Bonfire's History (Biography)

Bonfire (originally Cacumen) is a German heavy metal band, founded in Ingolstadt, Germany in 1972. Bonfire has a unique history. Currently there are two bands who have held the name. The original group started out as Cacumen, became Bonfire and currently perform as Charade. The second group began as Lessmann/Ziller and then purchased the rights to the Bonfire name, which they have used ever since.

Official site:


Genre(s): Traditional Metal

Country: Germany

Show Date: September 2, 2010

Festivals: Global East Rock Festival 2010

Added by: Se7en

In 1972, in the West German town of Ingolstadt a teenaged guitarist, Hans Ziller, put together a rock band called Cacumen with his brother Karl, whom also played guitar, then gathered a bunch of friends to complete the band. The name of the group was from a school test Hans had taken and it translates from Latin to mean "the top of a mountain". For the next six years, the band played at local small venues, but had a fan base in their hometown. In 1978, the group consisted of Hans and Karl on guitars, Horst Maier on guitar (in 1983, Horst's last name would become Maier-Thorn), Hans Hauptmann on bass and Hans Forstner on drums. When the band was seeking a replacement singer at that time, Claus Lessmann, a fellow student of Hans', was hired.

Claus previously was in the bands Ginger and Sunset and was known for his harmonic vocals and he fit in perfectly with Cacumen. With this line-up, the band had a chance to start branching themselves out to venues outside Ingolstadt. A single record was recorded called Riding Away, which featured the song Wintertale on the flip side in 1979. The group used this opportunity to begin touring at clubs, schools and even in parking lots. The fan base grew and Cacumen was finally signed to an independent label. By then though, Karl had departed the group. The self titled Cacumen album was released in 1981 and featured a new version of Riding Away.

Bonfire's Current Members

  • Claus Lessmann - lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitars, bass, rhythm guitars (1978–1992, 1992–present)
  • Hans Ziller - lead guitar, rhythm guitar, talkbox, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, sitar, slide guitar (1972–1989, 1992–present)
  • Chris Limburg - guitars (2006–present)
  • Uwe Köhler - bass, backing vocals (1997–present)
  • Dominik Huelshorst - drums (1986–1987; 2009–present)

Former members:

  • Karl Ziller - guitars (1972–1980)
  • Hanns Schmidt-Theißen - keyboards (circa 1977-1980)
  • Hans Hauptmann - bass (circa 1972-1982)
  • Hans Forstner - drums (circa 1972-1986)
  • Robert Prskalowicz - bass (1982–1986)
  • Horst Maier-Thorn - lead guitars, rhythm guitars, backing vocals (circa 1972-1988)
  • Michael Bormann - lead vocals, acoustic guitar (1993–1994)
  • Angel Schleifer - lead guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals (1988–1994)
  • Joerg Deisinger - bass, backing vocals, mouth drums (1986–1994)
  • Edgar Patrik - drums, percussion, backing vocals (1987–1994)
  • Chris Lausmann - rhythm guitar, lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1992–2002)
  • Jürgen Wiehler - drums, percussion, backing vocals (1997–2009)

By some circumstances Cacumen got in contact with Hanns Schmidt-Theissen, who owned a small music studio (Hanns had played with the group on the Riding Away single and was supporting the band at live venues on keyboards). Since money was poor and Hanns was a good guy, they recorded the album Bad Widow at his studio in Rodgau / Germany in 1982. Hanns tried to help the group to get a contract, but was not successful at the time.

Bonfire's Discography


  • 1979 - Riding Away single
  • 1981 - Cacumen
  • 1983 - Bad Widow
  • 1985 - Longing For You EP

Bonfire (1986 - present)

  • 1986 - Don't Touch the Light
  • 1987 - Fireworks
  • 1989 - Point Blank
  • 1991 - Knock Out
  • 1996 - Feels Like Comin' Home
  • 1996 - Freudenfeuer (German version of Feels Like Comin' Home)
  • 1998 - Rebel Soul
  • 1999 - Fuel To The Flames
  • 2001 - Strike Ten
  • 2003 - Free
  • 2006 - Double X
  • 2008 - The Räuber

The fans of the band were growing, as were performance dates. In 1983, Robert Prskalowicz replaced Hans Hauptmann on bass and this group became the well-known Cacumen band, but when they signed with BMG, the group had a total make-over. Robert and Hans Forstner were no longer with the group as of March 1985. They departed because they decided that they could not commit to the group full time and were replaced with Joerg Deisinger, previously from Rascal and Dynasty, to play bass while Dominik Huelshorst from Darxon became the new drummer. Next, the group updated their image, donning the standard look of an 80s hard rock group. Finally, the company requested a name change as they found Cacumen was too hard for the average Joe to pronounce as well as was not a very marketable name. After a brain storming session, the new name selected was Bonfire which came into effect in May 1986.

Bonfire's Greeting for Global East Rock Festival 2010 Visitors

Bonfire's worldwide debut album was released in June 1986 as Don't Touch the Light. During recording of the follow-up album, Dominik was fired in May 1987 due to musical differences and Bonfire proceeded to release their Gold seller album, Fireworks, as a quartet, the drums being recorded by Ken Mary from Fifth Angel. Two versions of this album exist, the worldwide version and the North American version (cover features the four members as well as the represented 'You Make Me Feel' song from the first album).

Bonfire's Setlist at Global East Rock Festival 2010 (September 2, 2010)

  1. Bells of Freedom
  2. But We Still Rock
  3. Never Mind
  4. Hot Click
  5. Hot To Rock / Don't Touch
  6. Under Blue Skies
  7. Tony's Roulette
  8. Proud Of My Country
  9. Sword And Stone
  10. Drumsolo
  11. American Nights
  12. Sweet Obsession
  13. Ready 4 Reaction
  14. Encore:
  15. You Make Me Feel
  16. SDI
  17. Hard On Me
  18. Bang Down The Door

Between the second and third albums, Bonfire went through many changes. Although Tommy Wagner filled the drum kit for a TV spot, a new drummer needed to be hired which occurred in December 1987 when Edgar Patrik from Sinner, Samson and Tyran Pace joined. In July 1988, during the Fireworks Tour, Horst had to leave due to his rhumitizim becoming too much of a crippling factor to play guitar and be on stage. Taking his spot in August was Angel Schleifer, formerly of Doc Savage, Red Alert, Sinner, Mad Max, Pretty Maids and Helter Skelter. The tour went on and once it was completed, the band settled down to collaborate for a new album. It was then that Hans had problems with the record company and the band's management due in part to his family commitments at the time. Against the band's better decisions, he was fired from the group for not having his focus on the band in June 1989 and Bonfire carried on as a quartet. It should be noted that Bonfire's first two albums were the only ones that were released commercially in North America.

Despite the business decision, Claus and Hans maintained a great friendship. When Hans formed his own group, Claus was asked to write songs as well as perform vocals. Cruel fate would intervene and the record company wouldn't allow him to do so, leaving Hans to find a replacement singer for his new band, EZ Livin'.

The decision to remove Hans from Bonfire was beginning to show on Claus though in Bonfire. After many attempts to break through in the North American scene and what he deemed was a failure for the fourth album, Claus left the band on September 25, 1992. His announcement was not a total shock to the rest of the band, but it did leave them with the dilemma of who would take his place. One vocalist that had the group's attention was Michael Bormann, whom was singing for Letter X and had his own group on the side called Jaded Heart, plus he was previously in High Voltage and the J.R. Blackmore Group. Even though he was willing to sing with Bonfire, he was committed to his two other projects so the group continued looking. The unsuccessful attempt to find a full-time vocalist led to Michael becoming the new frontman of Bonfire in March 1993. Although he did leave Letter X, he maintained his band Jaded Heart.

Despite the new singer, Bonfire was in a rut now. Their record company refused to release any new material that did not have Claus singing and the grunge years in music had started. The band kind of knew that the end was in sight so a live album that featured concert recordings from the Point Blank Tour was released and had Claus on vocals. The album Michael had sung on was shelved (but released as a bootleg called Bonfire - End Of An Era Demos) and Bonfire performed for the last time on July 29, 1994 without officially breaking up.

