Let's glance at the current line-up of the Scorpions before describing of the history of the birth, the becoming and the climb the Mount Olympus of rock:
The young people born in post-war Germany were influenced by the delights imported into their country from the USA Ė Elvis Presley, chewing gum, blue jeans and leather jackets, but most of all rock'n'roll. Young Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker weren't the exception from the rule. From an early age, both of them had an irresistible urge to grab a guitar and step into the limelight. His parents gave their blessing to the guys and each of them founded his own group. Rudolf called his one the SCORPIONS. Rudolf Schenker's younger brother Michael, who despite his youth had already established himself as an outstanding guitarist in Copernicus, decided to join his brother the same as Klaus Meine, who left Copernicus too. So, that was the momentous joining up of the wonderful duet, the foundation of their phenomenal success. The band furthermore existed of bassplayer Lothar Heinberg and drummer Wolfgang Dziony. Unfortunately they broke up before releasing their first album. Wolfgang and Lothar got married and got regular jobs at the local power plant, then they decided to found their own band. But they had to stop and serve their time in the German military, as everyone in Germany has to.
The first album
In 1972 the SCORPIONS released their debut album, called Lonesome Crow, produced by Conny Plank. The vocal and instrumental ingredients which over the years were to develop into the typical, unmistakable SCORPIONS sound, were already recognizable: 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 recognizable voice of singer and front man Klaus Meine with his highly expressive and polished delivery. The SCORPIONS were unique for the German rock scene, because they sang in English. So right from the start, the band was aiming for the very top of the international hard rock business. In the SCORPIONS Germany had finally found its answer to the famous rock teams of the English-speaking world.
The first album 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 fatherís philosophy of life Ė 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. And every change in the line-up was seen as an opportunity to move closer still to success and the achievement of absolute professionalism.
In 1973 Michael Schenker joined the British rock group UFO that toured with the SCORPIONS. He was replaced by Ulrich Roth, an exceptional and talented guitar player. The next 4 albums were recorded with Ulrich Roth on lead guitar,
In the 1970s, the SCORPIONS toured Western Europe, giving countless concerts and conquering one country after another. The second album Fly to the Rainbow (1974) features a solid, high-energy heavy rock never before heard from a German band. The song Speedyís Coming typifies the SCORPIONS style of ultra-hard rock combined with catchy melodies. The album was recorded with Francis Buchholz on bass, and Jurgen Rosenthal on drums. Meanwhile Rudy Lenners replaced Jurgen on drums because Jurgen got drafted. Beginning with their third album In Trance (1975), they began cooperating 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 real SCORPION mania broke out.
In 1975 the SCORPIONS toured Europe, sharing top billing with KISS. During their first UK tour in 1975, the SCORPIONS entered as they say "the lionís den", playing at Liverpoolís 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 goal to be the best 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. The new album was recorded with Herman Rarebell on drums. He replaced Rudy Lenners who had heart murmur. In 1978 the SCORPIONS toured Japan, the worldís second largest music market, where they got a foretaste of what it was like to be superstars. When they arrived at Tokyo airport, they were immediately mobbed by adoring fans. That time the style-gap arose between Schenker/Meine and Roth. And the latter left the band, who produced the next album Tokyo tapes (1978), after the 1978 Japanese tour. Michael Schenker filled in briefly and recorded several songs on Lovedrive (1979), but soon he left again and founded his own group MSG.
In 1978 an advertisement appeared in the Melody Maker: the SCORPIONS were looking for a new lead guitarist. In London, they auditioned 140 hopefuls, but nobody panned out. Then they brought in a friend
of Ulrich Roth's brother Zeno. He was the same as Rudolf and Klaus, born in Hanover, Mattias Jabs. Matthias immediately joined the band in recording Lovedrive (1979) which was to be biggest triumph. The album received a prize for the best artwork of the year. Matthias Jabs closed up the breach that appeared at times and achieved the amazing skill literally in a moment right before next tour. His baptism of fire came when the SCORPIONS played to 55,000 fans as support act for Genesis on their German tour. In Matthias the SCORPIONS had finally found the lead guitarist whose creativity, virtuosity and enthusiasm continue to make a decisive contribution to the bandís success. With him the band achieved an even more solid sound and his guitar style completed the creation of the unique SCORPIONS sound. Klaus, Rudolf and Matthias still form the musical backbone of the band.
