2005 - Moving Forward

2005 would see Archie Glen Gamble leaving the band to be replaced by former Helix alumni Brian Doerner. Archie left to pursue a successful career with The Joys. Archie had been in the band for several years by that point and had handled the road managing duties of the band for me, so there was a period of adjustment where I took over the reins. I had been helping Arch put together all the tours anyway, so a lot of the stuff I was suddenly in charge of, I was famaliar with.

It had been in the fall of 2004 that I had secured the band a slot on the Sweden Rock Festival held the next year on June 18th in Malmo, Sweden. This was a big deal for us; we hadn't been to that country since touring with Ian Gillian in 1989. In 1985 we had had a Number One album in that country with Long Way to Heaven, so it was like things were coming full circle.

On the home front things were picking up as well. We had re-established ourselves in the Ontario market, especially in the London area where we began the year with a sold-out concert at a 700 seat club called Hot Stix, which 5 months later would go belly up. We also played a very successful tour through western Canada. There was a big buzz on the band because of the upcoming Sweden tour and from the continuing connection with The Trailer Park Boys.

Then it June the moment we had all been waiting for came. To save money on flights and see a little bit of Europe at the same time, we flew to England first and then to Copenhagen the next day, where we were picked up by a bus sent by the Sweden Rock people. In Malmo we stayed at a beautiful hotel reserved solely for the bands and journalists. The first day Brian Doerner and I met Dan Mc Cafferty in the hallway and ended up having a beer with him. The next morning I sat and had a coffee with Biff Bifford of Saxon while he was waiting for his bus, and then later on I had breakfast with the guys from Blackfoot. I also ran into the guys from Status Quo in the hallway as they were packing up to leave, and on the way back to Copenhagen on the Sunday ended up riding in the same seat with none other than Sebastian Bach, who was half in the bag from being up all night (we left at 4 A.M.). Sebastian and I would become good friends from this moment on. We played to 26,000 fans and the weekend was unbelievable. On the way home we stopped at The Hard Rock Cafe, just off Hyde Park, where Lynda used to work. Bernie Shaw from Uriah Heep came down to party with us, as did Dutch Michaels, former road manager for Heavy Pettin'. Dutch was also the guy who introduced me to Lynda.

Most of the band flew home the next day, but Lynda, myself, Jim, and Jeff stayed behind in England for a week of holidays. We went up north to Blackpool and stayed at Lynda's sister's place (they were in Cyprus). While we were there we visited the Lake District, York, and rode the highest roller coaster in Europe, which was at the Blackpool Beach. Later in the week we returned to London where Jim and Jeff took off on their own while Lynda and I drove south to the home of Julien and Dave Le Bon for a visit with them. Dave gave me the ceramic tiles we had saved some years before
from Simon's mansion in Putney. I ended up bringing half of them back to Canada and installing them around the fireplace in the office. Two weeks after we returned home from England the infamous "tube" bombings would take place in stations that we had used every day, most notably Aldgate Station.
On Stage at Sweden Rocks
26,000 Helix Fans
Lead Guitarist Rainer Wiechmann
After Sweden Rock Festival life was a little anti-climatic. I was still working on my book and nearing completion. Everything seemed to be cruising along with the band when suddenly Brian D. gave his notice he was leaving the band to play with SAGA. They were offering him money I couldn't even come close to offering, so I wished him the best of luck. I was happy that Brian was finally getting the recognition he deserved. Brian would eventually be replaced by Brent "Ned" Niemi.

On December 23rd I finally got the first copy of "Gimme an R!" in my hands. Lynda was so proud of me. We had a big party at Brian Doerner's and for the first time in over 20 years Brian Doerner, Brent Doerner, Ken Heague, Greg Hinz, and myself all shared the same space.