Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1965 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the band’s inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock, heavy metal, glam metal, and soft rock.
The lineup from 1978 to 1992 was the most successful incarnation of the group, and included Klaus Meine (vocals), Rudolf Schenker (rhythm guitar), Matthias Jabs (lead guitar), Francis Buchholz (bass), and Herman Rarebell (drums). The band’s only continuous member has been Schenker, although Meine has appeared on all of Scorpions’ studio albums, while Jabs has been a consistent member since 1978, and bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and drummer Mikkey Dee have been in the band since 2003 and 2016 respectively.
During the mid-1970s, with guitarist Uli Jon Roth (who replaced Schenker’s younger brother Michael) part of the line-up, the music of the Scorpions was defined as hard rock. After Roth’s departure in 1978, Schenker and Meine managed to take control of the group, giving them almost all the power to compose music and write lyrics. Matthias Jabs joined in 1978, and with the melodic rock he played and the influence of producer Dieter Dierks in the band, the Scorpions changed their sound to melodic heavy metal mixed with lyrical “power rock ballads”, which is evident in the album Lovedrive (1979), which began the evolution of the band’s sound, developed later in several of their albums. Over the next decade, the band achieved influence, approval from music critics, and significant commercial success with the albums Animal Magnetism (1980), Blackout (1982), Love at First Sting (1984), the live recording World Wide Live (1985), Savage Amusement (1988), their best-selling compilation Best of Rockers ‘n’ Ballads (1989), and Crazy World (1990), all awarded at least one platinum award in the United States.
The band has released thirteen consecutive studio albums that were in the top 10 in Germany, one of which reached No. 1, as well as three consecutive albums that were in the top 10 in the Billboard 200 in the United States. Their latest studio album, Rock Believer, was released in February 2022.
Scorpions are estimated to have sold over 100 million records around the world, making them one of the best-selling hard rock and heavy metal bands. One of their most recognized hits is “Wind of Change” (from Crazy World), a symbolic anthem of the political changes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the fall of the Berlin Wall, and it remains as one of the best-selling singles in the world with over 14 million copies. Two of the songs on their ninth studio album Love at First Sting, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Still Loving You”, are regarded as some of the most influential and popular works, both in heavy metal music and among rock ballads, defined as “rock anthem” and “a true hymn of love”.
Rudolf Schenker, the band’s rhythm guitarist, launched the band in 1965. At first, the band had Merseybeat influences and Schenker himself handled the vocals. He played in a band with Lothar Heimberg before he founded Scorpions. Karl Heinz Vollmer left the band in 1967 because of his military obligations, then he could not associate anymore with the concerts and the military life. Things began to come together in 1970 when Schenker’s younger brother Michael and vocalist Klaus Meine joined the band. With this line-up they won a music contest in 1972 and recorded two songs for a single that was never released on the CCA label, but the songs, “Action” and “I’m Going Mad” were later released on different compilation albums including Psychedelic Gems 2
In 1972, the group recorded and released their debut album Lonesome Crow, with Lothar Heimberg on bass and Wolfgang Dziony on drums and re-recorded versions of their CCA songs. During the Lonesome Crow tour, the Scorpions opened for upcoming British band UFO. Near the end of the tour, guitarist Michael Schenker accepted an offer of lead guitar for UFO. Uli Jon Roth, a friend of Michael’s, was then introduced to the band and he helped them to finish off the tour.
