Uli Jon Roth

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Uli Jon l. Roth
Uli Jon Roth.jpg
Uli Jon Roth performing in 2013
Background information
Also known asUlrich Roth
Born (1954-12-18) 18 December 1954 (age 65)
Düsseldorf, West Germany
Genres speed metal, psychedelic rock, heavy metal, neoclassical metal, progressive metal
Instruments Guitar, sky guitar, bass guitar, keyboards, vocals
Years active1968–present
Labels Silver Lining Music, SPV
Associated acts Scorpions, Dawn Road, Electric Sun, Sky of Avalon, G3
Website www.ulijonroth.com

Uli Jon Roth (born Ulrich Roth, 18 December 1954) is a German guitarist, who became famous as Scorpions' lead guitarist, and is one of the earliest contributors to the neoclassical metal genre. He is also the founder of Sky Academy and inventor of the Sky Guitar. He is the older brother of fellow guitarist and artist Zeno Roth (1956–2018).

Contents

Career

Dawn Road and Scorpions

In the early 1970s, Roth formed a band called Dawn Road. In 1973, guitarist Michael Schenker left the Scorpions to join UFO. The two remaining Scorpions members, Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine merged with the four members of Dawn Road, (Uli Jon Roth, Achim Kirschning, Francis Buchholz, Jürgen Rosenthal) using the name Scorpions as they were more well known than Dawn Road. [1]

During his tenure as lead guitarist, main songwriter and occasional lead singer for the Scorpions, the band released four studio albums between 1974 and 1977.

Electric Sun

Roth formed his own band named Electric Sun, which released three albums. The first, Earthquake (1979), was dedicated to the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. A second album released two years later, Fire Wind (1981), was dedicated to Anwar Sadat (the assassinated President of Egypt who had tried to make peace in the Middle East), and featured a song called "Enola Gay (Hiroshima Today?)" about the atomic bombing of Japan by a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber of that name, named after Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets.

In 1985, Roth released his third and final Electric Sun album, Beyond the Astral Skies , dedicated to Martin Luther King and to Roth's fans. That album featured ex-Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker, on drums and timpani.

Solo career

After Electric Sun, Roth entered a new phase of creative work, composing four symphonies and two concertos, and sometimes performing with symphony orchestras throughout Europe. Roth used the name "Uli Jon Roth" for all subsequent album releases and concert appearances.

The G3 European tour of 1998 featured Roth playing with Joe Satriani and Michael Schenker. The tour show at London Wembley Arena also featured a jam with Brian May.

Roth played at the outdoor rock festival at Castle Donington in 2001 (also featuring original Scorpions lead guitarist Michael Schenker on the bill), and this was filmed and subsequently released on DVD.

Roth appeared in concert with the Scorpions onstage at the Wacken Open Air Festival in 2006 along with two other former members of the band. Billed as "A Night To Remember, A Journey Through Time", the Scorpions played four songs from the Roth era, most of which they had not played live since Roth had left in 1978. The concert was filmed and released on DVD. [2]

Although this was meant to be a "one night only" special event, its success meant that the format was repeated on several tours afterwards.

On 2 June 2007 at the Rock am Ring festival in Germany, Roth joined The Smashing Pumpkins on stage for their epic closing song "Gossamer". He made another appearance with the Pumpkins upon their return to Germany on 26 February 2008.

In 2007, Roth had begun working on a new full-length studio album, which was to be released the following year. The title of the album would be "Under A Dark Sky" and was going to be the first official release in the long-awaited series of Symphonic Legends – a cycle of music written by Uli for his all-encompassing Sky of Avalon project.

Roth debuted songs from "Under A Dark Sky" on 18 July 2008 in his headline set at the G-TARanaki Guitar Festival in New Zealand, Roth's debut concert in the country. In the week previous Roth had taken his "Sky Academy" tuition classes to regional Taranaki towns in Waitara, Inglewood and Opunake with guests Vernon Reid and Gilby Clarke.

