my name is Frank Beck and I am the newest member in the Gamma Ray family. I was born on the 2nd of April in 1969 in a small village near Saarbrücken (Germany) and I am still living there. I started singing at the age of 3 from the balcony at my grandmothers house with "Ave Maria" (unfortunately my father died before I was born). From that balcony you had a fantastic overview and so it became my first stage. At this time I listened a lot to Elvis and "The Beatles" and surely to fairytales from Brothers Grimm. In 1976 my music world totally changed as I first get in touch with Deep Purple`s album "Made in Japan" Never heard a voice like this, never heard a band playing that powerful the way they did. That was the style I wanted to do. And so I listened every day maybe more then 20 times to that golden album and I tried to sing like Ian Gillan (never hit his highest note haha). My mother and grandparents went crazy because hearing "Child in time" more then 20 times a day can drive you insane...anyway, they survived. Deep Purple brought me also to Rainbow and Whitesnake and later on to Black Sabbath, Dio and Iron Maiden and at least to the harder melodic speedmetal. Helloween`s Walls of Jericho and The Keeper Albums were a blast and are still my alltime favorites (Michi is god!). When Kai left Helloween and founded Gamma Ray I gave it a try and Ralf blew me away with his voice, but I even loved it more when Kai overtook the lead vocal parts again on the "Land of the free" Album in 1995. Kai`s got such a remarkable voice. A fanboy was born.
I am a child of the 80`s and there is no doubt that this decade had the most musical influence on me.
So how do I became a singer?
In late 1985 I was bored in school (as always) sitting with my classmates in the last row. One of them started to throw a beat with his hands and I started singing. That`s how I made it into my first band, because that dude told me that he is the drummer in a band and that they are looking for a singer. Nothing professional, just a school band but good enough to make my first experiences with music. After playing in several Rock/Hardrock Bands I joined a Blues Brothers Tribute Band and toured throughout Europe for a long time. At the same time I had some classical vocal education lessons especially in breathing techniques which helped me a lot over the years. During that time bringing the blues, Soul and Funk to the people I never stopped listening to the Metal. In 2007 I founded a MetalCoverband with some friends and we formed a Setlist with alltime MetalClassics from the 80`s and played several shows (and still playing if I got the time to) Due to my classical education you can also hear me on the last 3 Powerwolf outputs. (choir only CLASSICAL and METAL) 2012 I became the lead singer of Red Raven. Second album in the making.
So how did I get into Gamma Ray?
Well, here`s the story
2012 I made some demo vocal recordings for Red Raven. Former Drummer Sascha Waack heard my voice and was very enthusiastic about it. He suggested me to start a new Rock/Metal project with some "friends" (never happened) We met Uwe Lulis (Accept, Ex Gravedigger) and Dirk Schlächter in Frankfurt/Germany and had a nice pizza and talk. I was really really nervous because as I told you a few lines above I was a big Fan of Gamma Ray, there was no German tour date over the last 20 years without seeing me usually in row 1 up to 5 maybe. And that`s what I exactly said to Dirk. The chemistry between us was quite right from the first moment we met, Dirk liked my voice too and we stayed in touch over social media. Then came "The Empire Of The Undead" Tour and the 11th of April 2014. The day that changed my life. I will never forget.
I talked to Dirk a few days before and he invited me as a guest to the Aschaffenburg Show. On April 11th he called me again....Dirk: Frank? Me: Yes? Dirk: Are you coming to the show tonight? Me: Yes, is something wrong with the guestlist? Dirk: No, everythings ok...but...can you sing a few songs tonight? Me:..... Dirk: Frank? Frank? Me: yes I`m still here...but NO! I cannot do that! Dirk: Oh Come on, I know you can do that, Kai can`t sing because of his Bronchitis Me: Ok, I`m in ....
So I got into my car and rehearsed the songs during driving.The rest is well known I guess...
