Scorpions are a heavy metal / hard rock band from Hannover, Germany, best known for their 1984 rock anthem “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and their singles “Wind of Change”, “No One Like You”, “Still Loving You”, and “Send Me an Angel”. The band has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Along withMetallica, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Kiss, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne and Deep Purple they are one of the most successfull hard rock/heavy metal acts and by far the most successful German Rock band in America and England. Rudolf Schenker, the band’s rhythm guitarist, explained in an interview with Songfacts: “In the beginning of our career, we had a problem in Germany because nobody expects a German band to play Rock music. With Rock music, there are more bands from England or America, which are more exotic than the Scorpions, who are from Germany. But when we went to America in ‘79, we became the exotic ones. They said, ‘Hey, what kind of crazy guys are these?’ (laughs) We were already exotic, with a different view, and we also play our Rock music with a little bit of an ethnic touch. You’ll notice that Americans come from the blues side, whereas we come from the classical side, which is different.”
The “Scorps” known to metal heads of the time, reminisce more of Lonesome Crow · Fly to the Rainbow · In Trance · Virgin Killer · Taken by Force · Lovedrive · Animal Magnetism. Only after the commercial success of “Blackout” did they start to get heavily pushed into the mainstream media of the U.S. market by Mercury records. Wind of change and Rock you like a Hurricane pushed The Scorps into the Limelight because of the heavy MTV push to please young rockers of the time.
Rock you like a Hurricane was overplayed by MTV because RCA wouldn’t let MTV have any of Scorpions old videos. MTV was the no mans land. They had no money to buy a big video collection of any artists and the owners of MTV got no money/backing of any big studio.
The consensus of the time thought MTV wouldn’t hold a dime to to the already popular television/music shows of the time “Midnight Special, Hee Haw, Soul Train and American Bandstand” and would fade away into the history books.
The song “Rock You Like a Hurricane” was created because Klaus Meine and the band wanted a song that thanked all his fans and the song was a reminder to the band of how all the Scorpions world wide fans made them feel. Hence the name “Rock You Like a Hurricane”
Formation and early history (1965-1973)
Rudolf Schenker set out to find a band in 1965. At first, the band was school-kind with beat influences and Schenker 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. Uli Roth was then called in temporarily to finish off the tour.
The departure of Michael Schenker led to the break up of the Scorpions. In 1973, guitarist Uli Roth, a 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 Schenker’s departure 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 Schenker attended some of Dawn Road’s rehearsals and ultimately decided to join the band, which consisted of Roth, Francis Buchholz (bass), Achim Kirschning (keyboard) and Jurgen Rosenthal (drums). Roth persuaded Rudolf Schenker 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 popularity (1974-1978)
In 1974 the new line-up of 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. Achim Kirschning decided to leave after the recordings but subsequently guested on keyboards for the next two albums. Soon after, Jürgen Rosenthal had to leave as he was being drafted into the army, and was replaced by a Belgian drummer, Rudy Lenners. He later joined German progressive rock band called Eloy in 1976 and recorded three albums with them. 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.
In 1976, 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 - lead singer Klaus Meine even expressed shock - the album garnered significant praise from critics and fans alike. The following year, Rudy Lenners resigned due to health reasons and was replaced by Herman Rarebell.
The follow-up to Virgin Killer, Taken by Force, was the first Scorpions record to be aggressively promoted in the United States. The album’s single, “Steamrock Fever”, was added to some of RCA’s radio promotional records. 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 to form his own band, Electric Sun 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 in mid 1978, Scorpions recruited new guitarist Matthias Jabs.
Commercial success (1979-1990)
Following the addition of Jabs, Scorpions left RCA for Mercury Records to record their next album. Just weeks after being evicted from UFO for his alcohol abuse, Michael Schenker also returned to the group for a short period during the recordings of the album. The result was Lovedrive. 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. Lovedrive peaked at #55 on the US charts proving that Scorpions were gathering an international following. After the completion and release of the album, the band decided to retain Michael in the band, thus forcing Matthias Jabs to leave. But after a few weeks of the tour, Michael, still coping with alcoholism, kept missing a few gigs and Matthias Jabs was brought back to fill in for him on those occasions when he couldn’t perform. In April 1979, during their tour in France, Matthias Jabs was brought in permanently to replace Michael Schenker.
In 1980, the band released Animal Magnetism, again with a provocative cover showing a girl kneeling in front of a man’s crotch. While Animal Magnetism contained classics such as “The Zoo” and “Make It Real”, it was a critical disappointment when compared with Lovedrive.
The band then began working on their next album. Blackout was released in 1982 and quickly became the band’s best selling to date, eventually going platinum. 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 single “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, Love at First Sting went up the charts and went double platinum a few months after its release. 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 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.
On the Savage Amusement tour in ‘88, Scorpions became only the second Western group to play in the Soviet Union (the first being Uriah Heep in December 1987), with a performance in Leningrad. The following year the band returned to perform at the Moscow Music Peace Festival.
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”.
Later 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.
In 1993 Scorpions released Face the Heat. For the recording process, Scorpions brought in producer Bruce Fairbairn. The album’s sound was more metallic than melodic. Face the Heat was a moderate success.
In 1995, a new live album, Live Bites, was produced. The disc documented live performances from their Savage Amusement Tour in 1988, all the way through the Face the Heat Tour in 1994. 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, 1996’s Pure Instinct, drummer Herman Rarebell left the band to set up a recording company. Curt Cress and Pitty Hecht took charge of the drumsticks for the album before James Kottak took over permanently.
1999 saw the release of Eye II Eye and a significant change in the band’s style, 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 Lewinsky lookalike which did little to improve its popularity.
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.
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 2005 British tour.
In early 2006, Scorpions released the DVD 1 Night in Vienna that included 14 live tracks and a complete rockumentary.
In May of 2007, Scorpions released Humanity - Hour 1 in Europe. Humanity - Hour 1 became available in the U.S. on August 28, 2007 on New Door Records, entering the Billboard charts at number #63.
24 JANUARY 2010
Scorpions announce retirement.