Howard Leese

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Howard Leese
Howard on stage with The Paul Rodgers Band in 2009
Howard on stage with The Paul Rodgers Band in 2009
Background information
Birth nameHoward M. Leese
Born (1951-06-13) June 13, 1951 (age 68)
Hollywood, California, United States
GenresRock, hard rock
Occupation(s)Guitarist, producer, singer-songwriter, performer
InstrumentsGuitar, keyboard, backing vocals
Years active1966–present
Associated actsHeart
The Zoo
Dixon House Band
Paul Rodgers
Bad Company

Howard M. Leese (born June 13, 1951 in Hollywood, California) is an American guitarist, record producer, and musical director who played with Heart as guitarist and keyboardist for 23 years (1975 through 1998). He continues to record and tour as a solo artist, and as guitarist with The Paul Rodgers Band and Bad Company. He is currently performing in the Las Vegas production of Raiding the Rock Vault. In 2013, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Heart.


Howard received his inspiration to pick up the guitar during the 1960s after seeing Dick Dale, the guitarist in the surf band "the Del-Tones", and feeling the excitement from his playing. He studied violin and music theory at the City College, Los Angeles, and also played in a band called The Zoo.

Leese had his first recording contract with Ed Cobb's Sunburst label[1] at the age of 15, as the band The Zoo with friend and drummer Mike Flicker. Later, when Flicker went to work for Jack Herschorn at Mushroom Studios in Vancouver, Leese went with him as a production manager. While there, he and Shelly Siegel started Mushroom Records.

It was at Mushroom Studios in 1974 that Leese helped produce a demo for Heart. The next year, Mushroom Records signed Heart and released the group's first album Dreamboat Annie which Flicker produced. Leese was assistant producer on the album, and was asked to join the band later that year. He played with the band until 1998, when the Wilson sisters put the band on hiatus for several years to pursue other projects and devote more time to their personal lives. Leese was Heart's guitarist, backing vocalist, keyboard player (best known for playing the Mini-Moog solo on the hit song "Magic Man") and song arranger. Aside from the Wilson sisters, Leese is the longest serving member of Heart. Even though he left on good terms with the Wilsons, Leese has been vocal about his dislike of more recent versions of Heart indicating in a 2007 interview that the then-current lineup "stinks".[2]

In 1998 he joined the Paul Rodgers Band. He continues to tour with them as with Bad Company.[3]

As of May, 2013, when not touring, Howard is performing in Raiding the Rock Vault which originated at the LVH Hotel but is now in residency at Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As of Feb 2020, Raiding the Rock Vault is now playing at Rio Hotel in Las Vegas.

He splits his time between homes in Malibu, California and Kent, Washington[4]

Solo career[edit]

2009 saw the release of Leese's first solo effort, Secret Weapon, through Frontiers Records. The disc includes special guest appearances by Joe Lynn Turner, Paul Rodgers, Jimi Jamison and Keith Emerson.


Howard is a longtime player and endorser of Paul Reed Smith Guitars.[citation needed] In 2009, Paul Reed Smith announced and launched the "Howard Leese Limited Edition Golden Eagle" in tribute to the #1 guitar that he played on stage for over 15 years.[5] In the late 1970s, he performed live with the rare Sardonyx guitar.[6]

Howard has used and endorsed Toadworks guitar effects since 2004. In January 2009, ToadWorks USA released the Howard Leese Signature Model analog flanger named Barracuda, after the Heart song of the same name).[citation needed]

HML Guitars[edit]

HML Guitars was founded in 1994 by Howard Leese. As a woodworker and luthier, he participated in all aspects of construction as well as quality control. HML guitars were totally hand-built in Seattle by luthier Jack Pimentel. Pimentel has continued to build hand-crafted custom guitars under his own brand JP Guitars.[7]


The Zoo
  • The Zoo Presents Chocolate Moose (1968) -- by The Zoo[8]
Mad Dog
  • Dawn of the Seventh Sun (1969) -- by Mad Dog[9]
Dixon House Band
Paul Rodgers
Bad Company


  1. ^ Not Sunburst Records of Huntsville, Alabama, but a Los Angeles based company.
  2. ^ Itter, Scott. "Secret Weapon: The Howard Leese Interview".
  3. ^ "Guitarist Howard Leese Discusses 'Raiding the Rock Vault,' Heart and Bad Company".
  4. ^ Roth, Greg. "The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has Heart (Interviews)". SMI. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  5. ^ "Howard Leese" Archived 2013-11-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Kehew, Brian (May 2012). "Flight of the Sardonyx". Vintage Guitar. pp. 46–47.
  7. ^ JP Guitars,
  8. ^ The Zoo Presents Chocolate Moose (1968), Lost-In-Tyme, July 2007.
  9. ^ "Dawn of the Seventh Sun - Mad Dog - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  10. ^ Bananafish: Energetic Sound, Hopeful Music, 6 January 1995, The Seattle Times.


  • Fjestad S.P. (ed.) Zachary R. (2008) Blue Book of Electric Guitars 11th Edition, Illustrated, Publisher: Alfred Publishing, ISBN 1-886768-73-0, ISBN 978-1-886768-73-4 pp. 599
  • York, William (ed.) (1982) "Leese, Howard" Who's Who in Rock Music Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, ISBN 0-684-17343-3

External links[edit]