At the start of the new millennium and exactly 35 years since the foundation of Germany’s most successful hard rock band of all time, SCORPIONS Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs can look back together on a spectacular career in the international music business.
The Scorpions 1965
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. 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 début 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.
1972: Michael Schenker, Joe Wyman, Lothar Heimberg, Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker.
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 – 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.
1974: Uli Roth, Francis Buchholz, Klaus Meine, Jürgen Rosenthal, Rudolf Schenker
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, highenergy 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. Michael Schenker filled in briefly (he recorded several songs on Lovedrive (1979) until Matthias Jabs finally entered the fray.
1975: Francis Buchholz, Klaus Meine, Rudy Lenners, Uli Roth, Rudolf Schenker
Japan 1978: Herman Rarebell, Uli Roth, Francis Buchholz, Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine
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. His baptism of fire came when the SCORPIONS played to 55,000 fans as support act for Genesis on their German 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.
Already hailed as a super group during the 1978 tour of Japan, in 1979 the band, comprising Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs, set out to conquer the vast US market. Their 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. In the 1980s, the USA was the biggest market of all for hard and heavy rock.
Since 1974, the SCORPIONS had built up a considerable following in the States. Van Halen launched their musical career in the mid-1970s with cover versions of SCORPIONS songs: Speedy’s Coming (from Fly to the Rainbow) and Catch Your Train (from Virgin Killer).
In 1979, now professionally managed and boosted by the success of Lovedrive, the SCORPIONS with their definitive line-up – Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs – embarked on their first major tour of USA rock arenas as opening act with 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. The era of SCORPIONS monster tours had begun.
1979: Francis Buchholz, Herman Rarebell, Klaus Meine, Matthias Jabs, Rudolf Schenker
After more successful world tours, in 1981, while recording Blackout, Klaus Meine lost his voice. Not wishing to stand in the way of the band’s 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 lengthy vocal retraining and two operations on his vocal chords, 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 band’s 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.
In 1982, on their second US tour as headliners with Iron Maiden as support act, the SCORPIONS promoted their groundbreaking album Blackout, with Helnwein’s stunning sleeve design. 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.
US-Festival 1983 in San Bernadino/California
In 1984 the SCORPIONS became the first German hard rock band to play three successive gigs in front of 60,000 fans at New York’s 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 that sprang up around the world after Woodstock.
The SCORPIONS toured the globe, with a fleet of articulated lorries, Nightliner buses, helicopters, private jets and the inevitable limos. Hanover’s 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 Meine’s dramatic power singing with its dizzying top notes, came to epitomise 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 SCORPIONS’ worldwide tours, learning what it meant for a band to hold its own in the rock arena in front of an audience of millions. Love at First Sting became one of the most successful albums in rock history. It includes the SCORPIONS’ most electrifying numbers 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 world’s 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 and became the SCORPIONS’ musical trademark around the globe.
The SCORPIONS’ most memorable appearances as headliners were at the 1983 US Festival in California’s 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 enthusisatic South American SCORPIONS fans. The 1985 double album World Wide Live, a counterpart to the 1978 Tokyo Tapes, impressively documented the band’s more recent international triumphs.
In 1986, the SCORPIONS topped the bill at the legendary Monsters of Rock Festival and played in the Hungarian capital Budapest, their first-ever appearance in an Eastern Block country. By now the SCORPIONS were a household name, with 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, the last album co-produced with Dieter Dierks, was released in 1988. It reached N° 3 in the US chart and N° 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.
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 SCORPIONS’ ballad Still Loving You had already found their way through the Iron Curtain. The SCORPIONS are still given a rapturous reception in Russia today.
A year later, in August 1989, 20 years after Woodstock, the Soviet authorities, encouraged by the success of the SCORPIONS’ 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, Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Cinderella and Ozzy Osbourne and the Russian band Gorky Park playing to 260,000 Soviet rock fans in Moscow’s Lenin Stadium. In September 1989 Klaus Meine drew on his impressions of the Moscow Music Peace Festival, to create the SCORPIONS’ smash hit Wind of Change.
Then, 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 Waters’s spectacular production, The Wall.
The SCORPIONS recorded a Russian version of Wind of Change. They also gained a distinguished fan. In 1991, the members of the German band were invited to the Kremlin to meet Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet head of state and party leader. It was a unique event in the history of the USSR and rock music.
