Gamma Ray Biography

After leaving Helloween in 1989, the band he founded, guitarist Kai Hansen (17 January 1963, Hamburg, Germany) teamed up with ex-Tyran Pace vocalist Ralf Scheepers. The intention was to record an album of existing material that had been deemed unsuitable for Hansen’s previous band. Joining them for this proposed project were Uwe Wessel (bass), Mathias Burchadt (drums) and a host of guest musicians, including guitarist Dirk Schlächter (b. 15 February 1966, Bad Nauheim, Germany). Signing to Noise Records they entered the Horus Sound Studios in Germany with producer Tommy Newton. The resulting recordings were released under the Gamma Ray moniker as Heading For Tomorrow in 1990. The album was an excellent blend of powerful melodic heavy metal, with song structures reminiscent of Queen.

Having proved a favourite with press and public alike, Hansen began to realize the band’s potential and decided to form a working unit out of the musicians who had played on the project to tour in support of the album. The fully assembled Gamma Ray comprised Scheepers (vocals), Hansen (guitar/vocals), Schlächter (guitar), Wessel (bass) and Uli Kusch (drums). They toured extensively throughout Europe and Japan where they gained a substantial following, and, as a stopgap between albums, released an EP of new material, Heaven Can Wait. Come the next album, Sigh No More, Gamma Ray were in fine form; extensive touring had disciplined them into a tight, cohesive unit. Though heavier than its predecessor the album boasted high-quality heavy metal with melody and power, serving as a more than worthy encore to their impressive debut.

Wessel and Kusch were subsequently replaced by Jan Rubach and Thomas Nack respectively. Scheepers’ final recording as vocalist, 1993’s Insanity And Genius, was a more muted affair. Hansen took over vocals for Land Of The Free, an album which revealed little in the way of progression, relying heavily on his virtuoso guitar to provide texture for the lacklustre songwriting. 1997’s Somewhere Out In Space featured new members Henjo Richter (b. 24 November 1963, Hamburg, Germany; guitar/keyboards) and Dan Zimmerman (b. 30 October 1966, Nurnberg, Germany; drums), with Schlächter reverting to bass. This line-up remained constant into the new millennium, during which they released a number of new albums, including 2000’s Blast From The Past. This double disc featured new tracks alongside reworkings of material from their extensive back catalogue.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.