On the way to the USA
Hailed as a super group during the 1978 tour of Japan, in 1979 the band set out to conquer the vast US market. In the 1980s the USA was the biggest market of all for hard and heavy rock. Their main weapons: a professional attitude paired with a steely determination to succeed and a philosophy of friendship, both within the band and towards their fans, as well as great musicality. As a rock band working on the international scene, the SCORPIONS had long since created their own musical identity. Since 1974, the SCORPIONS had built up a considerable following in the States.
In 1979, now professionally managed and boosted by the success of Lovedrive, the SCORPIONS embarked on their most important tour of USA rock arenas as opening acts for Aerosmith, Ted Nugent and AC/DC. In Chicago, the SCORPIONS swapped the headliner billing with Ted Nugent, since the SCORPIONS had more fans in the city. On this first American tour, the SCORPIONS quickly learned the rules of the game in the international rock business. Their seventh album Lovedrive was released in the USA in 1979, and was the first SCORPIONS production to receive a Gold Disc there. Animal Magnetism followed in 1980. With the two albums, the band finally made their North American breakthrough. On their second US tour the SCORPIONS were top of the bill.
After more successful world tours, in 1981, while recording Blackout, Klaus Meine lost his voice. Not wishing to stand in the way of the bandís success, Klaus Meine wanted to pull out. But the unshakeable friendship between Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine and the close and supportive relationship within the band allowed the seemingly impossible to happen. After two operations on his vocal chords and lengthy vocal retraining, Klaus Meine overcame the trauma. And that was not all: in 1982, he re-emerged with a much increased vocal range. One critic wrote: "They have given Klaus Meine metal vocal chords." The bandís decision to stand by their lead singer through this troubled time later proved to be the most crucial the SCORPIONS ever took in the their entire career. It was Klaus Meine who in 1989 composed their smash hit Wind of Change.
Standing at the top
In 1982, on their second US tour as headliners with Iron Maiden as support act, the SCORPIONS presented their new album Blackout. The single No One Like You and the Blackout LP reached the US Top Ten, the LP was voted Best Hard Rock Album of the year and awarded a Platinum Disc. One hit followed another, and in the 1980s the SCORPIONS captured the hearts of hard rock fans around the world.
In 1984 the SCORPIONS became the first German hard rock band to play three successive concerts in front of 60,000 fans at New Yorkís Madison Square Garden. The SCORPIONS had finally scaled the Mount Olympus of rock. With three albums featuring simultaneously in the US charts: Animal Magnetism (1980), Blackout, (1982) and Love at First Sting (1984), the SCORPIONS spent two years on the road playing as headliner or co-headliner at all the big rock festivals. The SCORPIONS toured with a fleet of articulated lorries, nightliner buses, helicopters, private jets and the inevitable limousines. Hanoverís heavy metal band played all the main rock venues in North, Central and South America and Europe. In Asia, they played in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan. This was the golden age of heavy rock. With gigantic stage and light shows and dramatic firework effects, the SCORPIONS unleashed a pyrotechnic display of sound and light. Their relentless energy sent the fans wild. To US audiences, the SCORPIONS, with their polished, hard-edged "melodic rock" and Klaus Meineís dramatic power singing with its dizzying top notes, came to epitomize the best in heavy rock. Groups like Bon Jovi, Metallica, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, later to become mega bands, were support acts on the SCORPIONSí worldwide tours, learning what it meant for a band to play in the rock arena in front of an audience of millions. The new album Love at First Sting became one of the most successful albums in rock history. It includes the SCORPIONSí most electrifying hits Rock You Like a Hurricane, Bad Boys Running Wild, and the masterpiece Still Loving You. The critics struggled for superlatives. Rolling Stone called the SCOPRIONS "the heroes of heavy metal". The SCORPIONS were admitted to the exclusive club of the worldís 30 greatest rock groups. Their ballad Still Loving You became an international rock anthem. In France alone, the single sold 1.7 million copies. The song unleashed a wave of hysteria among French fans not seen since the Beatles
The SCORPIONSí most memorable appearances as headliners were at the 1983 US Festival in Californiaís San Bernadino Valley in front of an audience of 325,000 and at the first Rock in Rio in 1985 where they were cheered by 350,000 enthusiastic South American SCORPIONS fans. The 1985 album World Wide Live impressively documented the bandís international triumphs. In 1986, the SCORPIONS played at the legendary Monsters of Rock Festival and performed in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. It was their first appearance in an Eastern Block country. By now the SCORPIONS had hard rock hits like Rock You Like a Hurricane, No One Like You, Blackout, Big City Nights, Dynamite, Bad Boys Running Wild, Coast to Coast and The Zoo featuring in the charts around the world. In the 1980s, the SCORPIONS created a kind of modern hard rock that is just as popular today. Their authentic power rock ballads, such as Still Loving You, Holiday and later Wind of Change, Send Me an Angel, When You Came Into My Life and You and I, along with acoustic based songs such as Always Somewhere and When the Smoke is Going Down have managed to win over even the most unyielding haters of hard rock.
