Kai Hansen was born in Hamburg (Germany) on January 17th, 1963.
When he was 10 years old he started to play drums on old wash-drums, it was his favourite instrument. But his parents didn’t want to suffer with the noise so they bought for him a guitar. He took classical guitar lessons for six months and two years later founded his first band with two school mates. He bought a electric guitar (a white Ibanez Les Paul) and a small amplifier and later his first effect instrument, a distorsion panel.
He knew Piet Sielck and both founded a band called Gentry in 1978 which they played in youth clubs, schools, small clubs and they got a price in a amateur festival in Hamburg. He delivered newspapers to collect the money for buying a Marschall amplifier and he changed his guitar with his friend because he wanted to play a Stratocaster with a humbucker.
Later knew Ingo and Markus and they founded Second Hell, after that they changed the name to Iron Fist. They did more gigs in small clubs and they started to record their music in the rehearsal room. That band splited up and he joined at the army since 1982 to 1984. During that time he knew Michael Weikath and Kai entered in his band called Parefool but they didn’t get along with the other members so he founded Iron Fist together with Ingo and Markus and they started to rehearsal at army barracks.
In 1984, already as Helloween band, they knew Limp Schnoor who had contact with the label Noise Records, and they got the chance to record two songs for a Death Metal Sampler. The feedback was good and Noise Records offered a deal. Kai was not only the guitarist of Helloween he was also the singer. So they started releasing the Mini LP Helloween and the first full-length album Walls Of Jericho. Kai had troubles singing and playing the guitar imultaneously live so they got Michael Kiske in the band. And the legend started. With that line-up they released Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I and II which the band achieved worldwide success.
He decided to leave Helloween after the European leg of the Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II tour, due to conflicts within the band, troubles with Noise International, and a growing dissatisfaction with life on tour. Well, reasons that are still the subject of much debate 25 years later.
Gamma Ray era
In 1989, after doin’ a little collaboration in the studio with Blind Guardian, he decided to form his own project with long time friend Ralf Scheepers, former vocalist of Tyran Pace. This two-man project grew into a four-man band with the addition of Uwe Wessel on bass and Mathias Burchardt on drums. This was the first line-up of Gamma Ray, bearing a sound understandably close to that of Helloween of that period. Heading For Tomorrow (1990) was the first album, followed by Sign No More (1991) and Insanity And Genius (1993). The vocalist Ralf Scheepers was attempting to become the new Judas Priest singer after Rod Halford so they decided to part ways. Kai Hansen took the microphone again and became in singer-guitarist as started years before.
In 1995 they released the most succesful album of Gamma Ray discography Land Of The Free. And here the paths crossed again with Michael Kiske because Kai invited him to sing on ‘Time To Break Free’ and the high chorus of ‘Land Of The Free’. That collaboration started a few rumours about Kiske joining in Gamma Ray. Kiske said he had a conversation with Kai Hansen like that: “One day Kai said to me: ‘If I asked you to join the band you would probably laugh in my face, right?’ I said: ‘YES!’ so Kai didn’t ask me”. But Kiske was not ready to join in another band so nothing happened, only a little collaboration of Kai Hansen in the first Kiske solo album Instant Clarity.
Kai continued recording albums with Gamma Ray; Somewhere Out In Space (1997), Powerplant (2000), No World Order (2001), Majestic (2005), Land Of The Free II (2007) and To The Metal! (2010).
In 2001, Kai offered to Kiske to sing one song for the album No World Order, the song was ‘Solid’, but Michael had lost the voice for a bad flu and he cannot recorded in that moment and since Kai needed a fast recording, that collaboration didn’t work. A few years later, in 2010 Kai answered again if he want to sing another track, he sent to him three songs and Kiske had one favourite but Kai want him in the track ‘All You Need To Know’ so he did that one.
Michael and Kai were together during the The Metal Opera Comes To Town Tour of Avantasia and it was when they started the idea of workin’ together again in the same band. Kai said: “When we were on tour with Avantasia, Michael said “Kai, it will be great if we can play together again, I just really feel the chemistry between you and the band.” I actually felt exactly the same, so we discussed about our future possibilities of working together. I wanted to avoid projects like Hansen/Kiske. I dislike projects and I think no one is waiting for such projects. I thought about couple options. First option: Michael joins Gamma Ray, second option: I join Unisonic and third option: we start a brand new band. The third option is already out, because we both are in bands already. Michael said Gamma Ray is too “hard” for him, so we had only one option at the end. I should join Unisonic.” Days later, Michael asked to the other guys of Unisonic if they would like the idea and they agreed, they arranged a meeting and they started to work together.
In 2011, Michael was guest in a few dates of Gamma Ray’s tour Skeletons And Majesties. The first show at Zeche, in Bochum, Germany was chose for an exclusive live DVD and CD shooting.
(Credits: Thanks a lot to Dani for this nice biography information)