Bill Henderson, the award-winning producer, lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter of one of Canada’s top recording groups in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Chilliwack, is one of the Canadian music industry’s most respected leaders, onstage and off.   From the early days of The Collectors, Vancouver’s first-high profile rock band, to the evolution of Chilliwack, to becoming a solo artist, and coveted songwriter and record producer, Henderson’s career – spanning more than 50 years – is about to reach another milestone.

On Monday, June 26, 2023, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) will present Henderson with his induction at the SOCAN Annual General Meeting, in his hometown of Vancouver.  He’ll be recognized for his distinguished catalogue of hit songs, across multiple genres, from psychedelic rock, to adult contemporary, to pop-rock, and for work onstage, in television, and in film.  Over Chilliwack’s 14 albums, he penned some of the band’s most successful songs, including “Lonesome Mary,” “Fly at Night,” “I Believe,” “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone),” and “Whatcha Gonna Do.

“Bill Henderson is the reason why Chilliwack is one of Canada’s most enduring bands,” said Stan Meissner, CSHF Board Chairman. “He’s been the constant driving force, and the heart and soul of the group, through various incarnations; but it’s his songwriting that has carried Chilliwack throughout the eras, taking their writing from onstage jams to thoughtfully structured songs with great hooks, that have brought critical and fan success over many decades,”

“It became clear to me that the quality of our songs was the most important aspect of our work. If we could come up with good stuff we could survive for a long time,” said Henderson.  “I wrote songs every day for many years and it took a long time to learn how to do a decent job. But every once in awhile ‘the muse’ would give me one for free. I gave her all my time and she gave me some good ones.”

In 1966 Henderson joined as lead guitarist for The Collectors, previously known as The Classics, an established Vancouver band which played regularly on local TV’s Let’s Go, and at local clubs, including the strip club Torch Cabaret.   The Collectors’ first charting single was 1967’s psychedelic, philosophical “Looking at a Baby” (written by Henderson with Howie Vickers). They were among the early Canadian acts to find success in the U.S., and even spent time in California, where Henderson would later draw inspiration to pen the 1976 hit song “California Girl,” about his experiences working with record companies there.

By 1969-70, The Collectors had evolved into a new band name, Chilliwack, adding early members Ross Turney, Glenn Miller, and Claire Lawrence. Henderson became their principal songwriter, and garnered the group’s first Billboard charting single, “Lonesome Mary,” in 1972. In 1978 Henderson was nominated for his first JUNO Award, along with Turney, for producer on Chilliwack’s Dreams, Dreams, Dreams – their first platinum album, among many to come.

During the formative years, members came and went, with notable additions being guitarist Howard Froese, bassist Ab Bryant, and multi-instrumentalist Brian “Too Loud” MacLeod – who would become Henderson’s frequent songwriting collaborator.  The duo wrote the Top 10 hit “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone),” and “Whatcha Gonna Do (When I’m Gone,” that earned the Henderson-MacLeod duo the 1983 JUNO Award for Producer of the Year.

Chilliwack eventually called it quits after their last single (1983’s “Don’t Stop”), with 14 albums under their belts.  Henderson would later embrace his acoustic side with fellow British Columbians Shari Ulrich and Roy Forbes to form the folk trio, UHF.  Along the way, he also became a coveted producer, working with The Nylons – on their Platinum, JUNO-nominated Happy Together album – Long John Baldry, The Irish Rovers, The Good Brothers, and the band Toronto.

He’s also been commissioned to compose songs and scores for theatre, television (as music director for Sesame Street Canada), and in film, winning a Genie Award for Best Original Song, “When I Sing,” for the 1989 Canadian movie Bye Bye Blues.

Recalling his longevity as a songwriter, Henderson has said, “Styles come and go through the years, but songwriting will never die. The urge to sing is deeper and more lasting than any style. So if you’re a songwriter, don’t worry, as long as you write songs that people like to sing, you’ll never be laid off.”

Outside of the music studio and stage, Henderson served as director for the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) from 1986 to 1992; and President of both the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC) and SOCAN. Henderson is a member of the Order of Canada, as well as an inductee to the British Columbia Entertainment Hall of Fame, and with Chilliwack, to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He has amassed an impressive 10 SOCAN Awards, culminating in the Special Achievement Award.

In 1997 Henderson began leading a renewed Chilliwack, and continues to tour.