Savage Amusement was released in 1988 and became the last album co-produced with Dieter Dierks. It reached Nį 3 in the US chart and Nį 1 in Europe. Even after years of touring the USA and the rest of the world, the SCORPIONS did not rest on their laurels and continued to seek out fresh challenges.
Through the Iron Curtain
As a prelude to their 1988 Savage Amusement world tour, they penetrated the Iron Curtain to give 10 sell-out concerts in Leningrad for 350,000 Soviet fans. They were the first international hard rock band to play in the former USSR, cradle of Communism. Hard rock, heavy metal and especially the SCORPIONSí ballad Still Loving You had already found their way through the Iron Curtain. A year later, in August 1989 the Soviet authorities, encouraged by the success of the SCORPIONSí 1988 Leningrad concert, gave permission for the legendary Moscow Music Peace Festival. Here, the SCORPIONS shared the stage with other international hard rock acts, including Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Cinderella and Ozzy Osbourne and the Russian band Gorky Park playing to 260,000 Soviet rock fans in Moscowís Lenin Stadium.
Wind of change
The Moscow Music Peace Festival left a deep impression on Klaus Meine and a month later, in September 1989 he created the SCORPIONSí smash hit Wind of Change. More in a month, in November 1989, came a completely unexpected event. The fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout the world, Wind of Change became the hymn to glasnost and perestroika, providing the soundtrack to the opening of the Iron Curtain, the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War. One year later, in 1990, the SCORPIONS played in Potsdamer Platz where a section of the Wall once stood, in Roger Watersís spectacular production, The Wall. The SCORPIONS recorded a Russian version of Wind of Change. They also gained a well-known fan. In 1991, the group was invited to the Kremlin to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet head of state. It was a unique event in the history of the USSR and rock music.
The wind of change became for the SCORPIONS too. Before the release of their mega hit the Wind of Change CD and the new LP Crazy World (1990), their long relationship with their producer Dieter Dierks from Cologne, who made so many successful recordings, came to an end. The first album produced by the SCORPIONS themselves and co-produced by Keith Olsen, Crazy World, was made in Los Angeles. It included the smash hit Wind of Change and immediately became the most successful CD to date. Not only was Crazy World the most successful album, Wind of Change was the worldwide top single of 1991, occupying the Nį 1 slot in 11(!) countries. In 1992, they received the World Music Award as the most successful German rock act.
The Crazy World album is impressive testimony to the songwriting talents of the SCORPIONSí masterminds: Matthias Jabsís contribution is the dynamic song Tease Me, Please Me; Rudolf Schenker once again proved his ability to create the hits, he wrote the music for Send Me an Angel, and of course Klaus Meine who wrote both the music and the lyrics for Wind of Change. At the end of the 1992 Crazy World tour, the SCORPIONS parted company with their long-time bass player Francis Buchholz. The 1993 CD Face the Heat, co-producered by Bruce Fairbairn, featured the bandís new bass man, conservatoire graduate Ralph Rieckermann who quickly picked up their style.
In 1994 the SCORPIONS again received a World Music Award. Yet another high point of their career came when, at the invitation of the family of the "King of Rock Ďní Roll", Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, and the "King of Pop", Michael Jackson, they performed their cover version of His Latest Flame at the 1994 Elvis Presley Memorial Concert in Memphis, Tennessee. In the same year the SCORPIONS committed themselves to helping United Nations efforts on behalf of refugees from the civil war in Rwanda. In only one week the band produced and released their single White Dove.
