Scorpions (1965-present): a Heavy Metal band from Hanover, Germany.
ounded by the guitar playing Schenker brothers (Michael and Rudolph), along with Klaus Meine (vocals), Lothar Heinberg (bass) and Wolfgang Dziony (drums), Scorpions premier record on the domestic 'Brain' label, Lonesome Crow (1973), was well received but the celebration was short lived. Michael wanted a show of his own and soon left to join U.F.O., later forming his own MSG to be replaced by Ulrich Roth in 1974. Jurgen Rosenthal replaced Dziony and Francis Buchholz took the place of Lothar.
1974 saw them singing to 'MCA' and releasing the follow-up album, Fly To The Rainbow. Their sound was now evolving into Jazz-influenced German hard rock with high-pitched vocals and lumbering riffs. The album proved to be even more successful than the previous. Rudy Lenners took over drums from Rosenthal the following year. This sound and line-up would influence the follow-up releases, In Trance (1976), Virgin Killers (1977) and Taken By Force (1978). Tokyo Tapes (1979) was a live effort that neatly summed up their career to that point. Roth, unhappy with the more commercial direction the act was taking, left to form Electric Sun, his replacement being Mathias Jabs. Michael Schenker returned briefly and was featured on three tracks of the Lovedrive (1979) release. At the same time, Herman Rarebell replaced Linners. Now under a new deal with 'Harvest', this latest effort drove them into the top 40 and top 60 in the UK and US respectively. The follow-up fared even better. Animal Magnetism (1980) got them into the UK top 20, mostly on the track The Zoo; it was now clear their musical improvements were being matched on the production side.
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Meanwhile, calling themselves The Hunters for a side project, they recorded Fuchs geh' voran and Wenn es richtig losgeht, German cover versions of Action and Fox on the Run by Sweet for 'EMI's Electrola' label.
Their 1976 album, Virgin Killer, the album cover of which featuring a nude prepubescent girl behind a broken pane of glass received considerable controversy for said artwork. The cover art was designed by Stefan Bohle who was the product manager for 'RCA Records', their label at the time. The artwork got the band press coverage and exposure but the cover was either pulled or modified in other countries. The controversy continued for decades, for in 2008, the cover art shown on the English Wikipedia was blacklisted by the Internet Watch Foundation.
Blackout (1982) finally broke them stateside, achieving double platinum with a 10 US/11 UK chart position, and it's follow-up Love At First Sting (1984), sold twice that, with the track Rock You Like Hurricane making top 30 on it's own with the album taking 6 in the US/17 UK World Wide Live (1985), a live set, followed this trend and featured only tracks since their last live effort; summing up another chapter in their collective life. Now the Scorpions were tailoring their music for the US market almost exclusively by featuring hooky lyrics with pop melody and hard rock crunch. This style fit nicely in between the NWOBHM and pop Metal phenomenon that was sweeping that nation at the time.
It would be a further four years, however, before Savage Amusement (1988) would surface. It was at this point they singed to 'Phonogram', as well as ending their 20 year relationship with producer Dieter Dierks. Their career would further be boosted in 1991 with the ballad single Wind Of Change, getting top 5 US and a 1 worldwide, taken from the otherwise mediocre Crazy World album (1990). The single gave them instant crossover appeal without sacrificing their fan base; it even helped them become the first western rock band to play in the Soviet Union. The song was influenced by the events of the time and took a very political point of view on the sweeping changes that were happening in the communist bloc at that time. A version of the song was actually translated into Russian!
Their tales of crazy nights and loose women had been traded, for a time, for more political issues from this point on, and Face The Heat (1993) was their first full album of this style by taking on the issues of unification of east and west Germany, their homelands. But before its release, Buchholz was given the sack and replaced with Ralph Reickermann, who previously worked as a computer programr for Kingdom Come, along with various other soundtrack work. To further compound the issue, the band was being investigated for alleged tax evasion.
Live Bites (1995), another live effort, and Pure Instict (1996) would follow, but hovered only in and around the 100 positions, their glory days slowly slipping away. The latter album also witnessed another membership change with Rarebell giving way for Curt Cress on drums, while Reickermannwould also leave. The membership saw Patti Height (drums), Luke Herzog and Koen Van Bael (both keyboards) taking guest spots.
Not to be deterred, Eye to Eye emerged in 1999 with James Kottak on drums, to little notice; their sound now far less Metallic than their beginnings. After Ken Taylor replaced Reickermann on bass, Moment Of Glory (2000) would continue this trend with a Metallica meets an orchestra effort with the album featuring The Berlin Philharmonic. Continuing on this trend the aptly titled Acoustica followed in 2001 with the return of Ralph Rieckermann. But Rieckermann would be out again and replaced with Pawel Maciwoda for the release of the follow-up, Unbreakable (2004), 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. 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.
The concept album, Humanity: Hour I followed in May 2007. ALso, that same year, the band collaborated with two of their tracks for the video game series, guitar Hero No One Like You was featured on the "Rocks the '80s" version of the game while Rock You Like A Hurricane was featured on "guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock".
2007 was a busy year for the Scorpions. On 20 December 2007, the Scorpions played at a concert for the elite of Russia's security forces in the Kremlin. The concert was a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of the "Cheka" (predecessor of the KGB - now the FSB). Members of the audience included Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Trying to avoid the controversy that inevitably followed such a stunt, the band have since claimed that they thought they were performing a Christmas concert and that their concert was by no means a tribute to the Cheka or communism.
On 24 January 2010, the band announced their intentions that Sting in the Tail (2009) was their last album, with the tour supporting it being their final tour, although the band later made the decision to continue recording past the end of the tour. For that tour, Dokken was scheduled to open for them but cancelled after a dispute.
Return to Forever would follow in 2015, with Mikkey Dee (ex-Motorhead) assuming the drums the next year.
On 29 August 2015, the Scorpions announced 50th anniversary deluxe editions of their albums Taken By Force, Tokyo Tapes, Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, Blackout, Love At First Sting, World Wide Live, and Savage Amusement would be released. These deluxe versions included "dozens of unreleased songs, alternate versions of big hits, rough mixes, and rare live concert recordings".
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Scorpions live at Rockfest, Barcelona 2015.
Photo by: dr_zoidberg
(CC BY-SA 2.0)
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