Michael Schenker

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Michael Schenker
Michael Schenkers Temple of Rock @ Rock Hard Festival 2015 05.jpg
Schenker performing live at the Rock Hard Festival in 2015
Background information
Born (1955-01-10) 10 January 1955 (age 66)
Sarstedt, West Germany [1]
Genres Hard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
Years active1969–present
Labels BMG
Associated acts Scorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group, Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock, Michael Schenker Fest, Contraband, G3, Schenker Pattison Summit
Website michaelschenkerhimself.com

Michael Schenker (born 10 January 1955) is a German rock guitarist who has played in UFO and led the Michael Schenker Group. He was an early member of Scorpions, the band co-founded by his elder brother Rudolf Schenker. In the mid-1970s, Schenker joined UFO, playing lead guitar. He left the band in 1978 to found the Michael Schenker Group. He has rejoined UFO three times, producing an album each time. Schenker continues to perform and record. [2] He has been called "a legendary figure in the history of metal guitar." [3]



Early career and rise to fame: Scorpions and UFO

Schenker started playing guitar at an early age, after his brother Rudolf got a Gibson Flying V guitar for his birthday, which captured his imagination. His main influences were Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Leslie West, Johnny Winter and Rory Gallagher. [4] He played his first gig when he was 11, with Rudolf and the Scorpions in a nightclub. Schenker debuted with Scorpions on their debut album Lonesome Crow at age 16. [5] [6]

Scorpions went on tour after recording their first album as the opening act for up-and-coming UK band UFO in Germany. Schenker was offered the position of lead guitar player for UFO (taking over for Bernie Marsden, himself a temporary replacement for Mick Bolton) [7] and, with the blessing of his brother, accepted (Scorpions replaced him with Uli Roth), even though he didn't speak English.

Schenker co-wrote most of the songs on UFO's major label (Chrysalis Records) debut album Phenomenon. His career with UFO was turbulent, sometimes walking off mid-song causing shows to be cancelled. Despite having a series of successful albums and tours, Schenker unequivocally quit UFO after their show in Palo Alto, California, on 29 October 1978. During this tour the band had recorded six concerts whose selected tracks would make up their live album Strangers in the Night , which was released after he left the band.

Schenker briefly re-joined Scorpions in late 1978, when they were recording the album Lovedrive . He composed and played lead guitar on three songs, "Another Piece of Meat", "Coast To Coast" and "Lovedrive". [5] Although it had been widely believed for decades that the three songs were Schenker's only contribution to the record, during an interview with satellite radio host Eddie Trunk, Schenker vehemently maintained that he contributed to the whole album. [8] In 1979, Schenker briefly toured with the band in support of the album. He blamed his very short stay on finding out he did not enjoy playing other people's songs. He was permanently replaced by Matthias Jabs, who had originally joined Scorpions before Schenker's return.

Schenker auditioned for Aerosmith in 1979 after Joe Perry left. [9] According to Martin Huxley, Schenker stormed out of the room after producer Gary Lyons made several jokes about Nazis. [10] After the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne's first call was to Schenker to replace Rhoads, as the German guitarist and his iconic Flying V were a huge influence on Rhoads. [11] But, Osbourne claims, Schenker made too many outlandish demands (including a private jet). [12] Schenker himself, in an interview with KNAC radio, claims he was the one to say "no" to Osbourne: "If I would have joined Ozzy Osbourne, I would have screwed up my life. I was almost about to do it, and something told me: DON'T!!" [13] Schenker has also claimed that at some point he was offered, but turned down joining the likes of Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Ian Hunter and Motörhead in order to focus on his solo career. [14]

Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group and UFO Reunion

Schenker in 1981 Michael schenker.jpg
Schenker in 1981

In 1979, Schenker started a solo career by founding the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). The history of MSG is strewn with personality conflicts and incidents. In 1982, original singer Gary Barden, who sang on the first two studio albums and a live album, was fired in favour of Graham Bonnet. Bonnet lasted one album ( Assault Attack ) and a single gig, at Sheffield University, where he drunkenly exposed himself and was subsequently fired from the band. [15] Barden rejoined MSG for the rest of the tour. He also appeared on the 1983 studio album ( Built to Destroy ) and the band's second live album ( Rock Will Never Die ).

After Barden's second departure, Schenker reorganized the band around himself and new singer Robin McAuley and renamed it the McAuley Schenker Group. The new incarnation of MSG was steered toward a more commercial hard rock sound. After three albums, Schenker and McAuley parted company. In the meantime, he briefly replaced Robbin Crosby in Ratt, appearing on their 1990 MTV Unplugged performance.

In 1993, Schenker rejoined UFO. He co-wrote (with Phil Mogg) nearly the whole of their reunion album, Walk on Water (1995), and toured with them briefly.

