Roland S Howard, the Australian guitarist behind the Birthday Party, Crime and the City Solution, and These Immortal Souls — died early this morning (December 30) in a Melbourne hospital after losing a battle with liver cancer. He was 50.
According to reports, Howard had been ill for quite some time and had been awaiting a much-needed liver transplant. He had been forced to cancel several shows recently due to his illness, including one yesterday in Melbourne supporting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Howard began his career in the late ’70s with the band Young Charlatans and later the Aussie punk outfit Boys Next Door, a group that would eventually morph into the Birthday Party. With Nick Cave serving as the band’s front-man, the Birthday Party sparked an infamous career in the 1980s, filled with violence — both on and off the stage — as well as Howard’s unique combo of feedback-laden blues riffs and dissonant punk noise.
When the Birthday Party broke up in 1983, Howard went on to play in such groups as Crime and the City Solution and These Immortal Souls. He also collaborated with the likes of Lydia Lunch, Nikki Sudden, Einstürzende Neubauten and Henry Rollins, as well as lent his talents to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Along with music, Howard appeared in several feature-length films, such as Wim Wenders’ 1987 movie Wings of Desire, 1990’s In Too Deep and the 2002 vampire film The Queen of the Damned.
Howard’s most recent recording was the solo album Pop Crimes, which was released in October.
Rest In Peace Roland. You've left a musical legacy you can be proud of. Shivers will always be one of my favorite songs that you wrote.