COME TASTE THE BAND VOL.5 - SCORPIONS Part I
Brought to you compliments of I’m a South African Rocker All hail! This week has been fabulous thus far for me with more ink indulgence and the official start of spring. All geared up for summer and ready to rock! Yeah…
Brought to you compliments of I’m a South African Rocker
This week has been fabulous thus far for me with more ink indulgence and the official start of spring. All geared up for summer and ready to rock! Yeah…
Today I have a real treat for you guys. Those of you who ever got stung by Scorpions know that stingy, burning sensation that hits you straight in your heart. Some of you might refer to this sensation as Animal Magnetism, others might just Blackout….I call it simply…Love At First Sting!
Right, you got it! I am proudly and properly introducing you to the Scorpions today!! A German hard rock band with a history that is so massive and impressive that I have to split this feature in two or more parts. Scoprions have never been a household name in South Africa, so I just feel they deserve to be introduced to you properly.
Scorpions had a huge influence on my own musicianship and I first got stung back in 1984 on the Love At First Sting tour in Stuttgart. I was 14 years old and it was my first major concert I ever attended. To this day I was lucky enough to see seven of their major tours and have met the band after a show once.
Please read this, and help promoting this group by posting the link to your profiles, it makes a huge difference.
Rock you like a hurricane!!
“whenever you dream you’re holding the key, it opens the door to let you be free”……Ronnie James DIO
Part I - EARLY BEGINNINGS
Like many youngsters born in post-war Germany, Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker were influenced by the music and other life-enhancing delights imported into their homeland by American GI’s – Elvis Presley, chewing gum, blue jeans and leather jackets, but most of all rock ‘n’ roll. From an early age, both of them had an irresistible urge to grab a guitar and step into the limelight. In the early 1960s the Beatles sparked off the beat revolution. By the mid-1960s Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker, both of whom were blessed with understanding parents, had also taken to the stage with their beat groups. – nothing is impossible as long as you believe in it. Right from the foundation of the SCORPIONS, he had only one declared ambition: "one day the SCORPIONS will be one of the best heavy rock bands in the world!" It was an idea to which all the band members were committed. The SCORPIONS were constantly on the lookout for fresh challenges. Every change in the line-up was seen as an opportunity to move closer still to success and the achievement of absolute professionalism.
In 1965 Rudolf Schenker started up the SCORPIONS in Hanover. Rudolf’s younger brother Michael Schenker was, like Matthias Jabs, smitten by beat music and the burgeoning rock culture. Guitarist and songwriter Rudolf Schenker’s earliest influences were the raw riffs of bands like The Yardbirds, Pretty Things and Spooky Tooth, who in those days were regarded as the real hard rockers. At New Year 1970, the younger Schenker brother Michael, who despite his youth had already established himself as an outstanding guitarist, left the Hanover-based group Copernicus, along with singer and composer Klaus Meine, to join Rudolf Schenker’s SCORPIONS. Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine teamed up to form the accomplished Schenker/Meine songwriting duo, so laying the foundations for a spectacular success story.
In 1972, the SCORPIONS released their remarkable debut album, Lonesome Crow, produced by Conny Plank in Hamburg. The vocal and instrumental ingredients which over the years were to develop into the typical, unmistakable SCORPIONS sound, were already recognisable: uncompromising, guitar-orientated hard rock, on the lines of what Jimmy Hendrix, Cream and Led Zeppelin generated in the mid-1960s. The distinctive SCORPIONS style came from the combination of two electric guitars, a fusion of fabulously forceful power riffs with dazzlingly exuberant guitar solos.
Added to which was the instantly recognisable voice of singer and front man Klaus Meine with his highly expressive and polished delivery.
