METAL CHURCH singer Mike Howe was "victimized by a failing health-care system" before his decision to take his own life, his bandmates say.
Howe was found dead at his home in Eureka, California on Monday, July 26. According to TMZ, Howe's official cause of death was determined to be asphyxia due to hanging. A spokesperson for the Humboldt County Sheriff's Dept. told the site authorities are calling it a suicide.
Cops got a call just after 10 a.m. reporting an unexpected death at a home. By the time deputies arrived, they found the 55-year-old dead at the scene.
According to police, drugs and alcohol are not believed to be factors in the death and no controlled substances or paraphernalia were located at the scene.
Earlier today, the surviving members of METAL CHURCH issued the following statement in response to the TMZ report: "If you knew Mike Howe, then you knew he was a truly good human being who loved his friends, his family and his many fans around the world. He would always go the extra mile to make someone feel good and he would always give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. We ask that you remember Mike in that way and for the amazing metal music he created.
"As to what really happened? He was victimized by a failing health-care system and subsequently poisoned by the venom of Big Pharma," they wrote, using a term which refers collectively to the global pharmaceutical industry. "In short and in essence, he fell prey to the real 'Fake Healer'...enough said. #truth
"Godspeed Mike Howe, WE LOVE YOU!!!"
Howe, who fronted METAL CHURCH from 1988 until 1994, officially rejoined the band in April 2015.
Prior to joining METAL CHURCH more than three decades ago, Howe spent two years fronting California metal act HERETIC.
The reunion between Mike and METAL CHURCH was put in motion in July of 2014 when Mike started working with guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof on a side project Kurdt was forming with Nigel Glockler from SAXON. Through these initial conversations, Kurdt convinced Mike to ultimately return to METAL CHURCH. The idea was to see if they could recapture some of the magic from the three albums METAL CHURCH released in the late '80s: "The Human Factor", "Blessing In Disguise" and "Hanging In The Balance". Out of those sessions, 2016's "XI" was born and captured the sound that made the band fan favorites in the '80s and mixed it with a new, invigorated sound.
METAL CHURCH's latest release was "From The Vault", which arrived in April 2020 via Rat Pak Records. The effort was a special-edition compilation album that featured 14 previously unreleased songs from the Howe era, including four newly recorded studio tracks, among them a redux of the band's fan favorite classic "Conductor".
Howe is not the first singer of METAL CHURCH to die. David Wayne passed away in May 2005 from complications following a car crash. He was 47 years old.
Wayne sang on METAL CHURCH's first two classic offerings (1984's "Metal Church" and 1986's "The Dark") before leaving the group and being replaced by Howe.