The departure of Michael Schenker led to the breakup of the band. In 1973, Uli Roth, who had helped the Scorpions complete the Lonesome Crow tour, was offered the role as lead guitarist, but turned the band down, preferring instead to remain in the band Dawn Road. Rudolf Schenker eventually decided he wanted to work with Roth, but did not want to resurrect the last Scorpions lineup. He attended some of Dawn Road’s rehearsals and ultimately decided to join the band, which consisted of Roth, Francis Buchholz (bass), Achim Kirschning (keyboards) and Jürgen Rosenthal (drums). Uli Roth and Buchholz persuaded Rudolf Schenker to invite Klaus Meine to join on vocals, which he soon did. While there were more members of Dawn Road than Scorpions in the band, they decided to use the Scorpions name because it was well known in the German hard rock scene and an album had been released under that name. (wikipedia)
Early concert poster:
And here´s their debut album from 1972:
Every rock and roll story starts somewhere. The Scorpions, hailing from Germany, gained mass international fame in the 1980s with mega hits like “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “No One Like You,” “The Zoo,” “Big City Nights,” “Still Loving You,” and countless others. As one of the biggest bands of the 1980s, you likely had no idea that their history goes all the way back to 1965! The group was founded by Rudolf Schenker, and was eventually joined by vocalist Klaus Meine; these two are the only individuals to appear on every Scorpions album. Rudolf’s brother Michael Schenker joined the band as lead guitarist, with the lineup for the group’s first record being rounded out by bassist Lothar Heimberg and drummer Wolfgang Dziony.
The tour van in 1972:
Lonesome Crow, the first Scorpions studio album, was released in 1972, and was largely overlooked at the time of release; it would be a decade before the band achieved the international success and stardom that we know them for. Before the glory days in which Matthias Jabs became their lead guitarist, and even before the band’s iconic pre-international fame years with axeman Uli Jon Roth, this was the record that the band gave the world. Over four decades later, how does the debut record from the band hold up? Does this one bring the sting, or is it a relic best left forgotten?
Lonesome Crow is an uneven mess of an album from a young up-and-coming band that had no idea what the hell they were doing. It is also a ton of fun to revisit! Somewhere between psychedelia and hard rock, this is the record that introduced the world to the Scorpions, and served as something of a premonition to their later successes. This was the only album the band ever recorded with Michael Schenker as a full time member of the band, although he did return a few years later to play on a few of the Lovedrive songs.
So what are the songs like on Lonesome Crow? To say they are all over the place would be a serious understatement. Right from the get go on “I’m Goin’ Mad” you will hear tribal drum beats, chanting, distorted guitar, and a myriad of other elements that establish from the first track that this will be a very different Scorpions album from what you are accustomed to. Hell, the first half of the song is instrumental (unless chanting counts as singing)! “It All Depends” is probably the most straight up hard rock thing on the album; this bluesy-tinged rocker would not have been out of place on Black Sabbath’s first record. The slow and eerie “Leave Me” is one of the record’s true highlights, with bizarre keyboards and equally unsettling backing vocals and chanting. A young Michael Schenker even gets a chance to shine on a guitar solo in the song’s second half. “In Search of the Peace of Mind” is an odd hodgepodge of musical sounds, combining acoustic and electric guitars, going from soft and melodic to unsettling and intense in mere seconds.
“Inheritance” is driven by heavy bass, but also serves as one of this album’s showcases for Michael Schenker’s guitar prowess, something evident even in his mid teens! “Action” proves to be equally frantic, featuring some wild vocals from Meine, and some intense instrumental passages as well. The entire experience culminates with the 14 minute title track. The most ambitious and epic work on this debut record from the band (it even has a bass solo!), it too goes all over the place with no real sense of direction, but being so fast, frantic, and interesting a musical experience, you are going to be too infatuated by the band here to care.
The experience of Lonesome Crow is a tough one to sum up, because things do not come together in the traditional sense; this is a young band that, while they lacked direction and did not know where they wanted to go musically, clearly had talent. It is the premonition of greater future successes, and an interesting time capsule for fans. For die-hard fans of the Scorpions, Lonesome Crow definitely comes recommended. More casual Scorpions fans may want to explore the band’s peak years a little more before taking this trip back in time, though. (by Taylor Carlson)
Wolfgang Dziony (drums)
Lothar Heimberg (bass)
Klaus Meine (vocals)
Michael Schenker (leadguitar)
Rudolf Schenker (guitar)
01. I’m Goin’ Mad 4.52
02. It All Depends 3.25
03. Leave Me 5.02
04. In Search Of The Peace Of Mind 4.53
05. Inheritance 4.39
06. Action 3.53
07. Lonesome Crow 13.28
All songs written by:
Wolfgang Dziony – Lothar Heimberg – Klaus Meine – Michael Schenker – Rudolf Schenker
The official website: