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In 1977, Roth decided to quit the Scorpions and start his own band, Electric Sun (yes, the very same!)


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Scorpions had their first cult hit with No one like you featured in Blackout, which went platinum in the US alone. Though Blackout was so hugely successful, the band officially shot into super-stardom with the 1984 powerful follow-up, Love At First Sting

Feature

Longing for a sting

The Scorpions perform in Bangalore on August 9, and their Indian fans are hoping rain won't spoil the show
  
 

It's been raining in Bangalore as we write this on August 8. The clouds haven't let in too much sun in the last couple of days, and no one knows how things will go on the day of the show. There have two huge rock shows in Bangalore this year. The weather was balmy at the Deep Purple show; it rained softly at the Bryan Adams concert. So what do the stars foretell for the night of the Scorpions?

The Scorpions have been around since the time of the Revolution in rock, when bands like Pink Floyd were slipping into temporary recession (with their famed frontman and founder Syd Barrett going insane, and internecine ego hassles) and other bands like The Doors were riding high (both figuratively and literally). Jim Morrison was to die about two-and-a-half years later, but that's another story. It was a time when Psychedelia was on its way out and other harder Rock Acts like Led Zeppelin (and the Yardbirds before them) and Black Sabbath were hugely popular.

Though one never even heard of the German-based band until about 1980, when they recorded Animal Magnetism, which went gold in the US, the Scorpions have been around since 1969. The original line-up that Rudolf Schenker (himself on rhythm/vocals) got together was lead guitarist Karl-Heinz Follmer (the other famous Karlheinz is Stockhausen, one of the most gifted electronica artistes who was around from the '60s to the late '70s), Lothar Heimberg (bass) and Wolfgang Dziony on drums.

In '71, Schenker's younger brother Michael joined the band as lead guitarist to provide a foil for Follmer, and good friend Klaus Meine took over the reins as vocalist. The Scorpions were now ready to record the album Lonesome Crow (1972), which became the soundtrack for the German film Das Kalte Paradies. Although the album failed to get them in the limelight, guitarist Michael Schenker had caught the fancy of the then newly formed Rock group, UFO.

Michael, therefore, had to leave the Scorpions by 1973 to join UFO as their lead guitarist. Guitarist Uli Jon Roth replaced him. Thanks to Uli's efforts, the Scorpions released four consecutive albums under the RCA label: Fly to the Rainbow (1974), In Trance (1975), Virgin Killer (1976) and Taken by Force (1977).

The year this last album was released, Roth decided to quit the Scorpions and start his own band, Electric Sun (yes, the very same!). It was about the time Michael, having been kicked out of UFO for his constant alcohol abuse, rejoined the Scorpions in 1979. The year saw them release one of their finest works, Lovedrive (it is a personal fave). They followed it up with their first American tour. Lovedrive went on to win the Grammy for best cover artwork of the year. Ironically, the album failed to make an impact on the US charts as it was banned because of its sexually explicit cover.

Still fighting his drugs and alcohol addiction, Michael repeatedly missed concert and recording dates, forcing the band to hire guitarist Matthias Jabs as a substitute. Everybody soon realised that Jabs was a better guitarist: he was a far more creative player than Michael had proved to be. Now, with a new line-up of Rudolf on rhythm guitar, Klaus Meine on vocals, Matthias on lead, Francis Bucolz on bass and Herman Rarebell on skins, the band released that huge hit album, Animal Magnetism.

After the success of this album, the band went right back to the studio to start working on their next biggie. That, sadly, ran into problems because Meine had lost his voice and had to undergo surgery for his vocal chords. Rumours (tell me of a band that is spared these), of course, raged that Meine had been fired and heavy metal singer Don Dokken had taken his place. The Scorpions, of course, put paid to all the tongue-wagging when they released Blackout ['82] with Meine back with his voice lustier, and a range wider than before.

The Germans had their first cult hit with No one like you featured in Blackout, which went platinum in the US alone. Though Blackout was so hugely successful, the band officially shot into super-stardom with the 1984 powerful follow-up, Love At First Sting. The album had another cult hit, Rock You Like A Hurricane (which is now reworked and renamed Hurricane 2001 for their latest tour, which by the way, is part of a punishing tour that takes them half-way across the globe -- from Seoul to Athens).

Love at First Sting eventually would achieve double-platinum status -- selling over a million-and-a-half copies -- again in the US alone. After releasing another album in 1985 (World Wide Live), the group went into hibernation for the next two years, releasing their next album, Savage Amusement, only by 1988. The track Rhythm of love made the album another runaway hit. Their 1990 album, Crazy World, has been their best selling album to date, thanks to the powerful ballad, Winds Of Change.

Not too surprisingly, Crazy World was their last chart-blasting release in the US. By the time their next album (Face the Heat) hit US shelves in early '93, many long-time Scorpion fans had lost interest in the band because of the Garage and Grunge explosion of that time -- with bands like Nirvana reaching the top slot in most charts. They had little to complain, though, as Face The Heat did eventually reach gold.

In '95, the Scorpions released another concert album, Live Bites. The following year, one saw some new faces in the band when they released Pure Instinct with bassist Ralph Riekermann and drummer James Kottak. Mercury Records released a double album of the band's greatest hits (they had enough by then) in 1997 and called it Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years. Eye to Eye, an album where the band experimented with pop-techno melodies, was released in the summer of 1999. Moment of Glory, their first album of the millennium, featured the Berlin Philharmonic.

The Scorpions are doing the Indian leg of their tour with a fifteen-member orchestra with a much-hyped show at Bangalore. They have been travelling long -- this tour began on July 26 in South Korea. They come into India after an evening at Bangkok, and are headed out from here to another show at Portugal. It's a long haul through a blur of stops across Europe before they wind up this tour in Greece in late September.

I, among many thousands, look forward to this wonderful evening when the Scorpions will go unplugged. If you're among Hard-Rock-haters, join in. You can expect them to lean towards arrangements that are more classical in nature for some of their songs that you can hardly imagine being played without an electric guitar!

Niki Nirvikalpa

Published on 8 Aug 2001


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