M.S.G. (1979-1986, 1992-present): a Heavy Metal band from London, UK.
fter playing with U.F.O. and the Scorpions, guitarist Michael Schenker decided to go solo in 1980. He recruited Gary Barden (vocals), Simon Philips (drums), Mo Foster (bass) and Don Airey (keyboards) to form the Michael Schenker Group (later shortened to just MSG). Much in the style as his previous playing partners, Schenker maintained his screaming guitar style, but that's about all he kept. Operating like a little emperor with full control of the outfit, the pretty-faced Schenker would hire and fire musicians almost at will and on a whim, thus making his group's line-up forever unstable. Signed to 'Chrysalis', their debut The Michael Schenker Group (1980) came and went by making only 100 in the US but succeeded with an 8 in the UK; indeed, during their entire career they would do better in the UK than the US. By the time their second album, MSG (1981), had emerged, Barden with Schenker himself stood as the only survivor, with Cozy Powell (drums), Chris Glen (ex-Sensational Alex Harvey Band; bass) and Paul Raymond (ex-U.F.O.; keyboards) replacing the rest.
They received acclaim in Asia, where they recorded the live double set One Night At Budoken (1982) at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Ironically, it was this Asian album that got them notice in Europe.
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Barden would finally be removed, however, and be replaced with Graham Bonnet. Ted McKenna (ex-Rory Gallagher; drums) was also recruited for Assault Attack, their 1982 album. This album was far more blues based than the previous works, due much to the influence of Bonnet. It wasn't to last, for Schenker fired Bonnet shortly after the album's release to bring back Barden. Their next two albums, Built To Destroy (1983) and Rock Will Never Die (1984; live), contributed little to their repertoire by featuring rehashed ideas and a highly formulated structure. Even vocalist and ex-Ted Nugent member Derek Holmes couldn't help, same for Andy Nye (keyboards) while on tour. Barden had apparently had enough and quit to form Statetrooper with the rest of MSG falling apart soon after.
Schenker returned to Germany but didn't stay quiet for long. He quickly teamed up with Robin McCauley (ex-Grand Prix/ex-Far Corporation; vocals) to form the McCauley-Schenker Group (still using the MSG acronym). They completed the new band with Steve Mann (keyboards), Rocky Newton (bass), Mitch Perry (guitar) and Bobo Schopf (drums). They concentrated on a more melodic direction, and it appeared that McCauley was someone Schenker could work with.
As the new and altered MSG, their first two albums Perfect Timing (1987) and Save Yourself (1989) established them a new solid fan base and a new record company 'EMI', as well as a new line up shortly after of Jeff Pilson (ex-Dokken; bass) and James Kottak (ex-Kingdom Come; drums). The follow-up self-titled MSG (1992; LP version published as Schenker-McAuley) was hated universally but the group trudged on, and perhaps figuring the electricity was the cause they cut it completely, to release the EP Nightmare: The Acoustic M.S.G. (1992) an acoustic re-make of many of their hits. Not surprisingly it went nowhere!
Once again with the Michael Schenker Group, Written In The Sand (1996) followed along with The Unforgiven (1999) after. The next set: Be Aware of Scorpions (2001), Arachnophobiac (2003), Tales of rock 'n' Roll (2006) and In the Midst of Beauty (2008) would round out the discography until the Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock project started up with the discography of: Temple of Rock (2011), Bridge the Gap (2013) and Spirit on a Mission (2015). Incremental membership changes happened during these releases but 2016 saw some larger changes making the membership feature: Michael Schenker (guitar), Gary Barden (vocals), Graham Bonnet (vocals), Robin McAuley (vocals), Chris Glen (bass), Ted McKenna (drums) and Steve Mann (keyboards/rhythm guitar).
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Michael Schenker Group performing live at the Gramercy Theater in NYC on March 9th, 2012. Photo by: Zam226.
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