Official GammaRay Website
Michael Ehré is currently not only the drummer for Gamma Ray, Love.Might.Kill and Starchild. He is also a guitarist, songwriter and producer. On many albums he can be heard at the same time, both on drums and the guitar and was also significantly involved in songwriting and production. Worldwide tours and CD releases have made him a world-respected and busy musician who has shared the stage with numerous renowned artists: Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big), Jeff Scott Soto (Malmsteen), Don Dokken, Francis Buchholz (ex-Scorpions), Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia), Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth), Alex Skolnick (Testament), Warren DeMartini (Ratt, ex-Whitesnake), Graham Bonnet (ex-Rainbow), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Chris Impellitteri, Roy Z. (Halford, Bruce Dickinson), George Bellas, Steve Smyth (ex-Nevermore), Tony Franklin, Rob Pagliari, Joe Stump, Johnny Hiland, Andrew Shulman ...
Michael Ehré was born August, 1st, 1971. His musical career began at the age of 10 years and led him through various local bands before he joined Pryer in the summer of 1991, which brought him the first nationwide attention.
Since his youth, he also plays guitar/bass and composes music and lyrics. This is not just limited to bands in which he is a permanent member - also for other artists (Saeko/Weinhold) Michael Ehré has written songs.(taken from Michael Ehré personal website)
Dirk got in touch with music for the first time joining a music school at the age of 8. At the age of 11 he got his first acoustic guitar followed by an electric guitar at the age of 15. At the age of 19 he turned to bass guitar. During this time he played in bands called Blue Life, Sold Out, Louis Glover House Band and Drivin' Force.
Then, at the age of 25, he went back to guitar only because he wanted to be in GammaRay as the band was looking for a second guitar player at that time. Dirk was only a guest musician in the beginning, playing bass guitar on Heading for Tomorrow, but in 1991 he finally joined Gamma Ray as a guitarist.
Finally, Dirk returned to bass again in 1996 and he describes this change as follows:
"I have already played bass for a long time even though that's been a few years ago. When I first met Kai I was just a basser. So I also was supposed to play bass on the first tour we did, as the idea had been that Uwe Wessel and Matthias Burchardt were to be hired only as studio-musicians for the Heading For Tomorrow-album. Both of them were playing in a bandwhich split up during the recordings of Heading for tommorrow then. Matthias gave up playing drums completely, and so of course, Uwe was really eager on playing the tour then. As I also do a bit of guitarplaying and as Kai now needed a second guitarist for the tour, I said to myself okay, it's for the sake of it and I play guitar in GammaRay although actually I'm a bassplayer. On the first tour I was still sort of holding back and paying all my attention to playing accurately. Once the second tour was done, I started to feel being a real guitarist again and I became much more confident with my instrument. In terms of guitarplaying, the Insanity and Genius-album was the absolute highlight for me then. The production in the studio with all the soloparts, guitar-gimmicks and all these funny sounds was a lot of fun. After all these tours however, some sort of strange feeling came up and I started wondering if I wasn't better at playing bass rather than playing guitar. I mean, in a band everybody should play what he's best at anyway. So I was already thinking about changing quite a while ago, but somehow things just went on the same way. After the Land Of The Free-tour I finally said then: I'm just not the sort of guitarist and ... it was just stirring me up. I just want to play bass again and also get a few steps further with my development as a musician. I think I've got quite an unique style of playing bass, same as Kai has his very unique style of playing guitar. After the japanese tour of Land Of The Free I first talked to Jan about it and he absolutely understood what I meant. He also prefered playing guitar to playing bass. Consequently, all four of us talked about it then. Jan considered that even if he played guitar from now on the change would have a bit of a strange feel and so he didn't really liked the idea of doing it. Nevertheless we agreed to stay together and use the spanish tour as a first test to see how it works. When we met again then for the first rehearsal it surprisingly came to the split. Jan was considering that he couldn't see any perspective in being in Gamma Ray any longer and so he was leaving. It really came as a surprise to all of us as we all had been looking forward to the change. We also would've given him the oppurtunity to do whatever he wanted, but in return he would've had to do a bit more again, perhaps more than playing bass involved."
