Virgil Howe, drummer for the garage rock band Little Barrie and youngest son of Yes guitarist Steve Howe, passed away at the age of 41 on 11th September. Steve and Virgil finished recording an album shortly before the unexpected death, scheduled to come out later this year. It was recently announced that the record will be released according to the previous plans, on 17th November.
In the wake of the tragic news, Yes had cancelled the remaining dates of their Yestival Tour. Little Barrie’s upcoming tour in support of their fifth studio album ‘Death Express’ was also cancelled.
Steve said in a statement:
“Virgil and I had only recently completed recording ‘Nexus’, which contains eleven of his tunes to which I added a guitar to suit each one. We delivered it to InsideOutMusic in August for release on 17th November. We started to work together in 2016 by selecting about nine tunes from his ‘stockpile’ of piano based music that he’d periodically sent Jan and I each time he’d written and recorded a new idea. I began adding guitars to them, then I’d play them to Virgil. He’d then surprise me by bringing up other channels of instrumentation which I’d never heard. The tunes went from straightforward ‘duets’ to something bigger and better, more of a complete picture than a mere shape. ‘Free Fall’ and ‘Nick’s Star’ were added from earlier sessions, the latter being his tribute to the passing of his best friend Nick Hirsch.”
“‘Nexus’ explores a completely different side of Virgil’s ability, as a writer and keyboard player – ‘in his own right’. His talents were multi-diverse, so sitting at a keyboard & computer or in the middle of his drum kit, at all his regular DJ-ing gigs or on the radio, he always gave his best. We hope that the music just completed will stand as a fitting tribute to his life and legacy.”
Virgil played the keyboard, bass and drums on the upcoming record, and Steve contributed acoustic, electric and steel guitar parts. The resulting tracks have been described as diverse compositions mixing neoclassical elements with dreamy jazz, straightforward grooves and cinematic, spacey themes. ‘Nexus’ is an instrumental album that walks the listened through different moods and unites the visions of two brilliant musicians.
Virgil’s musical journey began when he first began playing his father’s Moog synthesizer at the age of four. Many years later, he played drums in front of 200,000 people with the experimental group Future Sound of London’s Amorphous Androgynous project. He joined Little Barrie in 2007 and played on three of their albums. In 2015, he co-wrote the theme music for the Breaking Bad spin-off series Better Call Saul.
‘Nexus’ is being released on 17th November via InsideOutMusic. The artwork was created by Virgil’s 5-year old daughter Zuni.