The bittersweet story of Chilliwack's 1982 Juno win
When band members Bill Henderson and Brian MacLeod won their 1982 Juno, they knew they were breaking up
Chilliwack frontman Bill Henderson nods along as he watches a video of himself accepting a Juno Award almost 40 years ago.
"We worked like crazy. We worked real hard," Henderson said, in 1982, as he stood onstage accepting the Juno for producer of the year, alongside his bandmate of five years, Brian MacLeod.
As he watches his acceptance speech all these years later, on a laptop from his home on Salt Spring Island, B.C., Henderson becomes serious. That celebratory moment was bittersweet for the famed rock band's lead singer.
"When we were standing up there accepting the Juno, we had already made our decision that we were splitting up," he says.
"I was watching Brian's face most of the time because we knew at that point that we weren't going to be working together anymore. No one else knew, but we knew. And you know, kind of hard. Kind of hard."
Chilliwack was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in November 2019. Henderson has been the one constant in the group's ever-changing lineup. Born out of the Collectors, a psychedelic jam band that moved to structured songwriting in the '70s, Chilliwack's biggest hits, "My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)" and "Whatcha Gonna Do," were recorded in the '80s once MacLeod had joined the band. He and Henderson became Chilliwack's "creative kingpins," Henderson says.
"I always felt he was saying it to me, 'Whatcha gonna do when I'm gone?," Henderson says, quoting his song's chorus. "'Cause I'm gonna be gone.'"
MacLeod, who left to play with the band Headpins, died of cancer in 1992.
Chilliwack has had a turnover of about 30 members over the years, Henderson says, adding that he sees the Hall of Fame induction as a chance to "thank them for the work that they did," and also to thank their fans.
"You kept us going. Came to our shows. We had great fun together."
Chilliwack's story will be featured alongside the stories of four more Hall of Fame inductees in the CBC Music special Inducted: The Road to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The special will feature extensive interviews with Canadian music legends Jann Arden, Andy Kim, Cowboy Junkies and the family of singer Bobby Curtola. Inducted airs on CBC Television at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, March 15. You can watch it via CBC Gem now.
With files from Reuben Maan. Video produced by Reuben Maan, Justin Chandler and Dennis Chan. Mike Southworth on camera.