Formed on 1965, Scorpion is a German rock band that is composed of Rudolf Schenker on rhythm guitar, Herman Rarebell on drums, Matthias Jabs on lead guitar, Klaus Meine on vocals, and Francis Buchholz on bass. Throughout the ‘80s, Scorpions received several critical and positive reviews from music critics. They also experienced commercial success for six of their studio albums. Overall, Scorpions released 18 studio albums, 74 singles, and sold over 110 million records worldwide. The Rolling Stones magazine described the band as the heroes of heavy metal and MTV hailed them as the Ambassadors of Rock. Several successful artists such as Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, and Megadeth named Scorpions as one of the bands that influenced their music. In this article, we are going to know more about the band’s rise to success and their contributions in the music industry.
Formation and Early Years
Scorpions were formed by Rudolf Schenker in 1965. They started as a beat music band and Schenker was the lead vocalist of the band that time. When the ‘70s came, things started to come together for the band when Schenker’s younger brother named Michael and Klaus Meine decided to join the band. The band competed in a music contest and won with this line-up. In 1972, Scorpions recorded two songs to be a single but it was never released under the CCA label. That same year, Scorpions released their first album called Lonesome Crow which featured additional members such as Wolfgang Dziony on drums and Lother Heimberg on Bass. Scorpions embarked on a tour called Lonesome Crow tour to promote their album and they opened for the British band UFO. When the tour was almost over Scorpion’s lead guitarist and Rudolf Schenker’s brother accepted the offer to be UFO’s lead guitarist. He was replaced by Uli Jon Roth who was a friend of Michael’s and he helped Scorpions finish their tour.
In 1973, Uli Roth, the lead guitarist who helped Scorpions finish their tour, was offered by the band to officially join their group but he turned down the offer and decided to stay with the band Dawn Road. That’s why the exit of Michael Schenker led to the band’s breakup. Schenker then decided to work with Uli Roth an attend Dawn Road’s rehearsal until he eventually joined the band which was consisted of Roth on lead guitar, Achim Kirschning on keyboards, Francis Buchholz on bass, and Jurgen Rosenthal on drums. Uli Roth persuaded Rudolf Schenker to ask Klaus Meine to join the band and be its vocalist which he soon agreed to. Even if there were more members of Dawn Road than Scorpions, the band still decided to settle on the name Scorpions because it was already well known in the German rock scene and they already released an album during that time.
With the new line-up, Scorpion released their album called Fly to the Rainbow. The album became more successful compared to their previous album Lonesome Crow and it managed to establish the band’s sound. After that, Achim Kirschning decided to quit the band and he was followed by Jurgen Rosenthal because he was drafted into the army. Rosenthal was eventually replaced by a man from Belgium named Rudy Lenners. In 1975, Scorpions released their third studio album called In Trance which proved to be a huge step for the band because they got to establish their heavy metal formula and gained them a fan base in Germany. The following year, Scorpions released their fourth studio album called Virgin Killer which had an album cover that featured a nude prepubescent girl who is behind a broken pane glass. The cover art was designed by the Stefan Bohle who was the product manager of RCA records, Scorpion’s record label during that time. The cover art of their album helped the band to earn considerable market exposure even if it was pulled or replaced in other countries. Virgin Killer gained widespread praise from the band’s fan base and select critics. After a year, Rudy Lenners quit the band because of personal reasons. He was replaced by Herman Rarebell who used to record songs with Onyx and Missus Beastly.
Virgin Killer was followed up by their fifth studio album titled Taken By Force and this time, RCA promised the ban that they would be determined in promoting this album on the radio and in stores. RCA added some extra songs including its lead single, Steamrock Fever to gain more popularity. Uli Roth was very vocal how unhappy he was with the commercial direction that the band was taking. That’s why after performing on Scorpion’s Japan leg of the tour, Uli Roth decided to leave the band and form his own called Electric Sun. That same year, RCA released a live album called Tokyo Tapes. It was also during that time when the band decided to add Matthias Jabs.
After they added Jabs into their line-up, Scorpions decided to leave RCA Records and move to Mercury Records in the United States and Harvest/EMI. After that, Scorpions released their sixth studio album called Lovedrive which critics claimed to be the pinnacle of Scorpion’s success. The album featured the songs Holiday, Always Somewhere, Loving You Sunday Morning, and an instrumental song titled Coast to Coast. Lovedrive cemented Scorpions formula of mixing hard rock songs with melodic ballads. The album peaked at the 55th spot on the US charts which proved that Scorpions gained an international following.