In one respect, the SCORPIONS were unique on the German rock scene of the period. Because, right from the start, the band was aiming for the very top of the international hard rock business, Klaus Meine wrote all his lyrics in English. In the creative partnership of Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine Germany had finally found its answer to the famous beat and rock composing teams of the English-speaking world. The first album Lonesome Crow set the band on the path to international success. The SCORPIONS toured as support band with Rory Gallagher, Uriah Heep and UFO. Throughout their history Rudolf Schenker has been the unshakeable driving force behind the SCORPIONS. He adopted his father’s philosophy of life
THE ULI ROTH ERA
In 1973, following a joint tour with UFO, Michael Schenker joined the British rock group. He was replaced as SCORPIONS lead guitarist by Ulrich Roth. He too was an exceptional guitar player with an almost mystical talent. With Ulrich Roth, the SCORPIONS continued unwaveringly to explore the hard rock genre. In the 1970s, the SCORPIONS undertook tours of Western Europe, playing countless venues and conquering one country after another. They would appear wherever there was somewhere to plug in their instruments. In 1973, they accompanied The Sweet on their first European tour. The SCORPIONS went on to record their next four studio albums with Ulrich Roth. Fly to the Rainbow, (1974) features a solid, high-energy brand of heavy rock never before heard from a German band. The title track Speedy’s Coming typifies the SCORPIONS style of ultra-hard rock combined with catchy melodies. Beginning with their third LP In Trance, (1975), they began their working relationship with well-known international producer Dieter Dierks. They were firmly launched on their hard rock career. In Trance was the best-selling RCA album in Japan, where a regular SCORPION mania broke out. In 1975 the SCORPIONS toured Europe, sharing top billing with KISS.
In Germany that same year, they were voted best live group. During their first UK tour in 1975, the SCORPIONS entered what might be called "the lion’s den", playing at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club. In the birthplace of hard rock, they succeeded in gaining the acceptance of the most dyed-in-the-wool British fans. Gigs at the renowned London venue, the Marquee, were further highpoints of the mid-1970s. The SCORPIONS achieved their ambition to be the top German hard rock band, when their fourth album Virgin Killer (1976) won the "LP of the Year" award in Germany. In Japan, Virgin Killer gained them their first Gold Disc.
Their follow-up album Taken by Force (1977) was also awarded a Japanese Gold Disc. In 1978 the SCORPIONS toured Japan, the world’s second largest music market, where they got a foretaste of what it was like to be superstars. When they arrived at Tokyo airport, the five heavy metal men were mobbed by adoring fans. Ulrich Roth left the band after the 1978 Japanese tour.
The highpoint and conclusion of the SCORPIONS’ Ulrich Roth period is the double album Tokyo Tapes (1978) which even now is cherished around the world as a collector’s item.
MATTHIAS JABS TAKES OVER
Michael Schenker filled in briefly (he recorded several songs on Lovedrive (1979) until Matthias Jabs finally entered the fray. In 1978 an advertisement appeared in the Melody Maker: the SCORPIONS were looking for a new lead guitarist. In London, they auditioned 140 hopefuls, before deciding on Hanover-born Matthias Jabs. Thrown in at the deep end, Matthias Jabs immediately joined the band in recording Lovedrive (1979) which was then in production. The album was to be the group’s biggest triumph so far, and is still one the SCORPIONS’ best-ever albums. The sleeve received a prize for the best artwork of the year.
In 1979, Michael Schenker rejoined the SCORPIONS for a short spell, but left the band while on tour. In 1980, he founded MSG, the Michael Schenker Group. Matthias Jabs once again leapt into the breach and achieved the amazing feat of learning, literally overnight, the entire programme for the current tour.
In Matthias Jabs, the SCORPIONS had finally found the lead guitarist whose creativity, virtuosity and enthusiasm continue to make a decisive contribution to the band’s success. With him, the band achieved an even more solid sound. Like the missing piece in the jigsaw, his guitar style fitted to perfection into the group dynamic, creating the unique SCORPIONS sound.
Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs still form the musical backbone of the band. With bass man Francis Buchholz (who joined the SCORPIONS in 1973 at the same time as Ulrich Roth) and drummer Herman Rarebell (who first featured on Taken By Force in 1977), they finally established the combination that was to continue its victorious progress across the globe right up until Wind of Change.
...(to be continued)