In our Back To The Past series, we take you back to L.A., California '82. HELLION started as a cover band, playing the favourite tunes from big names such as OZZY OSBOURNE, THE SCORPIONS and AC/DC. Leading lady Ann Boleyn played keyboards back then, but after some time she took over the vocals very successfully. Today, everybody will remember her as the mysterious front lady of HELLION. Besides singing, she started to show her talents as a songwriter as well.
In '83 HELLION was nominated best metal band of L.A. by Streetzine magazine. In that very same year, they also released their first single on Mystic Records. This resulted in a deal with Music For Nations and the release of their first mini album "Hellion". Six fast and furiuos metal tracks showed that Ann was ready for the big success. HELLION then consisted of Sean Kelly (drums), Bill Sweet (bass), Ray Schenck (guitar), Alan Barlam (guitar) and of course Ann Boleyn on vocals.England is the first country to discover Ann's talent and in '84 the band played at the world famous Marquee club. Perhaps it was a bit too quick to cross the ocean. The band couldn't even afford to stay in a proper hotel. So they had to sleep on the floor, take their instruments to the different venues by public transport, etc. During these events Ray Schenk even broke the neck of his favourite guitar, an Explorer, which once belonged to KISS's Paul Stanley. Despite of these starting problems, it couldn't stop Ann from going on. Even Wendy and Ronnie James Dio got interested in HELLION. The band recorded some new demos, but where others bands got signed, things just didn't work out for HELLION. The band collapsed and the ex-members of HELLION put together the band BURN. Ann recruits some new members to record "Screams In The Night", the first full-length album. On this one you'll hear Alex Campbell (ex-LYON) on bass, Greg Pecka (ex-DOKKEN) on drums and Chet Thompson on guitar. Chet is a former student of the late Randy Rhoads. Just have a listen to the great guitar work on "Screams In The Night", especially the "Upside Down Guitar Solo" and you'll know what I mean. The 5 track demo, made for the album also contained two unreleased tracks, namely "Morning Star" and "The Witching Hour". What could stop Ann from the big success with such an album? Well, it was the band wanting to pursue a much more commercial sound. This against the will of Ann, who wanted to continue the heavy metal direction of HELLION. We'll find the name of Chet Thompson back in ALICE IN THUNDERLAND, who released a self-titled debut mini album. The band also featured Emi Canyn. She did some backing vocals for MÖTLEY CRÜE as well. But besides the mini album, this outfit never brought Chet the success, he earned.
And Ann? She started up a whole new line-up. Well, 'new' isn't the right word, 'cause we find the old line-up from their debut mini album back on their new one "Postcards From The Asylum". Four tracks, which shows the progression of HELLION as a heavy metal band. Bringing back the names of Sean Kelly, Ray Schenk and Alan Barlam and introducing us to the new bass player Dave Dutton. Not even a glimpse of commerciality is to be found on this four pieces of pure metal. The pounding version of the JUDAS PRIEST cover "Exciter" proved that HELLION was ready for some action again. Ann however, saw this release only as a kind of reunion, just for fun. But a lot of people acted very enthusiasticly and in '88 a tour through Europe is being scheduled. Two concerts in Holland followed with only about a hundred visitors per show (u.w. the author of this story!) was the poor result. And good shows they were, I can assure you! But unfortunately, something stopped Ann from taking the world by storm.
1989 starts with a new line-up (again). Ann decides to take total control of business. She sets up her own label, New Renaissance Records, so she'll never have to explain again why she's not moving to a more commercial direction. On the last album "The Black Book" we find back again almost all the old names, even Chet Thompson.New are the contributions of Rex Tennyson on bass and Kenny Andrews on guitars. It was in '89/'90, when Ann gets fascinated by the stories of the ancient Boleyn family members. The story goes back to Thornhill (Moffat), Scotland. Ann finds out her family possessed magical powers........the powers of the Stormriders (third song on the album). They were believed to be able to control the mind of other people. All these interesting stories were put together as songs on "The Black Book" album, but they were also captured in a manuscript (which was never officially put out). The USSR was the country, that would gladly release Ann's stories. Reason enough to go on tour there. HELLION is still quite popular in the USSR. "The Black Book" is a concept album, which again shows the progression of Ann's songwriting, filled up with some short Scottish narrations. When you grab this album out of the dust and listen to it once again, you must admit that this is another great metal album. HELLION also plays a mighty fine version of LED ZEPPELIN's "Immigrant Song" on "The Black Book". Why was there never a follow-up to it? It's almost likely Ann Boleyn disappeared from this planet. After two mini albums and two full-length releases, the story of HELLION seems to have come to an end. I just can't believe that Ann Boleyn has left the music industry. We're trying to get you updated on what she has been up to in the past five years. What a sad ending for a band that was really gaining popularity all over the world. Touring with huge names like DIO, WASP and WHITESNAKE. What went wrong?? Anyone who can provide this information, please write to us. The last thing we know, is that Ann Boleyn was head of New Renaissance Records in '91. We're also looking for a copy of the Black Book (that is the book, not the album!). HELLION and Ann Boleyn. Are they screaming in the night? Do we get a postcard from the asylum in the near future or is she writing a new black book? Questions, questions, but hopefully we'll be able to answer them in the near future.
UPDATE 2/5/2008: Ann and the band went on a mini tour 2002-2003 and released "Will Not Go Quietly" in 2003. Ann will be touring this upcoming year with DETENTE - the band, that Dawn Crosby (R.I.P) made famous.
written by: Toine van Poorten/copyright Metal Maidens 1996
Ann Boleyn - vocals
Alan Barlam - lead guitar
Ray Schenk - lead guitar
Dave Dutton - bass
Sean Kelley - drums
HELLION (Roadrunner '83)
SCREAMS IN THE NIGHT (MFN '87)
POSTCARDS FROM THE ASYLUM (MFN '88)
THE BLACK BOOK (MFN '91)