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|Birth name||Kai Michael Hansen|
17 January 1963 |
Hamburg, West Germany
|Genres||Heavy metal, power metal, speed metal|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, songwriter, producer|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, piano|
|Associated acts||Gamma Ray, Unisonic,
Helloween, Iron Savior,
Avantasia, Blind Guardian,
|Website||Kai Hansen on Myspace|
|ESP SV Flying V, ENGL amplifiers|
Kai Michael Hansen (born 17 January 1963) is a heavy metal guitarist and vocalist.
Hansen is the founder, lead guitarist, and vocalist of power metal band Gamma Ray. He is also the co-founder and former member of German metal band Helloween. He is a prominent figure in power metal and has sold millions of albums worldwide. He is regarded as "the godfather of power metal", having founded three seminal bands in the genre. In 2011, he joined the band Unisonic featuring former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske.
His musical career started in 1978 in a band called Gentry, alongside Iron Savior's co-founder and producer Piet Sielck. In 1983, he and Michael Weikath founded Helloween, where he was guitarist and singer until Michael Kiske took over the microphone for the albums Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 and Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2. Hansen left the band due to the extensive touring in 1988–89 and went on to form his own power metal band Gamma Ray. Hansen also joined Iron Savior as guitarist in 1997, but quit after a few years to focus his efforts on Gamma Ray. He has now forged a very successful career with Gamma Ray, releasing several albums and playing sold out tours across the globe.
Hansen participated in a large number of other projects. He appeared as a guest vocalist on Blind Guardian's albums Follow the Blind and Tales from the Twilight World. Around the same time, he and fellow Gamma Ray bandmate Dirk Schlächter collaborated on Angra's first full-length album Angels Cry, both playing guitar solos in the song "Never Understand". He also collaborated on Angra's album Temple of Shadows released in 2004 doing vocals for the song "The Temple of Hate". He participated as a guest guitarist on Michael Kiske's debut solo album Instant Clarity. Together with HammerFall he recorded a cover version of Helloween's I Want Out.
Hansen played the role of Regrin the dwarf in Avantasia's Metal Opera albums by Tobias Sammet. Later he was featured in the album The Scarecrow playing guitar in the song "Shelter from the Rain". He was also one of the guest musicians in Avantasia's 2010 world tour, which have put him to play live together with fellow ex-bandmate Michael Kiske, after more than twenty years since he left Helloween. After this tour it was announced, via Michael Kiske's official website, that Hansen would join his new band Unisonic, as they "instantly felt the magic of Helloween years again and had a lot of fun together on and off stage".
In 2005, he toured with the young German power/Viking metal band Stormwarrior from his home town of Hamburg as lead singer, playing material from his classic Helloween debut album "Walls of Jericho" – the favorite album and greatest influence of Stormwarrior. "Stormwarrior featuring Kai Hansen" returned in 2007 to play at the Magic Circle Festival in Bad Arolsen and at the Wacken Open Air Festival.
In 2011, Hansen joined the hard-rock band Unisonic, as second guitarist and reunited with old friend and ex-Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske, who formed the band in 2009. The band released its debut album, Unisonic in 2012 and embarked on its first world tour. Hansen stated in an interview that despite being a member of Unisonic, he will not have less focus on Gamma Ray, and that the next Gamma Ray album should arrive in 2013. Unisonic's second album, Light Of Dawn, was released in 2014 and a European and Japanese tour followed.
During his earlier years Hansen's singing style was reminiscent of many thrash metal vocalists. Rather than using a smooth and clear style (like his successor Kiske) Hansen sang with a raspy sound, interluded by high-pitched screams for dramatic effect. Kiske was brought in as a singer originally because Hansen had trouble singing and playing the guitar simultaneously though later in his career he seems to have overcome these problems.
Beginning from 1995 onward, Hansen has provided the vocals for his current band Gamma Ray. Around that time, Hansen's vocal style became more melodic and slightly clearer, more in the traditional power metal sense, while still retaining the slight nasal tone and rasp of his early years.
For almost 20 years, Hansen has played ESP Guitars. He first started using them during his days with Helloween after hearing testimonials of ESP from artists such as George Lynch and Kirk Hammett of Metallica. Before Helloween, he had owned a white Ibanez guitar, and a Les Paul, then saved up for a Marshall amplifier by delivering newspapers. His main ESPs are red and pink ESP Custom guitars based on Jackson's Randy Rhoads model and two custom V models based on the classic Gibson Flying V shape. During the early 1990s, Hansen had used Stratocaster models. On his autobiography on the Gamma Ray website, he claims his first electric guitar was a white Ibanez Les Paul copy. On the recent tour with Gamma Ray he has been seen using a Korina Epiphone flying V with EMG's.
- Helloween (1985)
- Walls of Jericho (1985)
- Judas (1986)
- Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1 (1987)
- Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 (1988)
- Live in the UK (1989) – Live album
- Heading for Tomorrow (1990)
- Sigh No More (1991)
- Insanity and Genius (1993)
- Land of the Free (1995)
- Alive '95 (1996) – Live album
- Somewhere Out in Space (1997)
- The Karaoke Album (1997) – Karaoke Compilation album
- Power Plant (1999)
- Blast from the Past (2000) – "Best of" Compilation album
- No World Order (2001)
- Skeletons in the Closet (2003) – Live album
- Majestic (2005)
- Land of the Free II (2007)
- Hell yeah! – The Awesome Foursome – Live in Montreal (2008)
- To the Metal! (2010)
- Skeletons & Majesties (2011) – Compilation album
- Skeletons & Majesties Live (2012) – Live album
- Empire of the Undead (2014)
- Ignition (2012, EP)
- Unisonic (2012)
- For the Kingdom (2014, EP)
- Light of Dawn (2014)
- Live in Wacken (2017)
- Hansen & Friends
- XXX-Three Decades in Metal (2016)
- Thank You Wacken Live (2017)
- With Rampage:
- Love Lights Up The Night – vocals on "Life"
- With Blind Guardian:
- With Angra:
- With Michael Kiske:
- Instant Clarity – guitars on "Be True To Yourself", "The Calling", "New Horizons", "Thanx A Lot"
- With Primal Fear:
- Primal Fear – guitar solo on "Formula One", "Dollars", "Speedking"
- With HammerFall:
- I Want Out EP – vocals on "I Want Out" and backing vocals on "Man on the Silver Mountain"
- With Tobias Sammet's Avantasia:
- The Metal Opera – as "Regrin the Dwarf" he has vocal parts in "Inside" and "Sign of the Cross"
- The Metal Opera Part II – he reprises his role and has vocal parts in "The Seven Angels" and "Chalice of Agony"
- The Scarecrow – lead guitar on "Shelter from the Rain"
- The Flying Opera (live album) – vocals on "The Toy Master"
- With Heavenly:
- Coming from the Sky – vocals on "Time machine"
- With Stormwarrior:
- With Headhunter:
- Parody of Life – guest appearance on "Cursed"
- With Heavenwood:
- Swallow – vocals & guitar on "Luna", and vocal on "Downcast"
- With Place Vendome:
- Close to the Sun - guitar solo on "Across The Times" and "Riding The Ghost"
- on YouTube
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