This was a turbulent time for the band, with longtime members leaving and many “rental” musicians hired to fill the void. Having said that, all these members contributed to keeping the band alive and were a part of our history.
Brian Vollmer: Lead vocals
Greg “Fritz” Hinz replaced (1994) by Glen Archie Gamble
Daryl Gray (bass) leaves band: (1999)
Many guitar players: Greg Fraser/Gary Borden/Rick Mead/Shaun Sanders/Dan Faucett/Brent Doerner/Mike Hall/Gerry Finn/Denny Blake
While the 80’s had been very kind to Helix, not so much the 90’s. These were tough times for the band. They had lost their record deal with Capitol/E.M.I. and their licensing deal with Grudge Records in the U.S. had turned out to be a nightmare experience. They had gone from playing concert tours to whatever clubs would have them. And then in 1993 the unimaginable happened-Paul Hackman was killed in an automobile accident while returning from western Canada. Many thought this meant the end of the band. But they soldiered on…
This meant there were now only 3 original members of the 80’s line-up left-Brian Vollmer/vocals, Greg “Fritz” Hinz/drums, and Daryl Gray/bass. Denny Blake, the only American member of the band, had returned to his U.S. home after the Ian Gillan tour across Europe. He was replaced by Gary Borden. Paul’s position was taken over by Mark Chichken from the Windsor band United Snakes, but throughout the 90’s there was a succession of rental players, depending on who was available: Mike Hall, Greg Fraser, Jerry Finn, Stan Mizchek, Saun Sanders, Dan Faucett, Jeff Fountain, and more. Eventually Fritz moved to Florida to be replaced by “Archie” Glen Gamble. Around the year 1999 Daryl left the band as well.
Throughout the 90’s the band continued to release albums/CDs.
In 1993, shortly after Hackman’s death, they released “It’s A Business Doing Pleasure”. The CD produced the Top 40 Canadian hit “That Day Is Gonna Come” a Vollmer/Ribbler composition. Other songs from the CD, Tug O’ War and Look Me Straight in the Heart also did well on radio. Look Me Straight in the Heart was a duet with Lee Aaron. Kim Mitchell also guested on the CD, playing the lead in “Sleeping In The Doghouse Again”. The “It’s A Business Doing Pleasure” CD was released on Aquarius Records in Canada but the band failed to secure licensing in the U.S. or Europe. The CD was a 90 degree turn direction wise for the band, largely due to the fact that it was initially supposed to be Brian Vollmer’s solo CD, not a Helix album. But as it is with every band with longevity, there’s always one or two albums a little off the beaten trail…For Helix it was this one.
Most of the Helix songs up until Hackman’s death had been written by Hackman/Vollmer or Doerner/Vollmer. Now, with both Hackman and Doerner gone Vollmer was forced to try to find people to write with. With the band’s career on the down swing and 80’s metal totally out of fashion, it was easier said than done. Not only that, but finding another talented writer like Paul Hackman was no easy feat. There had been a back lash from the Business Doing Pleasure CD and this further widened the rift between Vollmer and longtime manager William Seip. Finally, around 1995 they split company after being together for 20 years.
The band realized it needed to release something new to the fans but had very little written. As a band-aid solution to tide them over to their next studio CD they put together Half-alive, a CD which was half un-released tracks; half were live cuts from various venues. This CD was released on DeRock Records.
It was around this time that the band set up it’s first web site and started selling their own CDs. Vollmer began by re-releasing the first two Helix indie albums Breaking Loose and White Lace & Black Leather. He searched the back pages of all the rock magazines he could find for CD distribution companies, phoned & emailed them, and began to sell Helix CDs to these companies around the world. The CDs sold well and raised enough cash to put together B-Sides, another collection of forgotten unreleased Helix songs, Live! In Buffalo, and a Vollmer solo CD entitled “When Pigs Fly”. It was during the recording of the song Delilah around 1999 when Daryl Gray decided to leave the band. Vollmer ended off the decade by releasing Rockin’ In My Outer Space in the year 2000. When Pigs Fly and Rockin’ In My Outer Space were both written by Vollmer and his weekend band Seven Year Itch, which was comprised of Tony Paleschi, Bill Gadd, and Rob Long.