View Full Version : RIP Rowland S Howard

Lazarus and the Gimp
02-01-2010, 11:01:21
On December 30th, Rowland S. Howard lost his battle with liver cancer and died at Austin Hospital in Melbourne Australia. He was 50-years-old.

Howard’s signature distorted chords were often on display in the punk outfit The Boys Next Door and its evolution The Birthday Party fronted by charismatic singer Nick Cave.

Drugs and creative control divided the band in 1983. The fierce devotion fans had for The Birthday Party parlayed into a devoted cult following for Crime and the City Solution, and These Immortal Souls.

The lanky guitarist packed a powerfully morose reverb. His blues and jazz base could be found on numerous collaborations with Lydia Lunch, Nikki Sudden, Thurston Moore, The Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Henry Rollins.

“Teenage Snuff Film” was the 1999 independently released solo album fans and critics had been waiting for but it would be another ten years before Howard would attempt another release.

Once again personal tragedies and drug addiction left Howard unable to focus and wounded the self effacing artist. By 2008, he ended his marriage, lost his mother and by his own account didn’t want to wake up in the morning. Battling the side effects of hepatitis C medication which caused severe depression, Howard stopped writing songs and playing guitar. Things slowly began to turn around as he accepted offers to work.

In 2009, Howard released “Pop Crimes” featuring Birthday Party bandmate Mick Harvey on drums and would realize the success that escaped him for so many years. Tragically, his health continued to be in decline. Several dates were canceled due to illness and the guitarist was on a waiting list for a liver transplant. The St Kilda's Prince Bandroom show in October would be Howard’s last public performance.

Harvey spoke to The Age and said of his friend, “Sometimes people are ready to go because they have been sick for a long time, but Rowland really wanted to live. Things were going well for him outside of his health and he wanted to take advantage of that and he was very disappointed that he wasn't well enough to do so.''

In a prepared statement issued on his website, Nick Cave called Rowland “Australia's most unique, gifted and uncompromising guitarist. He was also a good friend. This is very sad news. He will be missed by many."

"Rowland was extremely sensitive, wonderfully humorous, beautifully unique," Lydia Lunch emailed this writer in response to her friends' death. "His magical presence and haunting music lives on. Celebrate his genius! A true visionary. Masterful. Poetic. Sublime."


The article doesn't mention the work he did with his own band- These Immortal Souls- which was great too. He really was one hell of a guitarist- just load up "Dead Joe" by The Birthday Party and hear him ripping out blues guitar licks like a scalded cat.