Originally formed by Brian MacLeod and Ab Bryant as a sort of ‘side project’ from Chilliwack, the group was rounded out by drummer Bernie Aubin and Darby Mills, one of the west coast’s hottest new singers. Their impact was immediate even before they’d landed a record deal, quickly earning the reputation as one of the west coast’s most energetic and magnetic live groups. The band’s chemistry with the crowds was rivalled by few and they soon became one of the hottest commodities in Canadian rock, beginning with their first show in hometown Vancouver backing up Blackmore’s Rainbow in 1979.
After winning a local radio contest, the group released TURN IT LOUD on the independent Solid Gold Records in 1982. Co-produced by Bill Henderson, who Bryant and MacLeod played with in Chilliwack, the record allowed the Headpins to hit the scene with an experienced master behind the controls. Charged with emotions, MacLeod’s guitars rang predominant, almost a friendly battle with Mills’ immediately signature voice. With Bryant and Aubin serving a tight powerful backbeat, the lead-off title-track grabbed you by the balls and refused to let go, and would soon find its place in rock history as one of rock’s greatest anthems of all time. The band would go on to double platinum status, and stayed on top of the charts for six straight weeks.
Mills was heralded as having one of the most powerful set of pipes in the business. Her growl was matched only by her purr, and would go on to lead the charge in their energized live show, compared more to Robert Plant or David Coverdale than, say, Ann Wilson or Janis Joplin. “Don’t It Make Ya Feel” turned the FM stations upside down, as did the title track, the killer “Breakin’ Down” (about one person’s handling personal problems via suicide), “People” and the power ballad “Winnin'”. The Headpins were here and were soon rewarded with a gold record. Word of the band’s raucous, charged show spread and by the time TURN IT LOUD turned platinum just a few short months later, the band had already toured most of the continent. The debut would go on to sell over a quarter-million copies in Canada alone and be certified double platinum, making it one of the most successful debut albums by a Canadian group ever.
They found themselves spending the better part of the next two years touring across North America and Europe, and came back in ’83 with their follow-up, LINE OF FIRE. Backed by the single, “Just One More Time” and “Don’t Stand In The Line Of Fire”, the album stayed true to the course its predecessor – slick guitar licks and powerful vocals, with a pounding backbeat holding it all together. Other noteable tracks included “Mine All Mine,” “I Know What You’re Thinking” and “Celebration”, helping the album reach platinum status. LINE OF FIRE not only played the same chords at varying volumes as TURN IT LOUD, but the group also showed growth and diversity with “Feel It”, incorporating synthesizers and a horn section to compliment the slick studio production. Another extended tour around the world ensued, including dates throughout North America, the UK and Japan with the likes of KISS, Billy Squier, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake.
Nearly two years would pass before the Headpins would emerge from the studios again. The result was HEAD OVER HEELS. Typical Headpins, it served up a healthy dose of MacLeod’s blazing riffs and once again Mills’ unmistakeable voice rang true on “Still The One” and “Death Of Me”. One of the rock year’s sleeper hits also appeared in “You’re Only Afraid Of The Dark”, along with “Be With You”, “Chain Gang” and the powerful “The Danger Zone”. Again the band enjoyed sales of nearly 100,000 copies at home alone, making HEAD OVER HEELS their third straight album certified gold or better.
The band went into hiatus for the next couple of years, with each member venturing out to do outside projects, including Mills’ 1991 solo effort NEVER LOOK BACK. The rock world was saddened the next year, when Brian “Too Loud” MacLeod lost his bout with cancer. The group reformed later that decade and the result was unanimous – people still loved the live magnetism only they can bring to a party.
With the re-release of their classic 1982 debut TURN IT LOUD in late 2000 and LINE OF FIRE in 2002, the fortune for The Headpins looked bright once again. In 2001 the band was thrilled to announce the addition of Tony Dellacroce as their new guitarist. Originally from Ontario but now living on the West Coast, he’s toured with Jerry Doucette and Lee Aaron and gained a reputation cross-country as one of Canada’s brightest young stars. His slick, aggressive style is a perfect fit for the ‘Pins sheer on-stage energy and is one of the driving forces of today’s resurgance in classic Canadian rock! They soon added Alfie Galpin to the mix, another veteran of the axe wars. Together they form of one of the scene’s deadliest one-two punch on guitar.
The band is still packing the houses and kicking ass like no others. A greatest hits package was finally released to the delight of classic rock fans in 2002. The only compilation currently available to span all 3 records, THE COMPLETE GREATEST HITS is a multi-media event – 14 killer tracks that helped shape Canadian rock, as well as the videos for “Just One More Time” and “Don’t It Make Ya Feel”. The Headpins are the head instructors in Kick Ass Rock 101 – and school is in session. Make sure you catch them when they turn it loud near you!