He then resurrected the Michael Schenker Group with all new members and recorded three more albums, Written in the Sand , The Unforgiven , and Be Aware of Scorpions before rejoining UFO for two further releases, Covenant and Sharks .


Schenker fell on hard times in the early 2000s, despite his rejoining UFO that year. [2] He later recorded the album Arachnophobiac and supported it with two years of touring. In 2004, recognition came from Dean Guitars, which began producing a Schenker signature Dean V (with subtle differences from the Gibson, but with the split black and white trademark Schenker finish).

2005 was the 25th anniversary of the Michael Schenker Group. Schenker put together a new album of songs called Tales of Rock'n'Roll to celebrate the anniversary and enlisted singers from each iteration of the band to sing on the album. However, in that same year the collection Heavy Hitters , a set of covers featuring Schenker and a revolving group of heavy metal all-stars, was marketed as a Michael Schenker Group album, with the result that Schenker only received a flat fee. [2]

After nearly-disastrous North American and European tours in 2007, which included cancelled shows and less-than-stellar performances caused by heavy drinking, Schenker regained his composure and toured in the UK as Michael Schenker & Friends in 2008. Early 2008, Schenker worked with Gary Barden, Don Airey, Simon Phillips, and Neil Murray on a new MSG album In the Midst of Beauty , which was released in May 2008, followed by touring.

In 2009 Schenker toured extensively including Russia, UK and the US with MSG including original members Gary Barden and Chris Glenn.

In November 2010, Schenker was given the Marshall "11" award in London along with other rock legends including Ron Wood and Slash. The award was presented to Schenker by Alice Cooper, with Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi and John Paul Jones also in attendance. The award is given to "those artists and musicians who represent rock 'n' roll excess and livin' on the edge." [16]

In 2011 Schenker released a new album, Temple of Rock. It was supported with a tour of Europe, Japan and the USA. In Europe the line up included Herman Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass, both former members of Scorpions (Rarebell also joined the band for the Japanese dates) and Doogie White, formerly singer for Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen. With this line-up he recorded the album Bridge the Gap which was released in 2013.

In August 2012 Schenker received a Lifetime Achievement in Rock and Roll Award from Vegas Rocks! Magazine. The award was presented by David Coverdale of Whitesnake. During the award ceremony Schenker performed with Sammy Hagar of Chickenfoot, Montrose and Van Halen.

Instruments and sound

Schenker's main guitar for most of his career was a Gibson Flying V, which he typically played through a "cocked" wah-wah pedal (switched on but left in a single position, around halfway through the travel of the foot pedal, and used as an equaliser to strengthen the midrange "sweet spot" [2] ) and Marshall amplifiers. Schenker's "unmistakable midrange tone" [2] was emphasised by the partially engaged wah pedal, [17] as exemplified on the song "Rock Bottom" from the live UFO album Strangers in the Night, was listed among the 50 greatest tones of all time by Guitar Player magazine. [18] Since 2004, Schenker has switched to using a signature model Dean V. [19]

In 2007 Dean Guitars, after producing Schenker's signature Dean V, also made two acoustic models with the familiar black and white "V" design. [20]

In video games

Awards and recognition


Schenker has been on the covers of many guitar magazines and has influenced many notable guitar players, including Kirk Hammett [23] and James Hetfield [24] (Metallica), [25] Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman (Megadeth), [25] [26] [27] Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), [25] [28] Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson (Testament), [25] [29] Mike McCready (Pearl Jam), [25] Gary Holt (Exodus), [25] [30] [31] Rob Cavestany (Death Angel), [32] Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden), [25] Slash, [25] John Norum (Europe), Paul Gilbert, [25] Randy Rhoads, [25] George Lynch (Dokken), Warren DeMartini (Ratt), [25] John Petrucci (Dream Theater), [25] [33] Michael Amott (Arch Enemy), [25] Dan Spitz (Anthrax), Criss Oliva (Savatage), Jeff Waters (Annihilator), [25] Phil Campbell (Motörhead), and Kerry King (Slayer). [25]


