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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ORIGINAL SCORPIO^TS DRUMMER
HERMAN *ZE GERMAN* KAKEBELL
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AND SPEAKING OF
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OFHERMAN “ZE GERMAN” RAREBELL
WITH
MICHAEL KRIKORIAK

Copyright © 2011 Herman Rarebell and Michael Krikorian
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 1463601107ISBN-13: 9781463601102eBook ISBN: 978-1-61916-947-0
ABOUT THE AUTHORSHerman Rarebell- Known and loved around the world asone of the original members of the greatest German rock band ofall time, the Scorpions, as history shows, he was arguably thecatalyst behind the band’s string of successful albums in the late1970’s and 1980’s. Along with his duties as the drummer for thelegendary group during their “heyday”, he also authored many oftheir biggest hits. AOR staples like “Rock You Like A Hurricane”,“Make It Real”, “Passion Rules the Game”, “Bad Boys RunningWild”, “Another Piece of Meat”, “Dynamite”, “He’s a Woman...She’s a Man” and “Blackout” to name but a few, all have a homeon his resume.
Herman’s list of accomplishments beyond the band is alsoquite extensive. Upon departing in the mid-i990’s, he went on tohead up Monaco Records, which he co-owned with his goodfriend. His Highness Prince Albert of Monaco. He is currentlystill active in music pla5dng with a variety of artists in the studioand on the road as well as producing new material with his ownband Herman Ze German and Friends. His latest album is titledTake It As It Comes. (Available on his website HYPERLINK "http://www.hermanrarebell.com" www.hermanrarebell.com as well as most online outlets.)
Michael Krikorian- Michael is best known as the head ofthe Rock and Roll Remembers Foundationf HYPERLINK "http://www.rockandrollremembers.or" www.rockandrollremembers.orgl that was founded to aid thosewithin the rock and roll community who fall on hard times. Along-time writer for various newspapers, magazines and on lineoutlets like his current column for Examiner.com where he is theSan Francisco Rock Music Examiner, he is also known as thecreative force behind the hilarious novelty music artist/CD,“Armen, the Armenian Deli Man”. He currently has one otherbook on the market, Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday-The Story ofBASH, which is the “true” story of a “fictional” rock and roll bandfrom the 1970’s. (The book and accompanying soundtrack musicCD are both available on most online outlets.) HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected]
DEDICATIONI dedicate this to all of you who are reading this dedication. Mylife has always been about entertaining you in the hopes ofbringing you happiness and joy. And so within these pages youwill find your book. It is meant as my personal thank you for yourallowing me to forever be a part of your life.
FOREWORDBy: Dieter Dierks (The Sixth Scorpion)Scorpions Producer 1975-1988
Having already read what you are about to read and having
lived SO much of that which is included within this book, I can sayin all honesty, Herman should never quit his day job!
Seriously, though, those years now seem like they were part ofsome far-off wonderland to me. However, as I read theretrospective done by Herman within the pages of this book, Iwas given a wonderful gift of remembrances. I have had thehonor of working with a lot of great artists from all around theworld, and yet those years working with the Scorpions willforever remain some of the fondest memories I am sure I willever have. Herman Rarebell was a big part of that.
More than just a drummer, Herman was an integral part inthe development of that which eventually became known as theclassic Scorpions sound. Music starts with the drummer. Notmany people realize this. However, if you look at the “success” ofthe group, or, perhaps more appropriately, the lack thereof, priorto the arrival of Herman “Ze German” as well as that which haseluded them since his departure, I think you can see exactly howpivotal his role was within the band.
The stories told within these pages are more than just theovertly glamorized pulp fiction that is a staple of these sorts ofmemoirs. Though many will surely cast aside autobiographieslike this as little more than just tawdry and garish accounts ofunrestrained sexual behavior and over-indulgence in the druginspired counter-culture of the day for purposes attractingattention, Herman doesn’t stoop to that kind of sensationalizedcliche. His preference is that of telling it like it really was, and hecaptures the true essence and spirit of the band as well as that ofthe now bygone era. Thankfully, he doesn’t try to sugarcoat anyof it, and, more importantly, he hasn’t opted to take out any ofhis old spandex from its mothball-laced tomb. The latter wouldnot be a pretty picture. And so, in the end, what you have is theall too true story of not only a man who openly admits to havinghad more than his share of ups and downs, but also one who isnot afraid to speak his mind. He has been able to weather manystorms and overcome his afflictions and addictions. He openlyconfesses to his weaknesses while making no attempt to justifyhis behavior. He pulls no punches in mercilessly lambastinghimself and his choices. Rather than trying to find an appropriatescapegoat, he prefers to spend his life looking beyond yesterdayto tomorrow. This is the part of the man that is so very refreshingand endearing. It is the reason, to this day, I still consider him avery good friend.
However, there is much more here than just Herman’s story.Not to be overlooked or marginalized in the least is the story ofan incredible group of musicians. The Scorpions was a band thatwasn’t supposed to be successful, and had no chance of “makingit”. They were cast aside and ridiculed as dreamers, even laughedat by those supposedly “in the know” when they said they wantedto go to America. But they were not deterred or even mildlyintimidated. They believed in themselves, and together they roseto arguably unparalleled greatness in the world of rock and rollmusic. This is truly the definitive history of the Scorpions. That,in itself, is a story well worth the price of admission.
And not to be forgotten is the storyteller himself. Herman’slighthearted and at times self-deprecating sense of humor addsso much to this book that I am certain even those who may neverhave even heard of the Scorpions will find this piece of literatureentertaining and fun.
I am so very proud to have been asked to write this briefprelude for this book, and even more honored that I amconsidered the “sixth Scorpion” because so much of the work Iam given to do is forgotten the moment a band leaves the studio.
I am not one who wishes to trumpet my own successes as somany others in my line of work will do, so as I read the wonderfulthings Herman had to say about me I was honestly touched quitedeeply. As such, this is an honor to be sure, and I’m so verypleased to say to all of you this book is not a book about a man oreven a band so much as it is an unabashed celebration life andliving. To those of you who do not know Herman Rarebell I willsay be ready for an introduction into the times and thoughts ofone of the true gentlemen of this industry not to mention one ofthe great musicians of his generation.
Enjoy.
Dieter
DTSCTATMFR (Well, sort of...)
Warning!
The following is meant for entertainment purposes only!Leave your troubles and worries outside the covers. There isnothing inside here but fun. So please don't look for anythingelse!
f
Welcome to the world of the Scorpions 1
Herman
P.S.- Unless otherwise noted, all puns are intended.
CONTENTSTITLE PAGECOPYRIGHT PAGEABOUT THE AUTHORSDEDICATIONFOREWORDDISCLAIMER
THE WIND OF CHANGE
LITTLE HERMAN ZE GERMAN2 FINDING MY WAY
d THE BRITISH INVASION
^ WELCOME TO GERMANY. HERMAN ZE GERMAN!
PAYING MORE DUES THAN A UNION MEMBER
TAKEN BY FORCE
KIMONO BABY LIGHT MY FIRE
Q GOODBYE ULI - HELLO MATTHIAS
ANIMALS AND THE ZOO
ROAD WORK AND PLAY
SORE THROATS AND BLACKOUTS
1-^ WELCOME TO MY WORLDId SUN OVER BEACH
SECTS AND DRAGS AND A ROCKY ROAD
YOU PLAY 18 MONTHS AND WHATD^A GET?
PASSION RULES THE ROAD
A CRAZY WORLD TO BE SURE
IQ THE LONG AND WINDY ROAD [YAWN...!
IF YOU CANT STAND THE HEAT...GET OUT OF THESCORPIONS!
THE LAST DANCE
A NEW DAWNEPILOGUERELATED LINKS
1
THE WIND OF CHANGEThe summer of 1989... Perhaps that seems like an odd place to
start. Yet given the rite of passage that came as a result of ourmusical endeavors, and the immense opportunity placed at ourdoorstep by the controlling powers, such as they were, I am suremany of you will agree that it may well be the perfect place tobegin our journey through the history of one of rock and roll’smost improbable stories. I am proud to say I was part of it, andtogether over the next few hundred pages we’ll relive thetriumphs over adversity, the construction of a legacy and,thankfully, even the death of disco! The latter may be one of thegreatest thrills any of us ever had! But as Jerry Garcia so lucidlywrote in the Grateful Dead classic, “Truckin’”, “What a long,strange trip it’s been...” Or more appropriately, what a long,strange trip it was. We truly defied the odds and did theimpossible. We overcame the naysayers and the pundits, not tomention the persistent political obstacles and industry-wideroadblocks, to do what the so-called experts said would be out of
the question. No one opened any doors for us when we knocked.
We had to kick them down to get attention all by ourselves. We
grew together. We fought like siblings. We shared the life ofnomads. We did it not so much for ourselves but for you, ourfans. Ultimately, no band can endure for as many years as we did
if their motive is selfishly derived from anything other than the
pleasure of the fans.
And so, appropriately, we begin at the outset of what would
eventually become part of a new beginning for millions of peoplearound the world. Having been raised in postwar West Germanyas I was, the sense of yesteryear was undoubtedly never strongerthan it was for those of us who were exposed to the omnipresentand omnipotent monument that was conceived, constructed and
consecrated for the sole purpose of being the definitive symbol of
oppression as well as a stark reminder of the difference between
east and west, the “Berlin Wall”. Recalling the words and
thoughts of the former and quite popular U.S. President Ronald
Reagan who referred to it as “The Evil Empire”, you can onlyimagine how I felt as our plane began its descent into
Sheremetyevo Airport on the outskirts of Moscow, U.S.S.R.
Though we had played within the borders of the Soviet Union
the previous year in the city of Leningrad, which today is St.
Petersburg, it seemed like it was part of a dream and had since
blurred together with so many of our earlier destinations as well
as those that came in between. It was still Russia, and yet it didn’t
seem the same to me. There was actually a bit of a “western” feelto the city, if you can believe that. We had never seen pictures of
the Hermitage or St. Isaac’s Cathedral or other significanthistorical landmarks within the city. As such, we really didn’tspecifically associate them with Russia. It was quite a contrastfrom the country’s modern-day capital city that we had all seentime and again in newsreel footage as well as on television. Andmy feelings were actually warranted, as we would discover,because Moscow was quite a different city, to say the least -muchmore in line with our original expectations.
To be honest, the atmosphere on board the plane was pensiveand a wee bit tense given the circumstances surrounding ourbelated arrival. We were all quite able to remember the reasonsfor the hastily contrived amendment to our schedule in 1988. Wewere booked to play in Moscow at that time, but we wereprohibited from performing there for what could only be termed“political reasons”. Being only the second western hard rockgroup to perform in the Russian capital, the first being UriahKeep, we were anxious to find out what awaited us. Would it be areplay of our shows to the north where the audiences were quiteresponsive and genuinely glad to see us? Or would there be theexpected turmoil that altered the schedule on our aborted visit?
As I looked out the window at all that was below, so manythoughts came to mind. I wondered how it was that I was aboutto land in a place that had been for so many years locked behinda metaphoric shroud of steel. I also pondered the thoughts thatmust have been in the minds of at least a few of our fellowcountrymen who most assuredly had to consider us traitors ofone sort or another. That was justifiable even if unfair from ourpoint of view. We weren’t trying to make a statement. We weren’ttreasonously acting against our own people. We were simply
trying to give something back to our fans that just happened tolive inside the Soviet Union. Was that their fault? Were they allresolute in their hatred of the west and all that it stood for?
As the plane went in and out of the clouds on its finalapproach, I continually found myself looking anxiously for somefamiliar site like the Kremlin or Red Square. I did not realize atthe time that both were more than 20 miles to the east of theairport runway. And so from my vantage point, as I looked below,I could only see what appeared to be a smattering of small homesnot so different from those in my own country. How could it be, Ithought, that people who not only represented the enemy for somany years but also dominated pairs figure skating with the helpof the “puppet” judges from the “Eastern Block”, could possiblylive in a manner that was not so different from myself? Yes, itwas 1989 and perestroika was in full bloom. Yet, it wasn’t somany years earlier that the look of the Soviet landscape seemedso much more menacing and ominous. However, as I thoughtabout it, I realized that our world, the one within which I lived,was not about politics but one of entertainment. Music was not adivisive element but one of unity. Though they could lock awaythe people, they could not lock up the airwaves.
As I said, we were hardly the first western musicians to“invade” Soviet sovereignty. Nor were we probably even the firstgroup of Germans since the Third Reich “goose-stepped” towardthe Volga. Tm sure there had to have been some polka bands“umpah, pahing” their way into the hearts (Though heartburnmight be more appropriate...) of the faithful. We were but thelatest and definitely the first rock band of any kind from West
Germany. And yet as our plane came to rest on the tarmac andbegan to taxi toward the terminal, I looked around at the Cyrillicletters that graced every building and knew how Dorothy feltwhen she entered the Land of Oz. Though we saw the same thingin Leningrad, for some reason it just struck me as being quitedifferent. I suddenly understood better the frustrations of thosewho are not literate in their own language as I saw words thatshould have meaning and did to those of the proper lineage. Butto me, none of it meant a thing.
Certainly there are those of you out there right now readingthis saying to yourself, “Aw, come on Herman, what is this crap?We want to read about all the babes on the road in ‘85. By 1989you had already passed those years.” Well to them I can say thatwhich Lm certain most doctors utter countless times a day... “No,I’m sorry, I don’t take American Express.” No, that’s not it. Theyleave that sort of thing to the good-looking broads working outfront... Oops... Sorry. I slipped. I meant to say lovely youngmaidens manning the reception desk. I forgot. I’m writing inEnglish. This means I’m forced to be politically correct sincemost of the English speaking, and for that matter, readingcountries tend to subscribe to such hogwash. So I shouldn’t makeany sexist remarks. Well, actually, if I’m going to refrain fromthat, pretty much the rest of this book is going to be kind ofboring since so much of what we were about as a band, or at leastthat which we were accused of whether or not it was true (I cantell you, it wasn’t our goal.), “unintentionally” leaned quiteheavily on the hedonistic foot pedal. Those of you who have seenour album covers or taken time to learn any of the lyrics to themajority of our songs will surely understand. (Honestly, we neverreally intended for our work to be considered or interpreted thatway. However, it’s always nice to be considered regardless of theframework for the consideration.) For those of you who haven’t, Ican only wonder why you’re reading this book. I’m notcomplaining, mind you... Just curious.
I do want to say a few words here about political correctness,if I can, since the issue will come up time and again within thisbook. I think it’s important to offer clarification of my personalposition on this subject. Anyone familiar with the Scorpions issurely able to understand why I say this. I really am amazed atthis concept, and how it has evolved over the past couple ofdecades - not really amazed so much as shocked. To me, it isnothing more than just another way of making money by hurtingother people. People have obviously discovered there’s money tobe made by being “sensitive”. I guess it’s nothing more than asign of the times. When I was young people used to say, “Sticksand stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me...”(Okay, so they didn’t say that exactly, but they did say theGerman equivalent.) Today, however, sticks and stones are farless offensive to people than words. There is no money in it!(Unless, of course, you manufacture sticks or stones...) This isoffensive to me. (It’s probably offensive to the sticks and stonespeople, too, since I’m certain many have been driven out ofbusiness by political correctness.) (By the way, I still play withsticks, of course, and I have at times in my life, been “stoned”.
But I don’t think that’s the same thing.)
Anyway, getting back to the point, if, in fact, I was actually
trying to make a point prior to stepping up to my bully pulpit. Ireally didn’t want to start spewing philosophies so early, but Ijust couldn’t help it. The subject is one that I find quite personalfor a variety of reasons. So getting my opinion out in the openearly I feel is going to help you understand the rest of this book. Iwill tell right here and now, nothing within this book is written inan effort to hurt anyone. It’s all meant for fun. So please, take itall in the spirit with which it is offered.
You have to admit, well, actually you don’t have to, but I hopeyou will, I was fairly well-behaved for the first couple of pages.
Bet you thought I was going to write a normal, dry, dull bookabout the events of my life within the Scorpions, huh? Well, Ireally can’t do that to you. (I couldn’t do that to anyone.) I meanhow interesting would it be to read, “And then we went toOmaha, Nebraska. And then we played in Helsinki, Finland. Andthen we did a concert in Tokyo...” (Some routing, huh? Don’tlaugh. There are bookers who actually put schedules like thattogether. I suspect they also have very lucrative life insurancepolicies on each member of the band...) I think books like that aremeant as sleep aids - a lot like the local penal code I’m sure. Andin truth, such books really don’t tell you much about who theperson truly is. In fact, I don’t think the penal code would tell youanything about me. So I prefer to be myself and have some funwhile telling you the story of the band. I hope you don’t mind.
Nevertheless, I was going to say to those of you who want meto immediately jump into the middle of the waterbed as so manybooks of this nature do, let me be doctor while you be patient. (Iknow, that was about as clever as an umbrella in a blizzard.) I
promise, we will get to everything in due time. Okay so maybethis book isn’t going to rival anything by Twain or Pushkin, but inthe end, I think you’re going to enjoy the ride we’re on togetherbecause honestly it was a lot of fun and, yes, we will go through itall.
Oh, who is Pushkin, right? All right, so some of you might bewondering who the hell Twain is, as well. For the latter group, Iam not sure I can help you. (Not sure anyone can.) But for thosewho are curious, perhaps as many as six of you, AlexanderPushkin was a 19th century Russian author and in the opinion ofmany literary scholars, the greatest of all Russian writers. Sowhat is he doing in a book written by a German who is currentlyliving in England? Well, aside from being renowned as one of thegreat philanderers of his time, behavior we often inadvertentlyemulated ourselves, he was a Russian, as I mentioned, and that’swhere we were in 1989. Remember?
Of course, as famous as he is within his own country, aslegend has it, and as I understand it, even the great Pushkin maybe dwarfed in repute by an alleged 20th Century Sovietdiagnostician, Dr. Vladimir Ternyerhedenkov. (Remember, theSoviet Union developed their own version of history during theCold War...) The story as I have heard it is, even though he neverwon any sort of award or acclaim for his accomplishment fromhis colleagues within the field of medicine or even that of thosetoiling within the halls of academia who to this day supposedlyrefer to his “discovery” as “an embarrassing fluke”, nonetheless,there is nary a doctor on either side of the Atlantic that does notutilize the Ternyerhedenkov method for diagnosing hernia. I
know my doctor does. So I can personally attest to this. And Idoubt there is a patient anywhere in the world that doesn’t hearthe name Ternyerhedenkov during a physical examination.
At any rate, although the side notes might be moreentertaining, let’s get back to the story in order to allow me tomeander in other directions. Now as history shows, certifiablehistory, by that time, the summer of 1989, the Scorpions hadtravelled just about around the world. (I’m sure right now thereis someone reading that who has jumped on his computer to tallyup the actual amount of the world we had covered by 1989 to seeif I’m telling the truth. He’s probably saying, “Hey, you didn’t goto Antarctica!”)(It’s probably the same guy who is checking tofind out who Dr. Ternyerhedenkov is...) However, on that tripthere were still many new emotions spawned and sparked by thegrandeur of the experience. We were in a place we’d only readabout. A place that I personally never once ever thought I wouldvisit let alone be welcomed into as a visiting celebrity. We werenot political in the least, nor were our songs until that day.Though most of us grew up listening to and playing protest songsabout the war in Viet Nam, even if we didn’t know what all thewords meant at the time, we were not inspired to do the samewith our talents. I will admit that I personally have always beenquite conscious of events within the world and all that goes onaround me. But that’s about as far as it has ever gone. And yet asinnocent and naive as we may have been as we disembarked andentered the small, unpretentious terminal that was the gatewayto communism, we all felt something. There was definitely a“Wind of Change” in the air, and there was no denying that we
were standing in the midst of history once again.
As I briefly mentioned, we were originally scheduled to playthere in the spring of 1988 - late April through early May to beexact. But those dates were cancelled because of concerns overrioting and public drunkenness during the important holidaycelebration on May 1, officially dubbed the holiday of labor. As Icame to learn, Russians rarely needed a reason to drink vodkajust as Germans don’t need much inspiration to down a beer ortwo. Most would toast a crack in the sidewalk or put a crack inthe sidewalk to toast. So on holidays, you can imagine theatmosphere was much more volatile. I suspect the localauthorities at the time just didn’t want to risk an onslaught ofnegative publicity should westerners experience or see anythingthat didn’t paint their country in the best of colors. (As if we hadnever seen any drunks before. Hell, we all knew the British rockband UFO’s bass player, Pete Way.) (Ha Ha!!! Take that youbloody Limey bastard!) (It’s a good thing he’s a friend. Or at leasthe was before that comment.)
And so it was that we returned in the summer of ‘89, only ahandful of months before true history were to be made. No nothistory like a bunch of Germans with guitars playing music. (Wewere full of a lot of things but never so full of ourselves to makeeven the slightest comparison.) So even though it was but a fewmonths down the road at the time, we had no idea what lay aheadfor our fellow countrymen in the autumn as more than leaveswould be falling. Sure there were rumblings. Scuttlebutt waswhat the media always lived for. We remembered listening toPresident Reagan once again, who, while standing at the foot of
the Berlin barricade that separated east and west, made a strongstatement to his Soviet counterpart on June 12,1987, “Mr.Gorbachev, tear down this wall...” all the while thinking, “Yeahsure... Who’s he kidding? It will never happen.” And yet, eventhough the miracle was just around the bend, we really had noidea that it would happen so soon, and the eventual reunificationof our country would become a reality. Today, an entiregeneration of not only Germans but I suspect people around theworld knows only about east and west separation inside ourborders by reading the history books, although within ourcountry, the date of November 9,1989 is one that every Germancitizen knows as well as his own birthday. If they had just waiteda couple of weeks, it would have coincided with my date of birth.
I wish someone had consulted me. Yes, indeed, there truly was awind of change in the air as we began our trip into the center ofthe once forbidden city to the east. Thank God Klaus Meine gotthe words written before too many changes took place. It couldhave ruined a great song!
Throughout the drive from the airport we all took note of howdifferent and yet the same everything looked upon closerscrutiny. I think I could have been an architect in Russia at thetime. There was a similarity to the simplistic structural designand construction that graced the streets upon which we rode.Every building seemed to have been erected for practicality morethan aesthetics. There were, in places, rows and rows ofuniformly built flats (apartments). Some stood as high as perhapsthirty floors in the air. And yet, there was no majesty to them -only practicality. That seemed to be the familiar theme. Therewas no sign of poverty; how could there be given the communisttheory? But there was no sense of joy or happiness in the eyes ofmany we saw during those initial hours in the capital city, whichdid little to help curb our anxieties. It was, once again, a starklydifferent picture from the one we remembered seeing inLeningrad. We wouldn’t see eyes like those again until much laterwhen we faced a legion of adoring fans all wanting to hear usplay. However, as we looked around at those who were in theirmuch more natural environment, we had to wonder if the sceneswe recalled from our previous trip itself weren’t all an act stagedfor purposes of propaganda.
I wish to say something at this point in time to those whohave not had the opportunity to travel in Eastern Europe andmore specifically, Russia. In my opinion, some of the mostbeautiful women in the entire world live within the borders of thecountries that at one time made up the former Soviet Union. I say“some of’ because, as you will discover later, I have a favorite citywhen it comes to beautiful women - the most beautiful in theentire world (at least in my opinion). And I can tell you up frontit’s going to surprise the hell out of you!
Anyway, as we drew closer and closer to the city center, thebuildings became less monotonous and more individual witheven a western feel in some respects. It was as if there was aconscious paranoia within the poIitburo that they were beingwatched and had to put up a positive front for all the visitingdignitaries to insure there was never a less than glowing review oflife in their “Union”. If Moscow, the flagship and standard-bearerfor the country, looked antiquated or archaic, it would surelymean a black eye for the propaganda machine.
As I mentioned, we really didn’t know what to expect from theaudiences even after our shows the previous year. We knew ourballads like “Still Loving You” and “Holiday” were very popularthroughout Eastern Europe and often heard on the radio. But wewondered how it came across to what were predominantly non-English speaking listeners. Music had always been considered auniversal language, but the reason we decided to forego singingsongs in German and opted for the more complicated, at leastfrom our perspective, English, was because rock and roll wasEnglish music. If we had any hope of scaling the heights beyondHannover, West Germany, we knew it had to be in English. Sohow much of what we were about to share with our audienceswas going to be about our music and how much would be justabout the novelty of having western music and westernmusicians playing in their country?
As our time passed, we began to see a hunger in the eyes ofthe young people. Some hung on our every word and seemed tothirst for knowledge with those who did speak one of ourlanguages, even a little, asking all sorts of questions andtranslating for those who didn’t. Though we were guarded andshielded from a lot of spontaneous interaction, as was the Sovietcustom, we still were able to exchange brief words with many ofthe locals, which helped dispel our own curiosities in many ways.As teenagers greeted us at our hotel, it was clear we were indeeda bit of a novelty to many even though the time when there wereno magazines, music or movies from our part of the worldinvading the soils behind the “curtain” had long passed. Even the“Golden Arches” of McDonald’s had found a home withinwalking distance of Lenin’s Tomb which may, in fact, have hadhim resting much less peacefully.
Originally, we were scheduled to play five dates in Moscow in1988 but that was changed in favor of our taking part in twomuch larger shows at Moscow Stadium in 1989 on August 12thand 13th. The concert was called the “Moscow Music PeaceFestival”. Yet, a look at the other acts made us wonder howpeaceful it would be. With groups like Motley Crue and OzzyOsbourne sharing the bill, we could only imagine whosedefinition of tranquility they were using. Actually, sharing the billmight not be the best way to describe it. That sounds much toopacific given the myriad of egos involved. Ozzy and Crue bothseemed intent on being billed higher, and so that led to a bit ofbackstage bickering. Bon Jovi was in the same sort of position.Jon himself, who I spoke to, was steadfast in his desire toheadline the shows even though, in truth, not that many peoplein Russia even knew who they were. I tried to explain this to him,but he’d have none of it, and as such the billing and playing orderwas followed and ultimately proved out what I suspected. At thatpoint in time, in all modesty, the Scorpions were a much biggeract in that part of the world than Bon Jovi, and the audience’sresponses seemed to support that. But I tried. I really did try.
As we took the stage that summer, within a few verses of ouropening song, “Blackout”, there was no longer a thought aboutwhere we were playing only that we were playing for over135,000 screaming fans that all seemed to know our music. Thehappiness and joy returned to their eyes and told a story all by
itself. To paraphrase my friend Justin Heyward of the MoodyBlues, we were the epitome of being “the music to the story intheir eyes”. Surely, that was the most telling sign of the futureevents. But as I think back now, we didn’t really take time tothink about it then. For us, music was our world and our worldhad just grown by more than 250,000,000 people who we nevereven realized knew we existed. If I’m wrong about the Sovietpopulation in 1989, please don’t get upset with me. I’m amusician, not a census taker.
After the last show on August 13, we were taken to Gorky Parkand a place the promoters called the Hard Rock Cafe I guess assome sort of an illustration as to how progressive the SovietUnion had become. It looked every bit the same as any of thosesporting the name elsewhere. On the menu were hamburgers andthe standard junk food fare that you can find in most of thoseestablishments today along with the expected rock musicmemorabilia. It gives one “food” for thought, though, because allof this time I thought it was a Hard Rock Cafe aligned with thosewe had visited in other major cities. But as I was researching thisbook, I came to learn that that franchise had not reached Russiansoil in 1989.
It was during a subsequent trip that we had the very greathonor and pleasure of meeting with soon to be deposed SovietLeader, Mikhail Gorbachev. His days, as well as those of thegovernment he headed, were numbered though at that time hedidn’t admit it even if he knew it. Despite what others may havecome to learn about Mr. Gorbachev, I found him to be a verylikeable, dare I say, buoyant man, who I believe truly spoke from
his heart. In my life, few politicians I’ve met or even heard speak,ever seemed to say what they really thought or even believed thatwhich they were saying. But with Mr. Gorbachev, I have no doubtthat he was a very sincere man. Having since come to learn somuch more about how our world is run and those in charge of it,
I respect him even more today. I would love to say I was able tocommunicate to Mr. Gorbachev the very real need to tear downthe Berlin wall and convince him to indeed remove it, but I’m notreally going to sit here and say something so clearly bogus thatanyone with half a brain would know is a lie. I prefer to save mylies for more important things like women!
One of the things that I found to be very engaging andsurprising about Mr. Gorbachev was his sense of humor. The faceof Russia and the Soviet Union always seemed so dark and eeriewith men like Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev not tomention the portentous and threatening Joseph Stalin, stoicallyparading quite forebodingly before the western cameras. Mr.Gorbachev was nothing of that kind. For one thing, he actuallyseemed to know who we were and, I don’t know if he was beinghonest about this, but even knew our music. He laughed andjoked with us, which was quite contrary to what we expected. Heeven took time to explain to us what real “heavy metal” was. Hesaid it was former Premier Khrushchev pounding his shoe on thetable at the United Nations in i960. He also explained that theAmericans made their biggest mistake in 1964 when they let theBeatles in, as they were responsible for changing America. Herelated that it was analogous to his letting us come to Russia. Idon’t know if we were directly responsible for the downfall of
communism and the Soviet Union, but it does make a good story,don’t you think? I don’t mind taking credit if he wishes to give itto us.
At the end of the day, our journeys east can be labeledsuccessfully, we believe. We got paid. Not much... But we gotpaid. That’s always a sign of success in our business. I knowyou’re wondering how that could be but truthfully, some of thestories I could tell you and will tell you later, will surprise theheck out of you perhaps. Things like contracts don’t always meanvery much to some of those involved with promoting concerts.
As we spent more time with the people, we began to see adifference. Maybe we started to become accustomed to the moretraditional Russian behavior, which is not to smile all the timeand remain private. At least that was my impression. But nolonger did they seem distant or cold. Perhaps, as I said, that wasa result of our having spent time there getting to know a littleabout the culture and feeling more comfortable with thesurroundings. Maybe politics can learn something from rock androll. Having met many leaders through our travels as I have said,and having had the chance to see more of the world than I everdreamed I would when growing up in West Germany, I willalways be thankful to my mom and dad for allowing me to poundon those pots and pans so many years ago.
2
LITTLE HERMAN ZE GERMANI did not realize it until a friend of mine brought it to my
attention, but I was born exactly 21 years after another icon,though be it an American one, on November 18,1949. No, Iwasn’t born in 1970, nor do I really consider myself an icon. Theicon about which I speak was “born” on November 18,1928.1hope I won’t have to explain everything to you throughout thisbook. It will wind up with a length rivaling that of “War andPeace” and, as everyone knows, no one ever gets through “Warand Peace”. Now tell me the truth, how many autobiographiesabout rock and roll musicians have you read that make referenceto both Tolstoy and Pushkin within the first handful of pages?And they say rock and roll isn’t educational. The “E” in Hermanstands for education!
Anyway, I know I may be a bit presumptuous consideringmyself on an equal level with Mickey Mouse, with whom I sharethe common date of origin, and yet I suspect to some within thisworld, as it is with most who attain a level of celebrity, I
undeservedly have been given a status of that nature. Those whodo know me know that I am hardly one who wishes to trumpetmy own accomplishments or myself. And so writing a book, as 1am, is hardly in keeping with what was and I still believe is a veryhumble beginning and life. But I am not writing for me but forthose who, like myself, have an interest in people who perhapshad an impact or influence on their life. I don’t know how muchof an impact 1 had on anyone’s life in particular though 1 do thinkit’s safe to assume a lot of guys probably got laid while “StillLoving You” was on the radio.
Speaking of getting laid, I was born in the city of Lebach-Saarland, West Germany. (How was that for a segue? I know it’sweak, but heck, 1 couldn’t resist.) Technically, the region is on thecusp of the French border and the often-disputedAlsace/Lorraine territory therein not to mention that marvel ofFrench engineering (Though futility may be the more appropriateterm.), the “Maginot Line”. (Well, there goes the French marketfor distribution of this book... Oh well.) At the time of my birth,the region was under French control though young children likemyself never really even realized it. Being an only child, I was, intruth, a bit spoiled even though by today’s standards, I hardlythink anyone would have that same opinion.
My family lived not in Lebach but in Huettersdorf, which isabout six kilometers from Lebach. My father, Hermann Erbel,was in the field of law enforcement. In other words, euphemismsaside, he worked as a policeman. Being that we were not, per say,a musical family (Unlike some of you may think, policemen onlysing in West Side Story.), my mother Kaetharina (Kaethe) and
father were understandably a bit surprised at my inclination tomake noise at a young age. Not really so surprised that a five yearold would make noise but more by the approach I took to itwhich was that of pounding on pots and pans with spoons. Theywere quite tolerant given the fact that they did wonder whoseside of the family was responsible for it. But I am thankful theydidn’t chastise me too harshly for my hobby.
My father worked as a policeman, as I said, despite the factthat in West Germany there were no donut shops to be found. (Idon’t think there were any in East Germany either.) Come tothink of it, there were no donuts either. Maybe that was theproblem. I envy children in the U.S. today whose fathers work inlaw enforcement. I know this isn’t the healthiest thing in theworld, but I’m not exactly a diet guru. And no. I’m not promotingobesity. I am just stating a fact that anyone who has ever eaten adonut will agree with. Anyway, we lived what could be considereda very normal West German life circa the early 1950’s. (Okay, sowhat is normal if we are all supposedly different? The concept of“normalcy” is one that is and rightfully should be debatedendlessly.) However, sadly yet cordially, my parents divorced in1957. In spite of the appearance of dysfunction externally, unliketoo many couples today, there was none of the squabbling(Normally over money...)(I think the divisiveness caused bygreed can be universally considered “normal”.) that so destroysrelationships between parents and children, and I’m verythankful for that.
After the breakup, my mother and I chose (Actually, it was mymother who made the choice.) to move back to the place of my
birth, Lebach-Saarland. Probably the reason had more to do withthe fact that that was where my mother’s parents lived than thequality of the schools or the depth of the roster of the localfootball team. They had extra room, and so that is who we livedwith and where we stayed until I was 14. In other words, we livedwith my grandparents for all the obvious reasons. At least theywere obvious to us. When I was 14, my mom was able to secure ajob at the Deutche Bahn railway station as a telephone operator,so we moved to the city of Saarbrucken where the legend ofHerman Ze German began.
I know there are those of you who are wondering why I’mwasting so much time with this. Well, this is the story of my life,and, honestly, you didn’t think I was just created by some madscientist for the express purpose of playing the drums, did you?And yet, the impatience of those waiting to read all about the sex,drugs and general debauchery, not to mention rock and roll, maynever be fully rewarded. But wait... I just put some sex in. As Isaid, I wasn’t just created. I had to have gone through the normalbirthing process. And I’ve already talked about people gettinglaid. I think that’s pretty significant. Okay, so that’s not whatmost of you have in mind. But still, you will have to wait a littleand indulge me in the interim because, in all sincerity, who I amtoday has a lot to do with who I was then. I think it is the samefor most people in this world. What you learn as a child and howyou are raised will forever influence your life whether you realizeit or not. My mother and father allowing me to pound on the potsand pans in the kitchen when I was five gave me encouragementto not only try the patience of everyone around me and make
noise in front of much larger audiences but also to learn moreabout the rhythm and syncopation that seemed to be a part of mysoul. However, if they were to have been asked, I am sure at thatpoint they probably thought I simply had a hankering to makenoise. Perhaps they would have even preferred it.
Initially, I suspect my parents figured it was a phase I wasgoing through as a child. Some children play with boxes. Othersplay with rocks. Some climb on the every piece of furniture in thehouse. Me? I played with pots and pans, which come to think ofit, should have concerned my parents more than it did. I ammore than certain they didn’t hope to have a short order cook inthe family. Maybe that was the reason my mother bought mesome brushes to use on the pots. Then again, as I think back,maybe the brushes were for cleaning not creating the legendarysound that has made me so famous today. Perhaps I was beinggroomed and encouraged to work in a kitchen and didn’t evenrealize it. She may have feared that I might start using sausagesrather than spoons. Nevertheless, whatever the reason may havebeen, if either had been the case, it’s quite possible you’d bereading a cookbook today rather than an autobiography.
My grandfather on my father’s side was the first to see thehandwriting on the wall, I think. After he yelled at me formisspelling a couple words I wrote there, he told my mother sheneeded to essentially “nip the drums in the bud” because hedidn’t want some lowlife, scumbag musician messing up hisfamily. In his opinion we already had one sap on the family tree,though he wouldn’t name names. Perhaps he would have beenhappier had I chosen to pursue a culinary career. At least that
would have been honest work. He was a very considerategrandfather, always thinking of others and their eardrums.
Anyway, seriously, he knew that music was infectious, thoughI don’t know why. He wanted to keep it out of my blood. He helda very high profile, public position, as he was the commissar ofthe police (As if that was honest work...) and had a reputation tothink about. He told my mom to get it out of my system and focusme on more important things like... Well, actually, I can’t think ofanything more important than being the best-darned drummerin the entire universe. But I’m sure grandpa had a whole list ofpreferable, not to mention, acceptable occupations. Then again, Idon’t know for sure, but I do wonder how often those studying tobe bankers or accountants get to spend the night with ten adoringgroupies. Maybe I’ll ask mine someday. I have to laugh as I thinkabout this. Can you imagine what an accounting groupie wouldbe like? “Oh, come on Herman baby, do it to me one more time...Do it to me like no one else can! Balance my check book!”
At any rate, I suspect the conversation around the Erbelhome... That’s right the Erbel home. I guess I should explain thisto you. Our family name was, in fact, Erbel. It wasn’t until Imoved to England in the early 1970’s that it was altered sort of bycircumstance. For some reason, people in the United Kingdomhad difficulty pronouncing Erbel and kept calling me Rarebell. Tothis day, I can’t explain it nor do I understand it. But they hadthat problem, and so from that time forward I was called HermanRarebell.
I know that story was about as interesting as watching paintdry. Hey, I wonder if my grandfather would have been happier if
I had become one of those? Herman Erbel, the official paint drierwatcher! It sounds quite prestigious, don’t you think? Andimagine what my autobiography would have been like then!
Okay, so some of you are thinking probably about as tedious asthis book. Look, I’m the writer. I’m the only one allowed to makeobnoxious comments about me.
Well, anyway, as I was saying, I suspect the discussionamongst our small family was much the same as it is aroundmost homes. When they finished talking about how tough it wasto make a living, and how there was nothing good in thenewspaper anymore, and how I was surely going to putsomeone’s eye out with a drum stick, they finally got around todiscussing my future and me. I think if someone were to haveasked them, they would have said that they figured the drumswould be a hobby and probably out of my system long before Ireached age six. And so they were encouraging of my banging, asI have said, or at least not discouraging of it. Unlike I think toomany parents today, they wanted to let their son enjoy himself.
You know... Well, actually, you can’t know since I haven’twritten it. If you did know it, you would be a mind reader andwouldn’t need to read this book because you would already knowwhat it says. But that’s all beside the point. What I wanted to sayis that one thing that I am disappointed in is my own life as aparent. I have a daughter, Leah, who is now 21. She is studying inGlasgow, Scotland to be a speech therapist and wants to workwith the disabled. (Hey, maybe she can teach the people in theUK to pronounce Erbel.) I love her dearly. I am not disappointedin the least with her. My disappointment is in my own life’s
priorities while she was growing up. I was absent far too muchbut given my occupation, it couldn’t be helped. However, forthose of you who are reading this, please know that if you live anomadic life and have options that perhaps would allow you toremain at home more, you will regret not taking that path. Sure,being on the road with a rock band is wonderful for the young. Itappears quite glamorous on the outside. But it’s also very lonelyin many ways. Very empty. And for a marriage, it normallychimes a death knell. It’s impossible to turn your head forever asmost rock and roll wives claim they do. Money can be a salve forthe open wounds only so long. And for children, even though it’sprobably fun to have a famous father, they cannot replace himand all the money in the world won’t buy back those years. As formy daughter’s choice in a future mate, I will encourage her tomarry anyone she wants. I don’t wish to dissuade her from lovingsomeone based solely on his occupational pursuit. So I will behappy with anyone she marries so long as he’s a businessman.
All of that was simply a side note to the thought I wanted toshare with you, however. Take it for whatever it’s worth but frommy perspective, I believe one of the gravest disservices any parentcan do to a child is that of direction. I see it so often. Parents whoorchestrate their child’s life from the day he’s born to the day hegets married. The child’s life is seemingly checkered withpreordained decisions. The structure for children has become sogreat that it has taken away their opportunity for creativeindividuality. Within my life, my parents allowing me to bang onthose pots and pans as they did and their encouragement of mydrumming whether intentional or not, was quite important to my
personal development and individuality. They didn’t tell me toput down the pot because I had to go and play Little Leaguebaseball. (To this day I haven’t really put down the pot. But that’sanother story all together.) Okay so forget the fact that there wasno baseball in Germany at the time. They didn’t make me go andplay football, which for those of you in America is your gamesoccer. Yes, I know you think everything was invented inAmerica. That’s why I call it your game. Don’t get me wrong. Ilove America and Americans. I loved them every chance I got.
