- Andi Deris – Vocals
- Michael Weikath – Guitar
- Sascha Gerstner – Guitar, Keyboards
- Markus Grosskopf – Bass
- Daniel Löble – Drums
- Uli Kusch - Drums
- Roland Grapow - Guitar
- Michael Kiske - Vocals
- Ingo Schwichtenberg - Drums
- Kai Hansen - Guitar and Vocals
- Mark Cross - Drums (session musician)
- Mikkey Dee - Drums (session musician)
- Stefan Schwarzmann - Drums (session musician)
The original founders were Kai Hansen (Vocals/Guitars), Michael Weikath (Guitars), Markus Grosskopf (Bass) and Ingo Schwichtenberg (Drums). The band signed a deal with Noise Records in 1984, and recorded an album called "Death Metal" together with some other bands under the same record company: Hellhammer, Dark Avenger and Running Wild.
Helloween recorded their first EP called "Helloween" which contained 5 tracks, a year after "Death Metal", in 1985. The same year, they also recorded a full length album called "Walls of Jericho", which was a mic of speedmetal and melodic heavymetal. However, Kai Hansen had troubles with singing and playing guitar at the same time, so they began searching for a new vocalist after the EP "Judas". Hansen stayed as a guitarist though.
The band found Michael Kiske, an 18 year old local singer, after their first choice Ralf Scheepers declined the offer. They wanted to release a double-LP to introduce Kiske, but was turned down. In 1987, they proceeded to record "Keeper of the Seven Keys, part 1" instead, which made Helloween one of the most successful heavy metal bands in Europe. Only a year later, they recorded "Keeper of the Seven Keys, part 2", which made headlines, and set a milestone in the bands history, since the lineup at that time may be concidered "Classic Helloween". Shortly after the release, they got invited by MTV to "Headbanger's Ball", where they toured with Exodus and Anthrax. Since they toured in the USA, Helloween got noticed and found themselves with worldwide success.
Things couldn't look brighter for the band. Until guitarist and former vocalist Kai Hansen decided to leave the band because of conflicts within the band, struggling with the life on tour, and trouble with the record company. He was replaced by the guitarist Roland Grapow, which finished the tour of "Keeper 2" they were currently on.
In 1988, the band got into problems with their record label, and got released from their contract. They didn't give out a new album until 1991 with the label EMI. They made an album called "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" that were less heavy, and more into humour, with songs such as "I'm Doing Fine, Crazy Man" and "Heavy Metal Hamsters". Of course, this wasn't up to fans and critics expectations, and the album failed. Tension started to build up between the band members again.
In 1993, they released the album "Chameleon", which was a wierd mix between acoustic guitars, a children's chours, swing, grunge and country music. Whatever fans they had left, abandoned them, and the album got critizised commercially. The bandmembers tentions got worse, and they split into three groups: Michael Kiske and Ingo Schwichtenberg on one side, Michael Weikath and Roland Grapow on the other, and Markus Grosskopf ran from one side to another to try to bring them all to peace.
On the "Chameleon" tour that followed, not many people showed up for the concerts. And on top of it all, drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg got ill due to drugs and mental problems. He got fired and was replaced by a session drummer, Ritchie Abdel-Nabi, who got replaced pretty fast, since he didn't have the ability to play as fast as Ingo. Michael Kiske was eventually fired as well, since Michael Weikath refused to work with him, because all this new soft music was his idea. After Kiske was removed, he has never said anything positive about either Helloween or any kind of metal music.
At the end of 1993, Helloween had no singer, no drummer and no record contract after EMI released the band after the last albums. Helloween's future was bleak.
Andi Deris joined the band as lead singer in 1994, after leaving his own band "Pink Cream 69". His songwriting skills and enthusiasm, together with the new drummer Uli Kusch, renewed the classic Helloween sound. Before long time had gone, the band was friends again, they had a new recird contract with Castle Communications, and they released their comeback album "Master of the Rings" later that year, which turned out to be a success.
Tragedy occured, though. The original drummer, Ingo Schwichtenberg committed suicide, by jumping in front of a train after a hard period of drug-use and emotional damage after beeing fired from Helloween. The band dedicated the album "The Time of the Oath" in his memory, and was one again one of the most popular metal bands in Europe.
Helloween's 1998 album, "Better Than Raw", was the heaviest album they released since their debutalbum. The following tour made them reknown in USA, since they hadn't been there in a decade. When they came home, they started working on a new album called "Metal Jukebox", which was a album with "metal'd up" covers of songs from bands like Jethro Tull, Abba and The Beatles.
In 2000, they made a dark, experimental album with downtuned guitars and darker vocals. Following the tour, guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch, was fired when they didn't like the new "darker" music Helloween were going for. The rest of the band didn't want to have a new incident like the one with Michael Kiske, so they got together to agree regarding the new music. They found some new blood with guitarist Sascha Gerstner, former Freedom Call, and drummer Mark Cross.
They started to record their new album "Rabbit Don't Come Easy" in 2003. But due to mononucleosis (kissing disease), drummer Cross could only finish two tracks. The band rented Motorhead's drummer Mickey Dee to finish the remaining tracks with them. Before the world tour that followed, Stefan Schwarzmann joined. When they returned to USA for on that tour, they gathered a huge fanbase and sold out every show.
Stefan Schwarzmann couldn't keep up with the band, though. He had a hard time performing fast drum parts, and he didn't have the same future in mind as the rest of the band. He was replaced by Dani Loble in 2005.
Fear stroke the band again, as they signed a new record deal with SPV, since they had never had any problemfree change of labels yet. However, these fears were soon gone as the band released their new album "Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy", which was a success.
A year later, in late 2006, a live DVD for "Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy World Tour" was made, with extra footage of the band behind the scenes, interviews and other extras.
In October 2007, the band released their new and heavier album "Gambling With the Devil", which was a great hit, and is called the best album with Deris as frontman. Even though it's heavier, it has more keyboards.
Kai Hansen toured together with Helloween with his band Gamma Ray in late 2007, where he were called "a very special guest" on the promotional flyers.
Walls of Jericho (1985)
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 (1987)
Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 (1988)
Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991)
Master of the Rings (1994)
The Time of the Oath (1996)
Better Than Raw (1998)
Metal Jukebox (1999)
The Dark Ride (2000)
Rabbit Don't Come Easy (2003)
Keeper of the Seven Keys - The Legacy (2005)
Gambling with the Devil (2007)
Related GMC Lessons