1972 Scorpions Lonesome Crow
1974Scorpions Fly to the Rainbow co-writer
1974 UFO Phenomenon
1975UFO Force It
1976UFO No Heavy Petting
1977UFO Lights Out
1978UFO Obsession
1979UFO Strangers in the Night Live
1979Scorpions Lovedrive Lead guitar, backing vocals on 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10
1980 Michael Schenker Group The Michael Schenker Group
1981Michael Schenker Group MSG
1982Michael Schenker Group One Night at Budokan Live
1982Michael Schenker Group Assault Attack
1983Michael Schenker Group Built to Destroy
1984Michael Schenker Group Rock Will Never Die Live, CD/VHS
1984Michael Schenker Group Super Rock '84 in Japan Live, VHS
1987 McAuley Schenker Group Perfect Timing
1989McAuley Schenker Group Save Yourself
1991 Contraband Contraband
1992UFOBBC Radio 1 Live In ConcertLive, Tracks 9,10,11,12, Recorded in 1974 and 1976
1992McAuley Schenker Group MSG
1992McAuley Schenker Group Nightmare: The Acoustic M.S.G. EP
1992McAuley Schenker Group "Unplugged" Live Live
1993Michael Schenker (Solo)Thank You
1995UFO Walk on Water
1996UFOOn With The ActionLive, Recorded at the London Roundhouse Sunday 25 April 1976
1996Michael Schenker Group Written in the Sand
1997Michael Schenker Group The Michael Schenker Story Live Live, CD/VHS
1998Michael Schenker (Solo)Thank You with Orchestra
1998UFOWerewolves Of LondonLive, Recorded at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on February 10, 1998
1999Michael Schenker Group The Unforgiven
1999Michael Schenker Group The Unforgiven World Tour Live
2000Michael Schenker GroupMichael Schenker Live in Japan The Unforgiven World Tour 2000Live, VHS
2000Michael Schenker (Solo) Adventures of the Imagination
2000Michael Schenker (Solo) The Odd Trio
2000Michael Schenker (Solo)MS 2000: Dreams and Expressions
2000UFO Covenant
2000UFOLive In TexasLive, Recorded in Midland, TX, March 21, 1979
2001Michael Schenker Group Be Aware of Scorpions
2002UFO Sharks
2002Michael Schenker (Solo) Thank You 2
2002Michael Schenker (Solo)Thank You 3
2003Michael Schenker (Solo)Thank You 4
2003Michael Schenker Group Arachnophobiac
2003UFO Live on Earth Live, Recorded at Rockpalast, Vienna, Austria on 28 January 1998
2003 The Plot The Plot
2003 Under Construction Under Construction
2004Michael Schenker GroupWorld Wide Live 2004Live, DVD
2004Schenker Pattison SummitThe Endless Jam
2005Schenker Pattison SummitThe Endless Jam Continues
2005Michael Schenker GroupLive in Tokyo 1997Live, DVD
2005Michael Schenker Group Heavy Hitters Cover
2006Michael Schenker Group Tales of Rock'n'Roll
2008Michael Schenker Group In the Midst of Beauty
2009Schenker/Barden Acoustic ProjectGipsy Lady
2010Michael Schenker Group The 30th Anniversary Concert – Live in Tokyo Live, CD/DVD
2011Michael Schenker Group By Invitation Only Cover
2011Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock Temple of Rock
2012Michael Schenker's Temple of RockTemple of Rock - Live in EuropeLive, CD/DVD
2013Michael Schenker's Temple of RockBridge the Gap
2015Michael Schenker's Temple of RockSpirit on a Mission
2016Michael Schenker's Temple of RockOn a Mission: Live in MadridLive, CD/DVD
2017Michael Schenker FestLive: Tokyo International Forum Hall ALive, CD/DVD
2018Michael Schenker FestResurrection
2019Michael Schenker FestRevelation
2021Michael Schenker GroupImmortal

Other Schenker projects


Related Research Articles

Scorpions (band) German rock band

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, and glam metal. The lineup from 1978 to 1992 was the most successful incarnation of the group, and included Klaus Meine (vocals), Rudolf Schenker, Matthias Jabs, 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.

Ozzy Osbourne English heavy metal vocalist and songwriter

John Michael "Ozzy" Osbourne is an English singer, songwriter, and television personality. He rose to prominence during the 1970s as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Black Sabbath, during which period he adopted the nickname "Prince of Darkness".

UFO (band) English heavy metal band

UFO are an English rock band that was formed in London in 1968. They became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the new wave of British heavy metal. The band's current lineup includes vocalist Phil Mogg, lead guitarist Vinnie Moore, rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Neil Carter, bass guitarist Rob De Luca, and drummer Andy Parker. They have gone through several line-up changes, leaving Mogg as the only constant member, and had two hiatuses. The band are also notable for featuring former Scorpions guitarist and MSG founder Michael Schenker, who was a member of UFO from 1973 to 1978 and again, occasionally, between 1993 and 2003, when Moore replaced him. In May 2018, Mogg announced that he would retire from UFO after one last tour as a member of the band in 2019; however, the band plans to resume their farewell tour in 2022.