But that, too, is another story for later. Actually, it’s severalstories for later. I’m only up to age five. Anyway, as one parent toanother, since I suspect most of you reading this are parents,please allow your children to be themselves and encourage everyactivity they undertake, even undertaking if they are so morbidlyinclined, especially if they take up activities of their own accord.Like water, they will find their own level one day. Allow them thechance to find it for themselves. I will forever give thanks to myparents for their support and understanding. They always hadthe best kitchenware. Even then, I guess, I knew quality!
So now we’ll fast forward a bit. Heck, even in the NewTestament they sort of jump from birth, after making a very briefstop at around age 12, to age 30... Please don’t take this out ofcontext. I’m not comparing myself to Jesus Christ or comparingthis book to the Bible. Just using it as a point of reference. Thereare far too many people who look for problems rather thansimply allowing life to be lived. They need to understand thatbeing overly sensitive leads to very little good.
Be that as it may, let us move forward to the early 1960’s. I
was twelve years old and fell in love for the first time. No, thisisn’t going to he one of those stories. My virginity was still quitesafe. In fact, don’t tell my wife, but when I fell in love, it mighthave been the only time I ever truly was in love. Sorry, honey. Noslight to you in the least. I was at a wedding and couldn’t take myeyes off her. The most beautiful girl in the entire world... A glitterwhite, Trixxon drum kit that shined and gleamed and attractedmy undivided attention throughout the reception to thefrustration of many preteen girls who were also in attendance.While most of them were focused on frivolous things like thewedding dress and the cake, and the flowers, and all the othertypical female things, the drummer captivated me. On secondthought, that might be misleading. Please understand, some ofmy best friends are gay, so I don’t mean this as a negative. In fact,I live in the “gayest” city in England, Brighton. And honestly, Ican’t really remember completely what the drummer looked like,but I am quite certain he wasn’t my type. Anyway, in truth as aplayer, he probably was no Gene Krupa; and yet to a young,impressionable child in 1962, he was every bit his peer. Duringthe course of the reception I was able to get behind the set for afew minutes, and even though my parents probably didn’t realizeit, the most important thing in my life from that day forward washardly that which I was being taught at school or football or evengirls. My life was all about music. As I think about it, it’s a shamemy focus has changed. Sorry again, honey.
After that reception, I began scrimping and saving everypenny I got for my own set of drums. I knew I had to have one,and it took me several months to save up the money. At five
Deutsche Marks per week allowance that my mother gave me,when I was 13 I eventually got my first set. It was very basicconsisting of only a bass, a snare and one cymbal. There was nohigh-hat or tom-tom. But for me, it was the Holy Grail. My familyquickly started to miss my banging in the kitchen. There was nogarage to banish me to. So they were stuck having to listen to mepound away in a small room inside the house. Til be completelyhonest with you, although the drums are in my opinion the mostbeautiful of all instruments, there is much to be said about theguitar or even the tuba when it comes to learning. While at leastthose instruments can be known even to beginners to make amelodic sound, drums never sound like very much to those whoare not in the fraternity until put together with an ensemble.
On the educational front, I will honestly admit I was neverconfused with Einstein in the classroom. However, even thoughmy grades were never that great (From what I understand,neither were Einstein’s.), somehow my parents’ perhaps sadisticsense of ironic logic deduced that I should attend the school ofeconomics which at the time was perceived to be the mostchallenging of all educational institutions in West Germany. Irealize this sounds a lot like a guy who is being beaten senselesslyby the # 148th ranked heavyweight boxer arrogantly challengingthe champion of the world! But heck, if you’re going to havesomeone beat the hell out of you, you may as well have it done bythe best! And so with that train of thought firmly in place, that ofmy educational needs not that of someone beating the hell out ofme, off I went to the school of hard knocks, I mean economics!
It was during this time, the time at the new school, that my
first school band came into existence, and I quickly got anadvanced, first-hand education in economics. The Mastermen, aswe called ourselves, was simply a group of guys I went to schoolwith; a group surely to get into the, ah hem, “Rock and Roll Hallof Fame” before the Scorpions... Don’t get me started with that.I’ll vent on that subject a little later.
Anyway, the Mastermen was nothing more than just a bunchof us kids playing the songs we heard on records or the radio likeit is, I suspect, everywhere in the world. So why “TheMastermen”? Well, that was the brainstorm of one of the fathers.He wanted us to be like all the popular groups of the day. He gotus all some flowered shirts, so that we’d match to go along withthe idea that we were “Mastermen”. You know, even today as Ithink about that, I don’t quite understand the concept. And thenwhen you consider that was only a handful of years after the endof the Nazi regime and the concept of a “master race”, it mightnot have been the most diplomatic name for a band. But we wereplaying music, and that was what mattered. Well, that, and theassorted fringe benefits.
As I am sure many of you are aware, a lot of young people getinto bands to meet girls. I was no different, really. I recognizedthat very early on and wanted to take advantage of what theopportunity afforded me. We played just about every weekendsomewhere and made what was the equivalent of about 150Euros. At that time, that was a lot of money! And when you havemoney for things like soda or ice cream when others guys don’t,you attract the attention of girls. Funny how that works, huh? Iguess that’s sort of a natural instinct with the female gender as
well. (Please, ladies, don’t get upset with me. I only said thatbecause guys like to read that sort of thing.) It was quite anadvantage to say the least. Not only did we attract girls becausewe were in the band, but we also attracted them because we couldtake them places that the other guys could not.
I had my first real girlfriend, (i.e., we had sex...) I think,during those years though I suspect she always felt as if she waslittle more than just second banana to my drums. Can’t say that Iblame her really because she was. She wasn’t able to earn me 150Euros on a weekend. In fact, from what I remember, she mayhave cost me more than that. This was a lesson they weren’tteaching at the school of economics. But honestly, even at thatage, I was 15,1 remember trying to put on a show for the girls,and how they would seem more attracted to me than even theother members of the group! I suspect it was the result of thenature of percussion itself. It’s quite physical, verging onanimalistic perhaps. Singing and/or playing a guitar is much lessso. And so there seemed to be an attraction to some girls wholoved the idea of the syncopated power and aggression of adrummer. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was by far the bestlooking guy in the group! Who am I to say otherwise?
Honestly, what I remember most about those years in theMastermen is the fact that it was truly one of the best times of mylife. I’m not kidding. I know there are those of you who will ask,“How can that be...” given all that has happened within my life?But let me tell you, the memories of youth can never besupplanted, nor should they be. Going to school, sort of, andplaying on weekends... I thought I was in heaven - at least until I
was out on tour and surrounded by groupies. But I happilytraded that in for a lovely wife and home life. (As you read that,was there a lightning strike anywhere?)
3
FINDING MY WAYIt was around that time, the mid-1960's, a little-known group of
guys from Liverpool, England, was suddenly everywheresurrounded by droves of screaming girls called, interestinglyenough, the Beatles. No, of course, the girls weren’t called theBeatles. I meant the band was called the Beatles. Now in allcandor, not being the very imaginative sort, I thought they werenamed after a bug. My grasp of English at that point was notexactly on a par with that of Winston Churchill. To be honest, it’snot so great right now. Probably about as good as ArnoldSchwarzenegger’s, but I think I can pronounce California betterthan he can though I don’t think that really matters. (Hey, youknow, as I think about this, maybe we should have been calledthe “Scorepions"! You know, “score” like a musical piece? I guessno one was that creative in the band when they came up with thename.)(Actually given our on road reputation, “score” might havebeen appropriate for describing our off-stage antics.) Whatmatters is the impression the Beatles made on a hormonal
teenager in Saarland who had finally and begrudgingly come torealize that the drums did have their limitations with regard tomatters of “amore”. I tried to cuddle closely with them on severaloccasions, but in all honesty, it just wasn’t the same as the soft,supple body of a teenage lassie. However, there was much lessupkeep - a new head from time to time, maybe some polish...
I will admit that I was fascinated by the playing of Ringo Starrnot only because the girls screamed and seemed to love him butalso because of his steady, solid, simplistic rhythm that seemedso perfectly in tune with what the others in the band were doing.
I began to take note of what he and many other drummers of thatera did and came to appreciate and understand the importance ofpercussion to the establishment of an identity for a band. Thatsounds so impressive doesn’t it? Truthfully, I just liked to listento and copy the way they played. The rest is for those of you whoare going to scrutinize this book for literary reasons. I have tomake sure I put in enough adjectives, adverbs and metaphoricinferences to keep you happy as well.
At any rate, like most musicians, I had a great many artistswhom I looked up to. (No, not because they were taller.) Some ofmy earliest influences were not only Ringo but also Charlie Wattsof the Rolling Stones and Peter York of the Spenser Davis Group.At no time, however, did I dare imagine I would ever meet any ofthese luminaries of the Mylar or even be classified within theirpeer group by some who may have had more than their share ofHeineken. But the hours I spent listening to their records andcopying their licks the best I could are, as I said, some of thehappiest times I remember.
Kids today will never share that same joy I fear. Witheverything available online and on DVD, young performers don’thave to practice their craft and develop their ear. They can simplywatch their favorites via one form of media or another wheneverthey like or buy an instructional video produced by one of themshowing all of their tricks. It’s so difficult to explain to a youngdrummer or any musician, for that matter, how priceless thedevelopment of their ear is. Being able to hear music allows amusician the ability to pick up anything and translate it directlyto his own work in a manner far different from watching andlearning from someone else. When you play “Satisfaction” or“She Loves You” a thousand times along with the record, you notonly learn what the drummer on the song was doing but what hecould have done that might even have been better. This is howyou develop your own style. I don’t try to play like Ringo or theWho’s Keith Moon or Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. I try to playlike Herman Rarebell.
By age 17, the Mastermen had run their course, and I wantedto turn professional. I decided to start my own band RSRindfleisch where I picked all the musicians. In a short time, webegan working the circuit. The circuit, of course, was a series ofnightclubs and bars in and around the general area where I lived.After having come to see me at one of our club engagements and,of course, wisely consulting with my mother, my father told me ifI was serious about music I should at least have the properbackground and training. And so he thought it would be a goodidea if I enrolled at the Saarbrucken Music Academy. There, hesurmised, I would get training not only in drums and percussionbut also receive the appropriate classical foundation as well aslearning other “real” instruments like piano. It all sounded goodto me. I wasn’t about to argue. Hell, at that point I would havecontracted jaundice if knew it would get me out of that damnedschool of economics.
Taking time to think back about it now, there may have beenanother reason for their suggestion/recommendation. It maywell have been just to get me out of the house with my drums.Can’t say that I blame them, given the fact that the drums aren’tfor everyone. What one has to remember is that up until the1900’s there was no such thing as a drum kit. There were drumsin bands, of course. Every polka was played with the support of abass drum, a snare and cymbals. However, a separate personplayed each. I can’t imagine sitting all day long playing a steadydrone as had to be the case with a bass drum player. But I guessthere are those who can’t imagine playing in a band named afteran arachnid either.
As I entered the music academy, I continued playing in RSRindfleisch. I know there are those who’ll wonder why I didn’tconsider playing for 150 Euros a weekend, as I did with theMastermen, as professional? Well, the difference, at least by ourdefinition, was the type of bookings we were pla5dng. Rather thanplaying exclusively on weekends, we were playing seven nights aweek at nightclubs and other assorted sleazy establishments.These were steady gigs that would run one month or more at atime.
RS Rindfleisch lasted only a short period of time andmorphed into a band with the cute little name Fuggs Blues. It was
important to mention the spelling because some people confusedthe name with a similar sounding word that, of course, I neveruse myself. Anyway, Fuggs Blues’ gigs, as I said, were mostlyplaying in clubs, and we covered everything on the radio. Songslike “It’s All Over Now” and “The Last Time” by the Stones and,of course, Beatles’ songs like “She Loves You” and whatever elsewas popular all had a place on our playlist. We tried our best toplay everything exactly like our British idols. Remember, at thattime there was no German band for anyone to emulate. That daywouldn’t come for many years. Rock and roll was English musicat least in terms of the language.
As Fuggs Blues grew in popularity, we had at least six fans,you can, of course, imagine that our bookings became muchbigger engagements than just local clubs. Eventually, we securedseveral one-month stints at U.S. Military clubs including ones inErankfurt, Schweinfurt and Nuremberg, playing four sets eachnight. These in particular stand out in my mind not for reasonswhich some of you might imagine, but because they were trulytales of two clubs. First one has to remember that was during thetime of the Viet Nam war, and so soldiers were coming and goingconstantly, and the bases were harbors of activity. As I thinkabout it today, I’m sure many of the soldiers I met during thosedays never returned from battle. It is a sobering reality when youthink how fragile life can be. But even beyond that, those militarybase gigs were very interesting for us because for the first lo daysor two weeks of each month the clubs would be packed. Youcouldn’t find a seat even if you said you knew Richard Nixonpersonally. (What people tend to forget is that President Nixon
was quite popular in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s everywhereexcept Hanoi and Moscow.) So during the first part of the monthwe played to lively audiences filled not only with beer andsausage, but money. However, by the middle of the month, mostof the extra cash was gone as was our audience, and so we playedthe remainder of the 30 days for some very cordial, though quitequiet, tables and chairs. It wasn’t so bad for us as I’m sure it wasfor the occasional comedian booked as part of the entertainment.Furniture is not very responsive to one-liners - like most critics.I’d say. Of course, critics are considered sweethearts compared tosome of the lizardlike creatures that call themselves agents.(Please forgive me for the comparison. I don’t want to offend anyreptiles.)
As some of you can imagine, and even if you can’t, I’m goingto ask that you try to, at that time, West Germany was a veryconservative country, and even though rock and roll was popularin cities like Hamburg, which, of course, became the legendarylaunching pad for the Beatles at the Star Club, the look, stylesand sounds were not so readily accepted by the masses. I wasfortunate that my mother worked at the train station, as she wasable to get us free train tickets to and from Hamburg. We usedthem to go and see whatever rock and roll bands were there. Iremember seeing bands like the Yardbirds, Spooky Tooth, RemoFour, and a German group called the Rattles. This gave us anadvantage over other young musicians who were in the sameposition as we were. I suspect it was similar to the early 1950’s inAmerica, as there were very few radio stations or clubs within thecountry that featured rock music. So our exposure was, at times.
limited to what, if any, radio reception we could get from the BBCor American Armed Forces Radio. As you can imagine, seeingbands live performing songs we played as well (Don’t confuse thisthought. We never thought we played the songs as well as theydid... I simply meant we played their songs, too... But thenagain... No, that would he presumptuous even if it might havebeen true.) and having the chance to watch how they “worked acrowd”, gave us an opportunity to really grow and develop asplayers and performers above and beyond that of other bands.
You know along that line, I think there are several veryimportant things that young people today miss out on as a resultof the way the industry has changed. As I mentioned already, theavailability of video products has taken away the development ofmusical ears. I also have noticed that musicians no longer seemas interested in playing live, or just jamming with friends forhours and hours. With the availability of software programs thatcan give anyone a complete home recording studio for a fewhundred dollars, playing no longer matters so much as recordingsongs. You musicians focus on recording or making videosbecause that’s how you get “discovered”. Well from me to all ofyou who may be dreaming of one day being in a band like theScorpions, there is no substitute for playing. Whether you play insomeone’s basement or garage, or you play at a party for friendsor in front of an audience at school, the more you play thesharper you will become, and the much more savvy you willappear to have when or if you ever get a chance to step up andplay before 100,000 people in a stadium. Whether you play forfive people or five thousand, the performance should never
change!
Being a drummer, I can tell you there are great differences inthe ways drummers present themselves. I was captivated KeithMoon to say the least. He knew how to perform with a veracityand ferociousness that was unlike any I had ever seen. The powerhe brought to the sound of the Who attracted me to them greatly.And then adding to that his propensity for the destruction of hisentire kit at the close of each night’s show, well, I can honestlysay that was all about presentation and performance. Though hewas a bit “over the top”, it still got my mind thinking about waysto make sure I was noticed, and how to avoid being stigmaticallytype-cast as just a drummer in a band. Arguably, it is safe to saythat I don’t think the Who ever fully recovered from the loss ofKeith Moon in 1977. He was an integral part of the band’smakeup and sound. The same can be said about John Bonham’srole in Led Zeppelin. Both Moon and Bonham were, in myopinion, irreplaceable.
Anyway, getting back to the story, as you may well havefigured out, in conservative West Germany in the late 1960’s, we,as musicians, got a lot of interesting looks from people. We hadto look and play the part of being rock stars whether we were ornot, if we were going to convince our audience that we werecredible. So with our “beat” hairstyles, “Beatle” boots and “mod”,polyester attire, we did attract a lot of attention. Of course, in alot of ways, I suspect it helped us with the girls because they weremuch more attracted to us than they were to guys wearing tiesand sport coats and studying nuclear fission in school. (Theyprobably figured we needed help with our fashion sense so it may
have been a sympathy thing.) Okay so for the most part, thoseguys today probably are much more successful than most of theguys I knew and played music with. But at the time, we didn’tmeasure success in terms of Dollars or Deutche Marks. Welooked at success by the quality of the girls we’d meet and date.Everyone wanted to date the best looking girl. And so playingmusic and looking a little different with, of course, theaforementioned money in our pockets, gave us a tremendousadvantage. And you can’t really blame the girls. Why would theywant to be with a guy who would consider a big evening onewhere he spends most of the time explaining the complexitiesand intricacies of “trickledown” economics? All right, so thatprobably wasn’t exactly the case because I think that term cameinto fashion a few years later in the U.S., n’ est pas? Never reallybeing very interested in such things, even though I did attend theschool of economics (You see what sort of impression that madeon me.), I don’t really know what the intellectuals discussedwhile out with girls. But whatever it was, it sure seemed to makeus musicians more popular. I thank God that they drew such aclear contrast for the ladies. Maybe the next time I talk to myaccountant I’ll think differently about him and thank him forhaving contributed so much to my maturation.
Even though you may find this impossible to believe given allthat I’ve already said to the contrary, I didn’t get into music forthe girls. However I adapted quickly. Okay, so who the heck am Ikidding? I saw the way the girls reacted to the Beatles and Stonesand thought immediately, “That’s for me!” Anyone who saysotherwise is lying. It was a wonderful byproduct of the industry.
and yet it did have its
drawbacks after a certain point. Just as was so aptly put in thevery popular American movie, “Rocky”, women truly do “weakenlegs”. But even at such a low level as we truly were, though at thetime we thought we were doing very well, the girls were therelending to the illusion we were perpetrating for the sake of ouregos. However, as I said, I do hope my daughter will be moreinterested in a businessman than a musician.
As you may recall, in the late 1960’s, music went through atremendous amount of change. At least rock music did. DeanMartin and Frank Sinatra didn’t really change very much whichis understandable. However, in popular rock and roll, very fewartists were able to overcome the changes that were taking place.By 1967, all but gone was the “doo-wop” I grew up with. It wasreplaced by music with a much harder edge. Groups like theYardbirds and Cream and later on Led Zeppelin, Deep Purpleand Black Sabbath began to develop a style of music that reallyattracted my complete attention. As a group playing at themilitary bases, our sets began to include harder edged rock aswell.
At this time, my influences began to lean heavily in thatdirection as well. Mitch Mitchell, for example, who played withthe Jimi Hendrix Experience, was one of those as was JohnBonham of Zeppelin. The minute I heard Led Zeppelin, I knewwhat kind of music I wanted to play. I wanted to be in a band likethat and play hard rock.
THE BRITISH INVASIONAs IVe come to learn, geography isn’t something stressed in
every country especially as it applies to the rock and roll genreand landscape. But at the time and even today, Germany washardly the country to be discovered in as a musician or to becomepart of a hard rock act. All right, since you already know how thestory turns out, perhaps you don’t believe that. It’s not everyonewho can travel 500-1000 kilometers to a completely differentcountry only to wind up meeting with and joining a group of guysfrom his homeland. You have to admit that took a special sort oftalent!
You know, there is kind of a disadvantage in writing a storylike this. Unlike a novel, in this book I am telling you more of aninside story about a story you may already know bits and piecesabout. There is very little suspense in some aspects. You alreadyknow where I wind up and what songs are going to be worldwidehits. Some of you may even know my shoe size. Don’t know why.But I have found that there are those who seem to enjoy
collecting data about those in the world’s spotlight that, at times,can verge on meaningless trivia. But knowing what will happen inthe story does take a little of the mystery out of it as you read. Ithas to. Then again, if you wanted mystery, you’d be readingAgatha Christie. But as I mentioned already, I suspect the reasonmany of you are reading this, and I hope there are many, not few,is to find out more about what went on backstage while you werewatching us on stage at the Los Angeles Forum, Madison SquareGarden or Hammersmith Odeon.
Anyway, continuing with the actual story, though the timespent at the Saarbrucken Music Academy was a tremendous partof my education, one I would not surrender for an5Thing,classical music and drumming were hardly synonymous. Therewas no future in such playing unless you wanted to play bass ortimpani in the Berlin Philharmonic. I guess if I had, I would haveeventually played with the Scorpions though it would have beenabout 30 years later. (Some of you who lost interest in the bandafter I left, that’s probably about three of you, might not knowthey recorded an album of some of our biggest hits with theBerlin Philharmonic titled, Moment of Glory.) Of course, I maywell have been the catalyst that launched their career. (I’mhaving a lot of trouble buying all of this so just ignore it.)
However, there is an actual argument to be made along that lineon my behalf. I won’t make it. Not yet anyway. But there is one. Ipersonally love In Trance and Virgin Killer not to mentionLonesome Crow and Fly to the Rainbow. They were greatalbums. But sometimes within the framework of a band there is achemistry that can’t be explained - a combination of exactingelements that seem to mesh together perfectly. I think you cansee that if you trace the history of a lot of bands. To me, as Ialready mentioned, the Who never sounded like the Who aftertheir Who Are You album which, coincidentally, was the last oneKeith Moon played on. And Ted Nugent, whom we toured with inAmerica quite often because we shared the same management,Leber/Krebs, never seemed to attain the same level of successwith any album after Double Live Gonzo which was the last thatfeatured the original support personnel of bass player Rob de laGrange, singer Derek St. Holmes and probably the mostimportant man behind Ted, drummer/producer Cliff Davies. Ithink you all know similar bands and comparable stories or atleast have opinions along that line. Perhaps you idolized one atone time or another but then lost interest as the names andsound changed. There is just something special, magical if youwill, that cannot be explained when it comes to creativity andmusic. Once you find it, you know it. In a great many ways, it’s alot like love.
By the autumn of 19711 had finally recognized that I wasn’tgoing to go much higher in music if I stayed in Germany. Ifigured out after four semesters in the music school that the onlyfuture I had would be as part of an orchestra working at atelevision or radio station or perhaps, as I said, a philharmonic insome city. I was a bit slow, so it took me longer than perhaps itwould have others. As a result of that revelation, I decided it wastime to venture out of Germany to seek my fame and fortune inmy quest for stardom. Rock music, at least the kind I wasinterested in playing, seemed to be based in London at the time.
And SO with what I thought was my vast knowledge of English (Iknew the lyrics to just about every song by Freddie and theDreamers... Both of them... Okay so there were a few more. lEs ajoke for crying out loud. Don’t knit-pick! The point is I knew verylittle English even though I thought I knew a lot. Okay?), Iheaded off to London.
I packed my bags and left Saarbrucken bound for the MagicKingdom. No, that’s not right. Wrong kingdom. I wouldn’t visitDisneyland for a few more years. I packed and left for the UnitedKingdom figuring I would go over there and immediately stepinto playing with one of the top groups. After all, I had been thedrummer in the Mastermen, RS Rindfleisch and Fuggs Blues!With a prestigious resume like that, how could I have expectedanything less? England was waiting for me. I was sure of it! Ireally believed that stuff if you can believe that! I told you, Iwasn’t the brightest light on the theater marquee. I was sure I’dbe a hot property in England right up until I stepped off the boatin Dover and immediately noticed there were no signs at the gatesaying “Welcome Herman!”, nor was there anyone laying palmleaves to pave my pathway into the city. There was a jackass, ofcourse... Me... I guess that was my first hint. No, not that I was ajackass. I already knew that. I meant the first clue that maybe itwould take me a week or two to become part of Uriah Keep. Littledid I know, like I said, that I went all that way to England tobecome part of a German band from Hannover, of all places. Itdidn’t get its nickname “Hangover” for nothing.
It wasn’t too long after I arrived that I discovered I wasn’talone. Actually, I knew rather quickly I wasn’t alone as Londonwas a big city. I didn’t mean physically alone. Anyway, being thatLondon was second, at least in my opinion, to Los Angeles andNew York for rock and roll... No, that would make it third, huh?Math was never my long suit either. Perhaps you’ve started torecognize this. Keep in mind, I was the same guy whose parentssent him to the school of economics. You know the more I thinkabout it, since I’m writing my story I’ll keep London second. Infact, it might well have been first. You do your own scoring. Atany rate, being a musical crossroads as it was, there weremusicians from everywhere on the continent. Sweden, Italy,France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark. Well you get the picture. Idon’t think I need to do a complete roll call. We were all theretrying to accomplish the same thing - nailing birds (Britishgirls). I mean, we all wanted to “make” the British music “scene”.It was a scene not a business so much in those days. I learnedthat very early on. I had to act “groovy” to try and fit in. I alreadyhad the wardrobe, so I thought, though one look at meimmediately screamed “foreigner” to the locals. But my mind wasconvinced that I was able to fit in, and so all that was left wasmastering the beat lingo as quickly as possible! Perhaps had Itried to learn English, I would have been more successful.
Keep in mind, as I was just off the boat from Germany and asI said I knew next to no English though I thought I knew a lot(That, as it seems is the case in many large cities, qualified me tobe a taxi driver, which was one of my first jobs there.), my firstorder of business was finding a place to live. I didn’t have manyfriends there as you can surely understand since A1 Gore had notyet invented the Internet... Nor had the people who really did
invent it. From my days playing clubs in my homeland I did knowa couple Go Go dancers named Monique and Jane who livedthere. In case you aren’t familiar with the term Go Go dancers,they weren’t part of the entourage and stage act for the somewhatfamous all-girl rock band from Los Angeles. Go Go dancerswould be most closely equated to strippers today though a bitmore tame to say the least. Most actually wore clothes. I didn’treally know where Jane lived, but Monique I knew was marriedto an English musician and told me, “When you come toEngland, you can stay with us until you find a job.” So withvisions of a “menage a trios” dancing merrily in my head, I wentto see Monique. However, when I arrived, she was fighting withher husband, so the fantasy of a sordid and seamy sexual liaisonwas quickly dashed. Also eliminated was the possibility of my justbunking there for a couple days to get settled into life in the UK.
Obviously, I needed a place in quite short order. With such atight time frame and a less than Donald Trump-like bankaccount, I was only able to find a small “bedsit” (A one-room flatwith a bed.) in Notting Hill Gate, London. It cost me six pounds aweek. It had no bathroom inside the room. Six people shared theone on the floor. Thankfully, it was all men, so we could share itquite easily. Didn’t even have to think about putting the seatdown.
After getting the room, I went to the Victoria train stationwhere I had left my luggage and drums. As I’m sure you canimagine, in a small apartment I couldn’t very well practicewithout taking some steps to at least show some consideration tothe others on the floor. Granted, the kit pretty much filledwhatever extra space I had in my “executive suite”, but I like tothink positively, and so it’s better I call it that in order to properlyestablish my level of confidence. For practice, however, I had tocover the drumheads with rubber to muffle the sound. Thisallowed me to keep sharp while not keeping everyone awake andannoyed. I was already an invading German, and so they weren’tall that happy with me in the first place. The number of times 1had to relive the “Battle of Britain” should have put me in line forthe Iron Cross.
London circa 1971 was quite different than I expected. TheBeatles were gone, as was Cream. The Yardbirds had successfullytransitioned from fowl to dirigible. (For those of you who don’tremember, the Yarbirds evolved into Led Zeppelin. In fact, assome of you may not know, the first version of the Zeppelinclassic “Dazed and Confused” was recorded and released by themon their Live Yardbirds featuring Jimmy Page album, though atthat point the title of the song was simply “I’m Confused”.) I wastruly just one of seemingly thousands of aspiring musicianswandering the streets and trying to find work. Thankfully, I hadsome training. I was an illustrious alumnus of the prestigiousSaarbrucken Music Academy! (Let me know when you’re finishedlaughing... No one in London had heard of it either.) The yearsspent at the Saarbrucken Academy did, however, give me atremendous leg-up over a lot of the other guys, and I waseventually able to find work as a session player. I could learnparts quickly and played very fast, which saved a lot of time.Studio musicians earn their pay by saving money. Producers loveus for that very reason. Not as often as they love aspiring youngfemale singers on their makeshift casting chesterfields. Or arethey davenports? Not that it matters. Call it whatever you want,couch, sofa, love seat... It’s all the same. But what matters is veryfew of them save producer’s money, and session players tend tohave longer careers than most female singers. The good ones,studio musicians, not flooz, I mean bimb, I mean female singers,can get parts completed in less time than the original performingartists, and as such, rather than paying for 12 hours of studiotime, they might be able to get the same work done in four. Theaverage female singer wouldn’t even have her makeup done infour hours. (You know. I’m not making many friends here, huh?)
I realize I may be sharing a trade secret, but it’s okay. I thinkthe average “fan” would be surprised at how many albums arenot actually recorded by the musicians that make up a band.Often, producers will hire studio session players to record themusic and then teach the songs back to the band. The reason iscompletely financial. Recording time is expensive as are cross-country or, in some cases, cross-continent flights to parachute ina band for a couple hours of work in the studio. Most producers,if the truth be told, don’t want to waste time with bands in thestudio when they can get the same thing done in so much lesstime. (This doesn’t even begin to address the actual ability, orperhaps more appropriately, inability many musicians and bandshave to “focus” long enough to address the task of working in thestudio. You can figure out your own interpretation for the term“focus”.) The band is always the band on the road, and they dowrite their own music and sing most all of the parts and, ofcourse, play the majority of instrumental solos on the albums.
But as I said, for reasons of expedience, the rhythm guitar, thebass or even the drums quite often will be played by someonewho is a hired-hand.
Also, and fairly, on the other side, bands are often out on theroad and don’t have time to come into the studio to record acomplete album. So it’s not always their fault. They will be able tojump in and lay down a vocal track or perhaps add the leadguitars in between shows. But to spend countless hours recordingeverything? That just doesn’t make sense financially to a bandthat is making hundreds of thousands of dollars playing beforetens of thousands of excited fans night after night! Again, theycan get an album done and out in the stores much more quicklythis way. That is the recording industry’s only interest. A recordcompany doesn’t make a dime from a band’s live performances.They focus on sales. So they are always eager and anxious formore products to market from their best talents. I will nevername names. I know in books like this you expect us to namenames. I have named my share. I named my father and motherand will name my wives and other friends and comrades. Whatmore could you want? I don’t want to be accused of not givingyou what you expect! I have always been one who put the fansfirst! But never will I say or write anything remotely disparagingabout any of my peers when it comes to their private andpersonal choices.
Well, getting back to the story, though I’m not sure we everleft. I think if I were to actually tell you some of those who at onetime or another used a surrogate in the studio you might be quitesurprised. Perhaps you would discover that some of the “classic”
albums you have come to know and label with that loftynomenclature have actually been recorded or augmented byoutside studio musicians. Never any Scorpion album, of course.
So basically from 1971 to 1976 I was a stand-in for manyartists recording in the UK. It was quite often “work for hire”, so Ididn’t always receive album credits, even though I know I wasthere. And the important thing was I think I did a pretty good jobof playing, and built up a solid reputation. Studio work is greatfor polishing a player’s talent. You can play and play and playwith a band but never learn as much, at least as a drummer, asyou can in the studio where precision is paramount! Having toplay along with a “click track” or metronome to make sure themeter is consistent for the song, forces you to play with control.You can’t just wildly bang away as is the normal approach manyuse on stage. Add to this that one day you might be playing forGerry and the Pacemakers and the next for, say, Deep Purple...Keep in mind. I’m not naming names here! I never worked foreither, so I do not know if they used session guys at any time.Don’t start making enemies for me. I’m probably doing a goodenough job of that on my own right now! Anyway, the point is,you work for a vast array of artists playing a myriad of styles. Youhave no choice but to learn.
I’ll tell you something that always amazed me. As I mentionedbefore, I was enamored with Keith Moon of the Who early on inmy playing career. His power and energy and then thedestructive closing he and guitarist Pete Townsend used as a partof their stage performance was very intriguing. But by the early1970’s the Who had made a bit of a transformation of their own.
The release of what I consider one of the greatest pure rockalbums of all time, Who's Next, signaled a new direction for theband. Gone were the rough edges that so defined the traditional“skiffle” sound that was so much a part of their early recordings.
It was replaced with a synthesizer that blazed a hypnotic-likeunderscore for the songs “Baba O’ Reilly” and “Won’t Get FooledAgain”. However, what often is forgotten or goes unnoticed is thereplication of that incredible music in front of live audiences. I sovividly remember the pictures of Keith Moon wearingheadphones on stage in order to hear the prerecordedsynthesizer’s drone, or perhaps he was following a click trackwhile playing these songs live to insure he’d stay right in timewith what was being produced from a canned source. Remember,that was long before there was wireless anything on stage. I’ll tellyou, it’s one thing to play along with meter in the studio or evenalong with a record at home when you practice, but when youradrenal glands get pumped up in front of an audience, it’s acompletely different form of playing. So his ability to control hisown energies in front of thousands of people, well, thatimpressed me more than I can tell you within the pages of thisbook. I know from personal experience, it would have been verydifficult for me to do. Difficult... Not impossible. But at the time itdid help me to understand the emphasis made by my teacherswhen I was young.
So there I was, a German in London trying to make a namefor myself in music. I did play with some bands during that timeas you might well imagine, but there was nothing that seemed allthat promising. Either I didn’t feel comfortable with what theywere doing or they weren’t comfortable with what I did. The onlyband I did play with for an extended period of time was calledVineyard. They played music along the lines of the sound thatcame to be associated with Supertramp.
I knew in my mind, however, what I wanted to play and thekind of band I wanted to be in. Simply playing other peoples’music the rest of my life wasn’t an option. I wanted more thanthat. I wanted to be part of a big band as I said. No, not likeBenny Goodman or Glenn Miller. I meant a big name rock androll band. You know, given the amount of turnover in theindustry, I suspect had I just waited around rather than joiningthe Scorpions as I did, I may well have played as part of some ofthe biggest names in the industry. Heck, Uriah Heep alonechanged drummers five times from 1969-1972. Yet they neveronce approached me. I was probably sixth on their depth chart.I’m hardly complaining, mind you, but if you look at the role callfor a lot of bands, it is curious to me, at least, how the same guyskept turning up as part of different bands. You see that a lot morein the States than in the UK probably because there are morebands based out of there these days. However, I think for thefans, it isn’t always for the best.
I left the Scorpions in 1996 on good terms because I justwanted to try some other things. They needed to find areplacement and wanted to keep going, so they did just that withmy blessing, as you will discover later. But in some instances, andthis is what does annoy me, there are four or five versions of thesame band making the rounds. In fact, there are even somebands that feature none of the original, founding members and
yet still have the “gall” to use the original name. To me this iscompletely wrong. It’s not only wrong for the industry, but alsowrong for the fans who will surely believe a band is, at least inpart, consisting of original members. In my opinion, such bandsare nothing more than tribute bands. I mean can you call theJimi Hendrix Experience a band with Mitch Mitchell? Or howabout “Herman Rarebell’s Scorepions"? It sounds ridiculous, Iknow. But that’s what you find out there.
You know, I have to admit, the loss of John Bonham in 1980not only hit me deeply as a musician who was a big fan but alsoas an artist. After his passing, the remainder of the group sorespected and appreciated that which he brought to the table,they decided to disband rather than just add one more player tofill in. Most bands would not have done that. And so my respectgrew even more for the group. To this day I do not believe theother three have ever gone on stage calling themselves “LedZeppelin”. Page and Plant, yes. But not Zeppelin.
WELCOME TO GERMANY. HERMANZE GERMAN!I have to admit, the time spent in England was good time for me
in many ways. I was able to do what I love best. I also got to playmy drums and get paid. But the English lifestyle was one that wasquite in line with my tastes, at least at that age. Since I now livethere, I guess it was and is in line with my tastes in general -except for the weather. I will say, as would anyone wishing to becompletely honest, it wasn’t then and still isn’t exactly the best onthe planet. (We sure as hell could use some “global warming”there.) I’ll give that award to Los Angeles. I really doubt I’m theonly one who ever tendered either of those opinions.
At any rate, being on my own for the first time in my life gaveme quite a sense of freedom and independence not so unlike anythat most other people have. I didn’t have to sneak around with agirl to find a place to... I don’t think I have to explain the obvious.What guy wouldn’t like to have privacy when he watchedtelevision with his girlfriend? Keep in mind, television was still
relatively new, and the BBC was very different from what we hadin West Germany. But I did have one serious relationship with agirl named Sonya Kittelsen. She was lo years my senior, thoughno one who ever saw her would have even for one secondbelieved that. She was beyond beautiful not only physically, butthe maturation of her years gave her an internal beauty as wellwhich, of course, is always the most important. For time willerode that which faces the world each day, while the beauty onefinds within another grows more and more attractive with eachpassing day.
It is quite synonymous with an analogy one might considerwhile buying a home. He sees two that he really loves. One isperfect. It has everything he could ever want in a home. Thesecond, however, is just as appealing, even though it doesn’t haveexactly what the buyer wants or needs in every respect. It is still abeautiful home and has one bonus that the first one doesn’t - aview from atop a mountain looking down upon all that is below.The buyer falls in love with the view and, of course, buys thehome. A few months later, the flaws in the home begin to showthemselves. He begins to regret his decision. Oh, the view is stillthere. But in all honesty, he hardly even notices it because he’sseen it everyday, and it now contributes little to the attraction ofthe home. Anyway, the point is, Sonya had both beauty insideand out, and that made her a very special person in my life. Whenthe time came, she would eventually join me in Germany when Imade my “triumphant” return.
Actually, getting back to the story, television was quite animportant part of the music scene in London. (I know some of
you probably thought I was only making mention of it for thesake of a joke.) The predominant show for rock music was calledThe Old Grey Whistle Test. It wasn’t, however, by any means aglitz and glamour kind of show. It was actually shot in a very barestudio, which was truly meant to highlight the artists, not thespecial effects. It featured some of the greatest performers therock world knew, and, in some cases, didn’t know at that time.Artists as diverse as Meatloaf, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers,AC/DC, Rory Gallagher and the Eagles, all made appearances onthe concert series. Most young, aspiring musicians were either inthe audience or at home watching, as it was an open doorway tofree concert performances, which was about all most musicianscould afford. After all, they weren’t part of the Mastermen!
There were other series on television as well like Top of thePops which was an interview and concert style show featuring theartists who were on the top of the UK charts - probably akin tothe Midnight Special in America. It was a much different showthan the Whistle Test as the artists were from all over the musicalspectrum. The Beatles made several appearances on the show, forexample, as did the Hollies and the Dave Clark Five. Even thelikes of Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and, incredibly, Telly Savalaswere on the show. I guess the BBC loved him, baby. Yes, therewere hard rock acts as well when they were on the charts. DeepPurple, Alice Cooper, Thin Lizzy and many, many others were allinvited on. Even punk rockers like the Sex Pistols and Televisionhad a spot on the show.
Yes, I could go on listing shows as rock and roll seemed to bemade for television, and that was a fact that the BBC didn’toverlook unlike the American networks that seemed to never letit go beyond their variety shows like Ed Sullivan, Sonny and Cherand, of course, the enigmatic Tony Orlando and Dawn, all ofwhich I remember seeing at one time or another. Keep in mind,there was no home video at that time. There was no MTV airingvideos... Kind of like today, huh. I, personally, canT rememberseeing music programming on MTV in America for perhaps morethan the last lo years. But the point was, if you were a seriousartist, the opportunity to see the stars perform was limited toyour bank account, and so free, over the air broadcasts were quitewelcome by all of us.
