RIP Rowland S. Howard

Rowland S, Howard, the guitar player for the Birthday Party and Crime and the City Solution as well as numerous amazing collaborations, died of liver cancer yesterday at 50. He was a big influence on me. While growing up in the omnipotent shadow of a Midwestern Classic Rock Abomination, I naturally thought riffing and soloing were how one plays rock guitar. Then, at some point in my early 20s, I discovered Prayers on Fire and I very suddenly realized the infinite possibilities of exploring the space around where riffs and solos go. Not only did Nick Cave’s lyrics utterly blow my mind but Rowland’s guitar playing made me feel sinister and evil. Something I really like and kind of view as a certain prerequisite to good rock-n-roll music. So while we’ve lost one of my favourite guitar players ever, I can only hope he’s working on some tunes with Lux Interior, Sky Saxon and Tony Bailey in the great beyond somewhere. In fact, I hope Brendan Mullen opens a venue out there for them to play in.

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10 Responses to RIP Rowland S. Howard

  1. Erich says:

    It always scares the shit outta me when I see this guy’s face. He looks like an ex of mine.

  2. MRow says:

    Saw him play with THESE IMMORTAL SOULS in London as a teen waaay back in ’87, opening for THE GUN CLUB. Oh man, what a freakin gig. It was all so loud/noisy/glorious, it took me years before I could listen much else. Only wish Rowland had given us a few more amazing records over the years for us to cherish today.

  3. Chris Oliver says:

    God, they were so good, weren’t they? Junkyard was one of the first “weird” punk records I heard. I only recently discovered that Prayers on Fire actually came BEFORE Junkyard. I always assumed the progression went the other way: from noisy, high energy craziness to more refined, experimental, noisy high energy craziness. But it’s even cooler that they evolved INTO Junkyard.

  4. elliott says:

    don’t forget gg allin god of punk! anyway i will check this guy out. that sucks that he died man.

  5. Dave B says:

    Howard, Interior, Saxon, and Bailey…What a band it would be! Did they really all go in the same year?

  6. Joe says:

    Sadly, yes. One HELL of a band. Next time you’re in a windstorm, its probably the result of those four dudes rockin’.

  7. Scott says:

    His first album in over 10 years came out here in Australia back in Oct. Everyone should buy it – it’s awesome. He played that fender jaguar until his last gig a few months ago. Back in the early 90′s when he came back to Melbourne, he hocked it. Someone bought it and gave it back to him. It should go into a museum. RIP.

  8. OTTO says:

    I had a girlfriend in high school who turned me on to the Birthday Party when Prayers on Fire was released (1981?). She was much cooler than I was…

    She bought the record during one of our visits to 3rd Street Jazz and made me a tape (other side included first 2 Minor Threat 7″, Gov’t issue Legless Bull and some other hardcore)… I still have it. From the first hit of Zoo Music Girl I was hooked. What an absolutely incendiary blast of chaotic genius. I agree, Joe, these guys sounded genuinely dangerous, dirty, and evil… and then they took it up a notch with Junkyard!

    Have been a fan of Cave, Harvey and Howard ever since. Very sad news, indeed. A real loss.

  9. the onkly guy in rock I ever wanted to meet …

  10. what i meant was….he’s the ONLY guy in rock I ever wanted to meet

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