In 1980, Scorpions released their follow up album called Animal Magnetism which featured another provocative album cover because it depicts a girl kneeling after a man and a Doberman Pinscher who was sitting in front of the man. The album featured the hit songs Make it Real and The Zoo. But shortly after its release, Meine began to experience throat problems which eventually needed surgery on his vocal cords. This began the doubts if he could ever sing again.
In 1981, Scorpions began working on their eighth studio album called Blackout. They decided to temporarily hire Don Dokken to be their backing vocals and provide guide while Meine recovers from his surgery. Luckily, Meine eventually healed and he was able to finish recording the album. Blackout was released in 1982 and it became the band’s best-selling album ever and it went platinum. Meine’s voice also didn’t show signs of weakness and in return, their fans’ response towards their new album was great. Blackout featured the two hit songs Can’t Live Without You and No One Like You.
In 1984, Scorpions released their follow up album called Love at First Sting which cemented their status as an internationally famous band. The album featured the hit single Rock You Like A Hurricane and went double platinum in the US just a few months after it was released. Other singles from the album such as Still Loving You, Bad Boys Running Wild, and Big City Nights gained significant airtime on MTV which also contributed to the album’s success. Scorpions toured extensively in 1985 to further promote their album and after that, they released their second live album called World Wide Live. The live album was recorded over their year-long world tour and it was released during the band’s peak of popularity.
After the extensive world tours, Scorpions finally had the time to get back to the studio and record their tenth studio album called Savage Amusement which was released in 1988. The album featured a more polished and mature sound. However, despite doing well in the market, the album was considered to be a critical disappointment.
In 1990, Scorpions released their eleventh studio album entitled Crazy World. On this album, the band replaced their long-time producer, Dieter Dierks and replaced him with Keith Olsen. The album was carried by the success of the ballad song Wind of Change. It was also the last album of Scorpions to achieve gold and platinum certification in the US.
In 1993, the band released their twelfth studio album called Face the Heat which featured a more metal sound but neither of the two singles namely Alien Nation and Under the Same Sun came close to matching the success of their previous singles. Three years later, they released their thirteenth album entitled Pure Instinct which featured the songs You and I and Wild Child. It was also during this time when Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell decided to leave the band to start his own recording company. He was temporarily replaced by Curt Cess before James Kottak took over and joined the band permanently.
In 1999, Scorpions released their 14th album called Eye II Eye which showed a significant change in the band’s music and style because it featured a more techno and pop vibe. The album was not received positively by fans and critics. The following year, they released a collaboration album with Berlin Philharmonic called Moment of Glory. The album featured ten songs which went a long way to rebuild Scorpion’s reputation after the failure of their previous album, Eye II Eye. Critics also accused the band of copying Metallica’s move when they collaborated with the San Francisco Symphony a year before Moment of Glory was released.
In 2001, Scorpions released an unplugged album called Acoustica which featured acoustic versions of their biggest hit songs and some new tracks. It received a positive response from their fans but the album did little for the band to return to the spotlight. Three years after that, they released their 15th studio album entitled Unbreakable which received little airplay and did not enter the charts. In 2007, the band released their 16th studio album and a concept album by James Michael and Desmond Child called Humanity: Hour 1 which debuted on the 63rd spot of the Billboard charts.
In November 2009, the band announced that they are working on their 17th studio album called Sting in the Tail. The album was released the following year and it was also the time when Scorpions announced that it would be their last album and that the supporting tour for that album would also be their last tour.
After a series of performances all over the world and despite the retirement and disbandment rumors, Scorpions announced on October 2014 that they would be releasing a new album in February or March 2015 to celebrate their 50th anniversary in the music industry. They did not disappoint their fans and released their album called Return to Forever on February 2015. And on August that same year, Scorpions also released 50th-anniversary deluxe editions of their albums, Tokyo Tapes, Love at First Sting, Taken By Force, World Wide Live, Blackout, Savage Amusement, Animal Magnetism, and Lovedrive which includes dozens of unreleased songs and alternate versions of their hit songs.