"My name is Henjo Richter and I was born in Hamburg on November 24th 1963. What's interesting is that I have had very musical parents who also had a piano at home and that was basically also what I started with. I also used to take lessons for a while, that was about at the age of 6 and lasted for some three years. I only played classical music. Sometime passed and then I discovered that that wasn't really what I wanted to do. So there was need for a guitar and my parents went and bought an acoustic guitar. I never had any lessons, I'm a totally self-taught person and I kept trying hard and working on it, looking what sort of things you can do with it. The first band I had at the age of 13, that was also the time when I got my first electric guitar, one of these bloody strat copies für DM 198 and a hellish fuckin' small amp, but I still have got this one today. In that band I only played some rhythm guitars as I didn't even know that you also can play solo parts. Half our material were cover versions, half were original songs of our own and we also played here and there on a few occassions. After that I joined a band which did that Maiden/Priest-like sort of sound and we only had our own songs. Unfortunately we never got to do an album, but we had some really good gigs. Rampage was next then. That is kind of funny in a way, because there is a bit of a connection there as I replaced Roland Grapow, that was in 1982. It wasn't bad, that music, there were a couple of good basic elements and I think it might have been possible to make more out of it. There was just hardly any competition with other bands at that time. That next thing that happened then was Charon, maybe some people remember that name. They have also made two albums and in fact they had a really good sound, that was good music. There were also two guitarists in the band although I have always prefered to play alone, but somehow that never happened, also now. There were a couple of arguements then between myself and the second guitarist and so I left the band, which I should not have done as it turned out later because after changing the name into Mydra they recorded another album and went on tour with Nazareth, and of course I would have liked to do that as well. I took myself some time off from playing then, and I started to write songs. In terms of songwriting I had never participated a lot before, I used to be shy and so I was always kind of holding back. Yes, and then I just started to make my own stuff. It was also difficult to find the right people and the suitable band. Things always went that way that musicians were being replaced all the time. Years ago bands used to stay together, nowadays unfortunately that has changed quite a bit, it has been like this for a lot of years now, actually, there are line-up changes over and over again which I think is a pity, because I just like the idea of a constant band. To me music is life and so is kind of a family, and I want to have to do something with that. Therefore I have to like the people in the band, making music is not a job for me, my job is a different one, I'm an art designer, art designing is my thing.
I also formed a cover band who I played Uriah Heep songs with. And then I went back to the keys. That band I still play with. That was also good, getting back on stage again because when you don't play live it's just shit. Besides, I also have a second cover band called Catch The Rainbow and I feel even more related to that music. That's really good people, for example Uli from Helloween and Jens Becker (ex-Running wild) are part of that band among others. And then, and that has to be pointed out as well, I used to hang around a lot with Helloween. Right from the beginning, actually. The first ever gig was so terrible that I did not even stay until the end. I also applied to them when Kai left them, but unfortunately I came too late. Markus is the one I have known for the longest time, he is really a good mate. I did not have too much to do with Kai at that time, from time to time we just met here and there. When the split with Ingo came up I tried to do something with him. Unfortunately he had been a bit kind of 'though the wind', if you know what I mean. It really could have become something good, but he was just mourning so much for Helloween. And we all know what happened in the end then. It's a pity, I really would have liked to do something with him. He was a great drummer! Yes, and how have I come to Gamma Ray? Hm, good question. It went very quickly, actually. The singer of the Rainbow cover band made a few recordings with Kai here at the Hansen Studios and he also sang a few numbers in the rehearsal room. Seems like he wanted to join GammaRay as their singer. Well, that was how I heard that Gamma Ray were looking for a second guitarist for the spanish tour and so I just came down one time. We played together for a few hours, I took myself one more day to think about it and then it was alright. The tour went really fine, it was so nice and we had a really good bandfeeling - also with Thomas, although at that time he had already been more or less out of the band, really - from the beginning to the end. And that was very important to see that it would work well with GammaRay. The only hard thing about it was that I had hardly any time to learn and get familiar with all the songs, altogether I had about ten days. And as I had never played anything of it before it was not really easy.
Anyway, I generally don't like things when you have people who are not really into it, in that case I better leave my hands off it. When I do something, I do it proper. And I think that with GammaRay I will be able to do that. Concerning the style and the music that also fits well together. Maybe I'll write something which goes into some slightly differnt directions, which I think is healthy for the whole thing, without going completely astray of course, that will not happen. My style is exactly something like the 'Keeper I' album.
Music means feeling to me and anything that has to do with it, both ups and downs. The perfection obviously would be to achieve that the listener can feel for what you were thinking when you wrote it. Then the aim has been reached. This is my wish."