Michael Gorbatschew receives the Scorpions at the Kreml
For the SCORPIONS too, the wind of change continued to blow. Before the production and release of their worldwide mega seller the Wind of Change CD, Crazy World (1990), their long relationship with Dieter Dierks, the Cologne-based producer of so many successful recordings, came to an end. The very first album to be produced by the SCORPIONS themselves, Crazy World, made in Los Angeles, coproduced by Keith Olsen and featuring the smash hit Wind of Change, 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 N° 1 slot in 11 countries. In 1992, they received the World Music Award as the most successful German rock act.
Crazy World is impressive testimony to the songwriting talents of the SCORPIONS’ masterminds: Matthias Jabs’s contribution is the dynamic title track Tease Me, Please Me, while Rudolf Schenker once again proves his ability to hit the spot with his classic SCORPIONS ballad, Send Me an Angel, and Klaus Meine displays his brilliance as a composer in 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-producer: Bruce Fairbairn), featured the band’s new bass man, conservatoire graduate Ralph Rieckermann.
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 ‘n’ 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 benefit single White Dove.
At the end of 1995, just before completing the Pure Instinct CD, co-produced by Keith Olsen and Erwin Musper and released in 1996, the SCORPIONS’ veteran drummer and long-time companion Herman "The German" Rarebell left the band. During the 1988 Savage Amusement tour, the US heavy metal band Kingdom Come, whose producer was Keith Olsen, had been a warm up act for the SCORPIONS.
Even then, the Germans were impressed by the style of the group’s Californian drummer James Kottak. In 1995 the SCORPIONS engaged former AC/DC manager Stewart Young¸ and it fell to him to call James Kottak on the phone and hire him as drummer for the upcoming 1996/97 Pure Instinct Live Tour. 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.
1993: Herman Rarebell, Ralph Rieckermann, Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Matthias Jabs
On the Pure Instinct world tour, the SCORPIONS proved 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 notch up well above average record sales and 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.
1999: Rudolf Schenker, Ralph Rieckermann, Klaus Meine, James Kottak,Matthias Jabs
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 SCORPIONS’ 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. With Du Bist So Schmutzig (You’re So Dirty), the SCORPIONS are heard for the first time singing a German lyric. 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.
True to their motto "Don’t 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 even 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, Austria’s Christian Kolonovits. As early as 1995 the SCORPIONS began their preparations. 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 Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate on 11 November 1999, the 10th anniversary of German reunification. Joining them in their performance of Wind of Change were 166 cellists. 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, using the stateof- the-art Surround System Atmos 5.1.
With the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra 2000
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.
SCORPIONS 2004 UNBREAKABLE
It’s been worth the wait. For UNBREAKABLE. With their uncompromising rock album the SCORPIONS have unequivocally sounded their return in 2004 to the worldwide hard’n’heavy arena.
UNBREAKABLE is a concept album in a very special sense. It symbolises the indestructibility of the basic musical coordinates of the SCORPIONS. The unique power triad of outstanding musical figures: singer-songwriter Klaus Meine, guitarist and composer Rudolf Schenker and lead guitarist and composer Matthias Jabs.
UNBREAKABLE, the twentieth SCORPIONS album, is the quintessence of thirty-five years of SCORPIONS history. And at the same time it marks the re-commitment of Germany’s internationally most successful hard rock export to their essential strengths. “First and foremost we are a rock band,” says Klaus Meine, leaving no room for doubt. “Our fans expect to really feel the lethal sting of the SCORPIONS. So with UNBREAKABLE we’ve recorded a typical SCORPIONS album.” Seconded by Rudolf Schenker: “After side projects like Moment Of Glory and Acoustica we owed our fans a kick-ass, bad-to-the-bone rock CD.” Rudolf Schenker sees UNBREAKABLE as building a bridge between the SCORPIONS and their fans. “It’s an album that brings the old and the new generation of SCORPIONS fans together.”
Matthias Jabs sums it up: “With the new album we’ve returned to what the SCORPIONS are really all about. Hand-made rock music. Pick up the instruments, plug them in, play,” is how he describes the highly successful three months spent working in the studio with producer Erwin Musper. “The band together in one room for the basic tracks - back to the roots but in the contemporary rock sound of 2004.
