. "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."
Born in Aug. 1965 in Taylor, Michigan, Howe moved to Los Angeles as a young adult with his band Hellion, which was later renamed Snair. Once in L.A., Howe joined Heretic, releasing just one album, Breaking Point, in 1988 before he joined Metal Church as the replacement for singer David Wayne. Led by Kurdt Vanderhoof, Metal Church was formed in 1980 and has been considered a formative influence on the thrash metal genre. Howe made his debut on the band's third album, 1989's Blessing in Disguise. That album was followed by two more – The Human Factor (1991) and Hanging in the Balance (1993) – before Metal Church split in 1996.
"When Metal Church broke up it was a very sad thing. I loved being in Metal Church and I felt that was my identity," Howe told Loudwire in April 2020. "I left primarily because of the business of music and how difficult it was navigating management, record companies, and outside forces that were ruining the band and my love of music. When I quit Metal Church and went off the road, I felt damaged about music in general that I loved. I felt hurt and angry about it all."
Although the band briefly reunited in 1998 and again on multiple occasions in the years that followed, Howe was not involved, the musician telling Loudwire that during his time off from music he focused on his passion for carpentry. Howe said he "never sang metal again until I got back into Metal Church" in early 2015. After he reunited with the group, Metal Church two full-length albums, 2016's XI and 2018's Damned If You Do.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.