"Under A Dark Sky" was released in Japan on 20 August 2008 via Marquee records. The European and USA releases followed a month later on 20 September 2008 on the SPV record label.

In early 2015, Uli Jon Roth released a 2-CD studio album entitled Scorpions Revisited recorded in 2014 in Hannover, Germany, in which Roth revisited his personal favourites from the early Scorpions period. This CD was highly successful and led to a world tour by Uli with a full electric rock band. Following the success of this tour, Uli then led a tour called The Ultimate Guitar Experience with fellow guitarists Jennifer Batten and Andy Timmons. This tour was met by critical acclaim. Seemingly without much rest, Uli soon thereafter embarked on another world tour, this time playing The Tokyo Tapes, songs from the Scorpions 1978 tour of Japan and ensuing live album. In December 2016, a double CD and Blu-ray/DVD were released of a concert Uli and his band played in Japan in 2015 commemorating the anniversary of The Tokyo Tapes. In March 2017, Roth concluded a short, but very successful North American tour, highlighting songs from both Scorpions Revisted and Tokyo Tapes. In 2018, Roth participates a second time at the G3 European tour with Joe Satriani and John Petrucci.

Roth contributed an afterword to the 2017 book, Shredders!: The Oral History Of Speed Guitar (And More), by Greg Prato. [3]

Sky guitars

In the 1980s, Roth commissioned construction of custom guitars with additional frets from luthier Andreas Demetriou. Roth has had five of these "Sky" guitars made. To be able to emulate the high notes of a violin, all of the Sky Guitars contain extra frets. The first Sky Guitar (used on the album Beyond the Astral Skies) has 30 frets. Later versions of the Sky Guitar overcame the problem of the higher register frets becoming too narrow by widening the frets by whole steps for the highest notes. In an April 2001 Guitar Player magazine interview, Roth reports that the guitars are either fretless above the 30th fret or have whole step fret spacing above the 27th fret, with 35 effective (half step) frets. All of the Sky guitars with frets have scalloped fretboards. The Sky guitar's pickups are custom 4-coil humbuckers made by John Oram, with one guitar having an Oram pickup hidden under the 24th fret. [4] [5] For a time, Roth used a Framus Dragon amplifier, although currently he promotes Blackstar Artisan 100 & Series One 200 Watt heads. [6] He has also used a stalk mounted Vibesware guitar resonator (sustainer) to introduce infinite sustain as on the instrumental Benediction on his Under A Dark Sky album. [7] In 2011, Dean Guitars produced 25 Custom Sky Guitars based on Roth's custom models, with six and seven strings. [8]

Playing style

In Roth's early days with Scorpions, his soloing style was based primarily on the blues scale, occasionally incorporating notes from other modes. However, by the time the band recorded the Virgin Killer album, he began incorporating more advanced compositional elements from European classical music, such as pedal tone sequences and intricate arpeggios. Beginning with Electric Sun, the classical influence began to dominate his playing style, notable in songs like "Cast Away Your Chains" and "Still So Many Lives Away". His style eventually became a fusion of blues-based rock with European classical sensibilities. Roth employs major and minor pentatonic, the blues scale, phrygian, harmonic minor, diminished, and the whole tone scale, notably in his famous "Sails Of Charon" solo.

Personal life

Roth was romantically involved with artist Monika Dannemann who was with Jimi Hendrix when he died. Roth and Danneman collaborated on various songs including "We'll Burn the Sky" from the Scorpions' Taken by Force album in 1977.

Danneman also painted the album sleeves for all three of the releases by Electric Sun.

In 1996 Monika Dannemann was convicted of breaking a British High Court order not to repeat allegations that Kathy Etchingham was an "inveterate liar" for accusing her of playing a role in Jimi Hendrix's death. Etchingham asked the judge to jail Dannemann but she was released. Two days later Monika Dannemann was found dead in a fume-filled Mercedes-Benz near her cottage in Seaford, East Sussex, aged 50. Her death was ruled a suicide, [9] but Roth publicly stated his opinion that her death had been the result of foul play. Roth dedicated later works to the memory of Dannemann.