And at the same time we’ve reshaped our live set with the new songs.” Erwin Musper, who as producer and sound engineer knows the SCORPIONS better than anyone else, goes even further: “The SCORPIONS have set a new standard with UNBREAKABLE. It’s the best material the SCORPIONS have written in the last five years. Any rock band setting out to record a new album, should have UNBREAKABLE as a reference in their sound library.” Erwin Musper knows what he’s talking about. Born in The Netherlands, he’s been working with the SCORPIONS as producer and engineer since 1988. In addition, he has worked in the USA for many years as producer for bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Bon Jovi and Def Leppard. SCORPIONS drummer/composer, James Kottak, is up front about it: “UNBREAKABLE is the best record ever from Germany’s No. 1 rock machine.”
With UNBREAKABLE 2004 Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs are going onto the musical offensive with a typical SCORPIONS coup: Pawel Maciwoda is the new bass player of Germany’s globally most successful rock act. This new band member is another signal that there’s no going back for the SCORPIONS. Together with drummer James Kottak, this hard rock bass player, steeled in the New York professional scene, represents a pressure build-up in the SCORPIONS’ now outstanding rhythm’n’groove section.
UNBREAKABLE symbolises the musical and personal identity that has characterised the SCORPIONS for over thirty-five years and accounted for their lasting worldwide success. Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs are three musical individualists, who have been time-travelling together since 1978, without regard for the changing fashions and ethos of the moment, on a common musical journey through their own SCORPIONS universe.
The coordinates: compositional genius, unique musical identity, irrepressible will to succeed and unbroken pioneering spirit - true to the credo of “playing anywhere in the world where we can plug in”. The SCORPIONS are a live band. That’s the territory in which they’re most at home.
The inner strength of the SCORPIONS derives from the staunch friendship between Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs. On their concert tours, which can often last for months, they spend more time together, after all, than they do with their families. Their musical collaboration is characterised by the dedication and unconditional effort they put into their common goal: fighting to achieve the best at all times. True to their slogan “Don’t Stop At The Top”, the SCORPIONS tirelessly pursue their resolution of “always doing the unexpected”. In this they are supported by their unbridled passion for their music. The SCORPIONS love to push their sting out to the limits. This surge of positive energy is the power field that holds the multifacetted nucleus of the SCORPIONS together. It’s this element of friendship existing between the musicians and extending to their fans that remains the core strength of the SCORPIONS. The result is the strong fan basis around the world, which makes the SCORPIONS independent of the unpredictable and fluctuating moods of the international music market.
In terms of their music, the SCORPIONS have maintained an impressive balance between the wide-ranging musical tastes of their fans in different continents. In the USA it’s the straight rock numbers that are expected of the SCORPIONS. The same in Britain, Australia and Japan. In Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as in the countries of the South – Central and South America, Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Greece – it’s the rock ballads that the fans love best. In Asia, in countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea and the Philippines, the SCORPIONS have scored a remarkable success with their unplugged project Acoustica.
UNBREAKABLE is the payback for all the millions of loyal SCORPIONS fans around the world, who have followed their band through decades of successive and successful creative phases.
Looking back, the SCORPIONS have achieved everything that defines an internationally successful rock band. Their hard rock hits like Rock You Like A Hurricane, Blackout, Big City Nights, Dynamite, Coast To Coast, The Zoo, Coming Home, Hit between The Eyes and Tease Me Please Me thrill millions all over the world. The SCORPIONS virtually created a genre of modern hard rock. Together with Led Zeppelin, the SCORPIONS are the inventors of the hard rock ballad. Their power rock ballads, such as Still Loving You, Holiday, Send Me An Angel, When You Came Into My Life and You And I, as well as their unplugged oriented songs like Always Somewhere, A Moment In A Million Years and When The Smoke Is Going Down, appeal even to confirmed opponents of hard rock. In 1991 the SCORPIONS landed a worldwide No. 1 hit with the rock ballad Wind Of Change composed by Klaus Meine.
But Wind Of Change was not just a hit single. The song formed the soundtrack for one of the most significant events in world politics towards the end of the 20th century. Wind Of Change became the anthem for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the lifting of the Iron Curtain.
Spurred on by the undiminished enthusiasm of their fans, the SCORPIONS tour the world’s most important rock market, the USA, every year as headliners, performing at over 40 concerts. They give more than a hundred concerts a year in front of hundreds of thousands of fans in sold out halls and stadiums right round the globe, from Los Angeles to New York, from Anchorage to Santiago de Chile, from Glasgow to Beirut, from Helsinki to Vladivostok, from Bangalore to Tokyo.
Since the early 1980s the SCORPIONS have headlined at all international rock spectacles. In 1985 they appeared at the first Rock In Rio. In the mid-80s they topped the bill at the legendary Monsters Of Rock festivals. They are the only German band ever to have performed to a sold out Madison Square Garden in New York time after time. In 1999 they took part in the Michael Jackson & Friends benefit concert in Munich’s Olympic Stadium at the personal invitation of the King of Pop. In August 2000, 750,000 Polish rock fans made the pilgrimage to Cracow to experience the SCORPIONS live. Their many special appearances include events like the opening of the Tour de France in 2000 and the international Masters of Endurance motorcycle world championship in Magny-Cours, France, in 2001. Even heads-of-state get in on the act. In May 2003 the SCORPIONS performed in front of an audience including 40 international leaders at the tercentennial celebrations in St. Petersburg. In September 2003 the SCORPIONS played together with the Presidential Orchestra of the Russian Federation in Red Square in Moscow. This mega-spectacle was accompanied by a gigantic pyrotechnical light installation created by the worldrenowned pyro-light designer Gert Hof.
The concert set against the world famous backdrop of St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Lenin Mausoleum in front of the Kremlin marks a special high point in the SCORPIONS’ biography. The band has very close ties to Russia and the countries of Eastern Europe. In fact, they’re bonded in a unique musical kinship. Throughout Eastern Europe the SCORPIONS are superstars. In 2002 the SCORPIONS became the first western rock band to stage a tour of 23 concerts right across Russia and the former CIS states from the Baltic to the Sea of Japan. They appeared in major cities on both sides of the Urals, which were unknown territory even for the Russian organisers of the tour. In the once “closed city” of Nizhni Novgorod, formerly Gorky. In historic Volgograd. In Rostov-on-Don. In Samara, Naberezhnyye Chelny, Perm, Ufa. In Ekaterinburg, Tcheliabinsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Vladivostok. The tour took the SCORPIONS to cities no less marked by history in Ukraine. To Odessa on the Black Sea coast, to Dnepropetrovsk on the Dnepr and to Charkov.
The SCORPIONS were the first internationally known rock band to perform behind the Iron Curtain. That was in 1988 in St. Petersburg, the then Leningrad, where they gave ten sold-out concerts. This was the curtain-raiser to the legendary 1989 Moscow Music Peace Festival, the Woodstock of the USSR. SCORPIONS vocalist Klaus Meine forged his experiences into the SCORPIONS’ smash hit Wind of Change. Written in 1989, the song anticipated the lifting of the Iron Curtain and became the anthem of the opening up of Eastern Europe. In 1990 the SCORPIONS performed in reunified Berlin, in Potsdamer Platz, on the site of the newly cleared death strip which had divided the city, in Roger Waters’ rock spectacle The Wall. On December 14th 1991 Michail Gorbachev, the initiator of glasnost and perestroika and last head-of-state and party-leader of the USSR, invited the German SCORPIONS to a rock summit in the Kremlin. Eleven years later, in October 2002, the German SCORPIONS appeared in Volgograd, the former Stalingrad, the most heavily emotive city in recent German-Russian history. In 1999, to mark the 10th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the SCORPIONS were invited by the German government to appear at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where they were joined by 166 cellists in a performance of Wind Of Change. Conducted by the legendary Russian cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich.
The year 2000 saw the crowning musical honour. The globally celebrated Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, bearer of the legendary Karajan legacy, appeared together with the SCORPIONS at a special event at the EXPO world fair in Hanover. The programme: SCORPIONS’ classics, collected in the joint CD production Moment Of Glory. The title song, composed by Klaus Meine, was also the official anthem of EXPO, the first world fair to be held in Germany in the SCORPIONS’ home city of Hanover.
The Hanover EXPO, June 22nd 2000. It was the “Night of Nights”, the “Battle of the Giants”, a “musical exchange of fire” between rock band and classical orchestra of a standard never heard before. With this crossover project, the SCORPIONS achieved a remarkable bridging operation between orchestral and rock music and accessed an audience that would otherwise never venture into a rock arena. Through the CD and the concert the Berlin Philharmonic achieved sales figures and audience dimensions that are truly exceptional for classical productions. Renowned crossover arranger and conductor Christian Kolonovits from Vienna saw the joint project as nothing less than “an event at which SCORPIONS hits were used to write the history of thirty years of rock music.” Kolonovits achieved the ultimate fusion of these musical antitheses with Crossfire and the Deadly Sting Suite. At the climax of the concert, Kolonovits engaged the two bodies of musicians in such a furious instrumental interchange that even inveterate classical fans among the EXPO premiere audience were literally ripped out of their seats.