(written right after he joined Gamma Ray in 1997)
"I started playing drums at the age of twelve, before that I had played a bit of flute, but that wasn't the real thing, I had always wanted to learn how to play drums. I played for many years then all over the area around Nürnburg (where I was born in 1967) and Würzburg. Later, I went on to study at the Frankfurt music college (for jazz music), that was from 1988 to 1990, and around the same time I also played in a cover band. From 1991 to 1992 I studied at the 'American Institute if Music' in Vienna. That was really a great time, I really learnt a lot about playing drums. After that I went on to tour with the Comedy Rock band Heinz for about a year. After that, Lanzer was following who I was with from 1993 until only recently. I met Kai and Dirk in November of 1993 while we were staying here in Hamburg for the recordings of the Lanzer CD. During that I was working with Dirk, and Kai played a solo on one song. That was a very good colaboration with Dirk, and we got on well with each other right from the beginning and so I also learnt a lot about drumsounds. We also stayed in touch afterwards and in January of this year the Lanzer guitarist told me that GammaRay were looking for a new drummer and as I had told Lanzer that I was leaving anyway because I wanted to move on and leave that cover thing behind because I just wasn't enjoying it anymore I applied for the job with GammaRay then. I did so many cover things over the years, hardly anything of my own, because around the Nurnberg/Wurzburg it's really hard to get gigs whith your own music. Actually, the only way to become a good musician is to play live on stage as much as possible. There are also advantages about playing cover versions: you can make an easy living and you can play live a lot. However, I have reached a certain point now at which I feel I have to push on and go a step further and I'm sure with Gamma Ray that will work well."
(written right after he joined Gamma Ray in 1997)
Photo © 2009: Alex Jusseit
|"At the age of 10 I played drums on old wash-drums, because at the beginning I wanted to become a drummer. At the age of 12 I got my first guitar (I did not get a drumkit because my parents thought it would be too loud). Then I took classical guitar lessons for 6 months and two years later I finally founded my first band together with two school-mates and I also had my first electric guitar (a white Ibanzez Les Paul) and a small amplifier. Shortly later, I bought my first effect-instrument, a distortion panel of course. Then I got to know Piet Sielck (today Iron Savior) and the two of us founded another band called Gentry. We played live in youth-clubs, schools, small clubs and so on and we got the first price at a amateur festival in Hamburg. Cannot tell how proud we were! We played music of Slade, the Sex Pistols and Uriah Heep but we also had two songs of our own. At that time I delivered newspapers to collect the money for a Marshall Amplifier. I was so proud when I was finally able to buy it. I changed my guitar with my friend, who was playing a Stratocaster as I always wanted to play a Strat with a humbucker.
After some time Piet and I got to know Ingo and Markus and later on we founded Second Hell, and after that we changed the name to Iron Fist. More gigs in small clubs followed and we started to record our music in the rehearsal room. After some time we got a rehearsal room in a church, which we gave up quite soon as there were no toilets and therefore we had to piss in the corner. Somehow our band split up when we didn't have any rehearsal-room anymore.
During my time at the army, from 1982 to 1984, I got to know Michael Weikath on a party and I entered in his band called Parefool. But as we did not get along with the other band mates too well, we again founded Iron Fist together with Ingo and Markus. We rehearsed at a army-barracks. I was stationed in Hamburg as I could give the Seargents a pleasure playing on their balls.
Anyway, we got to know Limp Schnoor who had some contacts with Noise Records. We gave him our recordings and we got the chance to record two songs for a Death Metal Sampler. The feedback to those songs was so good that we got more contact with Noise Records and as a result we finally recorded our first Mini LP Helloween and the first full-length album Walls Of Jericho.
Okay, well, what happened from then on can be read in the metal press. In a way, music has always been more important for me than anything else on earth. I am happy that I managed to finish school sucessfully despite of all the missed lessons due to all the rehearsing and band stuff. During my time at university (1984 to 1987) this was not much different at all and besides, Helloween got bigger and more successfull at that time. So I finally stopped studying as I had the big chance to turn my hobby into profession."
Photo © 2012: Arne Kowalewski
Kai Michael Hansen
Birthdate & -place:
January 17th, 1963 in Hamburg