Birthday Party Guitarist Rowland S. Howard Dies Aged 50 (Spinner)

Former Birthday Party guitarist Rowland S. Howard passed away early Wednesday morning after losing his battle with liver cancer. The 50-year-old had been waiting for a crucial liver transplant and had been forced to cancel recent shows due to his illness.

Howard first came to prominence as guitarist with Melbourne punk band the Boys Next Door who then mutated into the Birthday Party. Led by singer Nick Cave, the Birthday Party left their native Australia for the U.K. in 1980 where the band established their fearsome reputation thanks to a series of incendiary gigs that often saw as much violence on stage as off.

Howard's idiosyncratic guitar playing -- an incredible collision of blues, feedback and six-string brutality -- marked him down as a true original and proved to be a huge influence on subsequent generations of guitarists.

After the Birthday Party's split in 1983, Howard lent his guitar skills to Crime and the City Solution and These Immortal Souls. He appeared onstage in London with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in 1991 for a partial Birthday Party reunion when the band played 'Wild World', 'Dead Joe' and 'Nick the Stripper.'

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