However, when we weren’t sitting at home, my girlfriendSonya and I would... Well, we did that, too... But when we weren’tat home watching television or doing you know what, we wouldventure out to an assortment of clubs that were frequented byseemingly all the rock and roll musicians like one called TheSpeakeasy on Margaret Street in London. It was the localhangout for musicians. Every city, big and small has one - agathering place for those who had a job as well as those whodidn’t, not to mention those who maybe had a job but werelooking for options. Of course, it’s also where the “groupies”were, and so it was kind of like going to the grocery store andshopping for the evening’s meal for some who were well-knownand established stars wanting a little companionship.
On one “fateful” night, and in literature there always arefateful nights in every story (There will be a few in this book asyou will see.), I bumped into a fellow German musician namedMichael Schenker at a place called The Ship on Wardour Streetnear the Marquee Club, which, itself, was another very popularhangout. (Kind of makes me wonder why I rambled on about TheSpeakeasy. Regardless. What’s done is done.) Everyone knewMichael at that time, well, actually, they probably do today aswell. I don’t think he’s been forgotten just because he’s a fewyears older. But at the time he was the guitarist for the extremelypopular English band UFO. They were riding high in the rockworld with such songs as “Doctor Doctor”, “Too Hot To Handle”,“Only You Can Rock Me” and, of course, the anthem “RockBottom” playing all over the radio as well as being covered bybands around the world in clubs not so different than TheSpeakeasy or the Marquee club I’m sure. (I hope you caught thelink I so gracefully made to the Speakeasy... Not every writerwould, you know? Only a writer with training from theSaarbrucken Music Academy could have done it!) In the opinionof many guitar aficionados, Michael was Eddie Van Halen beforethere was an Eddie Van Halen. He sort of bridged the gapbetween Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton to the Pasadenaprodigy.
Given that we were in a bar, some of the events of the eveningare not as clear as they might have been if we were, say, enduringthe monotony of a Woody Allen movie. There were plenty ofdistractions including a lot of good rock and roll. The Ship was aclub that had opened its stage to people like Jimi Hendrix, Yes,and Pink Floyd at one time or another, and was considered one ofthe best places to go for rock and roll in the city. To answer yourquestion, actually, I don’t know if it’s your question, but I willanswer it regardless, of course, we spoke German, Michael and I.
I mean, honestly, why wouldn’t we? I know in English languagemovies people meet and always speak English regardless of whothey are and where they are from. But this was reality, not amovie. Anyway, the point is Michael and I hit it off because wewere both from the same country, and so that gave us animmediate kinship of sorts.
It was a few months later during a conversation we actuallyhad at The Speakeasy that he mentioned to me that the Scorpionswere coming to England, which, in truth, sounded a lot like a titlefor an Ed Wood movie from the 1950’s. As he went on to explain,his brother Rudolf had a band from Hang, I mean Hannover,named the Scorpions, and they were coming to London to playone show at the Marquee Club and another at the Sound Circus.He told me to go and check them out because they were lookingfor a new drummer and, of course, I, being a former member ofthe famous Mastermen and Fuggs Blues, would be the obviouschoice. And after that, he told me the one about some blondechick and three bears. In case you haven’t already figured it out,he didn’t actually say any of that except the part about hisbrother’s band playing in England, and the fact that they didindeed need a drummer. The funny thing is, there are actuallypeople in music who, if someone didn’t say something like that tothem, they’d make it a point to say it themselves. You know thetype I’m sure.
So I went to the Marquee Club and saw the band. After theshow we all went to the Speakeasy, and I started talking withRudolf and Michael. The drinks must have been cheaper there,which is why we went there to talk and drink. Rudolf asked me
about the band, and what I thought about them. I told him that Isaw two possible directions. One was in the direction of Hendrix,which I later learned was inspired and encouraged by leadguitarist Uli Jon Roth, and the other sound was more melodic,like Uriah Keep. The latter seemed to be much more in line withthe tastes of the rest of the group. I heard originality in what theywere doing, but they had to focus in one direction and not allowthemselves to be split in order to provide a distinctive sound forthe audience.
I got a call to attend an audition for the Scorpions thefollowing week, which I thought was nothing more than aformality. My immediate thinking was, “Okay, here’s my chanceto join a touring rock and roll band.” That’s how they describedthemselves. I was gullible and naive. What did I know? Well,when I got to the audition, my bubble burst quickly. There were50 or 60 other drummers waiting for their opportunity to join atouring rock and roll band no one had ever heard of. Some of theguys I knew. Others I didn’t. I was dumbfounded to say the least,as I honestly believed it was going to be a solo audition. Had Iknown I would be nothing more than part of a cattle call, youknow, I don’t know if my young ego at the time would haveaccepted that. And so history might well have been altered.
At any rate, the 50 or 60 of us were all asked to play threesongs with the band, though I can’t remember any of them at thispoint. The band at the time featured Uli Jon Roth and RudolfSchenker on guitars, Klaus Meine singing, of course, and FrancisBuchholz on bass. Considering I really didn’t know the songs, Ithought I did pretty well. But at the end of the audition, as I
packed up and got ready to leave, I got the old crisp handshakeand danke schoen, kind of in a manner reminiscent of WayneNewton, and a don’t call us we’ll call you brush off that left mewith the impression that the last thing they wanted was adrummer from the Saarbrucken Music Academy. Maybe Ishouldn’t have told them about that. Perhaps it intimidatedthem.
And so I left the audition with a bit of a stale taste in mymouth. It was not so dissimilar to that which you would haveafter eating some bad sauerbraten. And yet as I thought about it Irealized that my life wasn’t going to change all that dramaticallyas a result of losing out on one or another position in a band.Heck, they weren’t so special - a German band trying to make itin an English world. The thought was ludicrous. I reached a pointwhere I was actually happy they didn’t give me the job! I was toodamned good to play with a bunch of drunken Germans! That’swhy I left Germany in the first place! I wanted to play with abunch of drunken Brits! (After all these years, I finally got thereas I’m now playing with Pete Way.)
So I returned home, after spending a couple hours in thecompany of some fine English ale and by the following morninghad all but lost interest in the band. The Scorpions. What kind ofname was that for a band? Boy, were they a bunch of egomaniacsthinking they’d ever be anything more than just an opening actfor KISS or Sweet in Hamburg or Munich?
It’s amazing how quickly an attitude can change withinseconds of a telephone ringing. I answered the phone and wasquickly advised that I was the “winner” of the sweepstakes,of course, worthless, which meant that I now had no drums andnot much else, to be honest, and I had to pay my own way toHannover, Germany, in the hopes that I hadn’t been part of somebig scam. And so, without many options at hand, I calmlyproceeded to buy myself a ticket (If you can call yelling andscreaming “calmly proceeding"...), though not to Hannover but toBremen (There were no direct flights to be had.) where I thenhad to catch a train to get to Hannover. When I finally got there, Iwas met by the former drummer of the band, Rudy Lenners, whoI guess had graduated from drummer to chauffeur in hopes ofhaving a real job that would please his parents I’m sure. He tookme to an archaic German bedsit which was on the top floor of abuilding that had to have been leftover from the days of KaiserWilhelm I. Though I had no way to know it at the time, I won’tforget the summer of 1977, not because of all that happened withthe band, but because it was perhaps the hottest in the history ofGermany. (I arrived in Germany on May 18.1 remember theexact date because it was the date of Klaus’ wedding.) Being inthe “penthouse” (That’s the way I think they described it to mewhen I was in England, though with the abundance of alcohol inmy system, I may have misunderstood.) under a roof that had novents or insulation, I felt every degree of every day regardless ofwhether it was measured in Celsius or Fahrenheit!
All of that aside, my priorities at that point led me to wonderthe fate of my still yet to be seen and quite beloved drum set,however, which was a point of concern and stress to say the least.To hell with the band and the wedding! I had my priorities!
At any rate, it was hardly an auspicious beginning. I was, in
which, of course, sentenced me to a return trip to Germany. I wasbeginning to wonder about this. I mean, I had left Germany onlyto return to Germany. I seemed to be losing ground. But I wastold that the band had big gigs and a lucrative contract forrecording and all sorts of malarkey that would only impress a runof the mill idiot. Well, I like to believe I was not run of the mill.(I’m not sure I really care for the way I put that.) But that’s besidethe point. The point is, unlike the 49 others they probably calledbefore me who read between the lines (I want to believe I was atleast ahead of 10.), I bought into it, hook, line and sinker, andliterally within minutes I was meeting with the group’s so- calledtour manager, had my drums pilfered by someone who saidthey’d take them to Germany for me, and I was given a verysuspicious looking plane ticket to the fatherland that I was told Icould use at anytime to fly there.
Well, as you might imagine, I was not so travel savvy at thetime and probably less so regarding the music world. Had Iknown what I know today about the industry, I would have giventhis guy half of a “peace sign” and walked out. But I didn’t. All Iknew is my drums were gone, and I had some sort of voucher inmy hand that I immediately took to the airport, after explaining itall to Sonya, of course. As difficult as it might be to believe,except for those who have ever lived there, she was not exactlyenamored with the idea of moving to Germany. Though, as Ithink I said, she did eventually join me there, but she was neververy excited about it.
Upon arriving at the ticketing counter at Heathrow Airport, Iwas informed that the alleged ticket (I never called it that.) was,
fact, questioning my decision, and yet things went from bad toworse, if you can believe that. I did eventually find thateverything was exactly as they had described it. How can that bebad? Well everything, in that case, meant everything except, ofcourse, the gigs, the recording contracts and the tour. There wasin fact nothing and not much on the horizon. So began myillustrious life as a Scorpion.
PAYING MORE DUES THAN AUNION MEMBERSo now the conquering hero had returned to his homeland
feeling not so much like Don Quixote but more like SanchoPanza, a blundering sidekick conceived in the womb of abjectfailure. I mean the revelation at the airport in London was only aprelude to the disappointments that awaited me upon my returnto German soil. In the simplest of terms, they promised me theelevator, and were in the process of only giving me the shaft. Inretrospect, I have to wonder even more if, in fact, I was the firstpick after the auditions, or if I was merely the first one stupidenough to believe the smoke that was being blown up myposterior. Even though I had been around the music business forwhat at that time seemed like a long time, I was still quite naiveand trusting. As such, I, of course, knew my fellow countrymenwould never do something to hurt me. Boy, was I a completemoron... No, actually, I would have had to have been a lotsmarter to be classified as a moron. Let’s face it: I was an idiot!
As I went to pick up my luggage which I had stored at thetrain station, I couldn’t help but wonder about the fate of mydrums. I checked every pawnshop window I could find en routejust as a precaution. I every bit anticipated finding them on salein some underground pawnshop. (Remember, there was no EBaythen.) If it hadn’t been for them, more than likely I would haveturned around at the airport in London and waited to reap thebenefits of the harvest from Vineyard. (Maybe that was the entireplan. Kidnap the drums and force me to play with them!) I hadnever before been forced to pay in order to play. But essentially,that was what was happening. I will admit I was quite diplomaticwhen I finally reached the rehearsal studio. Being much more ofa lover than a fighter, I wasn’t really one to ever cause problems,and as soon as I saw my kit safely there, I was much more at ease.
However, my respite was short-lived. As I began to inquire inearnest and much more specificity about the gigs and recordingand all the other normal questions anyone with half a brainwould ask, I began to discover I had less than half a brain. Witheach question came a very different answer from those I heard inEngland. There were no gigs or at least very few. The band wasnot so very far ahead of the band I had been with in England.Hardly being just off a beer wagon, my disenchantment grewwith each passing minute. I continued to develop a very solemnpicture in my head which was the revelation that I left a prettygood situation in London to go to Germany and join a rock bandwith only a few gigs and a somewhat dubious or, at best,precarious album contract with RCA. To be honest, however, Iquickly realized my options were quite limited at that point. The
plane ticket did cost a great deal of money, since I had to buy it atthe airport. I couldn’t really afford to haul my drums and myselfback across the Channel. There wasn’t much for me to do exceptplay out the string and see where it would lead.
You know, now as I think back about all of this, I am kind ofglad I was a little naive and trusting. There are those in the worldwho will say, “If I knew then what I know now...” about variousthings, and honestly, I am one who does on occasion as well. Butin that one instance, being a little less insightful was perhaps thegreatest break of my life. Had I been much more learned andhardened in matters of life, music and the business, I mostassuredly would have packed up and left immediately. To coin aphrase that would eventually make me a lot of money, I wasbasically “another piece of meat” in the eyes of the guys in theband at that point. (No, that’s not what the song is about. I’ll tellyou that story later.) Okay, so maybe they didn’t see it that way,but if you look at the big picture, it does seem a bit suspicious. Ifyou consider the realities of that time, it only made sense for theband to choose me over the other possible candidates that wereavailable at the audition. For one, I was willing while perhapssome of my more worldly colleagues were not. I also was Germanand, as I mentioned, that might have been the biggest reason ofall. Remember, at that time there was no European Union. Andhonestly, the Scorpions hardly had any connections at that point.As such, had they selected someone from another country, therewould most probably have been immigration papers to deal withas well as other headaches that I’m sure they didn’t want anddefinitely didn’t need. I will admit that immigrating country to
country in Europe in those years wasn’t so difficult so long as youwere from the west. But still, there would have been furthercomplications for a band that didn’t really have much more thana couple of, I’ll be generous here, mildly unsuccessful albums. Ireally have to keep myself from laughing as I write this. But thepoint is, I think in the big picture, I may not have been the bestdrummer at the audition, but ultimately, given thecircumstances, I may well have been the best option for the bandin their eyes.
After the heart-wrenching dose of reality, I didn’t waste toomuch time getting myself settled into the flat they had promisedme in Hannover. No, not because I was readying myself for aquick escape like Rudy Lenners. The truth was, like mosteverything else that was part of being a Scorpion, there justwasn’t enough to the place to take long to get settled. Then youcan add to that the fact that I was technically “single”, and Ididn’t really need very much. That was fortunate, actually, since Ididn’t have a whole lot at that point. The bedsit they gave memade the first one I had in London look like Buckingham Palace.But again, when you’re young, what do you need? A little food, aroof over your head (And it was directly over my head...), and, ofcourse, female companionship pretty much would normallysuffice. Well, having a girlfriend really cut into the last one, but Imade do in the interim until she joined me. In other words, Ihonorably honored my commitment to my lady - at least a little,anyway.
I didn’t have a lot of time to rest, which may seem odd, giventhat that there was nothing going on with the Scorpions. It was
more a personal choice, because I really didn’t want any. I had tolisten to and familiarize myself with the band’s music in order tobegin my transition. If I was going to be the new drummer, Ineeded to know what the former drummers had done. In allhumble honesty, and I’m not trying to be haughty or conceitedhere, but I wasn’t all that impressed by anything I heard. No, themusic was good. Don’t take this out of proper context. I justthought that it could have been even better, and I suspect so didthe other guys in the band.
I began to get a little more background on the group as it wasat that point. As would be the case for anyone with an ounce ofcuriosity and perhaps even less brains (The latter of which itseems I’ve already admitted 1 had.), I inquired more deftly aboutthe circumstances that surrounded the departure of my variouspredecessors. The only one that mattered seemed to be the oneimmediately before me, who was, as I have mentioned, mychauffeur from the train station, Rudy Tenners. His reason forleaving wasn’t because he was Belgian and thought it wasbeneath him to spend so much time with a band of Germans. Itwas because of health reasons about which I won’t go into detailhere because that is not my place. I can tell you it wasn’t becausehe was sick of the other guys in the band. And, no, it wasn’t thathe was threatened by the other members to leave or they’d killhim. There was a bit more to it. On top of his health, he did,indeed, desire steadier work, though not as a driver. He wantedto return to his work with children as a teacher. So please, don’tstart playing games with this story. In this day and age, with allthe gossip websites and magazines out there starving for
information, the truth often takes a back seat to creative writing.
On the musical side, the album that preceded my entrancewas called Virgin Killer, which itself was preceded by In Trance.Each, honestly, was a very interesting collection of songs. Butthat is what they were in my opinion - collections of songs. As Ihad originally discerned, the band really had no definableidentity, which made the albums seem disjointed. The individualsongs didn’t blend with the consistency and precision, thefluidity, if you will, that seems so very much alive in mostsuccessful albums. I learned a guy named Dieter Dierks fromCologne had produced them.
Dieter Dierks was well-known within the borders of Germanyat that time. I would say, if I’m allowed, he would in due coursebecome perhaps the most recognizable figure in the developmentof what the press eventually dubbed “Krautrock”. Having playedin and having worked with several top local bands, his studio inCologne would one day be a place where people like MichaelJackson and Tina Turner would go to to record albums. NeitherI, nor anyone in the band realized it, but Dierks would becomejust as important to the Scorpions as any of the more publicmembers. A producer, a good one, is perhaps the most vitalelement in the development, production and sound of a group.Time and again you can see how changes in that one spot on analbum’s credit list can bring about a recognizable and definitechange in the direction and overall sound of a group.
Most people don’t really understand or acknowledge theimportant role of a producer. According to the artist, the labeland the management, it can, at times, be a thankless job, to say
the least. Often, he is asked and expected to wear many hats asvaried as a surrogate father, a psychotherapist and a whippingboy all without batting an eye or returning a coarse word. It isbusiness. It’s not personal. That is difficult for some to accept.Musically, he provides a band with an objective and stable (forthe most part) point of view. It’s not the same as an engineer. Arecording engineer is a guy who basically turns the knobs andmoves the faders and knows the technology of recording insideout. The producer isn’t always so well-versed on such things. He’slike a director of a movie when in the studio. His role is alwaysthat of trying to put the pieces together and define the feel andsound of the band in a way that will make them current, classicand yet original all at the same time. He is the one who, whenallowed to do so by a band, can give it not five different andhardly congruous styles but one distinguishable sound meldedfrom the heart of each member. That is what ultimately leads tosuccess. However, the band has to be cooperative, and at thatpoint, we were willing to listen to anyone who could help us takethe next step forward.
There are certain producers in music who leave a definite andindelible handprint on everything they record. One that comes tomind is Todd Rundgren. He is a legitimate genius, and can makeany artist sound better than he actually may be. However, thereare downsides to such things. For one, groups often fail toemulate what he produces in the studio when required to do soon stage before a live audience. This can lead to disenchantmentwith fans who will feel cheated or even completely lose interestwhen the actual group sounds less than up to the level of their
recordings.
Dieter was the right man in the right spot for the Scorpions.
As his influence grew within the group, so did our sales. But, asyou will also find out, familiarity did, indeed, breed contempt,because as his influence grew, so did the resentment within thegroup. But at the outset, he successfully reeled in the variousegos, and focused the band in a unilateral and definite direction.Even with my limited knowledge and understanding of the musicworld, I knew that that was needed when I first heard them, and,obviously, so did Dieter. But sometimes change takes time,especially when you are toying with the overpowering egos ofartists. The same ego that is necessary for the production andcreation of most stars is that which can often lead to theireventual demise. Not everyone can do this job. It requires thethree “D’s": diplomacy, decorum and, most importantly, (self-)discipline. It doesn’t, however, allow for the artist to know he’sbeing manipulated even when he is. As I have said time and againand probably will a few more times within this book, I thinkevery successful group has that perfect blend of elements thatleads to its success. Those who may not be so much in the publiceye but do their work behind the scenes should never bemarginalized, but more appropriately, they should be celebrated.In Germany, many still consider Dieter our biggest name inproduction as I have already alluded. But when push came toshove at that point in time, the mid-1970, we were his boys, andhonestly it’s difficult to say who did more for whom. And sorather than worry about such things, I will just say that togetherwe created the music that is the reason you are reading this book.
7TAKEN BY FORCEIf someone were to have asked my opinion, though at that point,
it was about as welcome as a rabbi at Ku Klux Klan meeting, thefirst order of business upon my inauspicious arrival in Germany,which I think I’ve made quite clear, should have been that oftrying to put together some sort of tour or, at the very least, a fewselect concert dates someplace, so we could make a couple ofbucks. Obviously, as I said, since I was the newcomer, I had littleto no input into the decision-making process, and so I suspect itwas probably more of a priority to me than to the others.Remember, by the way they were talking in England, I alreadythought the concerts were in place. But as became expected afterthe debacle at the airport and the other assorted anomalies,disappointments and exaggerations I encountered along the way,there was little to nothing in the offing within the foreseeablefuture. As it was, I seriously began considering the feasibility ofdoing a reunion tour with the Mastermen. At least we each madethe equivalent of 150 Euros a weekend. (Again, for you literalists
out there who might be poised to jump at the opportunity to putdown my work, I know there were no Euros back then. I’m justputting this in modern terms to allow for the proper perspective.)By that time I would bet we could have made maybe twice thatmuch. Sure beat the hell out of what I made the first few weeks asa Scorpion. Though the band was paying me a little salary, about50 Euros a week (I’m not sure, but public assistance may havebeen more...) and gave me that luxurious apartment to live in, Iwas hardly in the position I expected to be in. I had assumed aposition, all right. However, from my vantage point I was fullyanticipating the next part would include a thorough prostateexam zealously conducted by a physician nicknamed Dr. Hook.Indeed, it did seem that I wasn’t exactly taking steps forward inmy career.
But for the tenured members of the band, those who actuallyhad some say, recording remained the most important matter,and so rather than put together an extensive tour beyond theborders of West Germany (I would have been happy with anextensive tour of Lichtenstein at that point.), we began to workon the songs that would eventually make up my first album withthe group, Taken By Force. What you have to remember is thatwas my first time working on an album in a group environmentin the studio, which might seem odd to some of you since I hadbeen working as a session player doing studio work for all thoseyears in London. But pla5dng on a session is very different frombeing part of a group. When you work within a group, there is agroup dynamic that can never be overlooked or taken for granted.As I attempted to clarify earlier, it, the synergy therein, is what
defines the sound of a group and alters its work from what couldbe considered little more than a collection of songs to a classicalbum.
We did play one show, probably hastily thrown together withthe thought of appeasing the graduate of the Saarbrucken MusicAcademy (I didn’t bother to tell them I didn’t actually graduate.Why upset the apple strudel cart with a minor technicality?) Itwas in a small town hall type setting with no more than athousand people. In truth, it was a far cry from the kind of showsI was expecting. Heck, I think I played for more people in FuggsBlues. The more I think about it the more I wonder if perhaps theScorpions would have had to open for one of my prior groups ifwe were still working.
We began our rehearsals not only for the concert but also thenew album in a small basement in Hannover, which was prettymuch in line with what I used to rehearse in when I first startedin music. Again, that was called progress. Once more, you have toremember, it wasn’t like it was in other bands I played in wherewe were simply copying or covering music from records. Fromlittle more than a series of chord changes and some “interesting”lyrics (And, honestly, I’m being generous in reference to thelyrics.), we began to put the original pieces together utilizing thecreativity and imagination in each of us to build the songs for thenew album. The songs were, for the most part, compositionsfrom Uli, Rudolf and Klaus, though I did contribute one songtitled “He’s a Woman - She’s a Man”. I will talk about that in abit more detail in a moment.
The routine was essentially the same concerning thepresentation of a new song to the group irrespective of whobrought it in. Honestly, the procedure never strayed very muchfrom the established pattern throughout my time in the band. Uliand Rudolf both brought their songs in on a tape. After listeningto the tape and hearing the ideas of the composer, we would thenwork together and jointly contribute ideas concerning ourvarious parts. Uli seemed to have more of a sense of what hewanted compared to Klaus and Rudolf. As such, he would giveme more guidance in his personal thoughts regarding drums, forexample. But even he didn’t overstep to the point of stranglingmy creativity and input.
As for “He’s a Woman...”, the music was written by Rudolfand initially had no lyric. He hummed the melody to me, and itkept rolling around in my head for several weeks after that.(There wasn’t much else in my head, so it did sort of have roomto roll...) It was during a promotional trip to Paris that an ideacame to me, literally. We all drove together in one car, and I willtell you quite honestly, it was hardly a luxury limousine unlessyou consider a Volkswagen excessively decadent. Anyway,continuing the story, upon our arrival in the “City of Lights”, wedecided we would do a little sightseeing, as would anyone Isuspect. Don’t get your hopes too high, as we were hardlyinterested in landmarks like the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower.Those things were for tourists. We were all quite curious toexplore the more important aspects of the city like the infamous“red light district”. Keep in mind, we were very youthful andinquisitive 20-somethings at that point, and so we were a bitobsessed. That fixation really didn’t change very much throughthe years. But still at that point, everything was interesting andpeaked our sense of exploration. At any rate, as we were drivingalong one of the streets in that part of town, we saw this beautifulwoman walking by herself. Being normal, hormonal, testosteronefilled males, we summoned her over to our car thinking maybeshe’d be interested in having a good time with some real-life rockstars or perhaps settle for spending some time with us. Wegestured to her through the window, and it seemed to haveattracted her attention enough to get her to come over and talk tous. As she made her way over to our car, slinking with a sexualitythat would have made Marilyn Monroe jealous, we opened thewindow on the passenger side of the car and said a polite“bonjour” to which she replied in a very deep and definitelymasculine voice, “Hi fellas”. Well, within minutes, after gettingover the shock of it and taking a long second look in the hopesthat maybe it was American pop-singer Bonnie Tyler, I came upwith the idea for the lyric. And the rest is Scorpion history.
As a result of my first endeavor into lyric writing for the band,it really didn’t take the others long to recognize the fact that mygrasp of the English language was perhaps a little stronger thanthat of any of them. They seemed amazed that I actually knewadjectives, adverbs and the always-confusing prepositionalphrases! It was only natural, since I had lived in England forclose to six years, though, honestly, if you ask me even today Iwill tell you I am still quite a novice compared to those withwhom I’ve become associated over the years. Remember, Ithought I knew a lot of English when I got to England in 1971. Somy opinion really meant very little. However, as a byproduct of
this perceived mastery by the other members of the group, andperception is everything in this world, I was given the task ofwriting more and more of the lyrics as the future albumsillustrate, and, I guess, in a way, document. Rock and roll wasand still is English language music as I’ve said, and so we knewthe future for us was in that language. The band recognized thatlong before I came on board as I have already mentioned, andthey sincerely wanted to upgrade the quality of their lyrics. Imean, really, “Streamrock Fever"? What the hell does that mean?
I will tell you one thing I learned early on: in a groupsituation, a musician needs to be a wee bit selfish in order toinsure he gets proper credit for all the input he has on theproduction of an album. Percentages and credits sometimesreferred to as “points” translate into cash, and so even thoughyou may want to be a “team player”, it is often better to be a littleegocentric when it comes to such matters. In truth, I suspect Iwas deserving of many more points than I actually was awardedover the years, but you know. I’m not the type to look at suchthings that closely or worry about them as much as those whopossess a much grander ego. My preference is that of peaceful co-existence within a group, and money is the easiest way to destroya solid foundation and friendship. If a group really wants tomaintain itself intact for a long period of time, the safest way todo it is to simply give group credits on all songs and equallydistribute the points. In other words, at the end of the day,regardless of the contribution, every member of the group gets anequal share of the pie. In the long term, it will serve to keep therelationships cordial and the bickering isolated to the dominion
of the wives. (I’ll bet won’t make many friends with thatcomment.)(Actually, I may wind up sleeping on the couchtonight...)
I know there are those of you who are reading this thinking,
“It all sounds good, but so did Marxist communism. And besides,my group doesn’t fight over money. We don’t worry about that.”Well, that’s great! Let me be the first to pat you on the back. No, Iguess I wouldn’t be the first because obviously, you are alreadypatting yourself on the back. Anyway, not wanting to be aharbinger of too many negative waves, I can venture to guess thatyour group, at least at this point, probably doesn’t fight overwho’s going to drive the Mercedes tonight or which house inBeverly Hills you should buy for an orgy. So let me tell you fromexperience, money always corrupts. When you don’t have any,you have nothing to fight about. It’s when you start makingmoney, real money, not 150 Euros a week, that’s when the realinside arguments start. And even if there aren’t any at that point,trust me, if anyone in the group happens to have a wife or seriousand significant other (Remember I wrote “He’s a Woman...") theywill surely begin chirping in the ear of their “mate” and, ofcourse, this will start him/her thinking. (I think it’s a guaranteeI’m going to be sleeping on the couch tonight.) So take Herman’sword for it, the safest approach and the best way to keepfriendships and rock groups alive is to distribute everythingequally.
Throughout the rehearsals (Yes, believe it or not, I’m stillwriting about Taken By Force and the rehearsals therein. Irealize that may have been forgotten with all of the side notes. I
apologize for that. They couldn’t he helped.) for the new album, Ihave to admit I enjoyed all of the music immensely, which was nosurprise after the discussions I had previously had with Rudolf inLondon. We both shared a love of Led Zeppelin and sincerelybelieved that it was the direction to go for the band, given thetools we had at our disposal. So I was very happy musically.However, the rub within the group came from Uli’s creative clashwith Rudolf and Klaus, because he was more in line with theHendrix school of rock and wanted the band to go there as I thinkI have previously mentioned. Heck, some might have consideredhim obsessed with Hendrix since he even went so far as to dateJimi’s last girlfriend. (More on that in a second.)
So ultimately, there were, as you might well imagine, constantspats over our sound and direction. We fought over which songsto include on the album and which to keep filed away. There werealso some that were permanently given a place in the circular file,or at least I thought they deserved that fate. You know, thosewould probably be worth gold today, I suppose. I often laugh atsome of the re-releases that come out today on CD featuring“bonus tracks”. More times than not these so called “gems” arelittle more than trash that the group hated playing, but becauseof money, they are now placed on a CD in the hopes that somepoor schmuck will buy another copy of the album just to havethose “collectibles”. I will admit that there are at times somewonderful bonus tracks. Sometimes groups record and forgetabout songs because they continue to write new material and feelthe newer songs are just plain better than the old ones. I’m nodifferent as a composer. I will write a lot of songs and keep anextensive file. But when I write something new I’m always veryexcited about it, and for a period of time, it overshadows all of myold stuff. Only after a few months of playing and working withthe song do I start to think of it equally with my other materialand then objectively give it an appropriate place.
Well, as you can surely understand, a group that is constantlyon tour is constantly writing on the road. It’s either write, havesex with a groupie or drink and do drugs... Okay so the middleone might be most interesting. But honestly, even indiscriminatesex has its shortcomings. (No pun intended... For the record, Imeant limitations.) I’m not exactly sure what the shortcomingsare. But there must be. I mean. I’m sure for most malegynecologists the first few days in practice are probably a lot offun. Even at that young and tender age, I was able to multitask,and many such interludes led to new songs. You see, I can evenfind a way to justify philandering behavior. However, at thatpoint I wasn’t married - technically only involved. So no matterhow lecherous and lascivious my behavior may have been, Iwasn’t actually cheating on anyone who could file legal papersagainst me and make my life miserable. In spite of this, though,age has taught me many lessons and as I think back today aboutmy behavior, my attitude was hardly an)^hing to be proud ofregardless of the circumstances. I will go more into that later inthe book. But just know that I am now more of a realist withregard to this sort of behavior, and I see how I hurt a lot of peoplealong the way. I will joke about it and seem to take it lightly, but Ican’t change history, and so it is a part of my story. Butsometimes a person can “glamorize” inappropriate behavior, and
it will lead to giving others the completely wrong impression. I doconsider myself a “role-model” and hope that regardless of what Imay say within these pages about my escapades and adventuresyou understand the remorse I now have for that which I did.Sometimes the context can he distorted and so just know that theignorance of youth is not to be an excuse for what is morallywrong and undeniably deplorable and reprehensible. Keep inmind at all times, this is a story not a guideline for life or anoutline for happiness.
Anyway, that said, the point I was attempting to make is, youcan only take drugs, drink booze and have sex so long before itgets old. And so on the road especially, most musicians spend alot of the down time writing, or let’s say for the sake of theartistry, composing. I know that term seems better suited forBach, Beethoven and the Starland Vocal Band. But I thought Iwould try to be a little more cerebral here for those who wish tolive within a fantasy world as it relates to rock and roll. Heck,anyone knows if you write a good rock and roll song it’s hardly somuch a composition as it is something you have created. Mostsongs are not written out in musical script. Most are simplyplayed, and the only thing written down is the accompanyinglyric on a sheet of binder paper. Rock music, perhaps more thanany other, although jazz musicians would have a seriousargument here, is comprised of various musical elements. It is acreation from the heart, soul and mind of the composer. Youwrite not only from the technical notes, meter and theorystandpoint but also with feeling and internal expression!
Anyway, getting back to the story, most musicians who are
touring or spending a lot of time on the road for whatever thereason (Some perhaps can’t find their way home after all thedrugs and booze.) write so much new material that, at times, itdoes most surely seem better than what they have on file. Moreoften than not, however, the subsequent albums fail miserablywhen compared to a successful predecessor that might have beenrecorded after months of writing and even more time in rehearsalfor a variety of reasons. First, albums recorded on the run areoften attempts at imitation rather than original creations. Thealbum a band or artist is touring to support can be so popularthat the label will want them to do another just like it. At thesuggestion of the label suits (Though demand might be a betterword... By the way, a “suit” is a term we use for an “executive”.),or perhaps in an effort to appease the critics, groups often makethe mistake of trying to copy or duplicate their work rather thancreate original art. Many times this leads to disastrous results. Aband will stop being creative and become formulaic andpredictable. Though there does need to be a similarity in soundand production, there are extremes that can make a group soundlike nothing more than a one-trick pony trying to capitalize on aprior success. Fans will quickly attach a negative stigma to them,and become wise to and quickly bored with such transparentexploits. Tm sure just about everyone can name a group or artistthat falls into such a category. They tried to be who the critics orthe label told them they were rather than simply beingthemselves.
Another problem many groups encounter is the fact that theyare trying to reproduce an album in a manner that is quite
different than the one they used to produce the original. By goingin and out of the studio, adding tracks as time permits, they willcome up with something that is a blend of styles and soundscaused by the lack of continuity in the studio. The chance to sittogether in a studio and throw ideas liberally back and forth toget the best out of each song is vital. We spent a lot of time doingjust that, which is why our albums were spaced so far apart. (Ioriginally wrote, “spaced out”, but I didn’t think that soundedappropriate. That would much better describe a Frank Zappacreation.) But perhaps you can now better understand why analbum that’s a bit of a “disappointment” often follows anextremely popular album. A lot of times it is a matter of time.Often a group or label’s haste to capitalize on the success colludeswith their intrinsic greed to lower the standard from one ofincalculable greatness to that of wretched mediocrity.
What we did on the road with regard to our creating newmusic wasn’t so much writing as it was collecting ideas for futuresongs. For example, I would write lyric ideas on the road onwhatever was handy like napkins, envelopes or on the butt of agroupie who just happened to be available when an idea came tome, and then come home and refine them. I admit hauling agroupie home was a bit cumbersome and a bit difficult to explainto my significant others, so I usually just copied the idea from herbutt onto a piece of paper. Musical ideas, melodies and chordchanges, by contrast, had to be worked out by the band to get theright feel out of each. (I was officially a piano player after my timeat the Music Academy, and since we didn’t have keyboards in thegroup, I had to keep ideas stored away in my head until I could
a lot of money from album sales. However, the album sales boostthe group’s profile, which ultimately adds to their marketabilityand the related appearance fees. If a group is making a thousanddollars a night on the road and suddenly has a popular album onthe charts, that price will jump substantially, perhaps to lO timesthat amount overnight! It’s all a simple economic matter ofsupply and demand. The demand for the group becomes muchhigher, and people are willing to pay more to see them. You see Idid learn something at the school of economics. My father wouldbe proud!
So, all of that is a preface into my first months with theScorpions. Had I had someone’s book to read that told me all ofthis, it would surely have made things a lot easier for me. Andyet, we were a bit out of the ordinary, not just because of the factthat we were Germans but also because one of our most popularalbums was not our first together as a group but the follow-up.However, we’ll get there in a few pages. For the time being, we’refocused on the still relatively unknown Scorpions and Taken ByForce.
My initial reaction to the group’s music was understandableto say the least. I had the sense, as I already mentioned, that theywere trying to be a combination of many different groups thatwere popular at the time, and it showed in the compositions.Each song had a very unique feel from the others, which wasn’tbad, but I thought it could easily keep us from having arecognizable identity. I felt that with Klaus Meine’s verydistinctive voice (In my opinion, he is perhaps the mostunderrated talent in the history of the genre.), the focus shouldbe more on the vocal aspects of the group. However, the othermusicians, other than Herman Rarebell, were outstandingplayers as well. In my opinion, both Rudolf and Uli were theequal of most any rock guitarist there was at the time. To keepthem both happy was, of course, a constant point of friction andconcern. And then add to this the fact that there was a continual“can you top this...” songwriting competition within the group aswell.
Actually, that may have been one of the more importantaspects of the group that over the long term helped guide us tosuccess. With so much talent in one place, the pool from whichwe could draw songs was quite deep. But it also led to theaforementioned identity problems initially and, of course, therelated conflict. That was where Dieter Dierks played his mostsignificant role within the group. To blend the songs in a mannerthat made them indistinguishable from each other (in style) isthe most important contribution a producer can make. OnTaken... he had quite a tall order in that respect. When you havevarious songwriters you get a melange of styles and thoughtsinvolved. Look, for example, at the Beatles. In the early years,their songs were all just about the same. It was impossible to tellif John or Paul had written a specific piece. But as time passedand their styles evolved, it was quite simple to figure out whowrote what. And then, when finally they went off on their solocareers, it became even easier for even the least trained musicianor listener to distinguish Paul’s songs from John’s, even thoughthey were all listed as joint compositions within the Beatlescatalog. And yet, because of George Martin’s work on production.
the most ardent fans never thought about the songs individuallybut the catalog as a whole even with Ringo and George makingcontributions. Every song was a Beatles’ song.
In the end, Uli contributed three songs to Taken By Force -“I’ve Got to be Free”, “Your Light” and “Sails of Charon”. I thinkthe former, “I’ve Got to be Free”, showed that Uli was alreadycontemplating his next step in music, which would be outside ofand, he surely thought, beyond the Scorpions. It’s actually easyfor me to recognize his songs on all the albums he played onbecause they are “riff’ driven. In other words, they feature a lot ofguitar runs that give them a distinct feel and sound. Listen to theearly Scorpion albums, the ones with Uli, and I am sure you’ll seewhat I mean.
By contrast, the songs Klaus and Rudolf contributed, theremaining 5 songs for the album, were along a very different sortof line of thought. They were more “pop” oriented or at leastmore focused on commercial rock. Again, to a newcomer likemyself, it was clear that something had to give, and being that Iwas in the Jacuzzi with Rudolf in our mutual admiration ofZeppelin and that ilk, I have to admit I did have my preference tobe sure.
There was one interesting collaboration for the album thatperhaps verges on a piece of rock and roll trivia for many. At thattime, Uli was dating a German woman who was living in Englandand was quite infamous within the annals of rock and roll.
Monika Danneman was arguably the person responsible for thedeath of Jimi Hendrix for those who wish to believe suchrubbish. But she was Jimi’s girlfriend, the one who supposedly
gave him the sleeping pills he “accidentally” overdosed onbecause she improperly explained the dosage to him. At least thatis the story I have always heard. Anyway, be that as it may, in themid-i970’s she had hooked up with Uli Jon Roth, and if you lookon the album credits, you will see her name attached to co-writing credits on the song “We’ll Burn the Sky”. However, whatis interesting or might be to those of you who like a good scandal,she didn’t co-write it with Uli but with Rudolf. I just wanted togive “a piece of meat” to the rumormongers among you who likea salacious piece of trivial nonsense. As far as I know, there wasnothing more to it than an innocent songwriting collaboration.
As the date of release approached, we had to decide upon andselect the song we felt had the best chance to be a hit single. Inthe 1970’s, the single was still vital, and the airplay tracks werethe ones that spelled success or failure for the group. We decidedthat our best song was “He’s a Woman... She’s a Man”. I can’t saythat I disagreed given my obvious vested interest therein. Butkeep in mind, the ultimate decision was in the hands of therecord label, RCA, who, by some miracle, actually agreed withour thoughts. That was truly a novelty since no label ever seemsto agree with an artist. You could tell most record execs the sky isblue, and they’d ask for corroboration just for the sake of anargument.
The album opened with a song that I think hinted at theeventual direction the band would lean toward. “SteamrockFever” with its grinding, vinyl scratch-like intro that surely had tomake many record buyers think their copy had a major flaw inthe pressing (It’s supposed to be the sound of heavy machinery
used for road construction.) builds quickly into a heavy guitardrone reminiscent of something Motorhead might have createdbut then sidesteps to what I consider can best be described as anorgasmic chorus section rivaling the most infectious “hooks” andmelodic cliche refrains on the American “pop” charts anytime inthe past 50 years.