While Bonfire was trying to carry on with their new lead vocalist, Claus had reunited with Hans after he left the band and together they became Lessmann/Ziller in 1992 (Hans broke up EZ Livin' for this project). In 1993 they released an EP, Glaub Dran, that was all in German. This was followed by a few single releases of songs that were not on the initial recording. The duo's following was slowly growing, but was not as what was initially expected. In 1995, Lessmann/Ziller evolved to become a group called Ex and in May featured Joerg Deisinger on bass and Dominik Huelshorst on drums, almost a reunion of the 1986 Bonfire line-up. The project was ok, but Claus and Hans realized that their only means of recapturing their fan base was that they needed to be Bonfire again.

In 1996, Claus and Hans decided to start legal proceedings to get the rights to the Bonfire name as well as the music from 1986 to 1992. On July 3, a one-time payment was made to the last Bonfire members of 1994 and Claus and Hans renamed their Ex project to Bonfire and the second coming began with the reissue to Glaub Dran with other songs in English in 1996. In 1997 they hired Chris Lausmann on guitar and keyboards, whom played with Affair and Frontline; Uwe Kohler on bass, formally from Black Tears, Paradise Leaf, Big Apple, Lipstikk, Blitzkrieg and British Steel; and finally Jurgen Wiehler on drums whom played with Backdoor Affair, Heaven Sent, Chain Reaction, Loud & Proud, EZ Livin', Parish Garden, Wet Paint and 88 Crash.

Also in 1997, Michael and Angel got back together and wanted to release the shelved Bonfire album they had recorded previously in 1993. Joerg was not interested in being involved and Edgar had other commitments so the reunion was a duo and due to Claus and Hans owning the Bonfire name Michael and Angel decided to call themselves Charade. The shelved album was then released in 1998 in Japan, becoming a highly sought after CD. The duo continue to work together.

Since 1996, Bonfire has released at least one album a year and their fan base has grown, surpassing their 1980s popularity. In 2002, Chris left the group, but that did not stop the band. In 2004 after successfully gaining the rights to their pre-Bonfire material, the band released a five-part CD series called The Early Days. Parts 1, 2 and 3 were the reissuing of the Cacumen albums, part 4 was the EZ Livin' album and part 5 was the Lessmann/Ziller album, every one of them featuring bonus material.

In 2006, Bonfire celebrated their 20th anniversary and Chris Limburg from Vice, Wet Paint and Lustfinger had taken the reins as the band's co-guitarist. In 2008, a rock opera album called The Rauber was released. A special DVD of the opera performance that also featured new music videos of several of the songs from the album was released soon afterwards and included a remixed version of their song "You Make Me Feel". The new version of the song is featured on the PlayStation game Sing Star.

2009 saw the return of yet another original member of Bonfire. Jürgen left the band unexpectedly and was replaced with the returning Dominik Huelshorst on January 15. This was followed by a long anticipated return to the North American stage as the band performed at the Rocklahoma Festival on July 12 in Pryor, Oklahoma, USA. In 2010, on March 25, Bonfire signed to a major label again, this time with Universal Music with hopes that they will be handled and promoted much better than BMG did in the 1980s.

Source: ©

Official Bonfire's Video

Bonfire - Starin' Eyes
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Bonfire - Sleeping All Alone
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Bonfire - Sweet Obsession
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Bonfire - American Nights
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Bonfire - Hard on Me
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Bonfire - The Stroke
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Bonfire - Sword and Stone
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Bonfire - Deutsche Nationalhymne
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Bonfire - Under Blue Skies
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Bonfire - You Make Me Feel
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Bonfire - Bang Down The Door
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Duration: 03:15

Other bands that participated at the Global East Rock Festival 2010: Balfor, Cemetery Of Scream, Cruachan, Dark Tranquillity, Deviant Syndrome, Diablo Swing Orchestra, Eluveitie, Haggard, HammerFall, Infinite Tales, Kiss Forever Band, Manic Depression, Mayhem, Mnemic, Moonspell, Obituary, Oomph!, Preternatural, Rotting Christ, Sabaton, Sirenia, Sunrise, The Gathering, Venom, Vic Anselmo, W.H.I.T.E, Пилигрим.

Created At: September 23, 2010 1:16 PM Updated At: May 9, 2011 12:40 PM