Our Top 10 Chilliwack Songs list presents the best Chilliwack Songs including “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” “I Believe,” and many more. Hailing out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the rock group known as Chilliwack revolved around lead guitarist, Bill Henderson. After a few name and lineup changes which began in 1966, it wasn’t until 1970 before Chilliwack itself was established. In Salish, Chilliwack means valley of many streams. In the province of British Columbia, it is a city located east of Vancouver in the province’s Fraser Valley region.
From 1970 until 1988, Chilliwack was an active group that rocked both the Canadian fan base and the rest of the world. In 1970, like Chilliwack, the band released its self-titled debut album that featured Henderson, Claire Lawrence, Glenn Miller, and Ross Turner. When Lawrence left the band in 1973, he was replaced by Howard Froese. The 1970s witnessed the Canadian rock group achieve moderate success in their home nation, as well as the U.S. In 1975, when Chilliwack released its fifth studio album, Rockerbox, it served as a commercial failure, prompting the group to sign up with Vancouver’s Mushroom Records as this label had a better consumer reach than the previous labels the group had been with.
However, success with Mushroom Records didn’t go as expected either, which resulted in additional lineup changes. 1979’s Breakdown in Paradise was the final album Chilliwack released before Mushroom Records went bankrupt, prompting the group to sign up with Canada’s Solid Gold Records and USA’s Millenium Records in 1981. At this point, Chilliwack downsized to a trio featuring Henderson, Brian MacLeod, and Prism’s Ab Bryant. It was this particular lineup that saw the group achieve its greatest success. In 1981, the album Wanna Be a Star served as the first of two commercially successful albums to produce hit singles that would officially put Chilliwack’s name as a highly respected rock group. 1982’s Opus X was the second of these two albums and even more successful than the first as it earned Henderson and MacLeod a Juno Award for Best Producer. Unfortunately for Chilliwack, however, Millennium Records suffered the same fate as Mushroom Records, putting this group once again in an awkward situation.
Adding to Chilliwack’s woes, Macleod and Bryant both left the group in 1983 to team up with Denise McCann and Darby Mills of the Headpins. The final studio recording Chilliwack produced was 1984’s Look In Look Out, with Henderson as the only solid member left. In this recording, he had the assistance of session musicians before the album was released in the summer. Without a record label in place as of 1985, Chilliwack toured mostly in Canada and at smaller venues until Henderson took it upon himself to disband the group in 1988. Later, he formed a folk-rock supergroup known as UHF before joining Bryan Adams, Colin James, Loverboy, and Chrissy Steel on October 6, 1991, for a benefit show in Vancouver in an effort to raise funds for his former Chilliwack bandmate, Brian MacLeod. MacLeod was diagnosed with cancer, and despite raising over $50,000 to help cover the medical treatment costs, MacLeod still passed away at the age of thirty-nine years old on April 25, 1992.
Five years later, Hendeson opted to form Chilliwack as a band again. This time, the lineup featured himself as the lead guitarist, Jerry Adolphe, Doug Edwards, and Roy Forbes. In 1998, Forbes was replaced by Ed Henderson, Bill’s brother, as the group’s guitarist. In 2003, Chilliwack released a live album, There and Back – Live. This second generation of Chilliwack continues to perform on tour with Bill Henderson still serving as the frontman. Although there have been no new recordings since 2003’s live album, Chilliwack continues to have a loyal fan following, as well as earning new listeners to a brand of music that serves as a reminder of why this Canadian rock group was considered a world-class act. In total, there are eleven studio albums to Chilliwack’s credit, along with two compilation albums, and a live album.
Top 10 Chilliwack Songs
#10 – California Girl
“California Girl” was a number nineteen hit on the RPM Canada Top Singles chart after it was released as a single in 1976 from the album, Dreams, Dreams, Dreams. For a Canadian artist to lyrically perform about a dream girl located in the sunny state of California, USA, this served as a rather cute song about a narrator sharing his dreamy opinion about a woman that has managed to win his heart. Collectively, Chilliwack has earned a name for itself as vocalists who sing in beautiful harmony together. As the lead vocalist, Bill Henderson’s talent as a singer and songwriter has seen a great mix of psychedelic rock pair up with easy listening sounds in a manner so few artists seem to be able to pull off.
#9 – Looking at a Baby
Technically speaking, “Looking at a Baby” was a non-album single that was released in 1967 as a single credited to The Collectors. This was the name of Chilliwack before making the switch in 1970. This was the first single released by the group that became a hit as it peaked as high as number twenty-three on the RPM Canada Top Singles chart. Fans who know the full history of Chilliwack will recognize “Looking at a Baby” and appreciate the psychedelic rock song from a band that had only just begun its journey as one of the most beloved Canadian rock groups in history.
