“Fly by night, it makes you feel alright, you keep coming back for more,” echoed Bill Henderson’s soothing voice in Chilliwack’s 1977 hit song, Fly at Night. If that’s ever so true, Chilliwack’s captivating guitar solos and catchy lyrics stood the test of time, staying memorable in the hearts of Canadians and Americans alike.
And now, that musical magic is coming back to Sooke this Saturday (March 12) at the Edward Milne Community School Theatre.
“It’s a beautiful area of the world, so we like coming here,” said Bill Henderson, Chilliwack’s main vocalist and guitarist, as well as the band’s sole original member.
It’s certainly been a long journey.
The band originally started in early 60s as The Classics, a house band for CFUN, a Vancouver radio station. Later, they became The Collectors, playing as the house band for CBC. It was also at this point that Henderson, who would become the main vocalist for years to come, joined in.
The band took off, quickly becoming a major hit rock/psychedelic band in Vancouver.
In early 1970s, Henderson became lead guitar and vocals, alongside Ross Turney (drums) Glenn Miller (base guitar) and guitarist Howard Froese. It also took the name of Chilliwack, after the town in Fraser Valley east of Vancouver, as the band felt the name’s Aboriginal meaning, “valley of many streams” was an accurate representation of their diverse music.
Chilliwack continued to produce music until late 1980s, releasing big hits such as Baby Blue, My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) Crazy Talk and Lonesome Mary. By this point though, Henderson felt it was time to take a little break.
“I put a new band together and toured around for a year, then I decided that it’s enough,” he said, adding that following the break, he got involved with UHF, an acoustic group working with Roy Forbes and Shari Ulrich, doing solo shows at folk festivals all over the country.
It wasn’t until 1997 when he decided to bring Chilliwack back again.
“I was missing the base and drums, that nice thump and the crunch, so I put the band back together and we’ve been going ever since. That’s 19 years since then.”
Just last summer, they released a new song, called Take Back This Land, which was largely based on the 2015 election.
As for the show this weekend, Henderson hopes to not only bring back some good memories, but create some new ones. He’s also really happy with the current group that makes Chilliwack happen again.
“We’re very focused on every moment in the show, and making it come alive. It’s also very real,” he said. “We’re there with the people who are in front of us, and we create something together with them over the course of the evening, and it’s a lot of fun for us and the audience.”
As for what’s in store for himself and the band, Henderson said it’s all about living every moment for as long as possible.
“I’m 71 years old myself. The only way for me to go forward is to really honour every moment, and to really dig in.”
Tickets for Chilliwack are unfortunately no longer available.