You know, there is something that I found rather curiousregarding the song. The lyrics are about something or othersupposedly in Los Angeles. For guys who had never been toCalifornia, they seemed to have captured the essence of the statewith the song. No, I don’t mean the state of confusion, which Iam sure many who have driven on the L.A. freeways could relateto. I just mean the spirit and feel of the area. I never rememberasking Klaus where the idea came from, or why he choseSouthern California to be the center for his “fever”. I may have toremember to ask him someday. It’s not as if the song makes anysense in the first place. So I kind of doubt there will be aconclusive answer.
The previously mentioned Schenker/Danneman collaborationfollowed, and I think it really gave Klaus his best moments on thealbum. It also illustrated or perhaps prefaced the sound thatwould become the Scorpions most universally recognizedtrademark - a slow, balladic guitar underneath a soft and sensualvocal that draws you in as it cascades into a section that remindsbeyond any doubt you are listening to a Scorpions song.
“I’ve Got To Be Free” came next. It is a song that is exactlywhat I’m sure most of those who initially bought the albumexpected. Honestly, the album is on the softer side from those
that were to follow in some ways as there was still the tug of warto be won and the final direction sustained and developed. A lotof input from outside can, most assuredly, cause this. Sometimesthe identity of a group is compromised in favor of trying to becurrent. Well, at the time I do understand that we weren’t exactlylighting up the charts anywhere, so we were forced to try and finda niche that our fans, at least those we thought we had as well asthose we hoped to attract, would accept. However, as most of youknow, once we did find that place, our “sweet spot” if you will, westayed quite true to ourselves and, more importantly, to you thefans - at least for a period of time.
On the positive side. Taken By Force, though not sellinginitially in big numbers worldwide, did have its share ofsuccesses away from the charts and sales numbers. For one thing,it opened the door to the Japanese market where it was quitepopular. It also attracted the attention of one of the biggestmanagement companies in the entire world, Leber/Krebs, as wellas some of the vital members of the media. It was an importantstepping-stone upon which we could build, and we had everyintention of laying every brick in just the right place. (That wasn’tall we had every intention of laying... But that’s another story yetto be told.)
Interestingly, the thing that brought us the most publicity forthis album initially was not the music but the controversial cover.The original cover featured children playing with guns in acemetery. Tell me what could be more wholesome than that? Butfor some reason, there were many who found it offensive, and soultimately the original cover art was scrapped and that which was
AND SPEAKING OF SCORPIONS... THE AUTOBIOGRAPH
released in most markets was a cover that was simply a blackshroud with pictures of us good-looking guys perched atop it!Beneath the black was, of course, the cemetery, but we never toldanyone.
8KIMONO BABY LIGHT MY FIRELike any great musical group, of course, we considered
ourselves just that. We believed the new album was the “Son ofSam” of albums as we sincerely thought it was a real “killer”, andit was definitely going to be our ticket out of the bowels ofanonymity. The previous album. Virgin Killer, which in myopinion sported an even more appalling album cover than theoriginal Taken By Force sleeve, had garnered the band a littleattention outside of Germany for the first time, especially inJapan where hard rock music was quite popular. The polka neverreally caught on there, though Tm sure during World War IIthere probably was an occasional group sent over in some sort ofcultural exchange meant for purposes of diplomacy. So, morethan likely, we were the first group from the former Axis ally toobtain a bit of a following in the Orient.
But as we listened to the playback of each track, we werecertain that the new album was what all the previous albumswere not as we made sure to lace it with songs that were not too
hard to overwhelm the fringe demographics and not too soft tounderwhelm the hardcore rockers. However, as it is wheneveryou try to appease everyone, I suspect what happened was thatwe tried to be too much of too many things and wound up being alot of nothing. The critics were not even that kind to us. Eventhough the style would eventually evolve into what most considerbeing the classic Scorpions sound, it was still, understandably, awork in progress. Regardless, we were happy with the resultdespite what the critics said. Remember, we were still a noveltyto many - a German band singing in “broken” English. Broken?Hell, a compound fracture is more like it. Again, what the helldoes “Steamrock” mean? (If we’re going to be picky, what the helldoes “Lovedrive” mean?) I guess that illustrated the reason theothers felt the great Herman Rarebell would be their grammarianand savior in the lyric writing department. But honestly, at thatpoint, I don’t think it really mattered. Even in my wildestimagination, I can’t believe that there were a lot of fans sitting onthe edge of their seats in Lincoln, Nebraska waiting to hear fromus or any other German. Nena and her balloons was still a half adecade away, and what kind of numskull (ie, dum kopf) in hisright mind would have thought some goofy song about “99Luftballons” was going to be a hit in America? Besides, she sungin German. The English version sunk like the EdmundFitzgerald. (The ship, not the Gordon Lightfoot song...)
We explained all of this to our record company RCA, well,except for the part about Nena, as we tried to convince them thatwe wanted to go to America. But they laughed and said, “Yeahsure... They’re just waiting for you guys to come over...” We had areally supportive label as you can tell. Really inspired us. As aresult, rather than storm the beaches of California, we opted for atour of Japan. In truth, it probably was the best decision for us atthe time, not to mention the only option actually given to us asthe fans there were rabid to say the least. No, wild animals hadn’tbitten them. Please don’t anyone write me a letter claiming thatI’m slandering the people of Japan. In this day and age, a day andage with too many attorneys who have absolutely nothing to do,it seems, especially in America, one has to watch eveiything hesays. But honestly, it was as if they really had been clamoring forus to show our obviously handsome visages and play our equallyseductive music. We didn’t believe that until the record labelchanged the cover of our album. I mean they preferred to featureour pictures rather than the kid with a machine gun. Must’vemeant they thought we were damned good-looking! In fact,
Taken By Force took Japan by force, even with our picturesgracing the cover. It attained the level of a gold record there,which, at that time, was the world’s second largest music market.But as I think back, I think I already said England was the seconda couple chapters ago. Maybe it was the third largest... Or maybeEngland was number 3... Then what about Russia? Well, actually,no one can accurately represent sales in Russia, since it has beennotoriously the center of a lot of black-market reproductions overthe years. I’m sure there is someone there with a “Sorpeans”album thinking it’s the genuine article. Anyway, the point is, whothe hell cares? Bottom line... We sold a hell of a lot of albumssomewhere. Does it really matter where? In truth, or at least inmy opinion which I like to believe is the truth, this is completelyunimportant, and Fm wasting time that could be better spentplucking my eyebrows! Anyway, regardless of the debate on size,after all as women often lie to their boyfriends, size doesn’tmatter, we felt quite proud of being popular somewhere otherthan Germany where, in fact, we weren’t even as well-known aswe were in Japan. We believed, at least privately, theaccomplishment and the tour showed us what being a rock starwas like and unlike our label, gave us a little positivereinforcement for our work.
We warmed up for Japan with a few shows in Europe. InJanuary, we played in Stuttgart and Mulheim in Germany, whichcome to think of it, were quite cold, as were Amsterdam andUtrecht in Holland in the spring. Then again, Holland is alwayscold and, for that matter, wet. It doesn’t matter when you’rethere. It’s bound to be miserable. It is, in many ways, quite acontrast to the women in Holland whom we enjoyed. They alwaysseemed to be quite warm. But that’s beside the point. From there,we went to an equally chilly London with equally warm womenfor a show there prior to embarking on the 12-hour flight toJapan. You know, the more I think about it now the more Irealize we hardly warmed up. I mean baseball players seem tohave the right idea in America. From what I understand, theyprepare for their season in Florida and Arizona. If we had reallywanted to warm up, we should have gone to Monte Carlo! But inreality, the only thing people in Monaco knew about Scorpions atthat time was that they were extremely pricey Italian sports carsproduced by the Lancia Company.
As you probably already surmised, I had never been on an
Anyway, though it may have been good for the many, landingin India wasn’t the best thing for the soon to be dubbed “HermanZe German”. We were told by the airline that they would put usup in a hotel while the needed repairs were being made, whichwas where we stayed until they were ready for us to continue ourjourney. I have to tell you, for some reason, a reason I regret tothis day, I was quite hungry while we waited. I searched all overtown for a good beef hamburger or would have been satisfied if Icould have found a pork sausage or two. But there was neither tobe found! So I made the mistake of opting for some innocentlooking ice cream, which I came to find out was anything butinnocent. As best as I can figure, it was directly responsible forbringing about a horrible case of Montezuma’s revenge. (Likethere’s a good case...) Or perhaps it was Mahatma Gandhi’srevenge? Not that it really mattered at that point becausewhatever it was called, I was sick as hell throughout the entiretyof the tour. So if any of the songs on the recordings made of thoseshows in Japan sound a little rushed, well, you probably canunderstand why. The drummer sort of had to finish the set in abit of a hurry.
Upon our arrival in Japan, we were met with something that Isuspect was akin to a “Beatles-like” greeting. It was similar to theway I expected to be greeted when I first went to England. Therewere actual fans at the airport waiting in droves, and the terminalas well, to meet our plane. I harkened back to the memories ofmy youth. I remembered seeing movies and pictures ofcelebrities who were greeted in such a manner when arriving indifferent places, but honestly, I never did and still don’t think of
airplane for more than a couple hours. So that, in itself, was quitean interesting adventure. Flying over the polar ice caps was notso different from Holland. I know it’s not that cold there. Comeon, have a little sense of humor. It’s a lot warmer over the polarice caps. Anyway, during the flight, I did come to realize that suchlong flights allowed for a great deal of interaction with the cabincrew and, in truth, the stewardesses were surely enamored withall of us because we were the Scorpions. We forced them to posefor pictures with us, and we gave them our autographs and hotelname whether they wanted it or not. We had a reputation to buildat that point, so we didn’t want to waste time! However,seriously, such behavior actually did eventually become quitecommonplace as our flights went from economy to first class withour rise in popularity. I’m not sure if we were more popular withthe stewardesses, though. Free booze and peanuts can be a lethalcombination.
Actually, on the first trip over to the Asian continent, we flewon a DC-10 and travelled, via an unscheduled landing, throughNew Delhi. So much for the credibility of my polar ice caps story,huh? On future trips, we did fly over the North Pole. I took a littlelicense for the sake of a joke. Not the worst of all sins, is it? Thepoint here is we had to land for our own good according to whatwe were told, as there was a problem with the airplane. Whenyou’re 35,000 feet in the air and the pilot says there’s a problem,there aren’t a whole lot of people who are going to argue withhim. I mean her. Or should it be it. Pick whichever objectivepersonal pronoun you want. This political correctness stuff is apain when writing a book like this.
myself as a celebrity. This was shocking for me because it was notSO long before that I played in an empty military club for a bunchof very genial yet quite stoic tables and chairs. So to have all thesepeople actually recognize us and courteously welcome us to theircountry was something that did take a little getting used to.
As for the people of Japan, they were genuinely warm andfriendly throughout our stay. We played only four shows... I knowI have called it a tour. Four shows hardly seem like a tour. Weplayed two in Tokyo and one each in Nagoya and Osaka. But nomatter how long we were there, I myself was so taken with thecountry, not to mention the quite beautiful and alluring geishaswe encountered happily as often as possible during our free timeexploring the traditions of the Orient, that I wanted to proudlyboast to all who cared to notice how special it was. I was soimpressed by the people and the country I bought myself akimono to take back to Germany with me, and I wore iteverywhere. I admit it was a bit out of place with theHannoveranian landscape, but I really didn’t care. It did becomequite a conversation piece as people were asking me about it...This especially helped with the ladies.
As you probably figured, since I briefly mentioned it, theshows in Japan were recorded during the tour. Those recordings,or at least various parts of those recordings and the eventuallyreleased album that is now considered a bit of a Scorpions’collectible, is called The Tokyo Tapes. The recordings do give ataste of what an early Scorpions concert was like, for better orworse. It also marked the last recordings made by Uli Jon Rothwith us as his days with the band as “lead” guitarist were drawingto a close.
Uli was, without a doubt, quite a temperamental sort as anartist in perhaps too many ways. He was most concerned aboutevery aspect of his music and always focused on the aestheticsfirst and foremost. He refused to compromise on his “art”, and attimes, that did make things more difficult for all of us. But I canunderstand completely and respect his attitude. Money can neverbe a replacement for self-respect, and at the time of hisdeparture, he really wasn’t giving up much monetarily. As such,his integrity was much more valuable. I do wonder to this dayhow it may have changed the band’s destiny or Uli’s had hestayed on. Such thoughts are interesting fodder for speculativeconversation.
Something that may give you a little indication of Uli’sborderline compulsive nature when it came to his music was thesolo he played for the song “He’s a Woman...” when we recordedit in the studio. He was never happy with what he did there forwhatever the reason. During the tour of Japan, we had thechance to do a TV show. They wanted us to play our single whichwas “He’s a Woman...”, but Uli, who again was unhappy with thesolo, didn’t want to play it. He felt it was beneath his talents andwould be an insult to his fans if he had to play it. In fact, he feltthat way not only about his solo but also about the entire songmainly because he didn’t write it. At least that is my opinion.
Anyway, getting back to the live album, for the most part, itfeatured songs from all the previously released albums as well assome, of course, from Taken By Force like “Steamrock Fever”,“We’ll Burn The Sky”, and “He’s a Woman...” - the latterregardless of whether or not Uli liked playing it.
There were also a couple of intriguing parts of our sets inJapan that appear on the album. Not that all of it wasn’tinteresting. At that point, everything was interesting because itwas my first chance to play in front of thousands of people!Anyway, during that tour, since we really didn’t have a largecatalog of hits to choose from, we performed, at least in myopinion, some darn fine covers of classic rock songs like LittleRichard’s “Long Tall Sally” and Elvis’s “Hound Dog”. I guessmost rock bands have a stable of old rock tunes they once playedwhen they were growing up. So I know it’s not really a novelty.
But for us, it was something that our fans. I’m sure, mayappreciate even more today than they may have then.
Allow me to interject something for the musicians out thereagain. I mentioned early on in this book that when I was with theMastermen and Fuggs Blues, we tried to sound like the recordswhen we covered songs. We copied, note for note and beat forbeat, everything the originators did. But I will tell you, now thatI’m on the other side of the spectrum musically, the fastest way toguarantee your being labeled a cover band is to try and playcovers exactly like a record. However, if you take a popular songand give it your own identity, which I honestly think was bestdone by Van Halen early on with their covers of songs like theKinks’ “You’ve Really Got Me” and Roy Orbison’s “PrettyWoman”, you will discover that they actually can help youdevelop your own individuality in the music industry. People like“cover” songs when they are done well. Originality is always thekey that separates a good cover from one that is simply a second
AND SPEAKING OF SCORPIONS... THE AUTOBIOGRAPH
rate imitation. If people want to hear a bad imitation, they canget drunk and go to a karaoke bar. Actually, I don’t know thatthere is any other way anyone in his or her right mind could go tosuch a bar. So use classic songs, all those except, of course,Scorpion songs, which certainly should never be tampered with,and build on that foundation something that makes you unique,current and original. Sounds change, but classic melodies neverdo.
9
GOODBYE ULI - HELLO MATTHIASWe had some suspicions as we completed our “vast” array ofscheduled appearances in Japan hut nothing definite. It wasn’tuntil we returned to West Germany that we discovered Uli hadmade up his mind and decided to leave the band. To put itsimply, it was not only a matter of a directional difference and ageneral difference in opinion about where the band should go,but also, as I mentioned before, it was a matter of integrity thatled to his departure. Uli believed he owed it to himself and ourfans, all three of them, to stay true to himself, and that the bandshould remain more steadfastly in line with its roots as he sawthem. He didn’t like the commercialism that had seeminglybecome a part of all conversations about the future, nor was hepleased with the song selection and overall production of TakenBy Force. I’m not even sure he was happy with the death ofvaudeville or in our preference of Bavarian beer, but he kept thatinformation to himself. So I guess we’ll never know. He feltmusically, however, we were becoming “pussified”! In other
words, we were tainting our sound in an effort to mollify womenwho notoriously didn’t care for real heavy music but preferredthings more toward the midlands of rock and roll. He wanted tokeep us on the hard rock side, which for him meant combiningelements of classical music with a mixture of Hendrix thrown infor good measure. He just couldn’t palate the “pop” influencesthat in his opinion seemed to be steering our ship anddominating our thoughts. As I understand it, Eric Clapton had asimilar experience nearing the end of his tenure with theYardbirds. Once “For Your Love” became a hit, his interest in theband waned. He was a serious blues player, and he didn’t like thepop sound that the band was starting to incorporate into theirmusic. The way Uli was talking, it was as if overnight we hadopenly embraced disco and were planning to record the follow-upalbum for Saturday Night Fever! Anyway, to make a long storyshort, which probably I have already failed to do, he left theScorpions in search of artistic fulfillment and formed his owngroup with the Hendrixesque name “Electric Sun”.
There are always reasons that necessitate personnel changesin groups. Sometimes it’s for health reasons as was the reasongiven for my having been recruited. Other times it is artistic as itapparently was with Uli. And at other times, it’s simply becausethe guy is an asshole. In such cases, he can be forcibly removedfrom the band. However, in this case, as I said, it was completelyUli’s decision, and that left us with a void that needed to be filledbefore we began work on our next album.
Despite still having barely even scratched the surface of theAmerican market, we were certain our next album would be theone to open that door. We really were being the epitome ofoptimists. I suspect if we had been on the ill-fated Titanic,chances are quite good we'd have been wandering about thedecks saying, “Hey, great night for a swim, don’t you think?” Butwe were young... Well, relatively young... And so with our innerbeliefs setting the tone and controlling our mindset, our focusbecame one of trying to write more commercial friendly rock thatwould allow us to hopefully get much-needed airplay not only inthe U.S. but also around the world. Of course, in an effort tofollow that line of thought, I wrote “Another Piece of Meat...”Hardly a song that would gain kudos from the likes of Donny andMarie (As if that would have mattered...), but for me, it wascommercial!
RCA, our record company at the time, did what they could forus, at least that was their story. They felt by putting “SteamrockFever” on one of their “promotional” albums, an album that went“aluminum” Tm sure (heard by maybe lo people), since next tono one listens to such albums because they are handed out atconventions like jelly beans or given as “Christmas bonuses” togullible, kiss-up employees of the label. But to the hierarchy atRCA, if you had heard them talk about it, it was as if they had justgiven us personally hand-engraved keys to Fort Knox! However,even with that incredible push, our Taken By Force album stillnever seemed to get off the ground outside of Japan and, ofcourse, parts of Europe - most notably the Erbel, Meine,Buchholz and Schenker homes.
Having had so much success in finding a drummer there,though I still wonder if they thought of it as success or simply myyouthful willingness to accept the crap they were feeding me, wedecided to go back to England in search of another victim andmaybe find a new guitarist, too. It was at that same time MichaelSchenker had a parting of the ways with UFO for an assortmentof reasons, which I guess you would have to read his book to findout. However, for our timing, it sort of worked out, as he was ableto fill in for a period on stage, and even take part in the recordingof the first tracks that would eventually make up the Lovedrivealbum. He was on board, in fact, for “Another Piece of Meat” and“Coast to Coast” as well as the title track while we sought out anew, full time lead player. (For those familiar with Michael’swork, it’s not difficult to pick out the songs on which he played.He is truly an incredibly gifted guitarist with a unique style all hisown.) Michael would have been the best choice, of course. We allwere unwavering in our agreement on that. But he made it veryclear from the outset he was temporary and had other ideas andcommitments not to mention a few of his own personal demonsthat needed to be exorcised completely. Those, however, he hadyet to come to grips with.
We auditioned something like 50 guitar players in Londonbefore finally finding the one we thought was the best fit for ourgroup. Again, the fact that he was German, as was suspiciouslythe case with me as well, and from Hannover no less, MatthiasJabs seemed to be the right man in the right spot. (He alsowouldn’t need the use of the lovely bedsit I was so generouslygiven...) However, whenever changes happen, comparisonsimmediately are made. Some of our fans, perhaps one of thethree, were quite disappointed with Uli’s departure while others
really didn’t seem to notice or care. In fact, in a way, Matthias’saddition seemed to fuel yet still another slight change and helpedcomplete the establishment of the band’s signature sound.
What I think was, in all humble sincerity, the most importantchange in the structure and formula of the band may have beenthe addition of a handful of Herman Rarebell collaborations onthe new album. Okay, so that’s a bit presumptuous, but I did havea much more active role in the songwriting starting withLovedrive. Many, to this day, believe it to be the quintessentialScorpions album. I can’t say that they are wrong because it didseem to kick off our career as worldwide artists not just local andJapanese heroes. Anyway, my contributions on this album are, ofcourse, noted and not noted as it is with everyone in the band.
For writing credits, I did write the lyrics and some of the musicwith Rudolf for “Another Piece of Meat” which is one of mypersonal favorites and co-wrote with Rudolf and Klaus “Is ThereAnybody There”. And surely, not to be forgotten is the song thatwould become our first real success “Loving You SundayMorning”.
The song “Another Piece of Meat” is, believe it or not, actuallya true story like most all of my lyrics. And again, no, it’s not apersonal story about my recruitment/kidnapping to join theband! It’s about a girl in Japan I dated during the first visit. Shewas in essence a gap filler in between visits to the Geisha houses,playing concerts and the countless trips to the bathroom I wasforced to make as a result of the dish of Krishna and Kumar’s icecream I had in India. And, of course, let’s not forget the generaloverall debauchery we partook in that became a way of life for all
of US. This young lady, darling as she was, for someunexplainable reason, had an affinity for not only the music ofthe Scorpions but also the sport of Kickboxing. Don’t know ifthere was a correlation, but I hope it was only coincidental notindicting through guilt by association.
Okay, to clarify for those of you who are not familiar with theso-called sport of Kickboxing, as near as I can figure, it wasessentially the forerunner to what is called “Ultimate Fighting”these days. Or is it “Mixed Martial Arts"? I don’t really followsuch drivel to be honest, so you’ll have to forgive my ignorance.The one thing that was clear and easy to identify was the fact thatKickboxing is very brutal. Kind of like being forced to sit throughthree consecutive Michael Moorer movies. I mean, maybe I’mweird, well, actually, I admit I probably am, but tell me how itcan be entertaining to watch two guys literally kick the “manure”out of each other for an hour?
Well, anyway, getting back to the story. My young ladycompanion that evening wanted to show me what a sensitive andinnocent lass she was, and so she took me to a Kickboxingexhibition of some sort on an off night I had during the tour, andI will tell you the truth, I was aghast by the violence. It wasalmost as bad as Hockey Night on Canadian television! However,my date seemed to think it was rather tame by comparison towhat she had been exposed to within her life. (I guess she hadbeen to a Sex Pistols concert.) But to me, in the end, after havinghad to endure more bloodshed than at a Jimmy Carter cabinetmeeting, (Remember, for better or worse he was the U.S.President then.) I just flat out told her, showing my owndecorum, sensitivity and chivalrous diplomacy, “Let’s get the hellout of here. I can’t take this garbage anymore. You’re just anotherpiece of meat to me...” You have to admit, even at such a youngand tender age, I was still a hopeless romantic. And, of course,after that, given that she probably didn’t even understandcompletely what I was saying, we went back to my hotel and...
As I mentioned with regard to Taken By Force, we did seemto be feeling our oats in a manner of speaking during that albumbecause we had yet to find our place in the sun. But withLovedrive, we were no longer tugged in different creativedirections from within. The writing was shared, as I said, by justthree voices that all had a common vision for the group. We werenever going to be the next Led Zeppelin. Nor did we want to tryto be. There was already one of those. We had to be the firstScorpions, and so as you will notice as you listen to Lovedriveand compare it to Taken By Force, the centerpiece of the bandwas no longer the guitars but the unmistakable voice of KlausMeine. Putting him up front for all to hear may have been thebest of all the decisions we made as a band as he gave us thedistinctive presence we so very much needed. Buried as he wason prior albums, the vocals were seemingly never audible to apoint of helping the band. He was simply an instrument, not anintegral part of the signature, and that was something we wantedto change. What was the point in doing songs in English if Klauswasn’t going to be heard or understood? So putting the emphasison vocals and using the guitars as a supplement seemed to be thekey ingredient to making the Scorpions a true player in the rockand roll game.
A lot of this was a result of the added influence Dieter wasbeginning to have. He had earned our respect through his work,and we were quite open to all of his suggestions. He wasinstrumental in developing Klaus as a vocalist and giving oursound the needed “tweak”. The difference between five and six ona soundboard fader doesn’t seem like much until you start to mixin the other supporting pieces accordingly. He spent hours, dayseven, on all the instrument sounds as well. He heard somethingin the new material that perhaps he hadn’t heard previously. Hewould spend upwards of i6 hours a day working on getting justthe right combinations to make the sound perfect. I worked withhim at some points to the extent of even falling asleep behind mydrums. I once got a call and in mid-sentence fell asleep while Iwas talking to whoever was on the other side of the line. The dayswere quite long for all of us. We all did that sort of thing to makesure we were producing not just an album but a masterpiece.
Another important directional change was that of entering usinto the world of “power ballads”. We didn’t realize it at the time,but the addition of the female friendly ballads would be theingredient that would separate us from so many other hard rockacts and give us the needed element to become a success. As Imentioned, the world had a Led Zeppelin. But at that point, in1979, there was no such thing as a power ballad. Yes, some rockbands like UFO did do ballads. But they were, for the most part,considered album fillers that a lot of listeners probably resented.
I think we sort of redefined the art form in some ways to makethose songs enjoyable not only for the ladies but for their dates aswell. Finding the right combination that will help make a womancry and get a guy laid is the key to any successful venture withinthis world be it music or cheeseburgers. Those two things, no notmusic and cheeseburgers, I meant sensitivity and sex, are thethings that both respond to best! So between “AlwaysSomewhere” and “Holiday”, we began to establish an importantprecedence. Both were overlooked initially but did set the stagefor things to come.
In the mean time, while we were still in he midst of recordingthe new album, hot off our “successes” in Japan, for some strangereason we began to truly get noticed by the press and media. Themedia of the day was quite different than today. Today we wouldhave been ignored like Armenia’s contingent at the SummerOlympic Games. But in 1978, we truly were considered to be ahidden treasure in the eyes of many who wrote for the varioustrade publications, and we began getting a lot of attention fromabroad. Actually, we were getting a lot of attention from a lot ofbroads. But that’s beside the point. Okay, so that’s a really badjoke. But heck, once you’ve stuck your neck out like I have timeand again in this book, what’s the difference how far? At any rate,our management in Germany was still far from convinced that wecould make it in America. RCA, who at that time still had ourrecording rights, was still of that ilk as well. We felt we deserved alittle more support and were unhappy with the consistentlynegative attitudes we were encountering from those who weresupposedly on our side. As a result, Dieter and his lawyer MarvinKatz, arranged a soiree with a new label, a German label calledHarvest, which was a subsidiary of EMI and had an Americanwing. Mercury Records. RCA was hardly losing sleep over our
departure. Though no label ever likes losing an artist, they weresure we would never he much more than we already were. So tothem, our leaving was hardly a blip on the radar. (I wonder iftoday they even realize we were once on their label?) Anyway,from Lovedrive forward, we were a part of the Mercury Recordsfamily.
It was at that same time, roughly (Remember, I’m getting upthere in years so my memory isn’t exact on dates 30 or 40 yearsago.), Peter Mensch of Leber-Krebs Management contacted us.Mensch called me, personally, now living in a spacious andluxurious, one bedroom apartment, to talk about the band andhimself. No agent can ever seemingly have a conversationwithout talking about him or herself though to be fair, he did itmuch less than some. At the time, keep in mind, they were thebiggest management company in the world. With a roster oftalent that included the likes of Ted Nugent, AC/DC andAerosmith, we were most certainly flattered and excited to beconsidered in such aristocracy. He offered to manage us andwanted to bring us to the U.S.. None of us had ever been toAmerica, and so we prepared to take the country by storm! (Wehad failed to take them by force so we did the next best thing.)
The first stop was Cleveland and a rock festival featuring, notsurprisingly, Ted Nugent, AC/DC and Aerosmith along withJourney and Thin Lizzy. I will tell you at that point, it was verymuch a learning experience for us to see how these much moreexperienced and polished bands handled crowds of that size, aswell as watching their overall performances. Yes, I know most ofyou are thinking, “Cleveland?” Well, honestly, I had never heardof the place myself, but we were assured that it was a great cityfor rock and roll. Remember, that was before there was a hall offame there.
I will say here that I could go on and on, as could many in theindustry I’m sure, about the dubious nature of the so-called “hallof fame”. But the record speaks for itself. We sold close to onehundred million records, which I suspect is about 95 million,more than some of those who have been inducted. And then addto that the mysterious exclusion of American groups like KISS,Journey, Ted Nugent and Grand Funk Railroad (To name but afew...), each of whom was, for a period of time, the biggest rockand roll act in the world, as well as overlooking a European grouplike Deep Purple while inducting such fringe artists as ElvisCostello and The Pretenders (Keep in mind, I like both, but that’sbeside the point.), well, it can’t possibly make sense to anyonewho isn’t suffering from the residual affect of over-indulgentdrug use. Well, if anyone were to ask me, I would tell him bluntly,I think it’s a bit of an embarrassment to the rock and rollcommunity and far from a true representation of the legendarystatus that should be equated with such places of honor. Isuspect, like all things, it’s all a matter of politics not influence ortalent, and it’s a shame because the fans are the ones who areultimately cheated. They are the ones who make the stars, andyet their voices are the last ones listened to by those within theindustry. Honestly, I don’t care if we ever get selected for entrybecause I play rock and roll for the fans not for the critics orvoters, and I think the same holds true for the opinions of Rudolf,Klaus, Matthias and Francis. I just think it’s a sad reality, and in
some ways indicative of some of that which has forever beenwrong within the music world.
Well, ril get off my soapbox now and continue with my story.Where was I? Or better might be to ask was I anywhere? Oh,right, Cleveland. No jokes. It’s not like I said we were in Fresno. Iknow, please, no one in Fresno be offended. (I spent a monththere one night.) A little later in this hook I’ll tell you somethingmore about Fresno, California that you may not believe. But fornow, we’re in Cleveland where I understand they once had a lakethat caught on fire! Tell me if that doesn’t show just how specialthat city must be? It’s not every city that can ignite a body ofwater!
So as we arrived in Cleveland on July 27,1979, we were, ofcourse, surprised that our first gig in the States would be in frontof 70,000 people. All right, so there were only about 30,000there when we played our set. But still, it was more than weexpected, and the response was incredible to say the least.
Actually, I should preface Cleveland with a few other citiesbecause, honestly, we did, once again, warm up in cold weatherplaces doing an assortment of shows in Germany, France,Scotland, England and once again ran through Japan. We alsospent a lot of time making personal appearances at radio stationsto push the new album in between. So by the time we got toCleveland, it was the end of July, which as I understood wasabout the best time of year to be there. Hot, humid, mosquitoinfested. What more could anyone want? From Cleveland westayed with Nugent and AC/DC and did shows in Chicago,Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Sort ofsounds like a “which one doesn’t fit into this group” multiplechoice, doesn’t it? For a couple of the shows we opened for PatTravers and Sammy Hagar. Remember we were the new kids onthe block... No, we weren’t a bunch of pre-pubescent teenagerssinging horrible music they wouldn’t even play in an elevator. Imeant we were new in America, so really we had to make a namefor ourselves. You have to pay your dues no matter where you goin music, unless, of course, your uncle is a label suit.
Truly, this tour was not the most well-devised one since weplayed a handful of shows in one country and then jumped toanother, in this case back to Europe, and then over to Japanagain, and then back to the U.S.. It was all part of paying ourdues, and it did seem to pay off for us as Lovedrive actuallybegan moving on the American charts. It sustained us in theStates and established us as a viable act to be reckoned with. Ithink it eventually reached the mid-50’s on the U.S. Billboardchart, which we thought was quite an accomplishment for abunch of Germans. We were quite proud of ourselves.
There is, of course, a side note to the album itself. Once again,as had previously been the case with our prior albums, the coverwas controversial. The original cover, as well as that which now ison the CD, sported a picture of a man with a woman whoseblouse is open revealing her breast. However, her nipple has apiece of chewing gum stuck to it which is also stuck to the hand ofher male suitor. We thought it was funny, to be honest, butobviously the American critics (who never had a sense of humor)and the label (equally devoid of a funny bone) didn’t agree. Assuch, in a move to appease we eventually bowed to the pressure.
which is why the original release, at least in the U.S., was coveredwith red vinyl to conceal what was to be the “Cover of the Year”as voted by Playboy Magazine.
The story behind the cover is a simple one really. I know,often, there are hidden messages or big elaborate tales about thecreation of an album cover. But in this case it’s really not such abig deal. Before the music had been completed, I told the bandthat we should employ the same company that did Pink Floyd’scover for Wish You Were Here and Zeppelin’s Houses Of TheHoly, Hipgnosis. So Klaus and I met with a fellow named StormThorgeson, one of the main guys at Hipgnosis, and we told himwe wanted a really good album cover. (As if we would meet withhim and tell him we wanted a crappy cover...) So a few weekslater he flew from London to Cologne, where we were working inDieters studio, to reveal the results of his labors. He showed usabout 10 different ideas for the album. Immediately, we all wentfor the same one and that eventually became the cover for thealbum. What I really didn’t understand was why there was somuch commotion and negative hoopla over our covers? Whywere they considered so controversial while other bands,especially Roxy Music, who had naked women on the front oftheir Country Life album, had seemingly no one even batting aneye? At least the woman had a piece of gum covering her nipple.Hardly politically correct I admit, yet we always had theimpression that America was the land of freedom of speech. Welearned a quick lesson in American freedom.
It is true that Europe has always been a bit more liberal thanthe United States when it comes to sex and drugs. Anyone who’s
wandered the streets of Amsterdam can attest to the latter. But Iwill tell you there are times when I do wonder if such things areas necessary as they seem to have become. I am not one whobelieves in censorship, but a look around the music industry doesmake you wonder if a little self-restraint would not be perhapsmore appropriate at this point. Teenagers and even youngchildren are influenced greatly by what they see and hear. Welearned this first-hand through our journey in the music world.An artist can make a lasting impression, good and bad, on youngpeople. There is a responsibility that needs to be taken. I admitour album covers did push the envelope, but, honestly, they weremild compared to much of what I see and hear today. I know, Tman “old fuddy-duddy” and perhaps a hypocrite in the eyes ofsome of you who are reading this. But I don’t think our coverspromoted or encouraged any improprieties. Sure there are thosewho’ll claim our original cover for Taken By Force could haveinfluenced some of the kids to take guns to school and shoot upthe place if it had been released. But even without it, they didanyway. So would it have changed anything? Such accusatoryindividuals and entities are always looking for scapegoats. Theymust be, of course, quite sick people, those making theaccusations as well as the perpetrators, because you cannotpromote something through a song or album cover. You need toaccept responsibility for every action you take and each decisionyou make. Behavior, of children especially, starts in their home.So even though I do not think the music or entertainmentindustry can or should turn its back on its responsibility, I thinkthere is equal responsibility in many varying directions to betaken and given. Our responsibility is not only that of notpromoting and/or glorifying improper societal behavior blatantlylike some of the rap artists seem to think is cool, but to try andentertain through our art and bring happiness to the world.Regardless of what some think, a “tongue-in-cheek” album covercan’t influence anyone unless there is an open door left by thosewho are with a person on a regular basis. And, no, it was notdemeaning toward women. It was actually just the contrary.Think about it.
IQ
ANIMALS AND THE ZOOWell , we were off to the races whether or not we realized it. I
suppose we were a bit intimidated by the path we had taken,given the suddenness of our success. Just hearing our songs onthe radio made us “giddy” not so much earlier. Seeing an albumranked on charts around the world was almost as good as sex!Although we were still years away from attaining the status of“superstars”, all the important elements were there and we weregarnering a level of respect within the industry as well asdeveloping the all-important fan base in various key markets likethe U.S., Japan and the always-pivotal Marshall Islands.
As the Lovedrive tour came to a close, and we began tocontemplate and consider our next controversial album cover aswell as the songs to put on the record inside, we realized howimportant a follow-up would be to our career. Having made asomewhat dubious reputation for obnoxious and offensive albumcovers, we really didn’t want to stray too far from the successfulmodel. As they say, negative publicity is better than no publicity.
I truly doubt anyone bought our albums strictly because of thesexual themes on the cover, and yet it does make you wonder.However, if that was what motivated them, then I suspect themusic is what eventually kept them coming back. The idea withan album cover is to attract attention from those who don’t knowwhat they want to spend their money on. If the cover looksprofessional and attractive, it will be much more interesting to acurious buyer than one that’s plain and boring - unless, of course,you’re the Beatles. The White Album pretty much answered thatquestion. It may well have been the reason for the less thanstellar sales of the Taken By Force album in some ways. Have toblame someone. So as a result of our successful effort to attainnotoriety for our album cover, we again employed Hipgnosis andStorm Thorgerson to create the cover for our next offeringAnimal Magnetism.
I know what some of you are saying or at least thinking. Well,
I don’t, actually, but for the sake of rhetoric here I’ll believe that Ido, so please humor me. You are thinking why would somethinglike a tiny little cover that no one really pays much attention toattract attention? Well I’m glad you asked. Honestly, you wouldbe right by the standards of today. Most music is bought onlinetoday and that which is sold in stores is often buried in a rackthat doesn’t really allow the buyer to see it unless he’s willing toleaf through the rack. What you have to remember is that that isonly today. 30 years ago, as I am sure many of you recall, allmusic was bought in stores, and those stores had walls withposters and album covers plastered all over them! The albumsthemselves were not just fifteen centimeters square. They wereabout 50 centimeters square and attracted a lot of attention justby their size! Why do you think a billboard on the Sunset Strip inL.A. is worth so much to a label that they are willing to payhundreds of thousands of dollars plastering the pictures of theirlatest and greatest group up on one for all to see? Records, LP’s,allowed for the covers to become a much more visible part of thepresentation. The music is what interested most buyers, but thecovers would catch those who were not sure what they wanted. Alot of planning always goes into a cover, and so it was with ours.
But beyond that, we had to make some music. Releasing just acover might have its appeal, but I don’t think anyone would havepaid us for that. So we had to create our follow-up in the studio.Having success is nice, much better than the other option, but itdoes put pressure on you to continually up the ante, and createsomething that is in keeping with what your newly acquired fansanticipate as well as bridging the gap to those who are not yetconvinced that you are a great band! It’s one thing to open thedoor. It’s quite another to walk through it. To rest on our laurelswould have been foolhardy and was never even slightlyconsidered. As a result, Animal Magnetism rolled onto vinyl andfinally established us throughout the world as one of the mostimportant rock acts of the new decade. What time has a way oferoding is the exact moment that we began our ascent.
The first half of the 1980’s was an interesting, and yet, to becompletely honest, in a lot of ways, a horrible period in the world.No, not because of the economic woes and inflation and 20%interest rates or even the horrid fashions that now seem to beextremely laughable. But in music, it was a period of transition,
and the transition seemed to leave hard rock on life supports.Perhaps at no time in the history of music were there more “one-hit wonders” than in the early 1980’s. With the sudden demise ofdisco’s popularity rose the “new wave” of rock and roll, whichwas little more than a melding of disco and punk or actually,more appropriately, a haven for everything that made little or nosense to anyone. Some of the rockers liked the new sounds. Ipersonally loved Blondie, for example... Of course, I alwaysfantasized about loving Blondie... If you’re there Debbie, pleasegive me a call. Another band I liked was the Talking Heads. Idon’t know how many would admit it publicly, but there wereactually some very good acts that came out during that time. Yetas quickly as many arrived they disappeared because of theirreliance on technology and the developing digital era. You canonly attract attention as a novelty one time. After that you have tohave something more than just synthesizers and drum machines.Artists like Thomas Dolby, Eddy Grant, M, the previouslymentioned Nena and her balloons, The Buggies, The Flock ofSeagulls, Modern English, Bow Wow Wow, Gary Numan, Dexyand his Runners, Men With No Hats... I could go on for pages,but I think you get the point. (If I left out one of your favorites,please let me know and I’ll make sure to mention them in anoffensive manner in my next book.) I guess the point of this issimply to say that we, the Scorpions from Hannover, WestGermany, were an aberration in an industry that normallydoesn’t have an interest in such specters. We were ghosts fromanother era - a 1970’s hard rock act taking wings and flight in the1980’s. I think even the most ardent fan would be hard pressed tothink of another rock act that rose from the ashes and carnage ofwhat was left of the 1970’s rock scene when disco was ushered inand force-fed to the masses and then new wave took center stagefor its 15 minutes of fame. Yes, there were the “glam rockers”, hutthey didn’t really attract a lot of attention outside of their niche.And there were the punk rockers and the new wave rockers. Butthey tilted in those directions which gave them an audience. Itwas a small number of “warhorses”, holdovers from the 1970’swho had already built a solid fan base, who created most of themusic in the genre of hard rock where we were as the new decadebegan. Groups like Aerosmith, RUSH, Journey and AC/ DC wereat the top of the list. Ted Nugent was beginning to lose a little ofhis luster, in my opinion, the minute he lost his producer and myfriend, Cliff Davies. You don’t spend a lot of time on the roadwith a band without getting close to those who are in it. Being adrummer from England, Cliff and I had a lot in common and alsohad many mutual acquaintances. His impact on Ted Nugent’scareer cannot be overlooked, nor should it be. It would be likeoverlooking Dieter Dierks and his work with us. This is entirelymy opinion, but I believe it is supported by what I’ve writtenpreviously about not only the Nugent band, but also about theimportance of a producer. Many others in the industry share thesame point of view. Anyway, the point here is that it would beanother five years before hard rock really began its resurgenceand yet, we were climbing the hill amid the sort of negativeclimate that existed for our type of music. When hard rock finallyresurfaced as a viable commodity, much of the credit was due ingreat part to MTV.
