The Scorpions (DE)
Members: Klaus Meine, Matthias Jabs, Rudolf Schenker, James Kottak, Paweł Mąciwoda
Active: 1969 -present
Rudolf Schenker, the band's rhythm guitarist, set out to find a band in 1965. First this was a school-kind-band with beat influences and Rudolf himself on vocals. Things began to come together in 1969 when Schenker's younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. In 1972 the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow with Lothar Heimberg on bass and Wolfgang Dziony on drums. During the Lonesome Crow tour, Scorpions opened for upcoming British band UFO. At the end of the tour the members of UFO offered guitarist Michael Schenker the lead guitar job; an offer which he soon accepted.
The departure of Michael led to Scorpions dissolvement. In 1973, guitarist Uli Roth and friend of the Schenker brothers was in a band called Dawn Road. He had been offered the role as lead guitarist in Scorpions after Michael's departure (and even performed a gig with them) but turned the band down. Rudolf decided that he wanted to work with Roth, but did not want to resurrect the last Scorpions lineup.
Rudolf attended some of Dawn Road's rehearsals and ultimately decided to join the band which consisted of Roth, Francis Buchholz (bass), and Juergen Rosenthal (drums). Roth persuaded Rudolf to invite Klaus Meine to join which he did soon after. While there were more members of Dawn Road than Scorpions in the band, they decided to use the Scorpions name because they had released an album and were known in the German hard rock scene.
RISE TO FAME 1974 - 1978
In 1974 the new Scorpions released Fly to the Rainbow. The album proved to be more successful than Lonesome Crow and songs such as "Speedy's Coming", and the title track began to establish the band's sound. It wasn't until the following year that the band hit their stride with the release of In Trance. In Trance marked the beginning of Scorpions long collaboration with German producer Dieter Dierks. The album was a huge step forward for Scorpions and firmly established their hard rock formula, while at the same time garnering a substantial fan base, both at home and abroad. Cuts such as "Dark Lady", "Robot Man" and the title track are still considered classics by fans today.
In 1977, Scorpions released Virgin Killer. The album's cover, which featured a fully nude prepubescent girl, brought the band considerable criticism and was ultimately pulled or replaced in several countries. In spite of the controversy, the album garnered significant praise from critics and fans alike.
The followup to Virgin Killer, Taken by Force, was the first Scorpions record to be aggressively promoted in the United States. The band's label, RCA, made numerous efforts to promote the album in stores and on the radio. The album's single, "Steamrock Fever", was added to some of RCA's radio promotional records. RCA also supervised the album cover design avoiding any controversy by including introduction-type photographs that included the names of each member under individual photos. Ulrich Roth was not happy with the label's efforts and the commercial direction the band was taking. Although he performed on the band's Japan tour, he departed prior to the release of the resultant double live album Tokyo Tapes. Tokyo Tapes was released in the US and Europe six months after its Japanese release. By that time, Scorpions were already moving forward with new guitarist Matthias Jabs.
COMMERCIAL SUCCESS 1979-1990
Following the addition of Jabs, Scorpions returned to the studio to record their next album. Just weeks after quitting UFO, Rudolph's brother Michael also returned to the group giving the band three guitarists (though Michael's contributions to the final release was limited to only three songs,). The result was Lovedrive an album which many critics and fan consider the pinnacle of their career. Containing such fan favorites as "Loving You Sunday Morning," "Holiday" and the instrumental "Coast to Coast," the Scorpions formula of hard rock songs mixed in with melodic ballads was firmly cemented. The album's provocative artwork was named "Best album sleeve of 1979" by Playboy magazine but was ultimately changed for American release. Lovedrive peaked at #55 on the US charts proving that Scorpions were gathering an international following.
In 1980, the band released Animal Magnetism, again with a provocative cover. While Animal Magnetism contained classics such as "The Zoo" and "Make It Real," it was a critical disappointment when compared with Lovedrive. Soon after the album's release, Klaus Meine began experiencing throat problems. He required surgery on his vocal chords and there were doubts as to whether Klaus would ever sing again with the Scorpions.
While Klaus rehabbed, the band began working on their next album, Blackout. Don Dokken was brought in to provide guide and backing vocals so that Klaus could let his vocal chords completely heal. Klaus eventually healed completely and was able to finish the album. Blackout was released in 1982 and quickly became the band's best selling to date, eventually going platinum. Klaus' voice showed no signs of weakness and critical response to the album was good. Blackout spawned three hit singles: "Dynamite," "Blackout" and "No One Like You".
It was not until 1984 and the release of Love At First Sting that the band finally cemented their status as rock superstars. Propelled by the monster single "Rock You Like A Hurricane", Love At First Sting rocketed up the charts and went double platinum. However, Scorpions did manage to stir up controversy once again with their provocative album cover. Some shops even refused to sell the album, mimicking a gag from the satire movie This Is Spinal Tap that came out the same year. MTV gave the album's videos "Rock You Like A Hurricane," "Bad Boys Running Wild," "Big City Nights," and the power ballad "Still Loving You" significant airtime, greatly contributing to the album's success. The channel even supplied Scorpions with the nickname "The Ambassadors of Rock."
The band toured extensively behind Love At First Sting and decided to record and release their second live album, World Wide Live. Recorded over a year long period and released at the height of their popularity, the album was another success for the band, peaking at #17 on the charts.