Roth has been living in the UK for several years, his current home (2015) being in Powys, Wales, near the border of Shropshire, England. [10]

Roth has been a vegetarian since the Scorpions days. [11]

On 21 June 2019, Roth performed a charity concert of his Vivaldi Four Seasons in Saint Silin's Church in his home town. This was in efforts to raise money to help the church with paying bills. [12]

Influence

Roth has been on the covers of many guitar magazines and has influenced many notable guitar players, including Billy Corgan, [13] Kirk Hammett, [14] Marty Friedman, [15] Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Stump, [16] Gus G, [17] Andy DiGelsomina, [18] Michael Romeo, [19] James Byrd, [20] Wolf Hoffman, [21] and Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate. [22]

Discography

YearBandTitleType
1974 Scorpions Fly to the Rainbow Studio
1975 In Trance Studio
1976 Virgin Killer Studio
1977 Taken by Force Studio
1978 Tokyo Tapes Live
1979 Electric Sun Earthquake Studio
1980 Fire Wind Studio
1985 Beyond the Astral Skies Studio
2000 The Electric Sun Years Vol. I & II DVD
1991Uli Jon Roth Aquila Suite – 12 Arpeggio Concert Etudes for Solo Piano Studio
1996Sky of Avalon – Prologue to the Symphonic Legends (with Sky Orchestra)Studio
1998From Here To EternityCompilation
2000 Transcendental Sky Guitar Vol. I & IILive
2002 Legends Of Rock: Live At Castle Donington (DVD & CD)Live
2003 Metamorphosis of Vivaldi's Four Seasons Studio
2006The Best Of Uli Jon RothCompilation
2008 Under a Dark Sky (Sky of Avalon)Studio
2015 Scorpions Revisited Studio
2016Tokyo Tapes Revisited - Live in Japan (DVD & CD)Live

Unreleased solo works

YearTitle
1987Sky Concerto
1992Europa ex Favilla (symphony)
1994Hiroshima de Profundis (symphony)
1996/97/98Requiem for an Angel (dedicated to the memory of Monika Dannemann)

Guest appearance

Session work

Related Research Articles

Scorpions (band) German rock band

Scorpions are a German rock band formed in 1964 in Hanover by Rudolf Schenker. Since the band's inception, its musical style has ranged from hard rock to heavy metal. The lineup from 1979 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 1979, and bassist Paweł Mąciwoda and drummer Mikkey Dee have been in the band since 2003 and 2016 respectively.

Michael Schenker German musician

Michael Schenker 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 Michael 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. He has been called "a legendary figure in the history of metal guitar."

Michael Amott Swedish guitarist/songwriter

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Monika Charlotte Dannemann was a German figure skater and painter. She was the last girlfriend of guitarist Jimi Hendrix, and later the wife of German guitarist Uli Jon Roth of the Scorpions.

<i>Lonesome Crow</i> 1972 studio album by Scorpions

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<i>Fly to the Rainbow</i> 1974 studio album by Scorpions

Fly to the Rainbow is the second studio album by German hard rock band Scorpions, released in 1 November 1974 in the United States.

G3 (tour) annual music tour featuring Joe Satriani

G3 is a concert tour organized by guitarist Joe Satriani featuring him alongside two other guitarists. Since its inception in 1995, G3 has toured most years and has featured many guitarists, including Steve Vai, Marco Ciaravolo, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Robert Fripp, Paul Gilbert, Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Uli Jon Roth, Michael Schenker, Adrian Legg and many other special guests, including Tony MacAlpine, Johnny Hiland, Keith More, Chris Duarte, Andy Timmons, Neal Schon, Gary Hoey, Brian May, Billy Gibbons, Johnny A, George Lynch, Patrick Rondat, Guthrie Govan, Alejandro Silva, and Eric Sardinas.