In April of 1995, the new album Live Bites is released special for the fans. It included except the songs written during 1988-1995 three new never before released tracks entitled White Dove, Heroes Don't Cry, and Edge Of Time. At the end of 1995, just before completing the Pure Instinct CD (co-producer: Keith Olsen and Erwin Musper) the SCORPIONSí veteran drummer and long-time companion Herman "The German" Rarebell left the band.
In 1988 the SCORPIONS toured the USA with their 'Savage amusement' and the US heavy metal band Kingdom Come, whose producer was Keith Olsen, had been a warm up act for the German group. The Germans were impressed at that time by the work of the groupís Californian drummer James Kottak. In 1995 the SCORPIONS called James Kottak and hired him as drummer for the upcoming Pure Instinct Live Tour. As a result James Kottak became the first American to play in the German rock band. With the two new members, bass player Ralph Rieckermann and drummer James Kottak, the SCORPIONS had introduced a new generation of musicians into the group.
During the Pure instinct world tour, the SCORPIONS proved again that they were still among the global players on the international rock scene. Not only did they play in Europe, the USA and South America. In countries like Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, they continued to collect gold and platinum discs. In November 1996, the SCORPIONS were the first international hard rock band to play to fans in Beirut after the end of the civil war in Lebanon.
On the 1999 recording of Eye to Eye, produced by Peter Wolf, James Kottak worked in the studio with the SCORPIONS for the first time. The cover of Eye to Eye marked a change of image for the SCORPIONS. Only the founder members of the band, Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine and Matthias Jabs feature on the front cover. The album itself is a statement of the SCORPIONSí awesome talents as songwriters and instrumentalists. Songs like Mysterious, Mind Like a Tree, Eye to Eye, Yellow Butterfly and A Moment in a Million Years show the band at the pinnacle of their creativity. Besides there was a song Du Bist So Schmutzig, playing in Germany. That was the first time when the SCORPIONS were heard singing a German song. As part of their 1999 Eye to Eye world tour, at the invitation of Michael Jackson, they played at the Michael Jackson and Friends benefit concert in Munich.
In compliance with their motto "Donít stop at the top" the SCORPIONS are starting the new millennium with a new musical challenge: a crossover project with the internationally renowned classical orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic, once conducted by the great Herbert von Karajan. In 1995, the Berlin Philharmonic was exploring the possibility of a crossover project and was on the lookout for a suitable band. Over the years this classical orchestra had been aware of the SCORPIONS' success and international reputation. The two Mercedes of German music agreed on a joint venture under the direction of the internationally successful crossover producer, composer, conductor and arranger, Christian Kolonovits from Austria. Since then, both groups of musicians have continued to working on the project, while still fulfilling current engagements around the world and bearing in mind the timing of EXPO 2000 in Hanover. After the release of the Eye to Eye CD in 1999 and the subsequent world tour, the SCORPIONS got down to serious business in the autumn of the same year.
The SCORPIONS gave a foretaste of what is to come when, at the invitation of the German government, they played in front of Berlinís Brandenburg Gate on 11 November 1999, the 10th anniversary of German reunification. 166 cellists were joining them in their performance of Wind of Change. The work was conducted by the distinguished cello virtuoso Mstislav Rostropovich. In January 2000, the SCORPIONS and Christian Kolonovits began studio recordings in Vienna. The Berlin Philharmonic recorded the orchestral parts in April 2000. The complete work was mixed during April and May 2000 at the Galaxy Studios in Belgium. The crossover CD Moment of Glory, featuring the SCORPIONS with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, was released on 19 June 2000. The first live performance took place at EXPO in Hanover on 22 June 2000. The album also includes the official EXPO anthem Moment of Glory.
Again in Russia
On the Moment of glory tour, 2001, the SCORPIONS came to Russia after twelve-years break. They played in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. It was the crossover project with the Russian State Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by
At the same year the new album Acoustica was released, co-produced by Christian Kolonovits. Except the early hits and three new songs 'Life is too short', 'When love kills love' Ť 'I wanted to cry (But the tears wouldn't come)' it contains such well-known songs as 'Dust in the wind' ("Kansas"), 'Love of my love' ("Queen") Ť 'Drive' ("The Cars"), arranged by the SCORPIONS and with wonderful acoustic sound.
In 2002 the SCORPIONS repeated their tour to Russia, but they performed in addition to Moscow and St. Petersburg in 14 different corners of Russia. In spring, 2002, the next album Bad for good was released featuring 2 new songs Bad for good and Cause I love you.
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