Howard Leese


Howard Leese was born on June 13, 1951 in Hollywood, California. At Age 9 Howard began studying piano, but tiring of that, he borrowed a neighbor's guitar at 11 and began teaching himself to play. At 15 Howard formed his first band, "The Zoo" with friend and drummer Mike Flicker. Together they landed a record deal with Sunburst Records, and were among some of the youngest musicians to be signed. At age 15, as professional recording artists they played some of the largest concert venues in LA and opened for major bands of the day, such as Spirit, Canned Heat, and Butterfield Blues Band.

In addition to performing, Howard studied music theory and classical music at Los Angeles City College. Later, he and long time friend Flicker relocated to Canada and eventually took over the studio "Can-base" and started a record label called Mushroom Records with friend Shelley Seigel, and changed the name of the studio to Mushroom Studios.

The fateful meeting with the Wilson sisters took place not long after when local band "Heart" came in to record a demo in 1974. Leese ended up producing the demo. One year later Mushroom signed the band and they began production of Heart's first album "Dreamboat Annie" with Flicker producing. Leese was Asst. Producer, writing charts, conducting the orchestra, playing guitars and keyboards. At this point, the Wilsons began asking Howard to join the band, which he eventually did in '75. Two months later they were touring and playing major concert venues everywhere.

Leese played with Heart for 22 years, incorporating a variety of instruments on their albums, such as electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin and keyboards. He also co-produced some of their 13 albums. To date Heart has had 20 top 40 singles, 3 International #1 singles, a #1 album ("Heart") in 85', has received 4 Grammy nominations and has sold 40 million records worldwide.

Leese grew up listening to the guitar greats and describes his very first live concert experience seeing guitar legend Dick Dale, as "a truly inspiring and amazing experience". Dick Dale would obviously be an influence early on in Leese's career as was Keith Richards, Peter Green from Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Beck, Hendrix, Eric Clapton and many of the classic rock players. He was particularly intrigued and inspired by Paul Kossoff from one of his favorite bands, "Free", which would eventually lead him into his current work of today.

With Heart not playing live very often, Leese decided to put together a group in Seattle called "The Brigade", and being a long time fan of "Free" they played some of their old music. In 1997 Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Co, and The Firm with Jimmy Page) had moved from England to Vancouver and was looking for a U.S. back-up band. Intrigued by how well Leese could play Kossoff's particular style and licks, he asked him to join his band. In 1998 Howard Leese joined "The Paul Rodgers Band" and has been touring Internationally as guitarist and Musical Director ever since.

Currently the decision to do a solo album with Black Star Records came about due to the long time friendship and musical affiliation with owner, Stuart Smith. They have known each other for 15 years, have played together along with co-owner Richie Onori, with a number of top artists, including Keith Emerson among others. They have all worked in the studio together as well, with Leese producing part of Heaven & Earth's current CD "Heaven & Earth, featuring Stuart Smith" and all of Smith's second CD, "Windows to the World".
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