Gus G Greek musician

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Francis Buchholz German bass guitarist

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Shred guitar

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<i>In Trance</i> 1975 studio album by Scorpions

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<i>Taken by Force</i> 1977 studio album by Scorpions

Taken by Force is the fifth studio album by German band Scorpions, released by RCA Records in 1977. This was the first Scorpions album to feature drummer Herman Rarebell and the final studio album to feature guitarist Uli Jon Roth. Roth left the band in 1978 following the end of the album's tour, and was eventually replaced by Matthias Jabs.

<i>Tokyo Tapes</i> (album) 1978 live album by Scorpions

Tokyo Tapes is the first live album by German hard rock band Scorpions and their final album released by RCA Records.

Matthias Jabs German musician

Matthias Jabs is a German guitarist and songwriter. He is best known for being the lead guitarist in the hard rock band Scorpions. He has played on all but the first five Scorpions studio albums starting with Lovedrive (1979) to Return to Forever (2015). He has a music store, MJ Guitars, in Munich, Germany.

Legends of Rock: Live at Castle Donington is a DVD released by German guitarist Uli Jon Roth. It features Roth's headlining show at Castle Donington, Leicestershire, England in 2001, along with his special guests Michael Schenker, Phil Mogg, and Pete Way from UFO, and Jack Bruce from Cream. Released in 2002.

Victory (band) German heavy metal and hard rock band

Victory is a German heavy metal and hard rock band from Hanover, most successful in the 1980s. With extensive tours and radio airplay, the band also made a breakthrough in North America.

Zeno Roth German guitarist

Zeno Roth was a German guitarist and songwriter, playing in a neoclassical/blues style. He was the younger brother of guitarist Uli Jon Roth.

Barry Sparks is the former bass player of Yngwie Malmsteen, the Michael Schenker Group, UFO, Dokken, and Ted Nugent, amongst others. Currently Sparks is part of the touring band for the Japanese rock group B'z, and has also contributed to several of their albums and singles.

<i>Live at Wacken Open Air 2006</i> 2008 video by Scorpions

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References

  1. Klüsener, Edgar (circa 1990). Scorpions - Sting of Change. Metal Attack Magazine. Scanned page 3/7. Archived at Uli Jon Roth fansite.
  2. Angulo, Steve (9 April 2009). Scorpions – Live At Wacken Open Air 2006 DVD (2007) (Review). Hard Rock Heavy Metal blog.
  3. "Shredders!: The Oral History Of Speed Guitar (And More)". amazon.com. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  4. "Sky Guitar" . Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  5. September 2000 issue of Young Guitar magazine
  6. "Blackstar Amps Uli Jon Roth Quote" . Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  7. "Vibesware Guitar Feedback Playing" . Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  8. "ULI JON ROTH SERIES" . Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  9. Braid, Mary (1 May 1996). "A rock legend unto herself". The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  10. "Uli gives pupils a rock masterclass". Shropshire Star. 14 July 2015. p. 14.Report by Harry Leather. Describes visit to hold a musical masterclass to eight pupils at St Martins School, Shropshire.
  11. Pancella, Jon (February 2013). "Uli Jon Roth: The Best of the TVD Interview". The Vinyl District. Chantilly, Virginia (published 10 May 2013). Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  12. Attendee
  13. "Billy Corgan und Uli Jon Roth (1/6)". YouTube. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  14. "Thirty Great Guitarists — Including Steve Vai, David Gilmour and Eddie Van Halen — Pick the Greatest Guitarists of All Time". 5 June 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  15. http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/marty-friedman-id-rather-chew-glass-than-listen-to-jimi-hendrix/
  16. "instrumentalcase.com" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 17 June 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) "Uli Roth is a big influence on me"
  18. ""I've progressively been more inspired by Uli Jon Roth...all his Scorpions work and his more recent solo albums"" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.[ permanent dead link ]
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. "Official James Byrd Website" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  21. "I was influenced a lot by...Uli Roth. He's a guy who really understands the fine nuances of playing. To bend the note the right way or give it the right kind of tone. That sort of thing I spent a lot of time on myself. And he's a master of it. That kind of stuff is really hard to come by."
  22. "Metal-Rules.com: Interview With Force of Evil" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.