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Blues singer/guitarist Larry Howard dies aged 66
THE SINGER and guitarist called by The Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music "a pioneer of Christian blues," Larry Howard, died on 10th February in Lakeland, Florida, aged 66. Larry was born in Winter Haven and grew up listening to his father's bluegrass band, studied classical music and received trombone lessons from Count Basie's Jazz Clinic before turning to guitar. Throughout the '70s he played in the Southern rock band Grinderswitch, toured with rock icons the Allman Brothers and with country man Charlie Daniels.
In 1986 he recorded a groundbreaking album of electric gospel blues 'Sanctified Blues' with Refuge Records with the Muscle Shoals horn section. Despite critical acclaim the album failed to get US Christian radio support. A second album for Refuge, 'Shout!', also failed to sell. In 1989 Dutch label Spark released Larry's 'Into The Light' album. In 1991 after accompanying CCM star Eddie DeGarmo on the song "There's Something About That Name" Larry was signed to major Christian label ForeFront who released the album 'Redeemed'. The following year Larry was one of the featured artists on the album 'Cornerstone Blues Jam' recorded at the Cornerstone Festival with artists Margaret Becker, Mark Farner and Jessy Dixon. In 1984 blues singing pastor Glenn Kaiser produced Larry's album 'Brighter Side Of The Blues' and the following year Active Arts Records issued 'American Roots' where Larry returned to his Southern rock style.
For the last 10 years Larry was playing regularly with prison ministry singer/evangelist Tony Loeffler. Said Tony, "Larry toured with me for almost 10 years. We started performing together in 2008. Just prior to his getting his hands operated on around 2014/15, we were performing 150 to 180 concerts a year in the prisons. At one point, we were doing three performances in a unit per day, then drive to the next location and do it all again. It was a VERY heavy schedule but very fruitful as well. Thousands came to Christ and Larry was just wonderful to work with. He was one of the most easy going people, with great passion for the lost that I ever knew. He performed in Russian prisons quite extensively prior to our connecting on the Shooting Stars Prison Tour. We had talked on the phone for years about doing a tour together and once we started, we couldn't stop. The only slow down was when he got ill. Even then, it was almost impossible to keep Larry down. He loved the prisoners and loved his Lord and never forgot where he came from. His testimony song tells it all. I will never forget the first time I heard him perform it. I knew, 'This man really FOUND OUT'."
Continued Tony, "Larry also performed with me in Cuba with legends like Bobby Carcasses and others. Larry enjoyed the Cuban people and wanted to return but his health started to slide. He always wanted to produce an album for me but the same sliding health was a problem. Larry invited me to the Sturgis Bikers Stage in South Dakota and we performed together on that stage for several years until he couldn't make the trip any longer. I can't wait to see Larry again in glory. He is one of the greatest blues players who ever shared the stage. He was a great man of God, good friend and lover of God."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.