On Thursday came the sad news that onetime Bad Company singer Brian Howe had died at age 66 of cardiac arrest. Apparently, the headlines led some to think that founding and current Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers had passed, leading the legendary rock vocalist to assure fans, “I’m very much alive.” However, Rodgers didn’t acknowledge Howe in his video message, and that very well may have had to do with the pair’s relationship.
Rodgers formed Bad Company in 1973 after his stint fronting another legendary rock outfit, Free. He remained with the group until Bad Company disbanded in 1982, releasing a series of classic albums during that period. When Bad Company re-formed in 1986, they tapped Brian Howe as their vocalist, and went on to achieve additional success, including the platinum-certified album Holy Water and singles like “If You Needed Somebody’ and “How About That.”
Howe parted ways with Bad Company in 1994, and was replaced by Robert Hart. In 1998, the band reunited with Rodgers, who remains their current frontman.
In a since-deleted video message, Rodgers stated, “Hi. It’s Paul Rodgers here. It’s May the 7th, 2020. The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I’m happy to say that I’m very much alive. Yeah. Take care of yourselves and each other. I hope to play for you again soon. Thanks for caring. I feel the love.”
While it may seem odd that Rodgers doesn’t mention Howe’s passing, a 2018 interview with Howe likely explains Rodgers’ apparent oversight. Howe told Rock Candy magazine (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), “I don’t like [Rodgers] as a person. And if he’s such a brilliant artist and if he’s really regarded as the only person ever to have sung with Bad Company, then why haven’t they recorded anything new in the last 10 years?”
Howe harbored bitterness toward his onetime Bad Company bandmates, too. He once told Melodic Rock, “Leaving Bad Company was not a difficult decision, it had got to the point where nobody was contributing anything to songwriting and quite frankly the band was getting very very sloppy live. I quite simply, along with Terry Thomas, got tired of doing all the work and then get nothing but resentment for it from Mick [Ralphs] and Simon [Kirke].”
Additionally, there’s been no statement from Bad Company regarding Howe’s death. Instead the band shared a tweet announcing Paul Rodgers’ new live cover of the Isaac Hayes version of “Walk on By” today.