#8 – Arms of Mary
Originally, “Arms of Mary” was written and performed in 1976 by Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. It became an international group as a folk-rock ballad that saw the narrator share fond memories of his first romantic encounter with a woman. As for Chilliwack’s 1978 version, this was the one and two occasions the group recorded a song that was not originally one of theirs. They did this as a suggestion made by the label they were signed with at the time, Mushroom Records as they produced the group’s seventh studio album, Lights from the Valley. Even though Chilliwack may not have been happy to cover somebody else’s song, it still became a hit for the group as it peaked at number sixty-seven on the US Billboard Hot 100. For them, this outperformed the previous hit singles that appeared on this particular chart. In Canada, “Arms of Mary” peaked as high as number thirty-two and is still regarded as a fan favorite among Chilliwack fans.
#7 – Don’t Stop
From the album, Look In Look Out, “Don’t Stop” was the final hit single to be released by Chilliwack as a group before it disbanded in 1988. In 1983, “Don’t Stop” peaked at number forty-six on the RPM Canada Top Singles chart as it served as an easy-listening favorite among the fans. The narration of Henderson’s request made to his love interest to keep doing what she does to make him happy was met with a saxophone solo, adding a hint of romance to this great song.
#6 – Fly at Night
From the album, Dreams, Dreams, Dreams, “Fly at Night” was the second and most successful single after it was released in 1976. On the RPM Canada Top Singles chart, it peaked at number seven and was a number seventy-five hit on the US Billboard Hot 100. Traces of Chilliwack’s former persona as The Collectors were evident in “Fly at Night” as this song starts off as a beautiful ballad before bursting into what can easily be described as Henderson at his best. This share of how one keeps coming back for more makes “Fly at Night” a classic rock number that has rightfully earned a place in the hearts of music fans.
#5 – Lonesome Mary
For Chilliwack, “Lonesome Mary” served as the first single released from the group to earn a place on an official American music chart. It peaked as high as number seventy-five on the US Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in 1973 from the group’s second album. Just like the debut album, it was named after the band. “Lonesome Mary” starts off with a great guitar riff before Henderson lyrically delivers the tale of a woman he’s noticed living a lifestyle that took him off guard. Between Henderson’s vocal talent and the fabulous guitar solos, “Lonesome Mary” is an addictive favorite the fans are more than happy to live with as they listen to this over and over again.
#4 – Crazy Talk
1974’s “Crazy Talk” was a single that was released from Chilliwack’s third studio album, Riding High. This became the second top ten hit on the RPM Canada Top Singles chart as it peaked at number ten. It also served as the first time the group experienced a hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 when it peaked at number ninety-eight. Granted, the group hadn’t quite made such a big impression on the American audience yet but it was a start, and this was achieved while still working with a label that did not have the same financial reach and influence as bigger labels. Odds are if Chilliwack was with a bigger label at the time, “Crazy Talk” would have made a better first impression as the popularity of this song rose as time went on and more fans finally got to hear Henderson’s lyrical take on his girl having an odd method of verbal communication.
#3 – Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)
On the RPM Canada Top Singles chart, “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” became a number seventeen hit after it was released as a single in 1982. Coming from the album, Opus X, this was the first and most successful of the three singles released from it. For Chilliwack, the musical magic that came from “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” made its presence felt in “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” as Henderson, MacLeod, and Bryant demonstrated again why they made such a great trio.
Sung with the narrative of a boyfriend fed up with a relationship he sees is not working, the lyrical challenge made to his love interest was met with fantastic instrumental work that made this such a catchy tune. On the RPM Canada Top Singles chart, “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone)” peaked as high as number seventeen. It was a number thirty-two hit on the US Cashbox and a number forty-one hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.
#2 – I Believe
“I Believe” was a fantastic ballad of the narrator having so much belief in his relationship with his love interest that he opted to sing about it. Among the romantics in the audience, this served as a great love song among those who also believed in their personal relationships with their special someone. From the album, Wanna Be a Star, this follow-up behind “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” served as a great contrast in subject and style. Much slower than Chilliwack’s first hit from the album, the tale of believing in a relationship was the polar opposite of the desperate plea to find the loved one that seemed to vanish without a trace. In 1982, “I Believe” became a number thirteen hit on the RPM Canada Top Singles chart, a number twenty-nine hit on the US Cashbox chart, and a number thirty-three hit on the US Billboard Hot 100.
#1 – My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)
1981’s “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” was the most successful single released by Chilliwack by far. Clearly the group’s signature song, this single earned a Juno Award for Single of the Year in 1982, and played an instrumental role in the album, Wanna Be a Star, becoming a certified platinum seller with Music Canada. For Chilliwack, this was the song that officially put the group on the global map as it became a number nineteen hit on the US Cashbox chart, a number twenty-two hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 and peaked as high as number fifty-seven in Australia. In Canada, “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” became a number one hit on its Canadian Broadcasting Corporation chart and a number three hit on the Canada RPM Top Singles chart.
The song itself also became certified platinum in Canada after selling over 100,000 copies as a single. The narrator’s anguish about the departure of his love interest was brilliantly accompanied by the guitar riffs and collective vocals of “gone” in a song that also served as a hopeful attempt to win her back should she happen to hear it on the radio.
Top 10 Chilliwack Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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