MTV was actually responsible for the one-hit wonders of the1980’s if you wish to point fingers. Many groups were so fixatedon technology they were able to produce great videos that wereactually much better than their music. MTV needed product toair to fill up the airwaves 24 hours a day, and there was very littleexcept an assortment of esoteric footage that might have beenfloating around from bands from past eras. So a lot of the bandsthat weren’t actually bands but simply guys who perhaps hadtaken a few film classes at a university and knew how to shoot avideo made a name for themselves as “rock stars” because theywere able to get their videos featured twenty times a day on MTV,which at that time, was starving for something. Many becamehousehold names as a result of a war of attrition. If you forcepeople to listen to you several times a day as they wait for aRolling Stones video or something they actually like, just likebands that had songs in the top 40, people will start to at leastnot hate the songs and many will eventually embrace them. Iknow for me, I’ll admit, there are many songs I hated when I firstheard them. But now, as I look back, they are nostalgicremembrances of a bygone era in my life. I can remember the girlI dated when I heard the song or some other special event. Mostof the girls I dated didn’t care for my style of music just as Ididn’t much care for their likes either in many cases. But now,looking back, I can fondly remember where I was or who I waswith as a result of a song that again, perhaps I loathed at thetime.
Anyway, as time passed, MTV actually opened the door forhard rock’s return to the spotlight. Bands adapted quickly to the
new darling of the burgeoning satellite communications medium.Seeing the success of some so-called groups that frankly sucked,(Perhaps even in the eyes of their own label...), labels beganputting a priority on video production. No longer was touring soperfunctory for a band - well, aside from the fact that it was stillimportant for those of us who were interested in having a bevy ofever-rotating beauties to spend the night with in order to boostour much needed egos. (Many “big stars” in that era couldn’t tourbecause their music wasn’t really created by musicians. It wasproduced by electronics as was their tenuous vocals.) It’s not soeasy to get laid over the airwaves. Remember, in those days,there was no interactive television or Internet. Anyway, be that asit may, the point here is that a great video to accompany a greatsong or album was, of course, the pinnacle that could not onlyboost the visibility of an act, but also lend itself to immediatemonetary returns via sales in the stores.
Our first video, since we are on the subject, was for the song“No One Like You” which, as most of you know, was on Blackout.I know I’m jumping ahead a bit, since we haven’t even gottenthrough Animal Magnetism yet. Just allow me to stray for amoment, s’il vous plait. Anyway, we shot the video on Alcatraz,which I’m sure you know is in the most beautiful bay in the entireworld that borders one of the world’s most incredible cities,Oakland. And San Francisco is on the other side. The story wasabout a guy in prison visited by his girlfriend. As for production,well, I’m sure you all have heard the joke, “The coldest winter Iever felt was the summer I spent in San Francisco...”, so you canimagine how we felt sitting out there on that little island as wewere, exposed to all the wonderful elements that make SanFrancisco so attractive to those who are only there for a shortperiod of time (Undoubtedly, passing through on the way toOakland.). Having seen all of the great cities of the world at onetime or another, I can say in all sincerity, the gray, misty fogrolling in through the Golden Gate Bridge in the late afternoon asthe sun is slowly setting at the horizon, is a sight that isunmatched in majesty and beauty. Though it is cold, damp andquite windy, something I think made that prison the perfectprison, since inmates had to have felt the bitter sting of the icybreezes that seem forever invasive on that rock, we still felt it wasan honor to be able to shoot our video in such a historic and awe-inspiring locale. However, that aside, we had to work late into thenight and through to the next morning because Klaus had toshoot segments overnight with the female actress to obtain theaffect we were looking for. As a result, we had to sleep in thecells, and I will tell you, it was cold, perhaps even colder in thosecells than outside in the yard!
After the shoot was done, it was time to leave, of course, so westarted off toward San Francisco on the boat we had hired. Keepin mind, we really were working on little sleep, a lot of coffee andother assorted stimulants, and so our focus wasn’t all that acute.Within a few minutes of our departure from the dock on theisland, we started asking each other where’s Francis? We thenrealized that we had left him behind. Perhaps he took it as somesort of omen that he wasn’t wanted or that he wasn’t an integralpart of the band. (In certain instances, subtler hints have beengiven to those who had overstayed their welcome.) In truth, given
the events that later transpired, perhaps Alcatraz was... Well, Iprefer not to get into that. I won’t sully myself or this book withsuch matters. However, as he groused and bitched, we did do ourbest to explain to him that it was his own damn fault! He wasn’twhere he needed to be! Well, actually, as I inferred, maybe hewas... Oh, well... Funny how sometimes things can actually work,huh?
Anyway, getting back to the story, we began working onAnimal Magnetism. The title of the album came from my ownpersonal philosophy of life because I sincerely believe in theconcept of animal magnetism. My input on the album itself grewgreatly beyond just creation of the title, however, as the otherguys began to realize that I might actually know something. Youknow, it isn’t always easy to convince your band-mates that youare not just the guy they added because the guy before you left.And so for me, the Animal Magnetism album seemed to give mea sense of acceptance. It’s amazing, really, when you think aboutit. We had spent more than four years together, travelled theworld, and even went to Cleveland. We had shared wine, womenand songs (The middle one would make a book in itself.), and yet,in the eyes of the other guys I was still the guy they added. Thiswasn’t their intent. But again, when you are new to something,you will always be thought of in that way. Think about how yourin-laws feel about you. Do you ever really feel like you can justwalk into their house and make yourself at home, or do you feellike you’re always in the house of your spouse’s family?
Anyway, the result of their confidence was a majorcontribution to the legacy we created together. The first single,“Make It Real”, I co-wrote with Rudolf, and it was given theprestigious placement as the first song on the album. The firsttrack on an album, at least in those days, was the mostimportant, so to have one of my songs given that honor was quitean honor in itself. I also received co-writing credits for the titlesong as well as “Don’t Make No Promises”, “Hold Me Tight” and“Only a Man”. And at long last, one of my own, personalcompositions appeared on an album in the form of “Falling inLove” for which I not only wrote the words but also the music. Inother words, I was now more than just the drummer in theScorpions. I was a major contributor to the music.
We continued to develop our sound and style, and thecommercialism that drove Uli out of the band was now firmlyentrenched as the centerpiece of our success. As for Uli, he neveronce regretted his choice. He considered himself an artist, as I’vesaid, and his integrity meant more than money and still does tothis day. So in his eyes, he did what he felt was the right thing forhim.
We wrote and recorded a great many radio friendly songs forthis album like “Make It Real” which was under four minutes aswell as several others in and around the three minute mark tohopefully garner more airplay at commercial stations that stillfavored the three minute standard for pop music. However, inAmerica at least, the song that seemed to catch on the fastest wasa five minute and twenty-eight second grinder by Klaus andRudolf called “The Zoo” which, as most know, was simply ourimpression of New York City during our first visit there. Those ofyou who have visited the “Big Apple”, as Americans call it for
reasons I am not sure of, can perhaps relate to the analogousreference in our calling it a zoo. With a powerful opening riff thattruly established the feel for the relatively “dark” lyrics and avoice box/wah wah peddle lead guitar sound created by Matthiasto supplement the feel of the melody, it was truly a step in adifferent direction for us, and yet it was right in line with whatour fans seemed to want, and it caught on across the pond. Thealbum as a whole became so popular in the States that as wepacked to begin our 1980 tour of the world, we knew we’d begoing to America with much more confidence and ready toheadline our own shows.
And then there was the previously mentioned, eagerlyanticipated, controversial album cover. Everyone was fullyclothed and unarmed this time, which we felt was definitely anappeasing step in the right direction. I will admit that I waspartly responsible here as well. No, not for the fact that we werefully clothed and unarmed. That was more the idea ofThorgerson. Using my title as his lead, as I said before, he cameup with one more design that would, of course, draw as muchattention to the cover as perhaps the songs. To this day I don’tknow what was so offensive in the cover. I mean, a short womanstanding in front of a tall man who is on a mound of dirt. Ofcourse that wasn’t how the press interpreted it. And tell me, whatcan be more wholesome than sharing the whole thing with yourtrusty canine? Believe it or not, we were accused of promotingnot only demeaning and belittling behavior toward women butbestiality. How absurd! We had nothing of the kind in mind... Atleast I’ll never admit it. I guess we just had a reputation, and
people inferred the worst. But this time we weren’t forced tocome up with an alternate design, and so there is only one jacketfor not only the record album but for the CD as well. This wastrue progress!!!
Atop the Mount Olympus of Rock

Little Herman “Ze German”

Mom and Dad

The Mastermen
Fuggs Blues

R.S. Rindfleisch

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11
ROAD WORK AND PLAYWe Started the tour iov Animal Magnetism in a manner that
began to seem a bit redundant in some respects, though, at leastat that point, still quite exciting. We were now firmly establishedand entrenched as headliners throughout Japan and most ofEurope where we were fairly well known and considered not justa rock act but a major attraction. However, once we crossed intoU.S. air space, all bets were off, and the best we could do wassecure middle billing between a then unknown band by the nameof Def Lepperd and still top “gun”, Ted Nugent.
In case you didn’t realize it, headlining a tour is quite differentfrom being a support act. First off, there are the travelarrangements and accommodations. When you’re a “specialguest”, you’re hardly treated in a special way unless, of course,special means you are still young enough to carry your own bags,so you get to. You can pretty well rest assured you won’t see the“Top of the Mark” or the top of very much else unless it’s fromthe outside of the building as you perhaps are given the
opportunity to clean the windows to supplement your meagerincome.
But let’s not focus on the negatives. I prefer to be a muchmore positive sort of person. Let’s look at what you do get! Youget to see a lot of musty old motels with unexplained stains, spillsand scents from unidentified sources emanating from thepillowcases, carpets and bathroom linen of your “luxury suite”.Though they may provide entertainment by giving you the chanceto play guessing games like “Name That Fungus”, they do leaveyou wondering if it was such a good idea not to bring along anassortment of bug bombs, disinfectants, deodorizers and acifiditybags not to mention your mother for overall hygienic protection.Such places are, as you might well imagine, run by Norman Bateslook-a-likes and are seemingly an ubiquitous fixture on everyhighway, freeway, turnpike and thruway in the United States.Whether it’s got a six, quality, days or western on the sign, youknow you’ve still got some work to do and some hills to climb inthe rock and roll world. At that point, we could only dream ofstaying in places like the Howard Johnson’s in Newark, NewJersey. From what I understand, professional wrestlers get tostay there, which probably says a lot about what it’s like at thebottom of the music industry compared to being a part of the“real” entertainment world. Like my now late brother in armsBon Scott sang in the AC/DC classic of the same title, “It’s a longway to the top if you want to rock and roll.”
Of course, there is much more than just the “incredible”accommodations package, which, if you’re interested, is providednormally at the recommendation of the management but at the
expense of the artist (Nothing ever comes out of theirpercentage...). Though I have no proof beyond speculation, in myopinion there is ample suspicion to cast the appropriateaspersions, as I suspect, in many cases, there are some“unscrupulous” management companies that probably getkickbacks from the motels. I know this sounds cynical, and yet itwould explain why they endorse such dens of iniquity. I wouldhate to think they actually stayed in some of the places and likedthem. (In our case, I think it was more of an economicconsideration in the eyes of our managers. But again, they mayhave been the exception.) Keep in mind, it is interesting thatwhen taking time out of their “busy” schedule to accompany theirartists on the road (Normally when the managers are on the road,the band is playing in exotic or exciting locales around the world.Hardly ever see management in Bismarck, North Dakota.), themembers of the management “team” will stay, not with theundercard but with the headliner at the local Hilton, Radisson,Novotel or Marriott (Again, quite often at the expense of theartist who may or may not even want them there or know thatthey are footing the bill. Honestly, management can, at times,appear to reproduce like rabbits once you are successful. Thereseem to be more and more of them materializing out of thin aireveryday as your popularity grows. Many of the individualssuspiciously sport questionable titles and similar last names. Bythe way, this is an advantage to being a support act rather than aheadliner.)
But as if that isn’t enough (And if you hear the managementnormally talk about it, you’ll believe that they really are doing you
a favor!), while in the subservient role of support you can alsoadd the extremely health conscious, gourmet meals you get tosavor on a nightly basis to the extraordinary accommodations. Iwill tell you the truth, if I never see another hamburger orfrankfurter, I won’t be too disappointed. Yes, technically both areGerman creations. The names are pretty much a giveaway of theorigins. But today most Germans don’t recognize such foods aspart of our culture or at least refuse to take responsibility fortheir creations after what the “Yanks” did to both. I doubt theBurger of Hamburg or Maximilian II would be too pleased withthe current state of the “art”.
Another part of being an opening act that is probably a bitunknown to most (Even those who may be the most ferventfans...) is the amount of space you are allowed on the mixingboard or console at the shows themselves. As a general ruletoday, there are normally around 48 channels or inputs that canbe utilized by the bands to mix their sound through the PAsystem. Of the 48, depending upon the act, of course, a headlinerwill use between 30 and 40 of those channels to get their soundexactly as they want it. Remember, they are the ones in charge. Itis essentially their show, and you are just along for the ride. Assuch, opening acts are left with very little to work with. Often, ifthere is more than one opening act, they will have to “share” theremaining 8 channels. (Sharing is hardly the appropriate term.Trust me, the “negotiations” can often be much more mercilessthan even a week on Devil’s Island. The ensuing and incurringfights sometimes are such that the butchery left in their wakewould make kickboxing seem docile.) This, of course, meansmaking some “tough decisions” on how to spread those channelsaround, which is never easy. During sound check, drummers,especially, nervously wait like virgins at a volcano eruption to seewhat sacrifices have to be made, because more often than not, itis at our expense. But ultimately, if it’s done correctly and by agreat soundman, the audience won’t hear a discernabledifference in the sound between the acts, and that is really whatmatters. I can tell you, for all that is his selfish reputation, TedNugent was actually pleasingly “notorious” for being one of themost generous when it came to leaving space on the board for hissupporting acts. Perhaps it was simply because his band was avery basic four piece with limited vocal needs. Or maybe it was aconscious effort on his part to make the show the best it could befor the fans. I don’t know. I just know that we had goodexperiences with him and from what I understand other bandshad the same impression.
However, all of those wonderful things, the motels and meals,the space on the mixing board, etcetera, change once you achieveheadline status to say the least. The motels turn to hotels. Thehamburgers turn to steaks. And the conveniences in general allbecome much greater. After all, you’re the star!
Also, as a headliner, there are countless intangibles. (Likegetting to house the management and various members of theirfamilies at “Five Star” hotels in Rio de Janeiro. I never knewanyone could have six mothers-in law... Well, aside from MickeyRooney.) This is something that cannot and should not beoverlooked. One such intangible is the audience. Playing as anopening act, there was arguably an occasional night when there
would be a smattering of people in the building specifically to seeus, and other nights when perhaps there would be a handful ofthose who may actually have known who we were. But thoseoccasions were the exception, not the norm. I doubt they everoutnumbered those who were at the shows exclusively to partakeof the bountiful supply of available drugs. As you might imagine,our concerts typically tended to be played with the scent ofmarijuana filling the arena like incense at a sitar concert. Assuch, I am sure many in the audience were less than fullyconscious, aware or even caring who was on stage so long as itwas loud. Let’s face it, unless you were at a New Christy Minstrelsshow, which is hard to imagine anyone would be, such things asdrugs and rock and roll shows were pretty much synonymous.(Then again, I can’t imagine sitting through a New ChristyMinstrels concert without some sort of recreational supplementor stimulant to augment and enhance the performance or justkeep me awake.) Honestly, we really didn’t think much aboutwho was in the audience, nor did it really matter. We played ourbest no matter what the situation was.
A lot of the time when you are on the road opening for a bigname, it’s in an effort to get exposure to a greater number ofpeople than you could draw on your own as perhaps I’ve alreadymade clear. Yes, there are instances when you are billed insupport of another act and actually are more popular and wellreceived than they are. (Remember the debacle in Moscow whenBon Jovi demanded to remain as the closing act on the bill?) Atsuch times, the booker or management, whoever was in charge ofthe errant booking, will find his job about as secure as being thecaptain of the Exxon Valdez. He will be diplomatically “asked” bythe headliner to remove you from the remainder of the tour.
Their idea of diplomacy normally amounts to nominal threats ofviolence which include various suggestions to those in chargethat they do to themselves things that I believe may very well beanatomically impossible.
On the positive side, a good opening act, and I believe wewere, knows their place. Music is quite political, and you earnand garner respect from others in the industry by paying homageto the pecking order at all times. We knew when we “middled”,for example, on a three act show our job was to give a tight 30-40minute set that would get the audience warmed up for the “kingof beasts” and feature none of the pyrotechnics, gimmicks,gadgets and/or gizmos reserved for the headliner should hechoose to use them. It was always his, her or their choice, not ouroption. Some bands don’t understand that and will do everythingthey can in a conscious effort to “blow off the stage” the others onthe bill. This leads to dissension, as you might imagine, and canoften harm a young band’s reputation, and quite often, theircareer. Who wants to work with a group that is going to try toupstage them? Remember, entertainment is 100% aboutcompetition. As both Ted Nugent and AC/DC so aptly implied, itis a “dog-eat-dog” industry. The canine with the center seat at thefood bowl is always under attack. Those at the bottom dream ofbeing in his place and many have none of the scruples necessaryto understand the concept of gratitude. The headline act doesn’treally need an opening act to draw customers to a show. It issimply a courtesy, an opportunity, if you will, that is willingly
extended to others. Every artist was at one time at the bottomand had to pay their dues - unless, of course, their uncle was abig shot in the industry. Such connections do have theiradvantages and tend to overcome lacks in talent when it comes tostardom. But for the rest of us who weren’t blessed with theproper lineage, it is kind of a tradition that may date back tocaveman. I mean I’m sure they had their form of entertainmentthen, too. As such, there must have been some sort of hierarchyto be had if you had any aspiration of ascending to the level oflead rock thrower or head fire maker. Anyway, the tradition ismeant as a way of giving back by those on top to those who arejust starting out. It’s all a part of the fraternity called rock androll.
Beyond that, though, as it pertains to a show, there is anaudience psychology, an understanding of which makes for agood show. A good show, for example, is never selfish. Theperformers know they are there for the audience and understandthe importance of building to a climactic crescendo. If you putthe entire spectacle of special effects, etcetera, into the first act,what is left for the remaining acts? There is a subliminalseduction of the audience to be had. It needs to be caressed andmassaged to allow for the passion to build up and lead to theultimate and appropriate climax.
A fitting analogy might be a comparison to a narcissistic manwho, while having sex with his wife, screams his own name andreaches his orgasm within seconds of beginning the romp. He is,most certainly, quite enamored with himself and his performanceand is completely indifferent to the needs of his mate not to
mention being obviously quite selfish. Eight seconds might be agood ride in a rodeo but for most any woman other than aprostitute, it’s hardly enough. However, not to be overtly negativein my arbitrary condemnation, on the positive side, a “lady of theevening” will most certainly love him. So long as he’s a cashcustomer, she won’t care whose name he screams during theeight seconds so long as it’s not “Vice"!
A good example of this, concert performances, not sex withprostitutes, 1 believe happened in Monterey, California, at thenow famous 1967 Pop Festival that is so much a part of musiclore. Actually, there probably were some very good examples ofsex with prostitutes there as well, even though, as I think back, itwas the summer of love, and so free sex must have beenextensive. In such instances, no one could ever complain that heor she didn’t get their money’s worth. Then again, knowing thefinicky nature of many in this world, there were probably thosewho complained about the quality therein even at that bargainbasement rate. As for the concert, however, making an effort toget back to my original thought, although, in truth, it probablydidn’t originate with me as there were countless others whoshared the same thought. You see, Jimi Hendrix was still anunknown entity in the world of rock music while the Who,another act on the bill, was pretty much at the top of the BritishInvasion roster. Well, Hendrix, being young and naive, orperhaps not really giving a damn about protocol, did his normalact, which, of course, featured the destruction of his guitar at thevery end. Well, who in their right mind wanted to follow that?
But you see, no one really knew what Hendrix did in his act
because it was essentially his first public appearance with his“Experience”. And so, there waited the Who offstage watchinghim simulate intercourse with his amplifier, bash his FenderStratocaster into submission, and then systematically cremate it,thinking, “What the hell are we supposed to do after that?” Andso when they took the stage and went through their act, whichfeatured, of course, the destruction of guitars and drums by PeteTownsend and Keith Moon respectively, the audience sort ofyawned because they had already seen that and wantedsomething new. By the time Woodstock rolled around a coupleyears later, well, other acts had wised up, and, as such, Hendrixwound up basically being the closing act of the entire show on thefinal afternoon.
A lot of very good bands fail miserably trying to be too big toosoon as I have mentioned already. They really believe that asingle hit record means they are worthy of top billing everywherethey go. As such, they will often go out on tour with their egospacking their bags rather than their common sense if they, infact, have any. We had a lot of acts headlining over us while weactually had a record higher on the charts than they did. But whatcan never be replaced are the ingredients of experience,appreciation and patience. Our time would come. We needed toestablish ourselves as headliners by proving our worth over anextended period of time. We needed to prove we could, in fact,draw money for the promoters. Fortunately, despite all theinnuendo I’ve put here with regard to such entities, we had anoutstanding management company. They didn’t need anotherheadlining act right away, since they already had several. This
allowed us to have and maintain the proper perspective whetherwe wanted to or not. Many other so-called managers only seedollar signs and by any standard accounting method 15% of aheadline act’s fee is much greater than 15% of an opening act’stake.
Being aligned with a great management company that had astable of studs capable of carrying the load and putting “butts inthe bleachers” on a nightly basis all over the world, truly did giveus a tremendous advantage. Initially, I’m sure some of thenegotiations they had with promoters included, “If you wantNugent or AC/DC, you’re going to have to take the Germans aswell.”
Playing in front of 50,000 in a stadium is obviously betterthan playing in front of 500 at a small club or theater. We werenot stupid enough to stomp around David Krebs’ officescreaming, “We have the #55 album in America! We should beheadlining!” Actually, we probably were. But thankfully wedidn’t. Honestly, though, that’s what a lot of bands will do andquite often it leads to catastrophic results. A lot of very talentedbands fall prey to believing their own publicity rather thanfollowing the advice of their management. I will tell you again,however, there are a lot of cretins who claim to be managers outthere. The stories are endless about artist abuse and the like, andI could personally name names here. By the same token, on theother hand, there are just as many stories, if not more, aboutartists who do abuse themselves and not with drugs and alcoholbut with ego and stupidity.
As many who know me can attest, I admit I’m hardly the
smartest dress hanging in the closet or even the sharpest knife inthe drawer, but I do believe I have always found subjugation ofmy ego easy. That was the key, in my estimation. Perhaps it is thereason I have always been able to work with people throughoutmy career. Trust me, the music industry is filled with ego,selfishness and greed not to mention very demanding andtemperamental artists. (Actually, the same could be said for lifein general at least regarding the selfishness and greed.)Thankfully, I don’t believe I am in either category, which I thinkhas been the key to my personal longevity in the industry. I havebeen able to work with those in every categorization.
Anyway, whether or not Tm difficult to work with is subject toopinion, of course. Maybe it’s just been that no one wants to tellme that I am a pain in the ass. Who am I to say? But I don’tbelieve I’m bigger than the art or more important than the nextmusician. I have always known my place and been able to fit intoa group environment. When in the role of a leader, I believe Ihave been quite capable of exercising degrees of restraint andunderstanding. Sure, I could have bossed everyone around andbullied him or her into following my line of thought. But suchattitudes in all walks of life tend to be counterproductive. If youare part of a group, the group has to be bigger than the self. Thatgoes for everyone in that group or body whether it’s a rock androll band or just a small business in Munich.
I think my latest album titled Take It As It Comes might bestillustrate my attitude and approach. The album is listed as “my”album, but it is as much a group creation as any album I recordedwith the Scorpions. Yes, there are some of my compositions on
the album but also some by the other members of the band. Weall put in our songs when we began rehearsing for the recordingand then chose what we felt were the best ones to put on the CD.Yes, I have plenty of material written by myself that could fillseveral albums. But that wasn’t the goal. The goal was to put outthe best album we could for the fans, and since my name is on it,
I want it to represent what I am about. I hope those of you whoare reading this will take time to pick up a copy. It was for youthat it was made.
Getting back to the Scorpions... It does seem as if I’ve strayeda bit, huh? I know, so what else is new? This whole book seemslike an assortment of stray tangents occasionally redirected to astory about my life. But what you have to understand is life isn’tjust about playing in a band, but about an assortment ofattitudes, beliefs and opinions that make a person who he istoday. I have a public life in the music world as well as a privateone outside of music. I would like to believe that you areinterested in me as a person just as much as me as a musician.
At any rate, we, the Scorpions, were fortunate in our career tohave the opportunity to work with some good people. Boy, Isound like a stereotypical, disingenuous “brown-noser”, don’t I?Kind of like I’m giving the sort of trite, insincere acceptancespeeches that accompany induction into the Rock and Roll Hallof Shame, I mean, Fame. I know our getting inducted anytimesoon has about as much chance of happening as I do of becomingKing of England. King of Monaco, maybe. I think I was perhapsat one time in the mix there. Okay, so I wasn’t. Humor me, okay.So anyway, to get to the point that I think I was trying to make a
couple pages ago when we were talking about headlining oversimply playing in support, when you headline, you are playingbefore people who are actually there to see you. I can tell you, it’svery exciting to look out at an audience who not only knows whoyou are but knows the words of the songs you are playing. Whenyou see their mouths lip-synch the lyrics you wrote, well, it’s a“high” far above any that can be achieved artificially within thisworld.
Oh, I forgot, there is another thing about headliningcompared to being in a position of support that might well belabeled as most important for many who get into music, and thatis the women. I know there are those of you out there with salivadripping down your lips saying, “Yeah, yeah... Tell us about thewomen...” Well, the main difference between opening and closinga show is the amount of alcohol you need to consume prior toleaving the bar. It’s amazing how a half a dozen shots of WildTurkey can take any woman from appalling to appealing! It’swhat some call the “Motel Face”. “Tomorrow you’ll look likehell... But tonight, you look swell!” Yes, I know, this is a horribleway to talk about this kind of thing. Keep in mind, most of thegroupies drank right along with us, so perhaps they felt the sameway about us. But as the song goes, in our honest opinion, thegroupies that would allow us to defile their virtue, if, in fact, theyhad any, were and probably still are viewed by most in the musicindustry as little more than just “another piece of meat”. Iunderstand that some may view this as being awfully denigratingand demeaning to you ladies out there, but hey, we were theScorpions and our album covers told the story! (By the way. I’ve
never heard a man complain about that sort of attitude orlabeling even though “ladies” on tour also take part in the samesort of late night athletics.) Honestly, we didn’t feel that way. Ourwives wouldn’t permit it. But we had a reputation to uphold.Anyway, when you’re an opener, you are forced to wait your turnwhile the groupies, justifiably, flock to the headliner first. Theyknow he may not be the best-looking guy or even the best in bed.But he has all the perks... The luxury suite at the “Five Star”hotel... The round bed with mirrors on the ceiling... Roomservice... What did we have to offer? A double-room at the Motel6... A rust stained tub with a leaky faucet... Flea infested beds... Amirror in the bathroom... If they played their cards right, perhapsa Filet-O-Fish sandwich at McDonald’s... However, since they allcan’t go to bed with the star, when they lose out with him, theycome to us for consolation. It’s a lot like the guy who strikes outwith the girl of his dreams and winds up with her best friend -the cute, adorable sidekick.
Meanwhile, back at the story... Technically, we had headlinedin Europe and Japan in previous years and even prior totravelling across the Atlantic to the U.S. in 1980 as I’ve alreadymentioned. Specifically, in March of that year, we opened thetour in Japan before returning to Europe to play dates in France,Germany, Belgium, England and Scotland. From there, ourrouting became a little more creative than perhaps we wouldhave preferred. Ordinarily, European bands will fly to easterncities of Canada or the United States to open a tour of NorthAmerica for purposes of not only shortness of travel, which, ofcourse, means lower costs for flights but also because of the time
differences. Jet lag was always a problem. It really could cut intothe time and energy we had after the shows for sex.
However, our management didn’t care whether or not we hadsex, after all, it was very difficult for them to get their “piece” ofthat action. (All puns are intended.) I mean, what were we goingto do? Were we supposed to stop 85% of the way through and sayto our comely evening’s companion, “Well, that’s all for me... Letme introduce you to my agent. He’ll be finishing up..."? At anyrate, our management, being fixated on our making moneyrather than concerning themselves with our sophomoric attemptsto build what we felt would be the appropriate offstage repute,wanted to link us with one of their top guys as quickly aspossible, as I mentioned earlier, so they sent us to Californiawhere Ted Nugent was in the middle of a tour, obviously inbetween hunting seasons, playing in San Francisco in an old relicof a building called the “Cow Palace”. Given Ted’s propensity forkilling livestock, I’m sure he had a twinkle in his eye when he firstheard the name.
Along with Ted, we also played with what was then a veryyoung band, Def Leppard, as I already said. (Weren’t we allyoung once?) Though they were virtual unknowns in America atthe time, we knew them from our time spent in England. Theycame as fans to one our shows in the United Kingdom, and wehad met them all backstage. They must have had connections ofsome sort even at that point to be able to get backstage. It wasgreat to see them again as they were and I suspect still are verynice chaps, and obviously, as history shows, they were on theirway up. Granted we weren’t exactly long in the tooth, but
compared to us, they were children. For example, Cliff Davies,Ted's drummer, and I had to smuggle Rick Allen, the drummerfrom Leppard, into clubs because he was not only under 21 butjailbait as well as he was under 18 for Christ’s sake! But eventhrough thick and thin and under aged adolescence, wedrummers, always stuck together. Sort of a fraternal bond there Isuppose.
If you recall, our first tour of the U.S., such as it was with justa handful of cities involved, we really didn’t venture beyond theMidwest, so we only got a small sampling of the States. Thisgrand scale “tour de force” was really our first taste of the countryas a whole, which honestly was much bigger than we expected.You discover that when you’re on a tour bus for several months.
An interesting note, however, at least it is curiouslyinteresting to me as I look down the docket of cities we visitedand played concerts in, was the exclusion of several majormarkets during the tour. There was just not enough demand inthe major markets for us at that point, I guess. We did have anoffer to play at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, but the venuewas so small we opted to stay with Nugent in a support role andplay before much larger crowds. Most glaring, however, was theabsence of stops not only in Los Angeles but in New York City aswell. (Obviously, we latched on to Ted after he had hit thosecities.) So the point here was that even though we had twosuccessful albums, we were still yet to play in either of the twobiggest music centers in the United States, and it did leave uswondering if we were ever going to be considered “big time”enough to play in Carnegie Hall.
in the sky above, there was a storm cloud brewing as we enteredthe final leg of our tour and started to plan our next album.
There is a little side story here, though, that should not beoverlooked or forgotten. It was during the tour that the title songfor the next album. Blackout, was, in fact, conceived. Actually, Idon’t know that that’s the proper term, since it wasn’t so much aconception as it was a simple reporting of the facts. And no, ithad nothing to do with the storm cloud. Consider this analogouswith the wispy cirrus clouds that often prelude the arrival of astorm moving in from the west. Anyway, it all began after a showwe played with Judas Priest and Def Leppard in Dubuque, Iowa,of all places. I remember we all stayed in the same hotel, sort oflike a Howard Johnson’s, though I am not really sure after all thehotels what it was. I don’t believe we had earned the right to stayat such an ostentatious establishment quite yet. (If you live inDubuque, you probably know the hotel I’m talking about, sinceit’s next to some shopping mall there. Let me know, so I canmake the correction in my next book.) At any rate, as I looked outthe window of my room, I saw the police arriving at the mall. No,not Sting, Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers... Nor do I meanrent-a-cops. We’re talking authentic Dubuque gendarmes -cattleprods and all! Apparently, or perhaps more appropriately,allegedly, Rudolf was a bit over the top drunk and runningaround the parking lot in what probably could best be describedas a stupor. If you knew Rudolf, you’d know this was nothing outof the ordinary. However, he was lost and trying very hard to findhis way back to the hotel. I am sure the cops thought some long-haired subversive was perhaps trying to break into one of the
Eventually, as you probably know, we gained a very largefollowing in Southern California to the point where we wouldplay back-to-back shows at the Los Angeles Forum. It was thesame in New York where we sold out two nights at MadisonSquare Garden in the middle 8o’s when “Rock You Like aHurricane” was on the charts. But I guess during that tour, wewere still considered small fish in a very big pond and the pond,at the time, out west at least, was probably screaming out formore of the Knack.
One thing we did learn about the east and west coast was thatNew York was quite different from Los Angeles in musicalmindset. Though both were and probably still are “cliquish” andquite supportive of the home teams, at that time SouthernCalifornia seemed to be captivated by the new wave as was playedby the aforementioned Knack and softer rock like that producedby the Eagles, Warren Zevon and Linda Ronstadt. Meanwhile,punk rock that was previously an underground rage, took centerstage in the “Big Apple” during those early years of the 1980’swith groups like Blondie and The Ramones who were very bigthere at the time. So even though our management was based inNew York City, the closest we came to Manhattan was Buffalo.
However, even though things were going well for us, and wereally had no complaints or worries, as it seems to be with allthings in this life, when everything is going too well it’s usually asign of potential disaster. Of course, as still very young guys, wehad a sense of invincibility that did not allow us to think innegative terms about our future. We only believed what ourcurrent publicity was telling us. The sky was the limit. However,
stores that had long since closed up for the evening. Since he hadno ID on him, and you have to understand in Iowa he did standout a bit compared to the ordinary citizenry, they were about toarrest him.
Without enough time to make a quick trip to the localWinchelks to pick up a dozen donuts, I had no choice but tocreatively think on the fly as I bolted out to the rescue. Uponarriving on the scene, however, the best I could come up with wasan extremely feeble attempt to impress them with stories aboutmy father and grandfather being such prominent members of thelaw enforcement establishment in our homeland, as well asexplaining my respect for those who put their lives on the line insuch dangerous places as Dubuque. I then proceeded to explainto them that Rudolf was with us (As if that was going to makethem feel much more comfortable.), and that he had just gotten alittle confused and lost trying to find his way back to the hotel,since English wasn’t really his first language. The fact that therewas a giant sign right in front of him saying the name of the hoteldidn’t help my case, of course. But I figured maybe they wouldjust think he was a foreigner and unable to read English so well.Okay so it was a stretch. What else did I have? Ultimately, and inall honesty, amazingly, they believed me, and turned Rudolf overto me, and went on their way. Actually, I don’t know if theybelieved me so much as they just didn’t want to bother with thepaperwork. It was much easier to simply reprimand him to mycustody, since I did, I guess, seem cogent and sober, and leave itat that.
Happy ending, right? Wrong.
As if that wasn’t enough of a scare, however, the story was notquite over. There was still a little more of a performance to behad. I went with Rudolf into the lobby where there was a place inthe reception area that you could buy a beer at. Fm not sure, as Ithink back, if it was a bar, per say, but you could buy beer there.Well, as you can probably surmise, the last thing he needed atthat point was another drink. But Rudolf was one who never sawa Budweiser he didn’t like... Or for that matter, an Amstel, or aLowenbrau, or a Duvel, or a Tuborg, or a Cerna Hora, or aBaltika, or even a Kilikia... He wasn’t the most particular drinker.And so, probably by instinct, he made a beeline for one henoticed sitting harmlessly on a table next to a guy who wastransfixed on a small television watching whatever mindlessevent was taking place thereon. (Let’s see, there were tables youcould sit at and you could buy a beer and there was a televisionthere... Hell, that does sound a lot like a bar, huh?) Rudolfquickly procured the fairly full pint of brew as he stumbledthrough the sitting area, not to drink, as I suspected he would,mind you, but inexplicably to pour on the television. To this day,Fm not sure if it was his way of critiquing the crap that was onthe tube, or if he simply thought it was the right thing to do forwhatever the reason. You have to admit, it really isn’t somethingyou see everyday, at least in Iowa. There were two guys from bothDef Leppard and Judas Priest sitting there flabbergasted. Theyjust couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Perhaps theywondered, since we were the only German rock band inexistence, if it wasn’t some sort of standard Bavarian custom.Somehow we were able to get Rudolf to his room where he
passed out on his bed.
But, believe it or not, this was still not the end. There was athird act following intermission.
The next morning, having sobered up, Rudolf not me (Forperhaps one rare occasion in my life, at least at that point, Ihadn’t drunk to excess the previous night, and was the mostcoherent individual in the general vicinity.), I told the story backto him about the previous night’s chaos, curious to know whatthe hell had happened. However, as I told him, a look of disbelieffilled his eyes. He was completely unwilling to believe me. It wasclear to me that his loss of memory, temporary as it obviouslywas, must have been caused by some sort of alcohol-induced lossof consciousness, or more simply, a blackout. My story wasconfirmed later in the day by the guys from the other bands whowere there watching the whole thing unfold. So, in a roundaboutway, Rudolf, being less than in control of his faculties, actuallycontributed to a multi-platinum album by simply drinkinghimself silly! (I’m sure as he reads this, he’s probably toasting thethought!) (If not, I’m sure Pete Way will for reasons only hewould know.) I immediately made some notes to myself aboutthe event, and the rest is Scorpions history. So no one shouldever say that there are no positives in abusive drinking - at leastabusive drinking in Dubuque, Iowa.
Oh, in case you are curious, it’s not Rudolf on the album coverbut the artist who created the cover, Gottfried Helnwein. It was aself-portrait, he claims, though I can’t honestly say I know forsure he was ever subject to a blackout himself.
SORE THROATS AND BLACKOUTSAfter leaving the states at the end of the summer, we really
didn’t tour continuously through the fall, even though we wereplaying steadily. There were various one-nighters in places likeSweden, France and England as well as concerts in thosecountries. There was also a return trip to Japan in earlyNovember. As I said, it may not have been technically a tour, butstill it was grueling nonetheless, given that we had just come off along road. (How much sex can one man take?)
However, as these dates drew to a close, perhaps as a result ofthe extensive number of engagements (We weren’t sure at thetime.), Klaus began to have some troubles with his throat.Contrary to what many may believe, a voice is a form of a musicalinstrument. The main difference is, however, when it wears out,you can’t just put on a new set of strings and keep playing. Ofcourse, initially, we thought it was nothing more than just asevere case of ordinary fatigue similar to what nightclub singerscall “Vegas throat”. Vegas throat is what happens to many who
work the arid desert resort because the dry air of the climate can,at times, cause dryness in the throat. This often robs a vocalist ofhis range among other things. None of us had ever been on sucha rigorous tour in our life, so we suspected the wear and tear, thedaily grind, if you will, had been just a bit too much for him totake, and a few days off was all he really needed.