<i>Blizzard of Ozz</i> 1980 studio album by Ozzy Osbourne

Blizzard of Ozz is the debut studio album by British heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, released on 20 September 1980 in the UK and on 27 March 1981 in the US. The album was Osbourne's first release following his firing from Black Sabbath in 1979. Blizzard of Ozz is the first of two studio albums Osbourne recorded with guitarist Randy Rhoads prior to Rhoads' death in 1982. In 2017, it was ranked 9th on Rolling Stone's list of "100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time".

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Mr. Crowley 1980 single by Ozzy Osbourne

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Michael Schenker Group English hard rock band

The Michael Schenker Group are an English guitar-oriented hard rock band, formed in London in 1979 by former Scorpions and UFO guitarist Michael Schenker. In 1986, Schenker and vocalist Robin McAuley formed the McAuley Schenker Group, which lasted until 1993. After that, in 1996 the Michael Schenker Group was reformed.

Gary Barden

Gary John Barden is an English singer-songwriter, best known for his work with Michael Schenker Group.

<i>MSG</i> (album) 1981 studio album by Michael Schenker Group

MSG is the second album by the hard rock band Michael Schenker Group. The band was formed in 1979 by the former Scorpions and UFO guitarist Michael Schenker. Producer Ron Nevison's high production values resulted in the recording of this album going over budget, a crippling debt that dogged the band for the rest of their short career. Though the band at the time had reservations about the recording, it is regarded by fans as perhaps their finest hour.

Pete Way English musician

Peter Frederick Way was an English hard rock and heavy metal bass player. He was bassist for the band UFO from 1968 to 1982; Way rejoined the band briefly in 1988–1989, and full-time from 1991 to 2008. He was also a founding member of Waysted and Fastway and notably played with Michael Schenker Group and Ozzy Osbourne.

Bernie Tormé was an Irish rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, record label and recording studio owner. Tormé is best known for his work with Gillan, as well as his brief stints with Ozzy Osbourne's backing band and Atomic Rooster.

<i>Assault Attack</i> 1982 studio album by the Michael Schenker Group

Assault Attack is the third studio album from the Michael Schenker Group, and the only album to feature former Rainbow vocalist Graham Bonnet. The album was recorded in France at the Château d'Hérouville and was produced by Martin Birch.

<i>In the Midst of Beauty</i> 2008 studio album by Michael Schenker Group

In the Midst of Beauty is the thirteenth full-length studio album recorded by the various M.S.G. lineups and the tenth studio album by the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). The album was released on 13 May 2008 and marked the comeback of the original MSG singer, Gary Barden, so the MSG name is added with Schenker - Barden on the album's cover. By Schenker's own notes to the CD, "This title came about through my experience and realisation that - in the midst of beauty - the beast is always waiting and ready to attack...".

<i>Built to Destroy</i> 1983 studio album by The Michael Schenker Group

Built to Destroy is the fourth album by the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). Gary Barden returned to the group on vocals following the departure of Graham Bonnet amidst tensions with Michael Schenker. This was the band's final studio album prior to their disbanding, and Schenker moving on to form the McAuley Schenker Group with vocalist Robin McAuley. New material released under the Michael Schenker Group name would not appear for over a decade.

<i>Tales of RocknRoll</i> 2006 studio album by Michael Schenker Group

Tales of Rock'n'Roll is the twelfth full-length studio album recorded by the various M.S.G. lineups and the ninth studio album by the Michael Schenker Group. It was released in 2006 after two years of work in celebration of the band's 25th anniversary. The music was initially composed for a UFO concept album but Schenker decided instead to use it for a new MSG album after he reformed the band with a new line-up. Every lead singer from MSG's past incarnations contributed lyrics and vocals.

<i>By Invitation Only</i> 2011 studio album by Michael Schenker Group

By Invitation Only is a tribute album by the Michael Schenker Group released in 2011. This album, made up of songs that influenced the career of Michael Schenker, includes guest performances from members of various bands, including Whitesnake, Blue Öyster Cult, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Iron Maiden. It's a re-release of the Heavy Hitters album from 2005, with one extra song.

Diary of a Madman Tour

The Diary of a Madman Tour was the second concert tour by English heavy metal vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. It was undertaken in support of Osbourne's second album Diary of a Madman and covered Europe, North America, and Asia. This was Rhoads's last tour as he died in a plane crash at a small airport in Leesburg, Florida, on March 19, 1982, during the first leg of the tour. The band took a two-week break after his death. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne restarted the tour with ex-Gillan guitarist Bernie Tormé, who only performed a couple of shows before being replaced by future Night Ranger guitarist, Brad Gillis.

The Speak of the Devil Tour was the third solo tour by English heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne, in support of his first live album, Speak of the Devil, taking place from December 1982 to May 1983. The tour included two European legs, one North American leg, and a final show at the 1983 US Festival. The personnel in Osbourne's band changed several times during the tour.


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