The successful collaboration with Christian Kolonovits led the SCORPIONS in 2001 to immediately follow the Moment Of Glory joint venture with the Berlin Philharmonic with the unplugged album Acoustica that had long been planned and was eagerly awaited by the band’s Asian fans. The SCORPIONS had mastered the technique of unplugged playing – using purely acoustic instruments – right from the start of their career as musicians, long before the MTV era. Rock music is their vocation, a tenet of their absolute professionalism, without which they could never have achieved what they have. The SCORPIONS are very happy to have produced Acoustica and are proud of their unplugged project. It was a challenge, musically, to take a song like Rock You Like A Hurricane, give it a new and sophisticated acoustic interpretation and perform it as an integral part of a live set. At the same time, Acoustica provided the impetus for the SCORPIONS to return to their musical roots with UNBREAKABLE and recommit themselves to their strengths as a live hard rock band.
Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs were shaped by the hard rock pioneers of the 60s, by bands and musicians like Spooky Tooth, The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, Eric Clapton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Led Zeppelin and of course The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. And they were also influenced by the rock’n’roll heroes of the 50s: Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Elvis Presley.
In the 1960s music scene in Hanover, Klaus Meine and SCORPIONS founder Rudolf Schenker crossed paths a number of times. It was right at the end of 1969 that the two decided to join up on the same musical path. The Schenker / Meine composing partnership laid the foundations for a spectacularly successful career. In 1979 Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker brought Matthias Jabs into the band as lead guitarist. His creativity and virtuosity were to make a decisive contribution to the international success of the SCORPIONS. It was with Matthias Jabs that the SCORPIONS made their breakthrough as an international hard rock act. American-born James Kottak joined the SCORPIONS as drummer in 1996. And the latest addition is Pawel Maciwoda, the power rock base-player who was born in Cracow in Poland, who joined the SCORPIONS in 2003. Both these musicians are proven hard rock specialists of international experience.
Even a band like the SCORPIONS, which has such a long history of success in the international music business, is bound to undergo changes. The band’s paradigmatic philosophy of friendship has stood the test of time, including the various changes of membership that have taken place in the 35-year-plus career of the SCORPIONS.
And the SCORPIONS have picked up on an interesting phenomenon with regard to the audiences at their concerts around the globe. More and more younger fans are crowding into the front rows - fans who’ve been inspired by the idols of their own generation and now want to see the originals.
From the very beginning, it was the vision of SCORPIONS founder Rudolf Schenker “to conquer the world through music” and “one day count among the best heavy rock bands in the world.” In musical terms, the SCORPIONS cover the whole spectrum of rock-specific genres in 2004: hard’n’heavy, unplugged and crossover. Yet right across the various arrangements the distinctive SCORPIONS identity is clearly recognisable in all SCORPIONS hits. The SCORPIONS’ songs and words address global issues and reflect what people around the globe feel about life. Musically the SCORPIONS’ compositions span the spectrum between driving rock riffs and deeply emotional power rock ballads.
All this has ensured that the SCORPIONS are the only German band to have unswervingly pursued an international career for over thirty-five years. “We’ve often been through hell, to experience heaven. We’ve always had faith in ourselves and have never accepted limitations for ourselves,” is how Rudolf Schenker sums it up.
“Doing a world tour and seeing how people respond to the music and are carried away by it,” is for Rudolf Schenker simply “the best there is.” An “adventure” that he “wouldn’t miss for the world.” For SCORPIONS vocalist Klaus Meine it’s “a fascinating experience, again and again, to contribute towards a peaceful world through the global language of music. To show that music is a language that crosses frontiers and overcomes differences.” The outstanding date in this respect was the concert the SCORPIONS – from Germany – gave in 2002 in Volgograd. For these musicians, born in post-war Germany between 1948 and 1955, it was a deeply feltcontribution towards atonement. What’s important for Matthias Jabs is to make “music that’s enduring” and that embodies the identity of the SCORPIONS. Over time and up there in front of the fans. Music that satisfies the band’s own musical needs and those of their audiences. Music, above all, that stands the test of a live concert – in the full exposure of the spotlights, “where you can’t hide anything.” In 2004 Klaus Meine gives this summary of the impressive history of the SCORPIONS: “There’ll never be any substitute for live concerts with real music and real feelings.” It’s a statement from the heart that also looks forward into the future. And UNBREAKABLE is the musical statement of now from Germany’s only global band.
© Moselle / Bendelow / Klingemann 2004