Figuring a little well-deserved rest was, as Nugent wouldsurely have put it, “just what the doctor ordered”, we began towork through the songs that would make up the most ambitiousand well received album cover to date giving little further thoughtto Klaus’s vocal qualms. Actually, quite surprisingly, we no longerfelt we needed to have controversial album covers, so theBlackout album was more about the music than the cover, andthat is the way it should have been from the start. Our music wasindeed catching on. Both Lovedrive and Animal Magnetism werefast becoming as well-known for the music as they were for thecontroversial covers. Each had actually attained gold status andwere headed toward platinum. And so the follow up for AnimalMagnetism was going to truly make or break us. (Such insecurityis what keeps you on top. The minute you become complacent,you lose whatever “edge” you might otherwise have.) Some bandscan produce one or maybe even two popular albums. Honestly, inour opinion, we had yet to produce the perfect Scorpions album,but we were getting closer with each offering. So Blackout was amajor production in our all-out effort to keep the alreadyestablished momentum going. Our hope was to prove to even themost cynical misanthropist (Which might be a lovingly generousterm for most “critics”.), and trust me, there were many, that wecould sustain and were there for the long haul. We were alwaysaware that lurking not too far in any non-positive direction wasthe omnipotent and capricious grim reaper of rock and roll whomight want to hasten our departure from the spotlight evenbefore it really began. I suspect no matter how big you maybecome, you always have that fear lingering in the back of yourmind.
As had been the case with the prior albums, the songwritingwas split between Klaus, Rudolf and myself. Some of the songs,as you may be able to tell if you know our lyrics, were written, atleast in part, while we were on the road. However, some werenothing more than ideas that came to us during the tour thatneeded to be developed. For those of you who are reading thisonly to hear about the women, and honestly I would hope that’sonly a very small portion of you, well, the song “Arizona” I wrotewith Rudolf, kind of tells a little tale that perhaps will satisfy and,at least temporarily, pacify your salacious curiosities. But I don’twish to shortchange the women from other places in the States. Ipersonally can testify to having enjoyed all of you. So I’ll get tothe story of “Arizona” in a couple of paragraphs.
But first, let me talk about the overall writing itself. As Istarted to say, it was truly a group effort, at least between thethree of us, though both Francis and Matthias did have theirinput as well once we began to rehearse the tunes. However, to becompletely fair, I did write a couple of songs with Matthias overthe years, “Don’t Make No Promises (Your Body Can’t Keep)”from Animal Magnetism, and “Money and Fame” and, of course,the hit song “Tease Me, Please Me” both from Crazy World. Thesongs, as a whole, show that element of consistency in theirblend. As I have said, a lot of times when various people writesongs, the feel of each song is quite different as it was when Uliwas contributing his pieces from outside the Scorpion model. It isalso the reason why a “one-hit wonder” becomes exactly that.
Most single hits by an artist are one of two things: either acontrast to the group’s normal music or artist’s normal style or asong covered by a group or artist written by someone else. Thelatter of these two reasons is the most obvious. If an outside,third party, writes a song, it often is just a fluke in the repertoireof a band. The remainder of their songs may be penned by otherpeople or by the band members themselves and will be fardifferent from the hit. The former reason, well, that’s a little moredifficult to explain except to say that an artist or band can oftencome up with one really good song, but to follow it up is notalways so easy. Before you have a popular song or album, there islittle to consider as you are still trying to find the rightcombination. But once you hit on something special, the fans,being fickle as they often are, expect every follow up to soundexactly the same. This, of course, is impossible since you can’t cutand paste the melody and have a new song. Anything that doesn’tsound like the hit, note for note, can often be uninteresting tothose who listen to the top 40. That is the reason you find somany bands copying the sound of a popular song or group. Theyare just trying to capitalize on that which is the current rage. Ofcourse, quite often, by the time they finish writing and recordingthe song and get it released, the trends have changed and theydiscover they are way behind the curve. The originators
themselves will often fall into the same trap recording song aftersong that is identical to what brought them success not realizingthat some change is needed to give a little variety to their albums.
A good example of a formulaic album that never really soldlike the hit single might be from the new wave group theRomantics. Their song, “What I Like About You” is to this day astaple of FM rock stations around the world and has beenfeatured in countless films as well. However, the album fromwhich it originally came is hardly one to brag about in terms ofsales. Though it had an eventual “monster” hit (Originally thesong was only able to crack the top 50 in most places.), the albumsold poorly. If you listen to it in its entirety you may discover thereason why. The album is filled with songs that sound exactly likethe hit. I am not kidding. Almost every song on the album has thesame basic chord changes and beat. Even though it is enjoyableand melodic, it does become a bit monotonous after a while. Thatis probably why the song’s popularity was mainly built throughits appearance on countless compilation LP’s and soundtrackalbums.
Anyway, getting back to our story, as I mentioned earlier,though some of the songs were written while we were on theroad, the majority were pieced together and completed after wefinished our tour when we were back in Hannover. In the case ofthe song “Blackout”, for example, even though I wrote it aboutthat incident in Iowa, my then girlfriend, Sonya, had a little inputinto the lyric that made it tighter.
Of course, in our situation, having the consistency andstability in the production booth given to us by Dieter was also a
major component in the true Scorpion sound coming to life andprospering in the land called harmony. Regardless of the writing,it still was the “magic dragon” breathing fire behind the mixingconsole that brought life to the songs. However, for the record,you will find my name attached to “You Give Me All I Need”,“Now”, “Dynamite”, “Blackout” and “Arizona”, and I guess youcould tell by the basic storyline in so many of our songs, we wereall quite engrossed with and appreciative of the abundance offemale attention we were receiving. Yes, I know, some of us weremarried at the time or were involved in long standingrelationships. I won’t pretend that we were doing the right thingor even try to defend it. But you again need to remember, there isthat same fraternal sense of brotherhood on the road that I knowwives and girlfriends don’t appreciate. One of the “rules of theroad” within our “secret society” was and still is basically that ofturning a blind eye toward all that is or may have been takingplace around us. I am not one who will tell stories outside ofschool, and so any such talk will only be about my own errors injudgment, though at the time, I hardly thought they were errors.
I could always find ways to justiiy my own indiscretions. Kind oflike the guy who says, “I didn’t stab him 12 times. He just keptrunning into my knife with his gut!”
Okay, I mentioned earlier that I would tell you the back-storyto the song “Arizona”. Don’t wish to forget, though, at my age,forgetfulness is something I am always leery of. It was actuallyanother very true story. I know you always doubt the authenticityof a story told to you by a philandering rock and roll guy. Howcan you trust someone whose reputation is already built on lies
and deception? But honestly, this one was true. I was “picked up”by a beautiful woman in a black limousine who took me out intothe desert on a clear and starry night. For those of you who havebeen to Arizona, you know, the desert wasn’t all that difficult tofind. Anyway, as the song implies quite openly, we did a lot morethan just read the sonnets of German poet Johann Wolfgang vonGoethe to each other by the moonlight... As you can imagine, itwas true love, whatever her name was, and Arizona will foreverbe one of my top 50 favorites of the United States. The story wasa bit of a letdown, huh? Well, you asked for it. Honestly, thefantasy of what might have been is often more interesting thanthe reality.
Anyway, taking time to drift back to the story... As we werenearing the completion with regard to the writing for the albumand getting close to the point when we were going to startrecording, we knew we were on to something very special. Wealso knew Klaus was having more trouble than we originallysuspected, even though he wasn’t letting on. That was quitedisquieting to our own peace of mind, as you can surelyunderstand. Here we were sitting on this incredible body ofmusic, and we weren’t even sure if or when we would complete it!
When time came to actually start the recording of Blackout,Dieter rented a big villa in the south of France, Grasse, to beexact. It was an incredible house, to say the least, as it had sevenor eight bedrooms which we, of course, took advantage of notonly for sleeping but also for other more entertaining activities. (Inever realized there were so many different ways to playSolitaire.) Maybe it wasn’t a villa. It could have been a chateau.
Villas are in Spain. Chateaus are in France. I know this probablydoesn’t interest you, but I just want to set the record straight incase one of the other Scorpions writes a book like this and calls itsomething different. Don’t want you to accuse me of l5dng.(Actually, I doubt any of them would write a book like this. Theytake this all much more seriously than I do. I doubt there wouldbe many laughs in their book. Then again, to some of you thatmight make theirs exactly like this book.) Anyway, the reason forchoosing a big house (How’s that for diplomacy?) for therecording was basically the acoustics of the large rooms. Nomatter how hard you might try, you can never replace or replicatethe natural room sounds you can get within a “real” space. Evenutilizing the most advanced digital technology available today inany studio, I believe you would still come up short. So remember,30 or so years ago, we were dealing with Jurassic technology.Sounds could not be enhanced or produced as easily inside astudio, and so we had to “stoop” to working within an authenticspace. Truthfully, there is nothing like a genuine marble floor orwood paneled wall with 20-30 foot high ceilings when it comes tocreating a specific sound, if that is, in fact, what you are trying tocapture. Canned reverb and other effects may be fine for thosewithout any other option, but it’s nothing like that which can beproduced within the realm of the living. Obviously, perhaps thechateau was a bit of a giveaway, we were blessed with asubstantially larger budget for recording as a result of the successof our prior albums. But we weren’t about to spend every wakinghour counting our money or resting on our past laurels andaccolades. We wanted to “up the ante” and decided to spare noexpense in production to insure that we would have everyopportunity to produce a classic.
Upon completing our work in France as well as the rhythmtracks there, we went to Dieter’s studios in Cologne to add theinstrumental solos and vocals. However, Klaus continued tostruggle vocally, so Dieter told us about a young singer namedDon Dokken that he knew. He said he was more than capable ofsinging backgrounds and perhaps putting down a test track leadfor us to follow so we could complete at least the instrumentalportions of the album.
Meanwhile, after taking time to consult with several doctors,it was finally determined that Klaus was going to need surgery onhis vocal folds to remove some polyps that had developed overthe prior year. At least that’s what I recall. The rigors anddemands of touring were indeed the most likely culprit and hadtruly taken a toll on his voice. That part we were right about. Ihave to be honest, Klaus was a team player, and I suspect it wasthe sense of team that kept our group together for as long as wewere. A lot of groups suffer from ego conflicts that internallydestroy a group as I’ve said. That’s the reason so few sustain withthe basic core players for more than a couple years. (If you lookat our longevity, the same basic six people (including Dieter)were together for more than a decade. What other group in thehistory of rock and roll can boast an endurance record like that?)But it wasn’t that way with us. We were a tight unit, and therewas friendship and camaraderie that was in some ways unique.We noticed that most clearly during our tours where we wouldsee the divisiveness and backstabbing that was so much a part of
Other bands we would encounter. There would be many who werefour or five totally different people with completely differentagendas. They were only together because fate caught up withthem as they were immersed in the general transience that is somuch a part of music. Players will jump from band to bandbecause they are looking for the best gig. They aren’t reallylooking beyond the next casual or club date. They figure they’llonly be with the group when time permits and will play with halfa dozen bands at one time in an effort to pay their bills. Well,when circumstance steps in, and one of those bands actually getsa call from a label that liked their demo, the current line-up,whatever it may be, tends to be the one that signs on the bottomline. Many times, the group isn’t really a group. It is just ahandful of musicians who happen to be in the same place at thesame time. They may not, in fact, even like each other. And so thelongevity of their tenure as a group may be considered tenuous atbest. Perhaps it is the reason so many groups in rock and rollcome and go within hours of being discovered.
However, in our case, we were actually friends. Yes, I know,Matthias and I were, of course, “recent” additions in many ways,but the chemistry between all of us was more like brothers than itwas just adding two complete strangers. Again, in part, this mayhave been the result of our all being of German ancestry. I don’tknow if this went into their thinking when they decided to addme to the band, nor do I recall if that thought came to mind whilewe were auditioning guitar players. But ultimately, the similarityof lifestyles and backgrounds proved to be quite important overthe long term of our band. We understood where we all were andwhere we all had come from. No matter how insightful a personmight be, he can’t possibly see or know how it feels to besomeone else, or what it’s like to grow up in a country other thanhis own. The perspective afforded him by his own life will foreverlimit him.
We all knew and understood that Klaus needed surgery, as Isaid, and so we made it clear to him that regardless of histhoughts or even wishes, we would wait. The surgeon, anoptimistic sort, said there was a chance he might never singagain, but at the very least, it would be several months, perhapseven a year, before he could sing anything at all. Klaus, inresponse, once again reiterated that we shouldn’t wait for him.
We should go ahead with a new singer. But we were a family, andfamilies don’t turn their backs on their blood. Besides, Klaus wasa key ingredient in our sound and could never have been replacedwithout a noticeable difference to our fans that we were juststarting to attract in large numbers. I think, to be completelyhonest, in some ways, he may very well have just been feelingvery pessimistic pangs within his heart and maybe a little guilt.
So perhaps he felt that we would be upset with him if he werenever able to sing, and we had waited for him. I think mostpeople feel that way when something happens to them. Theyreach a point of helplessness and suspect the “end”, whateverthat might entail, might be quite near. So Klaus was trying to bepositive in public, but I suspect, in his heart, he thought hiscareer as a singer might have been drawing to a close.
We were, most assuredly, worried and rightfully so, given thatwe had finally cracked through the worldwide market only to
discover our fame may become as short-lived as the Sovietpolitical career of General Secretary Yuri Andropov atop theCommunist Party. It isn’t easy to replace any member of a groupas fans can become quite difficult to please; most certainlyrumors would abound as to the reasons Klaus left the group.
Such scandal could be devastating. A singer is irreplaceable. Iknow there aren’t many who will admit that. But it’s quite truefor most bands. Yes, anyone can sing a song but to make itconvincing and not sound like a poor man’s karaoke, that’s adifferent matter altogether. A band’s sound is usually mostrecognizable to the general public by the lead singer’s voice. Themore unique or interesting, the more important he becomes.Truthfully, no one could replace Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin orGeddy Lee in RUSH. I doubt there are many who would arguewith this assessment. And we felt the same about Klaus.
Please don’t take this out of context. I am not saying thatevery group has floundered or folded after losing a vocalist; somehave gone on to have arguably more success with a replacement.And yet, I think what has to be noted is the circumstance behindthe change in personnel. The perception in the minds of the fanscan be more important than the actual change. For example. BonScott died. That pretty much was about as definite as anythingyou can find within this life when it comes to the concept oftermination. AC/DC really didn’t have much say in that. And sowhen Brian Johnson came aboard, the fans chose to embrace thenew sound the band created rather than criticize it.
And so we waited. As history shows, it was a wise decision.After recording the basic tracks with Don Dokken as a guide only,
Klaus was able to make a full and complete recovery and onceagain give his very unique and distinctive vocal styling to thesongs. Of course, the rest really is rock and roll history.
13WELCOME TO MY WORLDWith his vocal problems resolved, at least that was what he told
us, though in truth, we were still more than a little skeptical, wecompleted the recording of Blackout in early 1982.1 won’t go intotoo much detail about the recovery because, honestly, it isn’t mystory to tell, and I’d probably get it wrong. I know Dieter spent alot of time working with him, and we also hired a vocal coach aswell in an effort to help him learn techniques and tricks topreserve his voice while handling the arduous task of singingseveral nights in a row. All of that actually may have benefitted usbecause staying power is a part of our resume. Had Klaus not hadthe troubles when he did, it is very possible he could have doneeven more, perhaps irreparable damage to his voice andultimately been completely rendered useless at a very young age.Anyway, for my story, you know he recovered, and we continued,and so if you are curious, and Klaus ever decides to write a book,I’m sure he’ll be able to explain it all to those of you who aresincerely interested in a good night’s sleep!
Released on April lo, 1982 and gold (Certified sales in excessof 500,000 copies.) by June, Blackout pretty much secured theScorpions a spot on the top of the worldwide stage. “No One LikeYou” eventually rose to the level of #1 on the Rock Singles chart,and we were off on another tour of the world, one that would runon for the better part of a year.
Beginning in March of 1982 and continuing to November andthen resuming the following year with spot dates while we triedto produce our next album, we basically toured the hell out of thealbum. Our first stop was Paris in March... Springtime in Paris...Such a romantic thought. Though honestly, if you ask me, it didnot seem so very different from summer or fall, in my opinion,and only slightly different than winter. Paris was followed bystops in Spain and Italy before we spent the month of April in theUnited Kingdom playing to sold-out houses throughout England.16 stops in 25 days. Much like a liberal American politician, itwas taxing. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have concerns aboutKlaus more than the overall schedule. The tour was much morestressful than that which we had done in 1980. So surely,thoughts of a recurrence or relapse of his troubles were always inthe back of our minds.
After a few more stops in Europe, notably in Amsterdam, andthen three more dates in our native Germany (with threedifferent girls...), we were off to begin the summer tour of NorthAmerica. This time, thankfully, we started on the east coast,which, as I’ve already said, is a much easier adjustment for thebody to make time-wise than travelling across eight or nine timezones from Europe to California. From mid-June through mid-
September we played 52 shows in what amounted to about 90days, spanning the entire continent including many Canadiandates. We finally got to play the “big rooms” in New York and LosAngeles as well as headlining stadium concerts in a great many ofthe stops. In support for most of the tour was a non-descriptband called Girlschool who pretty much vanished from the faceof the earth soon after their part of our tour, at least to the best ofmy knowledge. Tm sure I’ll get letters from their fans giving methe entire history of the group. But for me, they were just anotherband of girls - nothing out of the ordinary.
Anyway, they were replaced or followed (I don’t reallyremember if they were canned for being horrible or simply donewith our tour, so I don’t want to speak out of “school’...) by a thenunknown band that went by the name of Iron Maiden. Though Icouldn’t have cared less about Girlschool (Mentioning them inthis book might be the most publicity they have ever received...),
I did watch Iron Maiden a few times from offstage, and I was veryimpressed. Though the music was much harder and differentfrom what we did, they still were a hard rocking band with a lotof good energy that I knew would be going places.
Finishing off North America in September, we then wentacross the Pacific to Japan stopping briefly to play a show inHawaii along the way and to take a well-deserved breather. Iloved Hawaii. Who doesn’t? Having never been there before, Iwas given the opportunity to not only scuba dive for the first timebut do another form of diving as well. I didn’t miss any chancepresented to me to dance a private hula with many of the localwahinis.
From the Orient, we were then back to North America and acouple more shows in Canada, before heading home. We werejustifiably tired, and yet we were ready to do it all over again. It’samazing how a couple of days of rest can help you to forget anynegatives. Yes, there are always negatives while on tour outsideof just having to live out of a suitcase. However, at that point,there weren’t all that many. For the most part, everything wasquite positive and exciting! We were the main attraction. We gotsteak rather than hamburger. We got the good-looking women.And we even got to stay at a Howard Johnson’s!
Back home, there was, of course, business to attend to likewriting and recording a new album. That, actually, seemed likemuch harder work, and it was exactly that - work! Thoughwriting isn’t like digging a ditch, it can be stressful in its own way.There is only one person whom I’ve ever known to never sufferfrom “writer’s block”, or at least he has told me that he has neverhad any such difficulty, and that is the guy I worked with on thisbook. I have seen Michael sit down at a computer and startwriting without any idea as to where he’s going or what he’s goingto write and turn out 20-30 pages inside of a couple hours thatwill all be poignant, focused, concise and, most importantly, veryentertaining! But such people are anomalies. I guess, in his ownway, he could be classified as a genius though he’d never be oneto think that way. He is one of the most sincerely humble peopleI’ve ever known. I will say, though, right here on the record, I ammore than a little bit envious of his talents, and honestly I’ll tellyou, he, personally, is not all the comfortable with my saying thisabout him. But to hell with humility! He deserves to be givenappropriate recognition as the genius he is. So there! (By the way,his new novel titled “Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday-The Story ofBASH is wonderful romantic comedy about a “fictional” rock androll hand from the 1970’s. I recommend it to everyone.)
However, returning to the date we brought to this dance,technically, the Blackout tour was not yet over. As I said, wetoured the hell out of the album. For the next year we wouldventure out to various locales playing shows not so much on atour but simply to keep our name out in the market place whilewe recorded our follow up. We believed we would have all thenew material written and the album recorded and released by thefollowing summer. But sometimes the best plans don’t alwayscome to pass.
One quite historic stop during that time was in the middle ofnowhere. No our tour bus didn’t break down on a dark deserthighway where there was cool wind in our hair... Wait a second. Iknow those words. Sweet smell of colitas... Rising up in the air...Oh hell, that’s “Hotel California”. I’m sorry. Sometimes my minddrifts. Give me a second to remember where the heck we are. Oh,right... We played the middle of nowhere, California, though inmusical terms, as I have come to learn in recent months it wasnear “Route 66”, and perhaps that is where the “Hotel California”supposedly was. Who is to say except Don Henley and Glen Frey?Anyway, the point is, we played someplace in California’s MojaveDesert, they told us. The concert itself was something called the“US Festival” in the spring of 1983, the 29th of May to be precise.I cannot tell you for sure if “US” meant U.S. like “United States”,or if it meant “US” like the mantra of the “Me Generation” that
was just beginning to come into vogue.
Anyway, the US Festival, regardless of all the rest of the crap Iwrote, was one damn big show. That’s what mattered. Truthfully,it was the most amazing event I’ve ever seen and definitely thebiggest I’ve ever been a part of. People as far as the eye could see.I’m sure there are six million people today who claim to havebeen part of the reported 500,000.
I remember getting to the concert was a bit complicated. Onthe morning of our performance - keep in mind, we weren’tscheduled to play until late afternoon/early evening - someonehad the nerve to call us at our hotel, which made sense since thatwas where we were staying. I know, given what I’ve said aboutour promiscuous nature and philandering behavior, there’s notelling where some of us may have actually spent the night. Butfor the official record, we were staying at our hotel in California,and, yes, there was the sweet smell of colitas, rising up in the air.(Glen, Don, are you listening? It’s not plagiarism if it actuallyhappened.) Anyway, we were told that morning that we weregoing to have to be brought in by helicopter because all of theroads were jammed, much like it was at Woodstock in 1969 Isuspect. It actually turned out to be a gift from the heavens, eventhough initially I had some trepidation about it. But the shortjourney by whirlybird allowed us to get a bird’s-eye view of themass of humanity below as we circled high above the crowd priorto coming in for a soft landing. I had never flown in such a craftbefore, which led to my initial concerns. It can be a bit scary tolook out a window and not see any wings. But I survived.
Upon arriving, which meant landing in a dirt field behind the
Stage, we were picked up by a limo. No, it wasn’t the same onethat picked me up in Arizona. We weren’t that fortunate. This onemerely picked us up and took us to the stage area. Van Halen wasthe headliner the day we played, which was the second day of thethree-day event. The first day, I think, was for new wave andpunk with hands like Oingo Boingo, INXS, Flock of Seagulls andThe Clash. The third day was for more pop-oriented rock likeDavid Bowie, Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh and Quaterflash. With uson our day were the usual cast of characters who were still aliveand well plucked from the ever-dwindling talent pool of survivorsplaying in the genre of hard rock. The number of those that werestill hanging on was quite small at that point, which is why youkeep seeing the same names time and again throughout thisbook. Judas Priest, Triumph, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue and OzzyOsbourne along with, as I said, headliner Van Halen, pretty muchran the gambit of viable rock acts available within the “class” of1983. However, if the truth were to be told, in all humility, I thinkwe received a much better response than Eddie and his guys. Iattribute that to a lack of self-discipline when it came to drugsand alcohol on the part of VH front man David Lee Roth. As Irecall, he unwisely took a bottle of Jack Daniels on stage withhim. As you might imagine, that did very little to enhance theirperformance that evening.
However, as incredible as the music may have been, as wasnormally the case at most of our shows to be sure, there weresome backstage “shenanigans” that still provided the mostinteresting story. After we finished our set, I found what Ithought was a pretty normal post-concert grope taking place
between one of my band-mates who shall remain nameless andone of the always-available groupies inside our dressing roomtrailer. That, of course, included some very deep and passionatekisses of the “French” variety among other things. Keep in mind,such things were so ordinary that really we hardly ever even tooknote, and, in truth, I was a bit preoccupied myself, if you get mydrift. But the fair maiden looked familiar, so I took a bit of acloser look. I was never one to gawk, mind you, but in thatinstance, 1 was curious. Upon further inspection, and I will try tobe as delicate as possible with my description of it, I recognizedher as the same young lady whom I had seen not more than a fewminutes earlier “tickling her tonsils” with some of the male“members” of our road crew just behind the stage near someportable toilets.
Well, being the caring and fatherly type I always have been, Iwould not have been able to live with myself if I were to haveignored it altogether. And so after the nameless band-matecompleted his work, I felt obligated to provide him with someinside information. The fact of the matter was, as I explained tohim, his accompanist in his “tongue tango” was the very sameyoung bird who had just had her lips precariously close to and attimes making use of some of the available “tools” for purposes ofpruning an assortment of protruding “limbs” and rigid“branches”. Upon obtaining the knowledge that he had sharedsaliva and other now suspicious bodily fluids with the same girlwhose mouth, throat and larynx had most likely frequentedplaces he would never want his own to come close to, and thatshe had probably, at least by circumstance or happenstance.
sampled some of the “forbidden nectar” from the “PeterJohnson” family “tree” as part of her sincere effort to earn anopportunity to rumba with one of the actual “members” of theband and perhaps play with his “instrument” (We didn’t have anorgan in the band...), he proceeded to unceremoniously “lose hislunch”. (How was that for being politically correct?)
I know, even as sterile and clinical as I conscientiously tried tobe in the last paragraph, there will be those who will read thisbook thinking it’s the sequel to Heidi or maybe that it’s a bookabout bugs and insects and as such will say, “That wasunnecessary and uncalled for. It was indecent!” Well, I have to behonest with you, though I am quite sensitive to the feelings ofothers, we Scorpions did have one definition for the wordindecent... “If it’s in hard, in long and in deep. It’s in decent!”
As for the onstage concert itself, playing with a veritablecavalcade of artists that perhaps could have been considered a“who’s who” of rock music at the time as I’ve said, we were toldthere were more than half a million people looking on when wetook the stage. It was a scene one can hardly ever forget. If youlook on the inside foldout of our World Wide Live album (or justtake a gander over my right shoulder on the cover of this book),you will see a panoramic picture from behind my drumssurveying the mass of humanity that stood before us. With thesun setting at the horizon to the west and a slight haze hoveringabove (More than likely produced by marijuana, though inSouthern California one never knows for sure.), the scene was asimpressive as it was inspiring. For me, it will remain one of thegreatest memories I’ll ever have on stage. Notice I said on stage.
14SUN OVER BEACHAs much fun as we were having on the road, and trust me, we
were having fun, it was time to solidify our place in rock musichistory. Okay, so at the time we didn’t think in terms of ourlegacy or contributions to the genre. Our only desire was that ofproducing the best damned music on the planet!
At any rate, in late 1983, we began to show our true colors aswe commenced the writing of what would be our Love At FirstSting album. For those of you who wish to label bands andmusicians as little more than pleasure-seeking, sexual predators,I suppose this album and the lyrics contained therein wouldpretty much guarantee us a permanent residence in any sort ofhall of honor therein there might be. Hey, if you can’t be in theRock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Hedonistic Lecher Hall might bea fairly good alternative. In case you are curious, the then wivesof the group, believe it or not, didn’t seem to care. At least theydidn’t do so publicly, though perhaps they kicked some assbehind closed doors. Then again, maybe the fact that they were,
in some ways, living a wonderful fantasy life themselves, made itmuch easier to ignore our obvious and probably transparentindiscretions.
I recall hearing singer Tom Jones, when asked during aninterview about how his wife handled the scuttlebutt regardingwomen on the road, saying she never asked and he didn’t tell. Inall honesty, that is pretty much the only way a man and womancan keep a marriage alive if one or the other is involved in theentertainment industry.
Oh, by the way, don’t for one minute think that sex on theroad is an exclusive right of passage for men only. Women inmusic or, for that matter, any other part of the entertainmentindustry, are just as sexually active as men. Yes, that’s right. It is,however, a much better kept secret and much more private anddefinitely less reported because, I suspect, it’s just notappropriate to kiss and tell with regard to a woman. I, too, willhonor that tradition within these pages, so please don’t everbother to ask. I will say, however, ladies are much more discrete,since you won’t see most in public at bars after hours picking uppartners for their private rendezvous. Many utilize what theyrefer to as “personal” assistants whose only real job is that ofsecuring male companions on the sly for their employer in orderto keep it as secretive as possible.
Anyway, the point to all of this is, even though our music waslaced with true stories of our life on the road, and despite thehours I may have taken meticulously crafting a lyric, a largenumber of rock enthusiasts never really learn the words to songsthey like. The reason probably goes back to the origins of thegenre. Rock music has always been and will always be moreabout melody and beat than it is lyrics. However, interestingly, atleast to me, there are many who will not listen to instrumentalrock because there is no vocal. It is the hook, or the chorus of asong, that is most memorable, and we were quite famous forsome of rock and roll’s best.
As for my life, I was in a period of transition as well. Havingbeen bowled over to a point by the sudden success I was a part of,it wasn’t so long before that I was living in that dreary hovel ofsorts in Hannover, if you recall. And so the spoils of ournewfound riches gave me an opportunity to reach out and grabsome of what I considered to be the “good life”. Prior to thebeginning of production on the new album (It would have beendifficult to begin production on an old album, don’t you think?Funny how stupid certain expressions and phrases seem whenyou put them in a literal context...), as a result of our playingthere and in the general vicinity on several occasions, I decided tomove to Los Angeles. What was there not to love about SouthernCalifornia? Okay, so there was the smog, the traffic, the gangwars, gunfights, murders, rapes and assorted other anomaliesthat may not be considered part of a quiet, ordinary life. So what?You could see most of that in Hannover, but you’d have to do sowhile freezing your ass off. And so, ultimately, I was seduced bywhat I perceived as the “magic” of “Lala land” and decided totake up residence in the legendary “City of Angels”. It was,actually, a toss-up between Los Angeles and Fresno... All right sothat’s a bit of an exaggeration. Just wanted to see if you werepaying attention.
Initially, when I got to L.A., I rented an apartment in RedondoBeach overlooking the ocean. Being a land lover up until thatpoint, I loved having the sea at my doorstep. (It is the reason,along with the weather that I now spend most of my time inBrighton, England, across the street from the beach.) But nomatter how nice living at the beach was, and trust me, it had itsadvantages like bikini clad women strolling up and down thesands as if they were part of a fashion show, not just attending apublic beach, after a short period of adjustment in the apartment,I decided to rent a house in Cold Water Canyon in Beverly Hills. Istill think, to this day, it is one of the most beautiful areas foranyone to live in. Hell, at that time, I was a rock star and wantedto be part of the “jet set”.
Anyway, the importance of this story, at least one importantelement of this story, took place on Halloween night, 1983.1 wassitting quietly in a small bar with a very good friend of mine,music producer Ric Browde, as well as a variety of otheracquaintances, drinking liberally and most assuredly under theinfluence while generally minding my own business. As such, ofcourse, my resistance, if I had any, was lowered to the point ofextreme vulnerability. I guess we all have our moments ofweakness, though in that case, I really don’t think it was. On that“enchanted evening”, across the crowded room, I spied the mostbeautiful woman in the entire world sitting with a couple of hergal-pals waiting for me to enter her life. Okay, so maybe I’mexaggerating a bit. Maybe the night wasn’t so enchanted. Who amI to say? But the woman in question was incredibly gorgeous, andthat is what really matters. Anyway, from my standpoint, after
the incident in Paris and being well aware of the reputation of thelocal California customs and lifestyle choices as well as thecommunity and its environs, not to mention the fact that it wasHalloween, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, andthat she was, at least anatomically, a woman to avoid making acomplete ass of myself. But honestly, I couldn’t resist her lure,nor did I want to. So I said to myself, “To hell with it! If she’s aman, I may switch hit...” No, I didn’t really say that or even thinkit. To set the record straight, and I mean STRAIGHT, since thereare those who will take this out of context, I, Herman “ZeGerman” Rarebell am today and always will be 100% male. I donot lean in any direction other than that, and so please don’tbother trying to twist this joke into something it is not. It is ajoke. Okay? Do you see the kind of stuff one has to deal with inthis world? And of course now, there will be those who’ll claimI’m homophobic because I’m trying to simply clarify something.It’s hard to have fun these days, isn’t it? The point to all of this isthat I am just trying to make clear how beautiful she was! And so,casting suspicions and concerns to the wind, and hoping Iwouldn’t find a “surprise” beneath her skirt, with recklessabandon, I went over and invited Tamara Ventrella to sit withme. From that day forward, we started to see a lot of each other. Iguess that’s one way of putting it, since she moved in with me,and eventually, we had a romantic Las Vegas wedding in June of
1985.
Surely some of you who may not really give a damn about mylove life may still be wondering how the distance separation ofme in L.A. and the band in West Germany worked with regard to
the rehearsing and recording of the album. There were and are alot of erroneous rumors with regard to the Love At First Stingalbum that were, perhaps, fueled by the situation. But I’ll addressthat in a few pages. However, I just want to acknowledge that Ido know this “love” stuff is hardly of interest to those of you whowant to read about rock and roll. But trust me, with Tamara,there was a hell of a lot of rock and roll if you follow my thinking.We both lived the rock and roll lifestyle, and, in fact, we werevery much in love with one another. At least until we gotmarried... We spent many a night partying together at a verypopular nightspot in Los Angeles called the Rainbow Club. It wasa hangout for seemingly everyone in show business. The biggestnames in entertainment frequented the club. But we didn’t stopwhen they pushed us out the front door after last call. We wouldalways keep the party going after hours by taking severalgroupies or others to our house until dawn.
Anyway, since this is a story about my life in one of theworld’s greatest rock and roll bands, I was only actually in LosAngeles for about six months, which I guess shows how much canhappen in what amounts to a very short period of time. Honestly,at that point, we, the band, had all decided to take a break andwrite and work on material for the new album. No, this isn’t thereason that rumors abound about my playing on the new albumor anything like that. We just decided as a group after the longtour we had taken, that we needed some time off. This is onereason why our plans began to go awry with regard to the timeschedule we had originally put in place earlier. And so when itcame time to start work in earnest, Tamara and I packed up ourbelongings and moved to West Germany. Talk about cominghome with more “baggage” than you left with... (Please, don’twrite me letters. Look, if I were to compare Tamara to a handbag,she definitely would have been a Gucci. She was truly the top inher field!)
Tamara actually became a bit of a happy co-conspirator andall too willing contributor and accomplice in my wild andunrestrained lifestyle. Just as an alcoholic hardly needs to involvehimself with the owner of a bar, Tamara was openly bisexual, andas a result of that combined with her incredible beauty, she had arack, I mean knack for attracting the most attractive women. So,as you can probably imagine, we did have our share of interestingflings, however, I prefer to wait for another time for thatdiscussion if, in fact, it actually needs to be discussed.
At any rate, it was also during that time, the time in SouthernCalifornia, that I began thinking about and working on thecompletion of my first solo album. In Redondo Beach, near theapartment where I first lived, there is a studio called TotalAccess. At that time, Don Dokken was out there working. He toldme about the place, and that a mutual friend of ours namedMichael Wagener was there as well. Wagener was a friend ofmine from Dieter’s studio where he was a sound engineer but hadmoved to Southern California and become a producer. Heeventually made quite a name for himself producing, forexample. Great White, Poison and Metallica among other bigname bands.
I decided to meet with Wagener and told him about my soloalbum aspirations. I related to him that back in Germany I hadalready recorded an assortment of basic guitar, bass and drumtracks with my friends Dave Cooper, a guitarist I knew fromEngland, and Pedro Schemm, a singer and songwriter from myRS Rindfleisch days. All that was needed was to have some vocalsadded to some of the songs. He immediately suggested that I goforward with the album and employ an assortment of singers andother musicians to add their special qualities to the album. Theend result was that which ultimately became, Herman ZeGerman and Friends. And what friends I had! Aside from thethree songs I did with Don Dokken on vocals, I had Charlie Huhnfrom the Ted Nugent band provide the vocals for, “Do it”. JackRussell from Great White sang “Junk Funk”. And we brought inSteve Marriott from, of course, Small Faces and Humble Pie fameto sing, “Having a Good Time.” The only song we kept prettymuch intact vocally, which was done by Pedro, was “Rock YouAll”. Instrumentally, we chose to redo the bass tracks with JuanCroussier from the band Ratt while keeping the original guitartracks Dave Cooper had recorded with me. To this day, Tm stillworking with Dave. He co-wrote, along with Pedro and myself, allof the songs on the album.
Of course, no solo album by any drummer can ever beconsidered complete without the expected cover of the Safari’s“Wipeout”. Mine was no different. It is the only song I recordedin total in California using all of my friends. You know, as I thinkback about this album now, I may actually have been a pioneer inthis sort of production. As most of you probably know, manyartists today record albums like that and many have had a lot ofsuccess. Immediately coming to mind is Carlos Santana, whorecorded several albums using a cross-section of singers fromwithin the rock and pop fields. So perhaps, in a small way, myHerman Ze German album was the forerunner to those who havesince followed that same line of thought.
As a side note here to lend perspective, if you recall, the mid-eighties was the “heyday” of MTV. Nothing could be producedwithout an accompanying video. You remember the story aboutthe Scorpion production on Alcatraz. So I, too, decided toproduce a video to accompany the album and hopefully helpsales. It was pretty much standard procedure to be sure. At thetime there were few labels that would even touch a projectwithout some sort of video. As a result, I produced what Iconsider to be a “fun” video for the song “Wipeout” that helpedpropel it to some minor chart success in several countries, mostnotably England, where it reached #17. The video is available forviewing on my website if you are interested. I assume if you arereading this book you probably have already seen it. But Tmalways interested in making new friends and fans as well.
Anyway, even though we recorded and completed the albumin 1984, it didn’t reach the shelves of record stores on CapitolRecords until late 1985 or early 1986 for reasons that I reallydon’t remember so well. As you will discover in a few pages, a lotof my memories of that time were and are shrouded by a darkstorm cloud that was hanging over my head. I suspect if I were toguess, it was probably just simply a matter of shopping the albumaround to get the best deal we could. In all modesty, sales werevery good. Not at Scorpion levels, of course. Few albums in theworld sold like those. But still, in my opinion, the sales were
good, nonetheless.
Meanwhile back with the Scorpions, upon my return toGermany, we began rehearsing the songs for the Love At FirstSting album in February and March in Hannover. Eventually, wedecided to go up to Sweden to the ABBA studios to record. I don’treally recall why we decided to use their studio, but for me, Ireally wish we hadn’t. While in Sweden, I developed “healthproblems” as a result of my own stupidity, which consisted ofbasically my abuse of alcohol and cocaine. Keep in mind, I wasn’tthe only one with that problem as I’m sure you know. Theindustry was and still is filled with such problems. But for me, itwas my burden. My dark storm cloud, if you will. My personaldemon. One day in the studio in Sweden, I flat out collapsed.
The group decided that I needed to get dried out and off thebooze and drugs, and so I went with Tamara to Sicily for a well-deserved and needed holiday on the beautiful Mediterranean. Tokeep things moving forward with production during my absence,Dieter brought in, with my blessing, let me repeat, WITH MYBLESSING. Bobby Rondinelli of Rainbow to play the drums.Also at that time, even though he was not having problems withabuse as I was, we simply weren’t very happy with the bass soundwe were getting from Francis, so we decided to bring in formerRainbow and later Dio bass player, Jimmy Bain. I knew Jimmyfrom Los Angeles, and I thought he was a very good choice andan outstanding player.
And so Tamara and I went south and began sunning andresting along the Sicilian coastline - hardly what I, or anyone thisside of Lindsey Lohan, would call hardcore rehab therapy. Hey,let’s face it, anyone who has ever been hooked on such things asdrugs and alcohol knows that there is enough denial to goaround, and, truthfully, we all were dealing with the sameproblems. We just didn’t accept it as a problem, nor does anyoneelse who suffers from the affliction today I suspect. Well, tough asit was, I suffered through the hiatus on the beach as best I could.However, it was short-lived, as after about two weeks I got a callfrom Dieter who told me he listened to everything that thereplacements had done, and said it didn’t sound like theScorpions anymore. He (Dieter^ demanded I go into thestudio and play the percussion tracks for the completealbum. In other words. I rerecorded all of the drumtracks for Love At First Sting at his studio in Cologne.And so, all of you rumor mongering, mindless simpleton “hacks”out there, who, for whatever the reason, claim I wasn’t thedrummer on the album, well, as far as I’m concerned, you canpretty much... Well, actually I have too much class to say suchthings. I won’t even give you the credibility by mentioning youspecifically here.
Anyway, my return to Cologne to record allowed Tamaraneeded personal time to go back home to L.A. to spend time withher family. I was aware that she was lonely and missedCalifornia. Hell, I missed California. It had to be a shock I’m sureto go from sunshine and blue skies to cold, gray, dank andgenerally miserable Hannover, West Germany. So I understoodcompletely.
