Members of the band during this period:
Original line-up (1974):
Bruce Arnold/drums (leader of band)
Rick Trembly & Ron Watson/guitars
Keith (Bert) Zurbrigg/bass
Brian Vollmer/lead vocals
Further changes during the 70’s:
Rick Trembly fired, not replaced (1975)
Ron Watson leaves. (1976) Replaced by Brent Doerner
Bruce Arnold leaves. (1977) Replaced by Brian Doerner replaced by Leo Niebedek (1980)
Don Simmons leaves, not replaced (1976)
Keith Zurbrigg leaves. (1979) Replaced by Mike Uzilac.
Helix was formed in 1974 in Kitchener, Ontario. The original members were: Bruce Arnold (drums & band leader), Brian Vollmer (vocals), Ron Watson & Rick Trembley (guitars), Keith Zurbrigg (bass), and Don Simmons (keyboards). Shortly after their conception (about a year) the band attained the services of William Seip as manager. Seip put the band out on the Canadian bar circuit, first to Northern Ontario, then to the Canadian Maritimes, and eventually right out to B.C. By 1976 the line-up had changed to Brian Vollmer (vocals), Brent Doerner and Paul Hackman (guitars), Brian Doerner (drums) and Keith Zurbrigg (bass).
From 1976 until getting signed to Capitol/E.M.I. in 1983 the band would tour incessantly across the country from coast to coast, developing a large following. In that time they would also do occasional gigs south of the border, mostly at the After Dark Club in Lockport, N.Y. and the Penny Arcade in Rochester, N.Y. However, their first U.S. date was a bar called “The Underground” in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
The band recorded it’s first “indie” album entitled Breaking Loose in 1979. This was after they had been turned down by every major Canadian label. One even went so far as to call their music “Dinosaur Music.” The album was recorded on the H&S label (Helix & Seip) and recorded with money borrowed from Seip, Seip’s mother, and Vollmer and Doerner’s parents. In all, it cost $26,000.00. The album was produced by Bob Morton and sold roughly 15,000 copies. Most of these albums were sold between bar sets by the band themselves.
Breaking Loose would become a hit in the state of Texas, largely from the push given to the song “You’re A Woman Now”, written by Paul Hackman. The person giving the song airplay was a guy named Joe Anthony from KISS/KAMAC Radio in San Antonio. Joe Anthony was known as “The Godfather of Rock and Roll” and controlled a large portion of the Texas radio market. The band also received heavy airplay at Amarillo College from radio programmer Chris Johnson.
Due to this airplay in Texas the band embarked on their first ever “U.S. tour” which consisted of four dates: Helotiz (outside San Antonio) with Y&T, Amarillo College, and The Bijoux in Dallas and Houston.
By the end of the 70’s Keith Zurbrigg had left the band to be replaced by Mike Uzilac, who would stay until No Rest for the Wicked was recorded (1983). Shortly after Zurbrigg’s departure, the band would play it’s first ever concert gig at the Kitchener Auditorium as the opening act for Max Webster. Opening the show was BB Gabor.