[ Editor's Note: This chronicle is a works in progress. Much of the information has been assembled from album notes, news clippings and bits of conversations with past and present band members. Helios tends to keep quiet on the past (and/or just doesn't remember). This section will be updated from time to time as info becomes available. ]
In 1976, Damon Edge and Gary Spain formed Chrome in San Francisco. According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, the line-up for the recording of The Visitation consisted of John Lambdin (vocals, guitar, bass), Gary Spain (vocals, guitar, bass), Mike Low (guitar, synthesizer, bass) and Damon Edge (guitar,synthesizer, drums). John was the only one with any "experience" having performed with the Flower Travellin' Band, an early '70s Japanese psychedelic group.
After recording Visitation, Mike Low left and auditions were held to fill the void. Chrome did not like H at first since he showed up to the audition dressed in some kind of pirate outfit. After jamming for some time (hours-weeks?) it was clear to Damon that H was "the one" and he then convinced the other band members.
Helios added something to the group that was missing, and the albums that poured out over the next several years all have a similar "Chrome" sound to them.
John Lambdin disapeared after Alien Soundtracks. It was during this period that Chrome really only consisted of Damon and Helios. Gary Spain was only credited on two of the songs on their next release, Half Machine Lip Moves. In fact, John L. Cyborg, a psuedonym for the drum machine, was created to make it look like there were others in the band.
The recording sessions for Blood on the Moon and 3rd From the Sun included brothers John and Hillary Stench, who had just ended their stint with Pearl Harbor and the Explosions which split up in late '80.
In 1981 a group of Italian fans urged Chrome to come to Italy and perform live. They must have made quite an offer, since Chrome had never performed live for an audience before. After a single practice gig in San Francisco at the Mabuhay Gardens, the show at the Palasport in Bologne on July 20th was the second and last Chrome concert. At least for a while. [ Correction: The Italian show was first, followed by the San Francisco show on August 21st. ]
Apparently, Damon and Helios slowly became estranged over the issue of touring. Helios wanted to go out and do live shows while Damon did not. San Francisco's Chrome came to a grinding halt when Damon moved to Berlin with his girlfriend(?) Fabienne Shine.
While in Europe, Damon released some albums under his own name, and also formed a new Chrome lineup. Damon apparently acquired the legal rights to the Chrome name and recordings. He re-released some of Chrome's earlier recordings, while producing additional material with his new band. The sound of Damon's Berliner Chrome was quite different from the original San Francisco incarnation. Two "live" albums were released durring this time, although it is disputed whether the material was really recorded live.
Meanwhile, Helios Creed formed his own band back in San Francisco. He lived in a modified school bus which was often seen parked on the streets bordering Golden Gate Park. H and his band toured endlessly world wide and had a diverse following (some of whom knew nothing of Chrome). HC hit the college charts and jumped genres between punk-metal-thrash and phych.
Damon Edge died in Los Angeles the summer of 1995 at an early age. The official cause of death was heart failure. Apparently distraught over his break up with Fabiene Shine, Damon had become an obese shut-in, drinking heavily. He lay dead in his apartment for almost a month before being discovered.
Tommy met him once or twice and had few phone conversations. After Damon died, Tommy purchased a bunch of his music equipment from Damon's sister, including his Moog Liberation with the last "real" Chrome set list still taped to the back.
Shortly after Damon's death, Helios decided that he wanted to restore Chrome to it's San Francisco roots. H contacted John and Hillary to do some new recordings as Chrome. The results were released in September '96 on the 3rd Seed from the Bud single.
Meanwhile, in the Spring of 1996, Tommy L. Cyborg (Hawkwind, Farflung) and Nova Cain recorded a song modeled after the original Chrome sound and sent it to Helios on DAT. Helios liked it. He added some vocals and perhaps a bit else, and the song later appeared as Fudge Bunny on Tidal Forces.
Nova Explains: "I of course was always a huge fan, my involvement basically
came from my association w/ Tommy. I
Tommy and Nova did some additional recording around Thanksgiving of '96. Asked if the material for Retro and Tidal were recorded at the same time, Nova responds:
"More or less, in fact if you listen really closely you can hear some of the same elements in both recordings.You see, when Tommy and I went the first time, H didn't really want to jam together and he had 5 or 6 songs nearly done. So Tommy and I did overdubs on them and then recorded 3 10 minute improv pieces. These sort of became songs on both albums."
December 1997: Buz Deadwax, former guitarist of the bands Seed and Smartyr (which included Aleph Kali on drums and Rodney Horihata on bass) was looking for a gig. He tells this story after meeting up with Galaxy Chamber:"We didn't jive, but they mentioned that they knew H and that he was looking for a drummer for Chrome. I referred them to Aleph, who called H, who asked Aleph if he knew any bass players and Aleph called me and we freaked out for a while."
"Aleph, Rodney and I are all gigantic Chrome/Creed fans and own close to everything. Just for the fun of it, Rodney and I once lugged a ton of our own equipment to Gillman Street to do sound and vocal effects for a Creed show. At one point between songs, H starting saying something to the audience. We had fucked with the sound so much that he sounded like a mumbling obese dwarf on helium falling down a pit filled with roofing tar. I killed the effects so you could hear what he was saying and he looked up at me and said, "Hey man! Waderya doin?!" so I put the juice back on and he was happy again. I learned my lesson."
"Anyway, after the downers and coffee took hold, Aleph and I started to rehearse ALL the Chrome material (well the GOOD stuff, anyway) since H didn't tell us what songs he wanted to do. So in 4 rehearsals we learned everything and went up to Guernville where we found out we learned everything in the wrong key! NO, Chrome did not "tune down" or mess with the speed of the tapes (except where obvious). We had to talk him into doing "Subway" and a few others but the set came together pretty easily with lots of old stuff."
"H told us that he really wanted to "set the record straight" and regain Chrome's reputation from Damon. The breakup was apparently really bad and I think that neither one ever really got over it. Damon was the introvert-agoraphobic and Helios is the extrovert-claustrophobic so it was doomed to die at some point."
"H, Aleph and I practiced on weekends for a month or so. Tommy and Nova came up from LA and we played for one weekend with the whole band! We then left for the tour."
The tour ran through 19 American cities in March and April 1998. For details see the tour info section and Buz's report from the road.
In Decemer 1998, H contacted the touring group to try to get another record together and possibly another tour. Unfortunately, Buz had prior commitments and could not participate. Rodney Horihata was called in and rehearsed/recorded 13[!] new songs with Aleph. What became of those songs I do not know.
In early 2000 Helios got the itch to tour again and a short tour of the west coast was haphazardly planned and executed. There was little promotion compared to the previous tour and the turnout was poor at all the shows except for San Francisco. Most of the band members ended up subsidizing the tour out of their own pocket.
To be continued...