I will admit that I was not so much a part of the writing on thealbum directly as I had been with the previous two; the credits.
thereon, bear this out. But at that point such battles were non-existent. The songs that were produced are a testament to what aband can do when it sets aside its separate egos and focuses all itsenergies on creating the best music possible! I did contribute thelyrics to “Bad Boys Running Wild” and “Rock You Like aHurricane” which, in truth, as previously mentioned, were littlemore than celebrations of, or more precisely, remembrances ofmy nights on the road. Oh, I guess we could say that our Englishwas so limited that all we knew were the things we saw inAmerican movies. But who the hell would we be kidding? Anyonewho took time to read the lyrics knew exactly what we weretalking about. And yet, our music by today’s standards would beconsidered tame if not innocent fun. I mean a verse like, “It’searly morning; the sun comes out. Last night was shaking andpretty loud. My cat is purring and scratches my skin. So what iswrong with another sin? The bitch is hungry; she needs to tell. Sogive her inches and feed her well. More days to come, new placesto go, I’ve got to leave, it’s time for a show...” leaves very little tothe imagination. It’s quite clear I wrote it about a normalmorning in L.A. driving on the freeway. Seriously, we were nottrying to be the “bad boys” of rock music, but with our albumcovers and risque lyrics, we were getting there quickly, and weweren’t about to change anytime soon.
As I look back upon that time now, I can say there probablywas an outside reason I only contributed two songs to the album.Remember, that was the first album we produced after I hadstarted living with Tamara. Regardless of what anyone thinks,relationships have both good and bad sides. Ask Tiger Woods.
His marital problems took him from being a peerless golf hero tobeing a footnote saying, “What could have been...” Having arelationship of any kind takes time and commitment. You can’tdivide yourself mentally or physically in various directions andstill be focused 100% on any one thing. Before I was involvedwith Tamara, I had relationships. But living with someone is verydifferent, as all of you probably understand. You have to work ata relationship of that kind much more and that takes away fromyour ability to remove yourself from the stresses created thereinof managing not only your career but also your home life. Justremembering to put the goddamned seat down in the bathroomkept me on edge! It was difficult to remove myself mentally as Ineeded to do in order to write music. Before that, I had nothingto consider other than my music and myself even though therewere those like Sonya who stayed with me for periods of time. Ingeneral, “relationships” were shallow and plentiful. But eventhough I loved Tamara, my attention was now divided, and thatcaused a form of writer’s block for me, the likes of which I hadnever known. I just had a lot more on my plate at that time, andit made escape much more difficult.
To be fair and hopefully not viewed as being sexist... I know,why start now? But I do see both sides of the story because I’msure women see the negative impact of relationships on theirlives as well. There is enough stress in life to go around andadequate blame for a bad relationship for everyone involved. I’lltalk more about those things in the next chapter, but for now, Ijust want to say I am certain men have the same impact bothgood and bad on the careers of women in and outside of the
industry. I am, as perhaps you can figure out, limited inperspective, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm wrong.
As most of you know, when the much anticipated ''...Sting”was finally completed and released in 1984,1 suspect as a resultof our successful tour of the States and much of the world, itdidn't take very long for it to reach the top of the charts aroundthe globe. Of course, as much as our hardcore fans lauded “...Hurricane”, “Still Loving You” was the song that reached out tothe entire world and I think created a legacy that will foreverendure.
The album rose quickly to #6 in America, which, at that time,was unheard of for any rock band in America. The Americanmusic scene was dominated by new wave and pop as I’ve alreadymade clear. But somehow we managed to do it, and “...Hurricane” jumped to #25 on the Billboard Pop Chart and #5 onthe Rock Chart. As far as I remember, the album itself shippedplatinum; in other words, one million copies were “sold” on therelease day.
Around the world, though, as I already mentioned, “StillLoving You” was the song that brought many to the band and thealbum. Eventually, reaching the level of triple platinum, threemillion albums sold in the initial offering; we made the decisionthat it was time to plan our conquest of the planet! (Keep inmind, these numbers were exclusive of sales on the black-marketbehind the “Iron Curtain”. I'm not really sure what the currentcount is as the album still sells very well, though.) An 18-monthworldwide tour to make sure everyone knew who we were wasplaced on the table before us. The quite humbling truth was that
demand was so high for us we very well could have toured for 36months. Unlike previous tours, we weren’t really in a hurry to getback into the studio because we were recording our next albumliterally on the run. It was during that tour that we recorded thetracks that would become World Wide Live.
Just to give you a little idea, we got to the U.S. in mid-Marchof 1984 and played there in every city, big and small, from NewYork to San Francisco until September when we jumped on aplane back to Europe to play some more dates there, as we haddone from January to March. We tossed into the mix some quickjaunts to our second home in many ways, Japan, as well as ourfirst journey to South America pla5ung in Rio de Janeiro forroughly half a million people!
During the two weeks we were in Rio between shows, westayed at the Copacabana Beach Hotel, where as far as Iremember, all the good looking girls must have gone in and outof my suite from the disco. Sorry Tamara. Actually, I think shewould have been envious had she known. Most were her “type”.However, the one thing that really sticks out in my mind aboutthe concerts in Rio aside from the women, and that is the heat!The second show we did on January 19th stands out in particularbecause it was so hot, temperature as well as our performance,we were literally dripping wet after the first song! Remember,January is mid-summer south of the equator. So Rio was not onlyhot in the suite of Herman Rarebell but also on stage!
In case you are wondering, and because there are those whowill try to put together a perfect timeline of events in the life ofHerman Rarebell for reasons which I will never understand, it
was prior to going to Rio that I took a couple weeks off to spendtime alone with Tamara at our house in California. This is when Ishot the “Wipeout” video on Malibu Beach. By the way, if you goto my website to see that video, also check out the drum solofrom “Rockin’ Rio” in January of 1985.
The tour itself was a tour for the young but even our relativeyouth wasn’t helping as we began to feel our years, or for thatmatter, the years of the Rat Pack, by the time it all began to winddown. Though we played again on top of an assortment ofunmemorable bands and artists like Jon Butcher, Fastway andMama’s Boys during the tour, our most consistent companion, atleast throughout the U.S., was a little known New Jersey bandwith a cutesy singer who the girls seemed to be quite enamoredwith, named Bon Jovi.
The way it came to pass that Bon Jovi was with us was a resultof our being contacted by their manager Doc McGhee. When Isaw Jon the first time, I knew immediately he and his band weregoing to be big stars. The girls went wild. I told Rudolf, “This guylooks so good, his looks alone can pay the rent.” I still maintain acordial relationship with Jon and the guys despite the discussionwe had a couple years later backstage in Moscow. That wasn’tpersonal in the least. It was just business. Even today, wheneverBon Jovi is touring in Europe, I try to go to one of the shows andat least say hello.
Upon our return to Europe, Joan Jett and the Blackheartsjoined us on tour. We were now the coattails that were beingspread for the younger acts handled by Leber/Krebs, and it wasour turn to give back. As for Joan Jett, I personally thought littleof her talent and was hardly a fan of her music, but I will admit, Idid like her song “I Love Rock and Roll”.
Believe it or not, I can say that there can be too much of agood thing as we came to discover. 12 months on the road wasway too much, to say the least, and yet we upped that by 50%. Wedid learn a lesson from it. Overindulgence in any form is notgood. Yes, we had fans who wanted to see us. We understoodthat. We wanted to see them as well. It was all quite flattering.
But flattery isn’t always sincere, since it can take its toll on otherparts of a person’s life. I enjoyed playing music. But there arealways extremes and playing for 18 straight months on the roadwith only minimal amounts of time at home can take its toll notonly on your health but also on your life. Changing water andtime zones every couple of days can bring about an assortment ofphysical and mental breakdowns. Perhaps you can betterunderstand why so many musicians turn to drugs and alcohol asan escape from the monotony. With my need to steer clear ofsuch things, I had little else aside from sex to fall back on and useas my crutch. And trust me, I did my share of falling.
15SECTS AND DRAGS AND A ROCKYROADIt is said that a woman spends two years of her life in the
bathroom. It is also said that a man spends three years of his lifeoutside the bathroom door saying, “Can we go yet?” I thought atthis time, rather than perhaps bogging down the entire book withtalk of my personal life, I would dedicate a completely separatechapter to a discussion of my thoughts and views on marriageand love. Not that Tm some sort of Dr. Phil, or even Dr. Jeckyllfor that matter, but still, there are some observations I have madeabout relationships as a result of having had many myself. Someof this I’ve already mentioned, so please forgive me if I repeatsomething from a previous chapter. I just want to covereverything here in one place to kind of give you an overview ofthat which I have encountered and hopefully learned fromthroughout my life. Then again, when it comes to the “fairer sex”,well, there is nothing that is definitely cut and dried unless, ofcourse, you’re talking about the marijuana you may share.
This chapter, actually, should and could be titled, Do As I SayNot As I Did because honestly, even though most expect to readabout the myriad of sexploitations we had on the road, for me itis nothing more than a perfunctory act within these pages meantonly for entertainment purposes as are all the tales in previouschapters.
If I had my life to live again, this is one part I would surelyseek to change. Some may take it upon themselves to call me ahypocrite as a result of the juxtaposed positions I have on theseissues when comparing my values of today with my actions fromyesterday. So be it. I am in no position to argue. But people canand do change. Ultimately the only thing I can say to anyone isthink how your behavior today will look tomorrow. If it is notsomething about which you will be proud of then it is notsomething you need to do. And so as you read the following readit knowing I do not judge. I neither condone nor condemn. I amsimply relating the truth and hope that it will make you smile,laugh and, most importantly, perhaps learn something from. Youhave your own choices to make, and so if my admitted errors injudgment help guide you to make better decisions, then that iswhat will matter. Though I shared my memories herein at timeswith salacious relish, they are now sources of anguish and sorrowfrom within. For those who I may have hurt selfishly along theway, I hope you will accept my apology.
As I look at the world today I find there is no longer just the“opposite sex” to be concerned with. There are now vast arrays of“alternative lifestyles” that can never be overlooked. That is thefirst problem. Having had enough trouble trying to understandwomen within my life, you can imagine how easily confused I amnow with the countless options that are always in play and on thetable. There are now seemingly a million variations on theoriginal, basic theme. In a world where you are told not to labelpeople, it seems the same individuals who give that advice are thefirst ones who appear to have labels for everyone. And so alongwith the now quite ho-hum heterosexuals who have clearlybecome mundane to the masses and as such have fallen out offavor within our societal demands for more creativity andimagination, you now have the much more “chic” gays, lesbians,transvestites, transsexuals, bisexuals, bi-curious, homosexuals,eunuchs and he/shes adding to the already muddied waters,which doesn’t even begin to address all the deviations thereinand in between. The list is seemingly endless. I kind of doubt inthe Garden of Eden you had so many derivatives wanderingamongst the trees and plants. Then again, what do I know?However, in my opinion, all of these options have not only led tothe confusion of many a man and woman who may just want tohave a relationship but also within the general populace thatseems to be unable to simply mark male or female on anapplication with all honesty because they fear they’ll becategorized as insensitive or intolerant by others who live in aless historically traditional way of life. And yet convention seemsto be shifting as well, so even that may not be appropriate to say.To me, in all honesty, it really makes no difference what youchoose to do within your life or how you choose to live. It is yourlife. What matters to me is what is inside your heart.
Obviously, rock and roll and the rock and roll lifestyle
(Obviously one more “alternative"...) are not conducive to happymarriages unless happiness means being completely without anyemotional tie to the one with whom you are supposed to haveemotional ties. That is a sad reality that almost everyone in musichas to face and deal with at one time or another. There is guilt byassociation. Even if you are the straightest arrow in the quiver,the most loyal dog in the kennel, you undoubtedly will beexpected to endure endless speculation, suspicion, allegationsand questioning at the hands of your mate. The temptations aremuch more attractive and alluring than any drug IVe ever beenexposed to. You might love your spouse, and yet, in reality, thelove you have for your art, as well as the so-called love which isactually lust that you have for the perks that go with a life in thespotlight can often make you less than a perfect husband or forthat matter wife.
I will be blunt here at the outset. I was, as IVe already sort ofmentioned, less than a saint myself throughout my years inmusic inside and outside of relationships. To hell with being lessthan a saint, I was probably less than a jackass if you want to gettechnical. Some may think Tm wrong or improper in mentioningthis. Well, maybe I am, but I am not one who is proud of mybehavior, nor do I excuse it in any way. And yet, how easy is it tosay no to another piece of chocolate cake even after you’ve eatenyour fill? I don’t and won’t try to pass the buck for anything I didwhile on the road. I accept full responsibility for my actions,which in most cases included things that were not within therealm of a proper relationship of any sort. I insinuated earlierthat perhaps some wives of musicians love the good life their
husbands can provide. Maybe that allows them to accept theexcesses on their part. This is, of course, nothing even remotelyresembling the truth, I suspect, as no one can be so callousedwhen it comes to the concept of love and marriage. I will say,though, I do not doubt that there are men and women today whoare married in name only, and the only love they share is the loveof money. I could name a couple of marriages like that, but that’snot my place. However, I doubt any of them kid themselves intobelieving their mates are faithful. But then again, maybe they do.I do not know. I can only speak in terms of my own life. With thebountiful buffet of enticements available while on the road, youwould have to be gelded or exposed to a steady diet of RoseanneBarr “comedy” to remain stoic and steadfast to yourcommitments.
I will begin back at school... Yes, even in the Mastermen, thegirls were everywhere! We had the advantage of having moneywhen no one else did as I said earlier. That, of course, meant wecould take advantage of the lovely young ladies at our disposal. Igot my first taste of the good life when I was 15. Again, personaldecorum prevents me from going further here.
When I started RS Rindfleisch, we were playing all night,every night, in clubs like The Coliseum in Schweinfurt. Theowner of the club housed all the musicians, waitresses and Go Godancers in apartments above the club. Human nature, of course,took its course, and so orgies were pretty much the standard,after-hour’s bill of fare for the band since there were far more ofthe ladies than there were guys in the band. You can rest assuredwe didn’t complain about the numbers or how they broke down.
I remember one Christmas night, for example. We had whatamounted to a Christmas orgy. In keeping with the GermanAdvent season candlelighting tradition called “Advent I AdventEin Kerzlein Brennt”, one of the girls felt she could adapt it to hercelebration with our bass player. (As I have said, there wasalways a way to justify our behavior.) I’ll tell you the truth, I don’tknow how much alcohol he had consumed at that point or howmuch in love he might have been, but I sure as hell would neverlet any woman under any circumstances insert a match into thetip of my manhood and then light it even in my most inebriatedstate! Talk about your bargain basement priced vasectomy.
Needless to say, we were extremely active sexually. (Nokidding.) Actually, that would be an understatement. (You see?)Simply put, we took advantage of every female we could! (It doeskind of sound like we were agents, huh?) Our feeling was, if shehad a pulse, and, trust me, that was important to most of us, shewas in jeopardy! Keep in mind, that was long before AIDS orsome of the other worries of the current age had entered into thediscussion and become a deterrent to such promiscuity. Inreality, though, it actually hasn’t changed anything, amazingly. Iguess it should be remembered, there are those who enjoyplaying “Russian Roulette”, too. But when I was starting out, itwas the late 1960’s, and the summer of love had just passed, andso we were just sharing our love! We were flower children and I,personally, didn’t want to miss any of the blooms that wereavailable to me. Yes, I was abominable to say the very least.However, everything we did was consensual, so please, don’t getthe idea we got women drunk and methodically defiled them. Itwas nothing like that at all. We didn’t need to get them drunk.
We simply paid for enough drinks to take care of it.
When I disbanded RS Rindfleisch and went to SaarbruckenMusic Academy, which, in truth, really cut into my sex life, I got adose of reality. Remember, musicians at a music school arehardly a novelty, and so the girls there were not all that taken byus simply because we could rock and roll. As such, I had to learnhow to date, go to etiquette school if you will, and ultimatelyspend all sorts of money on a girl just to get a kiss on the cheek ifI was lucky! It was a lesson I would have preferred not to havehad to learn, and yet, I did learn a bit about how to actually courta young lady. I learned not every woman was “another piece ofmeat”.
I decided my sex life needed some help, so I left school,moved to England to resume playing music again rather thancontinuing to learn about it and began trolling the fertile Britishsoil, “planting my seeds” in as many places as I could in theUnited Kingdom. I did my share of “gardening”, though hardly asmuch as the infamous Dr. Cecil B. Jacobson (The doctor in theU.S. who substituted his own sperm for that of hisclients/patients at his Virginia fertility clinic in the mid-iqSo’s.),or even, it appears, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
You know, there is something I am curious about with regardto that latter situation out in California. It is all over the news as Iwrite this, so I thought I would chime in. As far as I understandit, Arnold was married to American television commentatorMaria Shriver until it was discovered he did a great deal of“farming” himself outside of the marriage, which, of course, ledto their divorce. I agree his behavior was deplorable, and I cansight my own indiscretions as collateral examples that do give mea potent measure of ironic credibility on the subject. I am notgoing to attempt to justify the general behavior he demonstratednor will I try to validate my own at any point in this book.However, here is what I find curiously interesting. I wonder whatMaria’s opinion is of her uncles - President John and SenatorsBobby and Teddy Kennedy? Being an, ahem, journalist as she is,she must be well aware of their alleged and acknowledgedexploits, and yet, I have not seen anything on the Internet or ontelevision or in any other form of media that sights her outspokenoutrage at their extracurricular sexual dalliances. 1 think Arnoldshould simply claim that he was “carrying on” in the familytradition! Like I said, it’s just something I have found interesting.
Anyway, upon my arrival in England, as I said, I dated a lot tosay the least. Truthfully, it wasn’t the same as the old playingdays in Germany, though. The “system” was quite different, and Igenuinely had to learn and adapt. The routine was to take lady toa pub for dinner, or perhaps several dinners, if I had any hope ofeven getting a kiss. (Please don’t take this out of context. Thedinners were on separate nights, not all in the same evening!) Ialso learned if there was tea to be had at end of the evening in herapartment, it pretty much meant I would need my toothbrush.
My first “steady” girlfriend was Sonya who I met through myfriend Ray Galton. Ray was and still is a very good friend. Sonyawas married to a steward with British Airways, and theseparation caused by his work left her quite lonely. It was all a“gentleman” like myself could do to console her and help her
through the lonely nights by enjoying the bounty that nature hadbestowed upon her to share with a young, noble, “sword-bearing”knight in shining armor such as myself. (Though, in truth, I wasdoing all I could to tarnish my breastplate.) She was lo years mysenior but didn’t look or act it. Most who knew her thought shetruly was one of the most beautiful women in the entire UnitedKingdom. Initially, the relationship was all about sex. How couldan extra-marital affair (Hers, not mine at that point...) have beenabout anything else? I was 24 and near my sexual peak as a maleand, of course, everyone knows a woman’s peak, sexually, issupposedly in her mid-3o’s... As such, we were a perfect “match”,and I took advantage of every opportunity she gave me to “strike”that match and light her fire. (You know, maybe I was a psychic.It seems I was already preparing for my life as a Scorpion.)
Soon after meeting me, Sonya left her husband, and weeventually got an apartment in Surbiton, Surrey, on LingfieldAvenue, where we lived together from 1974 until the time Ideparted to go to Germany to join the Scorpions. You see, maybeI was a bit of a rogue in sleeping with another man’s wife...Actually, there’s no doubt that, I was. And yet, I wasn’t a “love’emand leave’em” sort in the least! I honored the love I espoused toher on more than one occasion. It is said men give love to get sex,and women give sex to get love. Not sure who said it, but here itwas completely wrong. Sonya taught me so much about life andlove that, to this day, I still hold her in very high esteem. She wasand will forever be a very special person I was blessed to haveknown. I will always love her dearly.
I remember the day when I came home after the audition forthe Scorpions. Sonya told me she would come to West Germanyif things worked out. However, quite often people say things theydon’t really mean figuring that they will come across as beingsupportive while never actually have to follow through with theoffer. Given my negativity immediately following the audition,I’m sure she never expected I’d be asking her to come with me toHannover and live in a toilet. As you may recall, I did get the joband all the included perks -like the glorious flat! (Truthfully, itprobably would have had to have been much nicer to beconsidered a toilet!) So eventually when she joined me, and afterwe spent the summer sweating under the non-insulated roof, shewasn’t all that anxious to find out what winter had in the offing. Isensed the relationship’s days were numbered. (Not much evergot past me...)
During the first few months of production on Taken By Force,the flow of women began to slowly return to that which was morein line with my youthful preferences. We recorded in Cologne,and for some reason, after exerting i6 hours of energy in thestudio playing drums, I still found the energy to go out to thediscos and pick up a girl. Dieter had apartments for themusicians next to the studio to allow us a place to sleep.
However, sleep was hardly the first order of business or what Iused my bungalow for. Do you see why I developed a cocaineproblem?
And then there was the first tour of Japan as alreadydocumented. The girls were following us around like we werereally rock stars! They were very cordial and proper in public,and yet they were just the same as anyone when the lights were
turned down. As you may recall, it was during that trip that I metthe girl who was the inspiration for “Another Piece of Meat”.
Of course, the best stories in Japan came as a result of ournumerous visits to the various bathhouses. For anyone who hasnever been to one, the bath consists of not only a washing of thebody in a big tub, but also a massage done by one or moreGeishas, as well as other very pleasurable contacts. I went eachnight after our shows in Tokyo and wished I could take thehouses with me on tour throughout the world thereafter. Everyman should experience this once in his life. If he does, he’llunderstand the true pleasures of the Orient.
For those who will claim this is quite sexist, let me tell you theJapanese culture doesn’t see it that way. Geishas see it as anhonor and a form of art. They take pride in their work, and again,those who think negatively I’m sure have never been to such anestablishment. 1 can tell you, if you were to ask any rock and rollstar who has toured Japan, he would surely confirm that which Ihave written here as being 100% true. I am certain no rock starever played Japan without having this experience as thepromoter gave it to us as part of the local perks. I’m sure the offerstood for all groups and artists who passed through.
Upon the return to Germany, I had been so taken by thepeople and the customs, as I mentioned, I wore the kimono I hadpurchased in Tokyo everywhere I went, and actually, that helpedme with many of the ladies in Hannover. They were all curiousabout the origins of the bathrobe, and why I was walking aroundin public with such a thing on. (They sure as hell weren’t curiousabout my “luxury apartment”.) Some thought 1 was a nut, while
Others were actually drawn to me sexually by it. It might he thesame reason as to why women are attracted to gay men.
However, I wasn’t gay and took advantage of that very point.
Obviously, when we got the invitation to return to Japanduring the Lovedrive tour, I didn’t need to be pushed onto theairplane! I pretty much ran up the ramp and took my seat. If thepilot had asked, I would have lugged the damn plane out to therunway on my back! Upon my arrival, I made a beeline to abathhouse. Having more time during that trip, mainly because Ididn’t eat any ice cream in India, I had an opportunity to exploremore than just the Geishas and bathhouses. There was a greatdisco called “Biblos” that was the “in spot” where all thecelebrities hung out. (Curiously absent from the clientele duringmy time there was perhaps Japan’s biggest star, Godzilla! Guesshe was busy destroying a city somewhere to the north.) It was awonderful place to find beautiful women.
Having become the scourge of two continents, I was morethan ready to see what American women were like, and I tooklittle time to find out. Upon arriving in Cleveland, even prior toour first show, I broke the showbiz axiom, which is not to allowwomen to weaken us in the hours preceding a big event. And soin the lobby of the hotel as we were checking in, I met thisbeautiful redhead, who didn’t leave my side or other parts of meuntil morning. I can and will say she showed me a few tricks Inever knew before which included the most extensive oral“examination” I had ever had the pleasure to be “exposed” to. Icertainly believed at that point that it would have been goodenough to earn her a PhD in most academic institutions.
However, as I travelled more within the country, I discovered shewasn’t the only one who could “blow my mind” (Remember whatthey say about men and their ability to think...). As the tourprogressed I quickly realized and was quite pleased to discoverthe tracheal aptitude throughout the United States was, at leastin my opinion, without peer within the world. And so my initialimpression of the U.S. was quite positive to say the least!
During the remainder of the tour on all continents, even whenwe were only the opening act, I still managed to have more thanenough female companionship. I can truly say I did theLovedrive tour, and I did more driving than I ever thought Icould! If there wasn’t a hotel room handy, the backseat of thetour bus sufficed.
The picture through the years never really changed no matterif I was married or single. Like I’ve said, I was more than ascoundrel, and in retrospect, it wasn’t behavior to celebrate. Yetat the time, the guilt was not so omnipresent as it is today withinmy remembrances. The routine rarely had variation and the sexwas not about love or commitment but mutual primal lust andcarnal gratification with no strings attached! Primal lust andcarnal gratification... That would have made a great title for aScorpion album, don’t you think?
Anyway, to be unbiased, as if a book like this can be, most ofthe women who make up what the world refers to as “groupies”are hardly virginal, and their desires are published clearly for allto read. Some, who obviously had nothing better to do, followedus from town to town during our tours. There was one inparticular in the U.S., for example, I have since privatelynicknamed “JFK” because it seemed everyone took a shot at herin the backseat. (Please don’t start making faces. It’s a funny line!You’ll probably use it at the office tomorrow.) And truthfully, it isfitting. Though I can’t say in all certitude, mind you, since no onereally ever kept score, but if I were to venture a guess I wouldthink it might be a safe bet to assume the Bismarck probably hadfewer men go down on it.
In fairness, she wasn’t really alone. No, I don’t mean shebrought along a friend. There were countless others in just aboutevery country that pretty much fit the same mold. (Some who didbring along a friend...) And so, the bottom line is, at least in myestimation when it comes to groupies in general, and I am surethey haven’t changed much through the years, you can thinkwhat you will about those of us who partook of suchopportunities, but keep in mind, it was always a two-way street.
On the flip side, as I mentioned, I met Tamara in 1983, andwe married in 1985. As you may recall, she was (And I suspectshe still is...) bisexual, which meant we both appreciated women.So when I was on tour, I am quite confident I wasn’t the only oneenjoying female companionship. That marriage was not reallyabout love, though. It was a traditional Las Vegas marriage as Imentioned a couple pages ago, if, in fact, any such marriage canbe considered traditional. Having done cocaine all night long, wegot up early in the morning and had the bright idea to getmarried. Love wasn’t a question. We just simply got married forall the wrong reasons, though at that age, sex was about the onlyreason either of us needed. In the beginning we truly thought itwas about love, but that changed over time to being much more
sexual than loving, and we, at least, were able to recognize it.Ultimately and actually in short order, we got divorced throughan annulment. She, too, realized the marriage was a fraud. Tothis day, because of the amicable nature of the divorce, Tamaraand I are still friends. We make much better friends than we didhusband and wife. I will offer to all of you who divorce toconsider the concept of friendship first.
After the divorce, I moved back to West Germany full time. Itwas during that time that World Wide Live was released.However, my stay was short-lived as in September of 1985 Imoved to Monte Carlo for tax reasons. It was there that I metAnne Marie, though at the time I didn’t realize it, but she wasgoing to be my second wife and the mother of my only child - ourdaughter Leah. We started dating early in 1986 after having metin the real estate office where she worked. She was the one whogot me my first apartment in the city. Though we met almostimmediately upon my arrival there, she had the good sense not towant to be associated with a perhaps less than scrupulous rockstar. Her initial opinion of me was far from glorious. Can’t saythat I blamed her. Her main concern was whether I could pay therather lofty rents in Monte Carlo. However, I eventually brokedown her resistance, and she fell in love with my irresistiblecharms. (Those were her words not mine. I knew I was the samejackass I always had been.) At the end of the day, I found not onlya place to live but also someone to share it with me.
In May of 1987, after a long courtship, we married inEdinburgh, Scotland because the paperwork in either WestGermany or Monte Carlo would have taken forever to process.
Those who have had to deal with bureaucratic formalities in onecountry can imagine how much fun it would have been to dealwith the “make-work” documentation in two countries.(Paperwork seemingly designed specifically to make jobs forpeople...) We would have had to diplomatically tolerate andnegotiate the red tape and questionable competence not once buttwice! By marrying in a neutral locale, Scotland, we were able totake our vows sooner and avoid a lot of the crap.
However, sadly, (Idiotically...) I still continued my old wayswhile travelling on tour. I admit that I was not the most faithfulhusband on the planet. She deserved better but was patient andloving, and as I look back, I do appreciate her so much moretoday than I ever did at the time. She was, without a doubt, thebest mother any child could ever have. (I was a “mother”, too, butthat, of course, was a little bit different.) Our daughter is proof ofher maternal instincts and talents. Leah was raised with class anddignity while being taught etiquette and propriety all along theway. (Quite a contrast to her bohemian father during thoseyears.) I hope Anne Marie will read this and understand that Ihave finally grown up and recognize now how much I missed bynot being a better husband.
The reception we eventually had a few days after the weddingback in Monte Carlo was sort of a perk of being a rock star, sinceI could afford a lavish affair. As a result of my success with theScorpions and the accompanying monetary prosperity, I wasfortunate that I could afford to have the sort of dreamlikereception for our families and friends that ordinary laborerscould only dream about. How many people could have Rudolf
Schenker and Klaus Meine serenade them with “Still Loving You”as part of the reception? The party lasted three days with friends,relatives and celebrities from all over the world. For example, myfriend, the late Robert Palmer, was there.
I met Robert at Dieter’s studio during production of SavageAmusement. I know I haven’t gotten there in my story about theband yet. But I will. Anyway, he was interested in seeing Dieter’splace. We were recording the song “Rhythm of Love”, and forsome unexplainable reason we hit it off. I don’t know if theScorpions had an influence on him, but his first music video, thequite famous “Addicted to Love” video, does suspiciously reek ofsomething we would have produced!
As I said, marriage didn’t slow me down on the road.
However, thanks to Anne Marie, the marriage did last manyyears, through 1998. She was somehow able to turn a blind eye tomy many indiscretions, at least for a period of time, though shenever should have had to. She will be sainted for this in the nextlife I am sure.
Paternally, I admit there is very little for me to talk about. Iwas “too busy” with being Herman Ze German to spend a lot oftime at home. I love Leah and I will tell you she has grown up tobe a wonderful young lady. I remorsefully regret not being homeand sharing her life more. Not a day passes that I don’t look backin anger at myself. I cannot change it and such memories now areonly distant. I wish I could do it all again. I know I would makebetter choices though, in truth, given the demands of myoccupation through many of those years, I don’t know that Icould have been home any more than I was.
The remainder of the tours and women pretty much followedthe same systemic pattern. Most of the women you meet on theroad don’t care if a man is married or not. They just seem to wantthe ability to brag that they’ve slept with this or that rock star. (Isometimes felt like I was just another piece of meat to some ofthem.) I don’t understand why that was important. But I wasn’tgoing to argue with the concept regardless of what my consciencewould have preferred. As I’ve said, sex is in its own way a quitealluring and addictive drug. This isn’t an attempt to justify mybehavior. It is simply an admission of guilt and understanding. Iwas never right. I only write about it here because it was a part ofmy life. It is offered only as an admission of guilt - an openadmission of stupidity in the hopes of turning that page andnever again looking back.
There is nothing specific to mention about most all of theliaisons, which is not meant to denigrate any of the beautifulladies whose “I’s” I dotted and “T’s” I crossed. I loved you all, atleast superficially. The mere fact that I don’t go into detail hereshould be testimony to the remorse and regret I now have andthe associated guilt therein. It should also be a bit of a testamentas to just how formulaic and matter-of-factly my life and life onthe road in general became. It just never occurred to me when Iwas married, for example, that I needed to make an adjustmentto my line of thought. It was, to me, just part of the normalroutine. I mean everyday on the road was pretty much the same.Everybody was doing it. I’d play a show. Get drunk after theshow. Take a woman to my room and have sex. Get up the nextmorning, and do it all over again.
To put this into perspective, as I mentioned previously,females in the entertainment field have “personal assistants” tohelp them secure male companionship, and keep thoserendezvous as discrete as possible. We, as well, though not asconcerned with discretion, had an individual on tour with us whosort of served in the same basic capacity. Rob Steinberg was theman we had in charge of “talent procurement”. At least that is theeuphemistic way to label his job. (It was probably the way hedescribed it to his family and friends.) His main responsibilitywas that of securing women to party with the band after theshows. Quite often, for example, the parties began as I came offstage and would shower with one or perhaps two beauties.
As a point of interest, I think I can honestly say here that I dohave favorite memories and favorite venues and cities. Imentioned that my favorite city in the world is Los Angeles. Thegirls in L.A. at the time were not the plastic, artificially enhancedsorts that roam those streets today. They were a bit more naturalthen. A bit... Not completely. However, up the highway from LosAngeles I believe are the most beautiful women in the entireworld. Please, don’t laugh... For me, as far as I recall, the mostbeautiful women I ever met and/or saw while on tour were in thecity of Fresno, California. I know I’ve made a lot of jokes aboutthat city throughout this book, but those were simply jokes. I’mbeing completely honest here. The ladies there were so naturaland so very innocent in their own way that I couldn’t help buthave that feeling. They were the epitome of the definition“farmer’s daughters”.
Anyway, as I mentioned, my marriage eventually and sadly.
though quite rightly, ended with Anne Marie in 1998. However, Iwas not quite finished with marriage. After being single again fora period of time, I fell in love again.
I received an invitation in 2002 from my former businesspartner. Prince Albert of Monaco (I will talk more about thatassociation later.), to play a charity show for the benefit of theSpecial Olympics in Monte Carlo. Invited to that show as wellwas a saxophone player from Munich, Germany (As you mayrecall, by then the “West” had been dropped.), named ClaudiaRaab. Together we played with an Austrian band consisting ofhandicapped musicians called “The No Problem Orchestra”.
Well, upon staring into her big, blue eyes, we were soon makingmuch more music offstage than on. However, I had to jumpthrough a few hoops just to interest her in a private concerto.
We started dating, though it was a long distance relationship,my being in Monte Carlo, and her being in Munich, and wentback and forth for nearly a year until March of 2003 when Ifinally convinced her I was the man of her dreams. If you get achance to visit my website, you will see her as the saxophoneplayer in my music video “Take It As It Comes”. You will surelyrealize her dream had to have been a nightmare to actuallyconcede to marrying a man of questionable repute past andpresent as part of his resume.
For the first time in my life, however, I met someone whocould really understand me from all aspect of my life because wewere both musicians. Having a similar interest of that nature,especially in a field like mine, is so incredibly helpful. There ismore to being a professional musician than just playing music.
There are the constant ebbs and flows within a career. There arethe highs and the lows and a great many points in between.
Things are not always smooth sailing, and so there is often a needfor support and understanding that many people outside theindustry canT understand. Money isn’t the cause of anguish. Infact, if you want my opinion, it is just the opposite. The angst is aresult of a life in the public eye and the continual scrutiny thatyou are confronted with. No, it would not help anyone tounderstand the philandering, nor would it ever be right to evenask that of another person. But, as it should be in most lives, youget a second chance, and, hopefully, you have learned and grownfrom your previous mistakes to make better decisions. It isalmost a certainty that temptation will time and again rear itsugly head. However, now I realize the errors in my past ways andsee the truth as I should have many years ago. And so to havesomeone in my life today who understands my industry issomething I never had before. I just never realized howimportant it was until we met, and now Claudia and I areinseparable colleagues not only in love but also in life.
This chapter is sub-headed Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll, orat least a reasonable facsimile thereof. So, now come the drugs.Yes, drugs are a realistic part of music; too much so in allhonesty. The promises of those synthetic highs have been thedownfall of far too many talents within our world. At this point,however, I do want to make clear that I am one who doesn’tunderstand the world’s hypocrisy as it applies to “drugs”. Icannot understand, for example, why it is that someone can beallowed to drink alcohol but not be allowed to smoke pot. I’m not
going to waste a lot of time going through the various reports thatcontrast and compare marijuana and alcohol because in allhonesty I’m not sure of the reliability of such information. (Isuspect most of those who make up the statistics are probablystoned.)
However, my feeling about other more potent drugs is quiteresolute. Hard drugs like heroine, cocaine or other “recreational”narcotics dabbled in by too many today are quite dangerous. AsI’ve already mentioned, I can speak from experience as it appliesto cocaine. It is a stupid drug that only gets you high for aboutthirty seconds, and then you need more. That’s the problem andthe cause of addiction and death.
Be that as it may, my position on drugs is really unimportant.There will be those who will use such things, and those who willabuse them. As I have mentioned, I did more than my share ofcocaine. I could not even begin to tell you why I did today, but Iam thankful I survived. There are many who didn’t as the recordclearly shows. So for that I count my blessings. I am here to writethis book while many others are not.
I do have one anecdote about drugs and rock and roll that youmay find amusing. We were playing a concert in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. As most of you know, we were well-liked in Asia. Thepromoter for that particular show was so very appreciative thatwe would come there that he wanted to make sure he showed usa good time. It was clear he had read his share of rock and rollmagazine articles, and believed everything he read. As such, hegave me a bag about the size of a pillowcase filled with marijuana.He must have thought every musician was Bob Marley. The sad
part of this story is, at least in a manner of speaking, we had littlechoice but to try and finish as much of it as we could beforegetting on the plane because I couldn’t risk taking such thingsthrough customs and didn’t want to waste any of it. (I hadalready seen Midnight Express... Talk about being scaredstraight!) And so we, the road crew and I, were chainsmoking thestuff all the way up to the security checkpoint at the airport.
There was so much smoke residue on the tour bus that Klaus,Francis and Matthias, who didn’t partake, got high just byinhaling. Anyone would have just walking in the door. (Exceptmaybe Bill Clinton since, as I understand it, he wouldn’t haveinhaled.) I’m amazed the driver could find the airport!
Anyway, drugs are a reality in music and entertainment. I amcertain they were there lOO years ago, and I am sure will be there100 years from now. The demands of the road and performingnight after night not to mention the countless idle hours eachartist has during the day leads to this sort of lifestyle for better orworse. I admit, I have met some musicians who were notinterested in drugs, and yet they found their own personal solaceinside a bottle of whiskey. Others found their release through sex.Some, like myself, combined all three. There are, however,traditions that are eternal even in literature. There are manypeople who buy a book like this explicitly to read chapters aboutthis kind of thing. But for me, this chapter is a confession ofstupidity in many ways. Promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse...These aren’t things that enhance a life, nor are they anything tobe proud of. They are things that ruin lives. You have your nextbreath. That’s the only “high” you need. But not everyone sees it
that way. I know that I didn’t at that time. There are times youdrink more on any given night than is ever consumed in theentire State of Utah in a month. No, that’s a bad example, huh?How about in the entire state of Nevada? That’s probably closerto reality. The question is why? The same holds true with regardto the use of drugs. You arbitrarily use them in an effort to attaina “high” not worth having, though you don’t realize that at thetime, never worrying, even for a second, that perhaps the nextsnort or injection might be your last. This is selfishness. This istrue gluttony and greed.
And then there is the drug of sex...You have a loving spouse athome, and yet you feel the need to prove your manhood, orreinforce your femininity (If you’re of the female persuasion or...No, I won’t go there even for the sake of a great joke.). Why? Isuspect a lot of the indiscriminate sex is related not only toaddictive obsession but also to insecurity and vanity, though noone would ever dare say such a thing. I am not a psychologist,thank God, and only have personal experience to draw upon. So Ican only tell you the conclusions I’ve been able to formulatebased solely on my own life. Human nature, it seems, is to assessyour place in life, and take advantage of that which is available toyou regardless of what is right. As my friend Michael, my co-writer on this book, so often says, “There is that which is yourright, and there is that which is right. Learning to see thedifference is what leads to happiness.” I think the profunditywithin his thought speaks volumes about his character. The pointis, obviously, even though it may all be fun in the moment, it isnot something you should or will be proud of in the future, as I
have already mentioned. Happiness is not that which you do foryourself but ultimately what you do for others. Drugs are only forthe self as is alcohol and philandering. None of it will last and yetit will forever remain. What damage you do to your body, yourmind or your life in general can never be fully repaired. In theend, you have nothing and have given even less to others.
For me at least, when I learned about putting others beforemyself, that is what changed my entire life. Understanding that alook back from the future will guide you in the present can allowyou the perspective you need to make the right choices Iftomorrow you will say to yourself you didn’t really need it, thenyou don’t really need to do it. Perhaps if those who have gone onto the next life prematurely as a result of such abuses hadthought it through, the choices they made along the way wouldhave been different. I was quite close to joining that group, so Ido know what I’m saying. I survived the ignorance of my ownyouth, and that isn’t something everyone can say.
16YOU PLAY i8 MONTHS ANDWHATD’YA GET?And now, back to our story...