After their extensive world tours, the band finally returned to the studio to record Savage Amusement. Released in 1988, four years after their previous studio album, Savage Amusement represented a more polished pop sound similar to the style Def Leppard had found success with. The album sold well, but was considered somewhat of a critical disappointment.
On the Savage Amusement tour in '88, Scorpions became the first Western group to play in the former Soviet Union with a performance in Leningrad. The following year the band returned to perform at the Moscow Music Peace Festival. As a result, Scorpions developed a strong Russian fan base and still return regularly to perform throughout the area.
Wishing to distance themselves from the Savage Amusement style, the band separated from their long-time producer and "Sixth Scorpion," Dieter Dierks, ultimately replacing him with Keith Olsen when they returned to the studio in 1990. Crazy World was released that same year and displayed a less polished sound. The album was a hit, propelled in large part by the massive success of the ballad "Wind of Change." The song muses on the socio-political changes that were occurring in Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world at the end of the Cold War. On July 21, 1990 they joined many other guests for Roger Waters' massive performance of The Wall in Berlin. Scorpions performed both versions of "In the Flesh" from The Wall.
LATTER DAYS 1991 - PRESENT
After the release of Crazy World Francis Buchholz, the band's long-serving bassist, left the group. Replacing him was Ralph Rieckermann who handled bass duties until 2002. There were also rumours that Scorpions were upset by the heavy taxes they paid from royalties of Crazy World. As a result, they fired their manager, feeling that they might have been cheated.
In 1993 Scorpions released Face the Heat. For the recording process, Scorpions brought in legendary producer Bruce Fairbairn. The album's sound was more metallic than melodic and divided the band's fan base somewhat. Many "headbangers" responded positively to the album while many long time fans were put off. Neither the hard-rock single "Alien Nation" nor the ballad "Under The Same Sun" came close to matching the success of "Wind Of Change". Face the Heat was a moderate success, but was the last Scorpions album to chart highly.
Around 1995, a new live album, Live Bites, was produced. The disc documented live performances from their Rhythm of Love Tour in 1988, all the way through the Face the Heat Tour in 1995. While the album had a much cleaner sound in comparison to their best-selling live album, World Wide Live, it was not as successful.
Prior to recording their 13th studio album, Pure Instinct, drummer Herman Rarebell left the band to set up a recording company. Curt Cress took charge of the drumsticks for the album before James Kottak took over permanently. Many feel Pure Instinct is a response to the complaints levied against Face the Heat. The album had many ballads but was criticized by some fans for being too soft as there were only two rockers in the album. Still, the album's singles "Wild Child" and the soothing ballad "You and I" both enjoyed moderate success.
Following the release of Pure Instinct, Scorpions did some touring before finally returning to the studio in 1999 to record their 14th album, Eye II Eye. In what appeared to be a decidedly misguided attempt to remain relevant in the changing soundscape of late '90s rock, the band changed their style significantly, mixing in elements of pop and techno. While the album was slickly produced, fans were unsure what to make of the band, responding negatively to almost everything from pop-soul backup singers to the electronic drums present on several songs. The video to the album's first European single, "To Be No. 1", featured a Monica Lewinski lookalike which did little to improve its popularity. Generally regarded as the low point for Scorpions, the band claims that it was important for their development.
The following year Scorpions had a fairly successful collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic that resulted in a 10-song album named Moment of Glory. The album went a long way towards rebuilding the band's reputation after the harsh criticism of Eye II Eye. Still, critics accused them of following on the coattails of Metallica's similar collaboration (S&M) with the San Francisco Symphony which had been released the previous year. Scorpions can't be completely accused of being copycats as the orchestra had first approached Scorpions with the idea back in 1995 and bands such as Kiss had been performing similar concerts years before.
In 2001, Scorpions released Acoustica, a live unplugged album featuring acoustic reworkings of the band's biggest hits, plus new tracks. While appreciated by fans, the lack of a new studio album was frustrating to some, and Acoustica did little to return the band to the spotlight.
In 2004, the band released Unbreakable, an album that was hailed by critics as a long awaited return to form. The album was the heaviest the band had released since Face the Heat, and fans responded well to tracks such as "New Generation", "Love 'em or Leave 'em" and "Deep and Dark". Whether a result of poor promotion by the band's label or the long time between studio releases, Unbreakable received little airplay and did not chart. Scorpions toured extensively behind the album, and played as special guests with Judas Priest during the British tour.
1972 - Lonesome Crow
1974 - Fly to the Rainbow
1976 - In Trance
1977 - Virgin Killer
1978 - Taken by Force
1979 - Tokyo Tapes (live recording)
1979 - Lovedrive
1980 - Animal Magnetism (
1982 - Blackout
1984 - Love at First Sting
1985 - World Wide Live (live recording)
1988 - Savage Amusement
1990 - Crazy World
1993 - Face the Heat
1995 - Live Bites (live recording)
1996 - Pure Instinct
1999 - Eye II Eye
2000 -Moment of Glory (With the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra)
2001 - Acoustica (Unplugged)
2004 - Unbreakable
1984 - Still Loving You (1 EP : 1 Single)
1989 - Best of Rockers 'n' Ballads
19997 - Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years
2001 - 20th Century Masters: The Best of Scorpions (The Millennium Collection)
2002 - Classic Bites
2006 - Gold