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During the 1980s, Helloween were the most successful heavy metal band that Germany has ever produced (who aren’t called The Scorpions).

Formed in Hamburg in 1984 by Kai Hansen and Michael Weikath, their early records were fast and brittle with a distinctly European take on American thrash.

Hansen was the vocalist on their self-titled debut EP and their first album, Walls of Jericho, before deciding that playing guitar and singing was more trouble than it was worth.

Their two albums – Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I and Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II – released within 15 months of each other in 1987 and 1988, stand amongst the finest heavy metal albums from that glorious decade.

They were the heirs apparent to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and The Scorpions but it all went badly and perplexingly wrong. The line-up that recorded those albums splintered shortly after the release of Part II, sparking years of bitterness, public antagonism and even, indirectly, a tragic death.

1991’s Pink Bubbles Go Ape was a woeful album, best summed up by the fact that it featured a track titled Heavy Metal Hamsters. 1993’s Chameleon was marginally better, but the band’s diversion away from the sound that had made them famous alienated a large chunk of their fanbase.

Michael Kiske
Kai Hansen
Guitar, vocals
Michael Weikath
Marcus Grosskopf
Ingo Schwichtenberg
Roland Grapow
Uli Kusch
Andi Deris