B.C. rockers Chilliwack eager to take stage at Chester Fest

Scott Roos

Special to the Herald

It’s been 40 years since Vancouver classic rockers, Chilliwack, recorded and released their highest charting song “My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)” but to guitarist/frontman Bill Henderson it seems like just yesterday.

In the summer of 1981, Henderson and bandmate Brian MacLeod, decided to take a boat on a trip off the coast of British Columbia to clear their heads and see if they could come up with some good material. They had some gear stowed on the boat that they made use of including a Fender Rhodes piano.

MacLeod began pounding out the familiar riff on said piano of what would become the band’s most well known song. MacLeod didn’t think anything of it initially, though.

“Brian said ‘We can’t use that I guess,’ and I said, ‘maybe we can’. I got to thinking of the doo wop groups and doing something that sort of hearkened back to that kind of thing, so I came up with the lyric `gone, gone, gone, she’ll be gone so long’ and we did the song,” reminisced Henderson in a recent telephone conversation with the Herald.

MacLeod and Henderson took the song back to the rest of the band members and quickly demoed it. They sent “My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)” and a few other tracks from what would eventually become part of their “Wanna Be a Star” LP to their management team.

Chilliwack was looking for a new record deal at that point, and wanted to get another set of ears on the songs to see if they were on the right track. 

 “I got this phone call, picked up on the phone, and what the person on the other end did was go “Gone gone gone she’ll be gone so long” (sings the song) and then he said ‘It’s a hit!’” continued Henderson. “Our managers were sure that it was a hit.”

The band had had successes up until that point, but nothing prepared them for what was to come once the hook laden, pop-rock infused, “My Girl (Gone Gone Gone) hit the airwaves. It garnered them international acclaim and, almost overnight, Chilliwack went from playing in mid-sized theatre style shows to arenas. Not only that, but the song was literally everywhere.

“I remember driving my car down a road and there was a construction thing going on so everybody had to slow down. There was a flag girl who had a transistor radio hanging on the door of this vehicle that the construction people were using. When I got closer, she was bopping around, and it was ‘My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)’ they were playing on the radio. She was being a flag girl while she was dancing around on the road to our song. And that meant more to me than all the numbers in the world – number one, number five,” Henderson explained.

In true form, Henderson simply wants to move people in some way. He craves the energy exchange between audience and musician. He’s been a working musician for a long time, and still has a lot of gas left in the proverbial tank.

“I think all musicians pretty much come at it from a place where they really want to get to a crowd,” Henderson said. “They want to have a crowd feel something and have a great time with the crowd.” 

Henderson and the current incarnation of Chilliwack will be coming to Prince Albert this Saturday, September 11th to perform a headlining set for the sophomore edition of Chester Fest Couch + Music Festival. It will be the band’s first full set since the pandemic began and they’ve been working hard and are ready to bring their A game.

“It is so nice to get back and do this. It really is good. I look forward to the chesterfields. I think that’s a really cool idea,” said Henderson.

At press time, weekend and single day passes for Chest Fest are still available but moving quickly. The festival will be taking extra measures in terms of cleaning protocols and are asking festival goers to mask up when distancing cannot be maintained.

Hand sanitizer and hand washing stations will be available to patrons with high touch surfaces being disinfected regularly by festival staff. Consult the festival’s social media for a full list of precautions that they will be maintaining throughout the weekend so that everyone can have a safe and fun time.

-Advertisement-