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 64)
Düsseldorf, West Germany
Genres Hard rock, psychedelic rock, heavy metal, neoclassical metal, progressive rock
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).

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Guitarist person who plays the guitar

A guitarist is a person who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of guitar family instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar by singing or playing the harmonica.

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 to heavy metal. The lineup from 1978–1992 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 constant member has been Schenker, although Meine has been the lead singer for 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.

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]

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."

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 will retire from UFO after one last tour as a member of the band in 2019.

Rudolf Schenker German guitarist

Rudolf Schenker is a German guitarist and founder of the hard rock band Scorpions, being the rhythm guitarist, primary songwriter and longest-serving original member.

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. In 1978, the Scorpions released the live album Tokyo Tapes , which was recorded in Japan and sold nearly one million copies and went gold in several countries. However, Roth had left the band in 1978 following the end of the Taken by Force tour and before the Tokyo Tapes release.

<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.

<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.

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.

Electric Sun was a heavy metal band formed by Uli Jon Roth after his departure from the Scorpions in 1978. They recorded three albums between 1979 and 1985.

<i>Earthquake</i> (album) 1979 studio album by Electric Sun

Earthquake is the first album by Electric Sun. It was released in 1979 by Metronome GmbH.

<i>Fire Wind</i> 1981 studio album by Electric Sun

Fire Wind is the second album released by Electric Sun. It was released in 1981 by Metronome GmbH.

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.

<i>Beyond the Astral Skies</i> 1985 studio album by Electric Sun

Beyond the Astral Skies is the third and final album by Electric Sun. It was released in 1985 on EMI.

Jethro Tull (band) British rock band

Jethro Tull are a British rock band formed in Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1967. Initially playing blues rock, the band later developed their sound to incorporate elements of hard rock and folk rock to forge a progressive rock signature. The band is led by vocalist/flautist/guitarist Ian Anderson, and has featured a revolving door of lineups through the years including significant members such as guitarists Mick Abrahams and Martin Barre, keyboardist John Evan, drummers Clive Bunker, Barriemore Barlow, and Doane Perry, and bassists Glenn Cornick, Jeffrey Hammond, John Glascock, and Dave Pegg.

Clive William Bunker is a British rock drummer. He was the original drummer in the British band Jethro Tull. Never a self-professed technical drummer, Bunker's technique was based on a throbbing, gritty engagement with the essence of blues and rock and roll, and he was influenced by Ginger Baker and Mitch Mitchell. He was also inspired by Buddy Rich and The Hollies' Bobby Elliott.

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.

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.

Joe Satriani American guitar player

Joseph Satriani is an American instrumental rock guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. Early in his career, Satriani worked as a guitar instructor, with many of his former students achieving fame, such as Steve Vai, Larry LaLonde, Rick Hunolt, Kirk Hammett, Andy Timmons, Charlie Hunter, Kevin Cadogan, and Alex Skolnick; he then went on to have a successful solo music career. He is a 15-time Grammy Award nominee and has sold over 10 million albums, making him the biggest-selling instrumental rock guitarist of all time.

Brian May English musician and astrophysicist

Brian Harold May, is an English musician, singer, songwriter and astrophysicist. He is the lead guitarist of the rock band Queen. His songs include "We Will Rock You", "Tie Your Mother Down", "I Want It All", "Fat Bottomed Girls", "Flash", "Hammer to Fall", "Save Me", "Who Wants to Live Forever" and "The Show Must Go On".

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 hadn’t 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.

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. [3] [4] For a time, Roth used a Framus Dragon amplifier, although currently he promotes Blackstar Artisan 100 & Series One 200 Watt heads. [5] 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. [6] In 2011, Dean Guitars produced 25 Custom Sky Guitars based on Roth's custom models, with six and seven strings. [7]

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, [8] 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 with his pet marmot, Stan, his current home (2015) being in Powys, Wales, near the border of Shropshire, England. [9]

Uli Jon Roth has been a vegetarian since the Scorpions days. [10]

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. [11]

Influence

Roth has been on the covers of many guitar magazines and has influenced many notable guitar players, including Kirk Hammett, [12] Marty Friedman, [13] Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Stump, [14] Gus G, [15] Andy DiGelsomina, [16] Michael Romeo, [17] James Byrd, [18] Wolf Hoffman, [19] and Hank Shermann of Mercyful Fate. [20]

Discography

With Scorpions

With Electric Sun

Solo and classical works (Progressive Rock)

Studio albums

Live albums

Compilations

  • From Here To Eternity (1998)
  • The Best Of Uli Jon Roth (2006)

Unreleased works

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

Guest appearance

Session work

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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 (April 9, 2009). Scorpions – Live At Wacken Open Air 2006 DVD (2007) (Review). Hard Rock Heavy Metal blog.
  3. "Sky Guitar" . Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  4. September 2000 issue of Young Guitar magazine
  5. "Blackstar Amps Uli Jon Roth Quote" . Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  6. "Vibesware Guitar Feedback Playing" . Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  7. "ULI JON ROTH SERIES" . Retrieved 9 January 2014.
  8. Braid, Mary (1 May 1996). "A rock legend unto herself". The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  9. "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.
  10. 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.
  11. Attendee
  12. "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.
  13. http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/marty-friedman-id-rather-chew-glass-than-listen-to-jimi-hendrix/
  14. "instrumentalcase.com" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  15. "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"
  16. ""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 ]
  17. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  18. "Official James Byrd Website" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  19. "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."
  20. "Metal-Rules.com: Interview With Force of Evil" . Retrieved 8 November 2016.