As we returned from... Actually, I don’t know if “returned” isthe proper word since, much like the Blackout tour, we spent thelast six months not really touring so much as parachuting in forour shows. But after roughly i8 months on the road, testing ourfitness along the way, and, in some ways, feeling like we weregiving Darwin’s Theory a run for its money, we were finally“home”. However, the prefacing retrospective commentary aside,it was far from a negative experience. How can it be bad to spendso much time in the companionship of some of your closestfriends? No, I’m not talking about the others in the band or eventhe perpetually horny members of our road crew who seemed towalk around in a constant state of arousal...
Seriously, well at least sort of seriously, if I might digress a bit,road guys, at least those we found to work for us, tend to be someof the greatest conversationalists the world has ever known if you
favor an unrelenting slew of “colorful” verbiage as part of yourpreferred discourse! Hard as it may be to imagine, or perhaps notso difficult to imagine but for reasons I have still yet tocompletely understand, they all seem to share an unrivaled loveof profanity. Every other word spouted in the course of an“intellectual” verbal exchange invariably seems to start and endwith an “F” word - and I don’t mean fish, fireplace, fanatic oreven Freud. I am talking about the good old “F bomb”. At times,which would be just about anytime they are awake, I am surethey could make a sailor on shore leave or even Madonna blush.They have a knack for creating entire sentences using variousderivatives of the word as if they can’t formulate enough multi-syllabic expressions to add a little variety to their choice ofsyntax. They can and will use the word as a noun, adjective, verband adverb all in the same sentence! It’s not entirely out of thequestion to hear a scholarly dialogue between two of them thatsounds something like this...
“F... That’s fing fd...”
“F, yeah! F’ing fer, fing fd the fing fer...”
“F’ing really?”
“F’ing right as I’m fing here now!”
“F!!!”
Quite the cerebral stimulator, don’t you think? Verging on thebest of Steinbeck to be sure! I’ll bet you still think I’m joking? I’mnot. I am, actually, for perhaps the first time in this entire book,dead serious. But if you think that’s funny. I’ve always thought itwould be really quite humorous to replace the “F” word, forpurposes of endorsing the hallowed halls of academia, with the
much more clinical and sterile word “intercourse” since that isthe literal definition. Would make for some very entertainingsentences, don’t you think?
Anyway, getting back to what I so rudely got away from, theclose friends I was talking about were and are, of course, the fans.I don’t know how many times a fan told me I was his closestfriend and then proceeded to buy me a plethora of drinks (Someeven with fruit and paper umbrellas!) in an effort to prove itbeyond the shadow of a doubt. I’m not complaining, at leastabout the drinks, though for someone who was struggling withalcohol abuse, regardless of whether or not I thought I had aproblem at that point, it probably wasn’t the prudent choice onmy part. A cup of tea and the related temperance would havebeen a much more responsible option, although that would haveseverely tarnished the image of a Scorpion I suspect. I mean,imagine you finally meet Superman only to discover he’sirregular. And in truth, by that time we were headliners, soalcohol wasn’t as necessary or needed in helping us with ourselection of an evening’s “companion” as it had been a few yearsearlier. I realize such gestures were always done with the utmostsincerity (The buying of drinks, not the indiscriminate sex withgroupies, though I always sincerely proclaimed my love toeach...), but at times, the zealous nature of adornment by thosewho only know you from afar can become a bit difficult to dealwith. They will have an illusion of you based on what they thinkthey know about you from some questionable sources. In allhonesty, such reputations are quite difficult, impossible, really, tolive up to. I was never rude or negative toward any of them, mind
you, or at least I never tried to be like many others who arenotoriously aloof. I always maintained the proper perspective,and realized they (the fans) were the ones responsible for makingme who I was in the first place. However, there were those selectmoments I’d rather forget when someone just wasn’t able tocomprehend that I was a person like him or her and enjoyed myprivacy on occasion.
The positive result of the tour (As if the abundance of alcoholand the indiscriminate sex with countless beautiful womenwasn’t enough. At that point, both were more important than themoney, though money and women went together as I alreadydocumented regarding my tenure with the now famousMastermen.) was, of course, an album that, to date, at least thedate of its release, was, in essence, our “greatest hits” album,World Wide Live.
Recording a live album is quite different from working in thestudio as I’m sure you can figure out. Even a complete moroncould, I think, figure this out. (I figured it out about six monthsinto the tour. Like I said. I’m not the quickest draw in the west.)To facilitate the recording, we hired mobile studios in some of thecities within which we played (It would have been pretty stupidto hire mobile studios in cities we didn’t play in... Talk aboutmoronic...) in an effort to collect and capture not only the soundand songs, but also the feel and spirit of the tour. However, thiscan often be quite a task since we weren’t “locals” in too manyplaces. Like in California, for example, where Dieter hired a localoutfit with a mobile unit to record whatever we did on stage inboth Los Angeles and San Diego to insure we had a lot to choose
from when we got back to the studio. We were always a bit leeryand suspicious of any company we hired no matter how great areputation they may have had, or whose recommendation orreference they might wave in front of us because, in all honesty,there are a lot of so-called “recording companies” that haveabsolutely no idea what they are doing or how to do it on as largea scale as we needed. I mean, just because a guy owns a RollsRoyce doesn’t necessarily mean he knows how to drive. (Not tobe patronizing, but for you ladies out there who may not be awareof such things, a Rolls Royce is a big car. I know this is another“male” analogy, but I’m sure you can equate this to something inyour own way. I am certain most of you know the theoryregarding men and the kind of car they drive...) There is also the“kickback” concept always in play, which cannot be ignored andhas to be taken into consideration as part of the decision makingprocess. A company will pay a percentage of the amount theyearn to an individual, like an agent, to secure their“endorsement”. As you may be starting to see, there is a lot of thissort of thing that goes on behind the scenes in many aspects ofthe music business that is completely unbeknownst to the artist.There is a lot of this kind of thing in all walks of life so whyshould entertainment be any different?
In America, obviously, we were foreigners. No, not like LouGramm and Mick Jones... I meant we were not Americans, and assuch we had to put our faith and trust in others to help find usgood people to work with. But still we were more than a little bitcynical and could only hope for the best. Needless to say, theproduction costs for such a recording are substantially higher
than going into a private studio, such as we customarily did whenrecording in Dieter’s, and the results were often less than werehoped for. Just ask Peter Frampton. He overdubbed (rerecorded)virtually his entire “Comes Alive” album in the studio. If the liverecordings were worth a damn, he would just have mixed andused those. It really would have been more appropriate to titlethe album, “Comes to the Studio” hut I suspect such honestymight have killed sales.
In Europe, it was certainly much easier since Dieter had hisown mobile equipment. We had already used it when werecorded Blackout in France as you might well have alreadydeduced. But unlike Peter Frampton, who, I think, still has thelargest selling “Live” album ever released (I think number twomight be Tiny Tim Live from the Tulip Garden), we did very littleoverdubbing after the fact. What you hear is pretty much what weplayed! Ultimately, it was the result of recordings made inSouthern California and a couple of dates in France andGermany.
I know the question is bound to come up as to why we didn’tjust record everything in Europe since Dieter had his equipmentthere, and we could depend upon it. Right? That would be alogical question. However, the only answer I can give may not bequite so logical in most of your eyes. As perhaps you alreadyknow, fans are an interesting lot. First off, they love to be a partof the rock and roll world whether or not they have talent. (Cometo think of it, this same concept may apply to many, ahem,“artists” I’ve encountered in my life. But that’s beside the point.)Karaoke is a dead giveaway of this desire to be in the spotlight as
are the endless, not to mention, mindless “reality” shows ontelevision, if you ask me. How else can you explain supposedlymature adults getting up in front of a bunch of people happilybutchering a Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan song by singing furtheroff-key than the original artist? Everyone seems to want to makean ass of himself. He only needs the opportunity! (I will foreverbe thankful for having had my opportunity, and I took fulladvantage of it!)(rm not sure I phrased that quite right. Ohwell...) Anyway, playing off the known fact that the latestestimates at that time were that more than 23 million peopleclaimed to have been at Woodstock, many of whom were noteven old enough to have been born in 1969 but claimed theywould have been there had they been born, and since the largestmusic market was the United States, we wanted to record thereto insure that the buyers could brag to their friends that theywere in the audience when we did it.
Secondly, our shows in the U.S. were often a stark contrast tothose in other countries because, for one thing, we wouldobviously speak English and interact much more with theaudience than we would in other countries. It added a differentfeel and dynamic to those shows. However, most importantlyalong that same line was perhaps the fact that we would alwaysadjust our sets according to the audience. I know some of youmay not realize this, but there were songs in each country, andeven each area in each country, that were more popular therethan in other places. Remember, in Japan, they loved our TakenBy Force album as well as much of what came before I enteredthe band that most of the remaining balance of the world had
ignored. As such, we would amend our set list there toaccommodate the anticipated desires of the audience. It is all apart of being in the business, and again, the good bands, the onesthat endure, pay attention to such detail to insure they give thepeople what they want and expect. Remember, they are pa5dngmoney to see you. Though you may ostensibly be on tour topromote a new album, you have a responsibility to them, andthat can and should never be ignored or taken lightly. So if youload up your set with songs from the new album in an effort toboost sales, you will often alienate fans who will be upset that youdidn’t play one of their all-time favorites. At any rate, our goalwith the recording was to capture our whole world tour, not just afew select, convenient dates in and around our homeland. That iswhy the album was titled World Wide Live not Just Live inGermany and France.What also has to be considered is the factthat we really didn’t know which cuts we would ultimately useuntil we got back to the studio. We also weren’t even sure whichsongs would be a part of the album as we were recording andplaying. To be truthful, some of the nights I thought we soundedbest were hardly the best for various reasons when we heard theplayback. Drugs and alcohol can alter and impair yourperspective considerably.
I will take a moment here to re-emphasize what I was exposedto early on in my music education, which is the importance of“meter” in playing drums. A consciousness in meter, an internal,mental metronome, or as I like to think, a “metronomical” trainof thought, is the most vital tool a drummer can bring to a band. Iadmit I don’t know if “metronomical” is an actual word, but it
does say what I want to say. I did seem to have, or perhaps Ideveloped an innate “click track” in my head just as anyprofessional percussionist should. Note that I said should. I haveseen and heard many pathetic excuses for drummers on stage.The sense of rhythm and meter is what separates greatness frommediocrity and a professional from an amateur. I’m not tiying tobrag here. It’s just a fact of life. No band can play consistentlywithout a solid backbone setting an appropriate and steadytempo. A guitar player’s riffs are often more recognizable tolisteners and concertgoers, but they are over and forgotten inseconds, and the majority of a live audience doesn’t even know ifhe’s played them right or wrong. But a drummer’s impetus isconstant and runs throughout the duration of a song. Remember,the drummer is responsible for the speed at which a song isplayed. If he rushes, the band sounds like they need to go to thebathroom. They will speed through a set seemingly in hopes offinishing before one of them has an accident on stage. Granted,some of us, those who are now in our “golden years” withprostates to match, may have some difficulties in that area.However, we are all still professionals and must fend off thediscomfort for the sake of our art. Okay, so that is one reason the“drum solo” became a staple in many bands’ set. It wasn’t reallymeant as a showcase for the drummer so much as a break for theother members of the band to take care of that need, should itarise, during a 90 minute or longer set. Most, at least when wewere younger, preferred to use the time for something theydeemed as much more important like taking another shot ofbooze, smoking a joint or perhaps a quick rendezvous with a
female (or male depending upon the artist) fan backstage.However, that changes with age.
You know I have to relate something here. Please forgive mefor straying again, but a thought just came to me, which means itprobably would have been clear to most others several pages ago.An}way, as perhaps you already figured out, I’m no longerconsidered a young musician. I’m not saying this is a bad thing,or that I’m Methuselah. I already lived those years, and I like tothink I learned from the experience to be even better as amusician and, of course, in many other ways as well. The thing Iwanted to touch on here is the way my conversations with friendshave changed through the years. When we were young, we wouldtalk about how much we drank the previous night or the drugs weused or the girls we had had sex with or other silly, frivolousthings like that. By contrast, today when I meet with friends, weseem invariably to go into detailed discussions about trips to thedoctor, the function, or actually, the malfunction of variousorgans within our body, or the state of our sciatic nerve... Unless,of course, I’m talking to Pete Way.
Anyway, getting back to the original point, meter is vital forany drummer. As a player on stage in front of thousands ofpeople, I will testily that it’s difficult to reel in the emotions andcontrol your adrenaline, and so many percussion players findthemselves taking a five minute song and making it about threeand a half. Of course, drugs can help curb these tendencies whenused appropriately and wisely, though as I think about it now,there is little I feel that would constitute appropriate “wisdom”with regards to drug use. However, many drummers do depend
on such artificial aids to keep their emotions under control. Andyet, in numerous cases, drugs also give the illusion to many thatthey are actually playing better when in reality they are out oftheir freaking minds!
Dieter was very responsible for my development in this area -the goddamn prick! (Said with only the highest regard andreverence.) No, not in the development of my drug use... I meantin the area of learning how to control myself behind my kit andkeep good time. Let’s not forget, this is quite different from“having a good time"! Studio work is rarely fun. It’s exactly that -work! He harped on me constantly to “stay with the click”emphasizing and reemphasizing the invaluable necessity in therecording process. Though I knew he was right, he demanded Iplay perfectly on each track in the studio, which, since I was onlyhuman, was quite difficult and stressful. One mistake and I hadto start all over from the top. It was like having a wife bitching atyou non-stop for several hours a day. (Not mine, of course. Just ageneric wife...) What an intercoursing pain in the ass he was! Butthe results do show in the recordings. Some producers lack thatsame zeal when it comes to meter preferring a more “natural” feelfor the music verging on a “live” sound. They will not stressprecision so much as they do feel. Which is better? I think itdepends completely on the artist. Some artists could never be thesame if their songs were built on such rigid lines. Others, like theScorpions, benefitted from the stability in meter. It gave oursongs the proper feel for what we were tiying to create.
Personally, I do think live albums serve a great purpose as ifthere needed to be one beyond that of giving the fans what they
want. Promotion for the band and the reusing of the samematerial to enhance the group’s revenue intake are also quiteimportant. (I will talk about a different, blatantly self-servingderivative of this same concept in a little bit. Stay tuned.) A livealbum allows a band an oft-needed respite from writing as well,which can just as often produce even better material than theyhad for previous albums. It is difficult to write musiccontinuously while you’re on the road, as I have said time andagain. The songs begin to take on the feel and monotony of theroad, not that of a band that takes time working out songs inrehearsal spaces and studios for months and years prior torecording. Lyrically, as well, the songs become quite redundant.They tend to be about the same subjects since your scheduleincludes very limited variation on a daily basis. Most can’t escapethat reality long enough to refocus properly for the creativewriting of words. (Perhaps that is another reason some turn todrugs.) It’s like a virgin writing a love song compared to someonewho’s been around. A virgin will always have the idyllic sense oflove, and it will shine through in everything he or she creates. Bycontrast, his or her worldlier counterpart has perhaps had someof the luster tainted from having had their share of difficult oreven painful relationships. You can’t recapture what you havelost. And so that which you see on the road becomes your life,your world, and it is about the only thing you can think about.Love is as synthetic and artificial, not to mention as fleeting, asthe next town and the next groupie. As I said about the song“Arizona”, it was written about a woman I “loved”. However, Inever saw her again, so I doubt it was love. It was only a lustful
remembrance for a man on the road.
With regard to the music, rehearsal of new songs on the roadis often piecemeal at best. You rehearse during your soundchecks, or try to work out new pieces as best you can in hotelrooms, bars or on buses. (Note I said work out new pieces notwork over or on new pieces. I don’t want anyone to get the wrongidea. There are a lot of people who will try to misconstrueeverything I write for purposes of erotic titillation.) It’s hardly aconducive environment for the creation of greatness, eventhough we had produced some incredible music through theyears in just that manner. But at that point, we were all lookingforward to the time away from the limelight to get some thingsstraightened out personally as well as professionally.
As for being on the road, it can and did take a toll on ourpersonal lives, as well you might imagine, not only at home butwithin the band, too. No matter how close you may be, how muchof a bond you may form, you will still begin to get on each other’snerves after endless time together. Like a woman in a constantstate of PMS, the slightest things will piss you off! i8-monthsnon-stop on the road can have that sort of effect. How could ithave anything but? Okay so not exactly like a woman since noneof us ever complained about cramps or someone having left the“seat” up. I have mentioned the latter a few times within thisbook, but, honestly, I really don’t understand why the latter issuch an issue with women. I mean, why is it that we have to putthe seat down, but they don’t have to think of us and raise itwhen they are finished? True equality, as women claim theywant, would be to provide such courtesies equally. Anyway, the
bottom line here is that we were anxious, to say the least, andhappy to spend time at home while Dieter mixed our tourrecordings and got them ready for release in 1985.
In the meantime, we did, indeed, begin work on our nextstudio album. Savage Amusement. Among other things, itfeatures my favorite Scorpions song, “Passion Rules the Game”.Why is it my favorite? Well, aside from the fact that I wrote ittogether with Klaus who wrote the lyrics, frankly, it’s just a verygood song in my opinion. Does there need to be any furtherreason or explanation?
I will say that we did take a little longer than the traditionalyear in between the live album and ..Amusement. However, itwasn’t the fault of “fast” Herman on drums since I only tookabout three weeks in the studio to finish my parts. You see, itmay well have been the availability of time, the same availabilitythat we longed for, that led to our complacent and at times, Isuspect, overly obsessive behavior. And so after completing mywork, I had no choice but to bide my time and patiently wait forthe others to take care of business. I honestly have no idea why ittook them so long, so I should not be speaking out of turn. Youwill have to read their books to find out. Of course. I’m surethey’ll find a way to blame me since I’m blaming them! Thatwould only be fair. Truthfully, I don’t know that it matters, really.History is hardly something one should lose sleep over or try totamper with. You can’t change the past, so what good does it doto rehash the errors or mistakes from yesterday? Though at thetime it seemed like a long time, today I really couldn’t care less.
I will say that when we initially played the new songs for
Dieter, he was less than enthusiastic. That’s putting it mildly. Aprison inmate on death row is more excited about seeing a NewYork steak dinner being carted down the hall in his direction. Hebasically thought the songs were self-indulgent, decadent horsemanure (Edited for family reading...! know, why start now,right?). Those were some of the nicer things he said. He then toldus to go home and write some that were actually worthy ofrecording. I guess he figured with the time we had to write, as Imentioned before, we should have come up with a goldmine ofclassics! In a way, it may have been a lot like the conversationproducer Paul Rothchild allegedly had with the legendarySouthern California band the Doors when he reportedly referredto the material they had composed for what would eventuallybecome the LA Woman album as, “cocktail jazz”. The Doorsproceeded with the recording without Rothchild utilizing studioengineer Bruce Botnick’s experience and knowledge to help themself-produce the album, and in my opinion, they produced a trueclassic.
However, today as I think back about the situation as itapplied to us, the material itself may actually have played a rolein the elongation of the recording process. If a producer isn’t toohappy with the music, he will toy and tinker with it, at times evenrework it over and over to get it to a point where he can feelcomfortable with what he has created. Remember, his name goeson the product, and so he takes a lot of responsibility on himselffor that which is released for public dissemination. (To this day Ican tell you. Dieter still hates the album.)
I was amused to read Wikipedia’s account of the Savage
Amusement album as those who post the information theredecided that opinion mattered more than strictly adhering to theguideline of providing unbiased, encyclopedic information. A lotlike the so-called media today. Anyway, the controlling powers atthat entity decided that the album didn’t follow the traditionalScorpions style of rock, and that we changed direction as weproduced the album. Though to some it maybe certainly subjectto debate (Which I will do in the next few paragraphs for sake ofargument.), having been there, I can tell you it’s a bunch ofunmitigated malarkey. To me, it’s Scorpion rock and roll - pureand simple.
All right, in an effort to be fair to those who wrote theirasinine thoughts from an obviously uninformed, uneducatedbackground and perspective, and wanting to give them thebenefit of any doubt I can since I am not one who enjoysconfrontational deliberation, I’ll play the devils advocate. Anychange in sound, if in fact there was one (The jury is still out inmy mind. Okay so there are those who will say my mind is out aswell. That’s beside the point and not subject to debate here.),probably had a lot to do with changes in our world. I’m notadmitting anything was consciously done here. Only stating thatthere was potentially an environment for change, giveneverything that was going on around us in the real world ofmusic. But I don’t think it had a lot to do with having too muchtime to write. However, again, having time to do something canlead to distractions that we may not even realize are there. Maybewe all, unconsciously, listened to the radio or spent too muchtime watching MTV and were adversely influenced by some ofthe crap we were exposed to. (If it smells, it sells... Never was thistruer, it seems, than during the 1980’s.) This rarely happenedwhile on the road. When you’re on the road, you go to bed atdawn, get up in the middle of the afternoon and head out for asound check in some non-descript city after maybe taking time tograb a bite to eat.
Allow me to clarify something here. People often say thatmusicians stay skinny because of the drugs they take like cocaine.Let me tell you, in the 1980’s most of us stayed skinny for onevery good reason. No one wanted to see a fat guy in spandex. Thethought isn’t a pretty picture. So that was motivation enough totry and keep fit. But seriously, drugs have little or nothing to dowith staying thin, in my opinion. It’s more a matter of just nothaving time for big meals. Sure the promoters of concerts willhave things backstage for us. But honestly, when it comes downto a choice between eating dinner or eating... Well, let me put itanother way that’s a bit more delicate. When it comes to a choicebetween eating dinner or having great sex, (Or for that matterany sex at all regardless of the quality.) when you’re young, it’s ano brainer. Even not so great sex takes a priority when you’reyoung. (See?) I think that’s the reason older musicians start toput on weight. Their interest in sex wanes over the years, whiletheir interest in food increases! Just a thought, mind you...
Anyway, getting back to what I was saying about time, whenyou’re on the road there’s no time to watch television or listen tothe radio. Most of your offstage time is spent resting andrecuperating from the sex, booze and drugs. So having time athome might have been a negative since it did cut into most of oursex lives, and that may have adversely altered our point of view.
(I am, of course, only joking. You know the one thing I know tobe completely true is the fact that when you love someone, youwill never talk about, or for that matter, lie about, the sex youhave together. Such chivalrous propriety is the most telling signof true love.) We had too much time to listen to what was“popular”. It is possible, and I’m only saying possible here, mindyou, perhaps it did sublimely influence some of us. Maybe thatwas what Dieter was trying to indelicately infer. (He was about assubtle as a politician expecting a bribe.) Educated perspectivesfrom the outside do give a person a better understanding of themoment. But to us, we only saw the moment. We only sawourselves being badgered by a producer about our labor of love!
Okay, so let’s assume there was change in our sound for thesake of argument here, and to move on with the story. I mean,honestly, in what field of endeavor can you ever continue to dothe same thing over and over in exactly the same way without anyevolution whatsoever? Yes, I know, shoveling manure (I’m onceagain trying to use the most delicate of terms, but I will assumeyou know what I mean.) in a barn pretty much stays the same.
But tell me, how many people are going to attend a shoveling?Two, maybe three, tops... “Gee Martha, what d’ya say we go out tothe race track tomorrow morning and watch the groom clean thestalls?” It is, most certainly, almost impossible not to be affectedby changes in technology and changes within the world. (Eventhen, I think improvements or at least changes in the generaldesign and overall handling of a shovel might lead to betterperformance in the stables.) It would be like trying to record an
old-fashioned analog tape album today when there is so muchavailable technology with computers and digital recording thatdoes, admittedly, change the feel of music, but still allows artistsa great deal more freedom during production. Tm not saying thisis better. It is just easier, and it would be foolish to go back to thedays of prehistoric recording.
Along this line as well, another thing that has to be consideredis the fact that there was four years between Love at First Stingand Savage Amusement. During that time, our only release wasthe live album. Music itself had gone through a huge series ofquite significant changes during that period. In 1984, when werecorded ...Sting, new wave bands and a great many “one-hitwonders” like Katrina and the Waves, Ah Ha and Flock ofSeagulls, as well as many “electronic” wizards sporting theirlimited wears, were all the rage and dominated the popular rockworld during the middle parts of the decade. The list is reallyrather endless just as it is forgettable in many ways. Well, by1988, they were virtually all gone but had left their mark. Alsogone were the myriad of “hair bands” and “glam rockers”. Newwave had, unconsciously, slipped into the early stages of rapwhile rock had splintered a bit with a part of the genre embracingcomputers and keyboards as was most apparent with artists likePeter Gabriel and Steve Winwood as well as some previouslyhard-rockers like RUSH, while their antithesis went out of theirway to openly express their disdain for that sort of music bygoing “grunge” with young bands like Guns and Roses, Metallicaand Nirvana leading the way. We were no longer young guys. Wewere part of the “old guard” - one of only a handful of acts that
had actually spanned the gap from disco to digital, spandex toblue jeans, LPs to CD... We really seemed to have no home. Andso we were faced with the dilemma of trying to find our place andstay somewhat current in an effort to continue an expansion ofour fan base as well as remaining true to ourselves in order toavoid alienation of our long time followers. It was a delicatebalancing act, but if you look at the bands that sustain over a longperiod of time, the old school bands that stay true to themselveswhile keeping up with the trends appropriately are the only oneswho have endured the many incarnations calling itself rock androll. We felt we were doing this. We felt we were taking stepsforward in our evolution as a band.
We never set out to try and record a progressive rock song oralbum, which is a ridiculous term if you ask me. What isprogressive rock? I know people will say it’s this or that but tome, rock and roll is just rock and roll. I know that’s a line from anAC/DC song, but in truth, it’s one of the greatest statements inrock history! (As you may have noticed, AC/DC always seemed tocome up with a great way to express a cliche about music in theirsongs.) Rock and roll really is just rock and roll. When you thinkabout it, what is different today from what Chuck Berry or Elvisdid almost 6o years ago? The music is still based in blues. All thathas changed is the technology. If you want to know what I thinkprogressive rock is, I think it is everything that is a part of therock music genre because it’s all progressed from the origins in alogical, evolutionary spiral.
What I do today in my solo career is simply write rock and rollmusic. I don’t think about the instrumentation or the way I’ll play
this or that song when I write it. Most songwriters write songs,not arrangements. A group does that. An artist will do that whenit comes time to record, though often it is the input of theproducer that decides the arrangement. But the writer writesrock and roll and then allows the players to interpret it their ownway. That is what separates it from other forms of music. Mostother music is well scripted with each member of the orchestra orband playing what they read on a chart or copy of sheet music.They don’t play with feel but more with their eyes. They playwhat is put in front of them with very little emotion orexpression.
Rock and roll is not like that at all. It is much moreinterpretive. I will tell you honestly, I could take just about anysong from any era or genre and make it a rock and roll song. All itwould take is simply an adjustment in instrumentation, tempoand overall feel. Why is it, do you think, that the same song canbe released by several artists, sometimes simultaneously, andonly one version becomes popular? There is an endless list ofsongs like this, especially in “pop” music. For example, in theearly 1970’s a British band called Hot Chocolate that had a stringof hits in the U.S., wrote, recorded and released a song by thetitle of “Brother Louie” in 1973. Though it had some successlocally in the U.K., it did little to nothing on the American charts.Several months later, a group from New York called Storiescovered the song, and it shot up to #1. It’s all a matter ofinterpretation. And so if our sound changed, getting back to theinitial point of all this rhetoric, it was perhaps nothing more thanDieter’s interpretation of our work and his efforts to keep uscurrent, or, perhaps, our own mutual desire to stay current.
There was never a conscious effort on our part to do somethingdifferent.
The album itself, as I already mentioned, featured my favoritesong “Passion Rules the Game”. But that song wasn’t the one thatpushed us to the #5 spot on the Billboard charts, or took thealbum to platinum by June of 1988. It was much more than that.It was, in part, due to the touring. The more you are out there,the more you’re going to become a name brand rather than justanother rock and roll band from Germany. We built quite afollowing around the world, and that is what opened the door toour trip to the Soviet Union in the spring of ‘88.
The song, “Rhythm of Love” was the single that raced up thecharts, and it was, in my opinion, nothing different than we haddone on any of our prior albums. It was a straightforward hardrock song about sex. What could be more Scorpion-like? And sowith that song leading the way, the album did very well aroundthe world, and was a fitting studio follow up for ...Sting andWorld Wide Live.
Over the years there have been many who have been curiousabout the huge drum sound we produced for the song “Rhythmof Love”. Well, unlike many breasts in California, it wascompletely natural. In Dieter’s studio, there is a large room witha ceiling five to six meters high. For you Americans, who have yetto learn the metric system that would be about 15-20 feet high. Inother words, it is like a giant ballroom! Natural, ambient reverbis always the best as I said earlier with regard to our reasons forrecording at the French chateau. And so I basically was playing in
a theater that was empty! It lent itself perfectly to the sound wewanted to create! Or actually, Dieter wanted to create, but I, too,was very happy with the result.
As I think back about the album, going back to the previouslyrehashed menagerie regarding our alleged changes in our sound,I will admit that the song “Media Overkill” did utilize some neweffects, and the guitar tones throughout the album were alteredand changed to what may seem to be a bit more of anelectronically developed, digital sound than the traditional soundRudolf and Matthias had used on prior albums. But again, theseare technicalities, and some of it had to do with our just growingand experimenting with some of the new stuff that was out there.It also may have had something to do with, I’m sure, Dieter’sefforts to help keep our crap from stinking up the place!
Though “Passion...” is my favorite Scorpions song, I had acouple other contributions lyrically on this album with “Don’tStop at the Top” and “Love on the Run”. Ultimately, regardless ofwhat any critic or anyone else has to say, the album sold morethan 1 million units worldwide within a few months of release. Ithink that is what matters. The fans liked what we did, and it wasreflected in their purchases.
And then just as quickly as we were finished with productionon the album, we were once again off and on the road! This timewe were headed to some truly foreign territory, breaking throughthe shroud of steel to the east, and, in the words of Mr.Gorbachev, forever tainting the Soviet landscape. Russia was onthe tour docket, and we were quite anxious to see what wasbehind that Iron Curtain.
17PASSION RULES THE ROADIf I had to be completely honest, and I have tried to he
throughout this book, by that time the touring had become notonly mandatory, but also a bit laborious, and, in some ways,monotonous. Being a married man, the lifestyle wasn’t the best.
It was difficult to pick up and start out on the road one moretime. Yes, it’s true, we were scheduled to make our firstappearances in Russia, excuse me, the “Union of Soviet SocialistRepublics” as they were technically designated at that time, butstill the lure of the road wasn’t as attractive as it was to me 10years earlier when it was all new and novel.
As I already mentioned, living out of a suitcase can take its tollnot only on non-permanent press clothing but also on even thebest marriages. Very few endure because of the seductive lifestylephysically as well as mentally. You become so engrossed withtravel and touring and being a “star” that you often overlook themost important things. We opened with 10 days of shows inLeningrad, though we were scheduled originally to do five in both
Leningrad and Moscow. But as already noted, if you canremember back to Chapter i, the latter five were changed andgave us a taste of what a dictatorship was all about. Then again,most of us already knew it very well since we were married, andin my case my wife, Anne Marie, was with me on that particularjaunt as well. But that’s beside the point.
Here, I have to say, it was Rudolf who came up with the brightidea for us to go to Russia in the first place. The fees we weregoing to be paid there, however, hardly covered our expensessince we wanted to present to this new and ever-expandingmarket the full Scorpions stage experience. So we had to investour own money into our first visit thinking all the while that itwould be returned via exposure and the related sales after wewere through. However, I was shocked to discover how large the“pirate” music industry was in Russia. I don’t mean people weresinging, “Yo ho ho and a bottle or rum!” I mean music sold on theblack-market. The revelation of the existence of such a huge,unlicensed music sales market in the Soviet Union meant weweren’t going to reap any tangible benefits from the shows sincevirtually no one there paid the customary and required fees. Sothe whole trip to Russia, our entertaining of our fans as well asour aiding in the downfall of communism, was worthless!
Useless! Idiotic! What the hell was Rudolf thinking? He wassimply doing the right thing for our fans, and I cannot agreemore completely with the thought and gesture.
I do remember that “Still Loving You” was on the Sovietcharts, whatever that meant, before our first trip, and was still onthem when we got there! What was funny was watching the
Russian kids singing along with our songs in English since weknew, more than likely, they didn’t know what the words actuallymeant. But I think I already told that story, didn’t I?
To continue the review (There will be a test on this book at theend...), remember we ended up playing all the dates in Leningradbecause of the fact it was near the May i celebrations in Russia,and the government didn’t think it was a good idea for us to bearound the capital city. Don’t forget, Russia was stillcommunistic, and the government was everywhere. (Hell, Icouldn’t go to the “can” without feeling like someone waswatching me. I hope I put on a good show for them!) Why theydidn’t think about that before making the bookings is beyond me.But I guess no one really thought about dates, or perhaps theyjust figured that it wasn’t going to be a very big deal. Or maybe itwas meant to be, at least in the minds of some more progressivemembers of the politburo, a wonderful gift to the people for theLabor Day celebration. I wonder if those members wound upwandering aimlessly in Eastern Siberia soon after?
After spending a few days at home following the Russian“fiasco”, we were off again to another communist country, theUnited States. (I know I’ll get letters after that line. It was meantas a joke. However, I do have many American friends whoactually feel that way. They tell me they are afraid to express anhonest opinion about anything that matters because of the waysome will try to use it against them.) Initially, we played as partof the “Monsters of Rock” tour. I admit, looking back at picturesfrom that time, we were sort of scary with all that spandex andhuge hair... But I still don’t think we were monsters by any
Stretch of even the most vivid Stephen King-ish imagination. Tobe honest, in my opinion, there were a lot of guys out on the roadwho looked a lot worse than we did. For example, I don’t wish tobe rude, but hell, at that point in time, Keith Richards of theRolling Stones looked like he was six months past an autopsy andhad somehow manage to wander out of the morgue! Anyway,other “monsters” with us on the tour were Kingdom Come,Dokken featuring our old friend Don Dokken, and Metallica; allthree at that time were really pretty much unknown entities.Headlining, rightly, was the Sammy Hagar era Van Halen. VanHalen wanted us on the bill because they knew we would attracteven more people to the shows as a result of our popularitywithin the states. (I will say, if things were reversed and we wereplaying in Europe, our roles would also have been reversed.) Forthe majority of the next two months, June and July, we playedwith this line-up and finally at the end of July, started our owntour with Kingdom Come tagging along. All in all we crisscrossedthe country playing not only stadiums like Candlestick Park inSan Francisco with the Monsters but also “smaller” venues likethe 16,000 seat Cow Palace (By that time we were so popular inCalifornia that the demand brought us back for an “encore” inSan Francisco.), and the similarly sized Summit in Houstonamong others, before heading back across the Atlantic and hometo Germany to start the European wing of our tour in December.Why someone thought it was better to play in Europe in thefreezing months of winter rather than allowing us to enjoy thesunshine in the “sun belt” within the United States is way beyondme. I mean, does it make sense to route us through Phoenix,
by giving out all those tickets!”
We were on the road for just about an entire year for thealbum as we concluded near the end of March and picked upagain with the shows in Moscow in August. It was tiring, but itwas my life, or at least what my life had become. I thought of theold adage, “Be careful what you wish for because you just mightget it.” Yet, I wasn’t really complaining. I was just tired. Real lifewas now fully at home as far as 1 was concerned. The attraction ofthe road was never less significant or more mundane, as justprior to my departure for Moscow the Lord blessed Anne Marieand myself with the birth of our daughter. This one event trulychanged my life as I began to sincerely reassess my priorities, atleast to a point. And so rather than wasting time buying frivolousthings like kimonos, I began to spend my free time looking fortoys for the new love of my life, Leah.
Arizona, El Paso, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada in August whenit’s six thousand degrees and Scandinavia (Oslo, Norway,Stockholm, Sweden, Copenhagen, Denmark and Helsinki,Finland) in January when there is sixteen centimeters (About sixinches for those of you in the U.S.) of snow? I know, sixteencentimeters of snow doesn’t sound so had. But I’m not talkingabout outside. Outside there was five meters of snow. I meant inmy room! It was so damned cold I couldn’t even see my ownbreath because it had the good sense to stay inside! It seems likewe were always playing in Europe in the winter.
Our path, such as it was, took us through Saarbrucken of allplaces, which, of course, was “home”, though at that point, I don’treally know if I knew where home was any longer. On such dates,however, I would get all the guest passes from everyone else sinceI had more than 200 leec..., I mean, “friends” wanting to come tothe show. It always was amazing how many friends I had theminute we were coming to town to play! Even people who hatedme were all of sudden my best, long-time pals! The promoters, onthe other hand, weren’t too happy that I gave out so many freepasses. I can understand their point because each freebie was oneless ticket they might sell. (Though knowing my “friends”, I haveto wonder if they actually would have paid if they had to.) Andyet, if you think about it, what difference did it make? If a fewtickets one way or the other were going to make or break theshow financially, then maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to havethe show. I kind of doubt they were saying in a back roomsomeplace, “Gee, we were hoping to make a 100 bucks on thisshow tonight, but damn it, that Herman took that away from us
18A CRAZY WORI.D TO BE SUREWe sensed as we were finishing our tour that perhaps it was
time for a change. No, not just a wind of change was blowingthroughout the world - a wind of change within the Scorpions, aswell.
As a result of what the band perceived to be difficulties ingetting the previous album recorded and completed, andperhaps, in part. Dieter’s less than enthusiastic reception of ourwriting, before we began work on our Crazy World album, wedecided to make a change in the production team replacing the“sixth Scorpion”, Dieter Dierks. To put it as simply as possible.Dieter’s contract with the band expired, and after many veryanimated and heated discussions, we simply were not willing to,or interested in, renewing it. Maybe that was a mistake. Maybe itwasn’t. Can’t really tell what might have been after the fact. Ihave my own opinion, of course, and I can say that it is quitecontrary to that of the others in the band. But we were a team, atleast I thought we were at the time, and so I went along with the
Others. Though Dieter had done a lot for us as a band, and wewere quite grateful to say the least, at least I was, we had justreached a point where we felt we needed some fresh blood andears to keep us moving in a good direction. Sometimes a bandcan stagnate, and we felt this was the case. (This was the teamposition, and as I said, I was a member of the “team”.)
Our first choice to take the helm was Bruce Fairbairn who,you may remember if you are learned in the annals of rock androll, produced Loverboy, Blue Oyster Cult, Bon Jovi, Poison,Aerosmith, AC/DC, Van Halen, Chicago, The Cranberries, INXS,KISS and Yes.
We, ourselves, had a brief history in the studio with Fairbairnas some of you may know. In 1989, wanting to capitalize on oursuccesses to that point, we decided to release a greatest hitspackage titled Best of Rockers and Ballads. Though almost all ofthe songs were glommed from previous albums, we did recordone new track, a cover of the Who’s “I Can’t Explain”. Being verybig fans of the band (Rudolf and Francis were both about 184centimeters tall. For you American’s, that’s a shade over six foot.
I know that’s not so big, but it was the best we could do...), we allloved the song, and felt it was one we could do justice to.Personally, I had always wanted to record the song, because, as Ihave already documented, Keith Moon was one of my earliestinfluences on drums. Well, as you know, we had already givenDieter his walking papers by that time, and so Fairbairn wasengaged to handle the production of the song and, of course, itwas added to the compilation album. Also on that album, by theway, is the only Scorpions song not sung by Klaus. “Hey You”, anearly Scorpions song featuring Rudolf on vocals, was alsoincluded though it had never appeared on a previous album. (Itwas included as a “bonus track” on some versions of the AnimalMagnetism CD a few years later.) Anyway, the single itself (ICan’t Explain) had some decent sales and chart success, which, ofcourse, kept our momentum going. It honestly seemed like wecould do no wrong, which actually may have been what promptedthe release of Dieter from our employ. As I have said many times,ego can destroy from within.
Anyway, upon making contact with Fairbairn as we preparedto begin production of the new album, we were a little dismayedto discover he wasn’t immediately available as he was busyproducing an AC/DC album (Razor’s Edge). Not being the mostpatient guys on the planet, we decided not to wait, and turned toKeith Olsen who we all liked at least from the standpoint of hisprevious work with Whitesnake and Foreigner to name but a few.
The change behind the scenes is probably quite obvious tothose who know our albums. Most people don’t recognizechanges like producers because they aren’t really so focused onthe liner notes or sound. Audiences tend to accept changes inbehind the scenes personnel more easily than they do replacingany member of a band. Fans become attached to individualmembers (No pun intended... Unless, of course, you laughed.Then it is completely said with purpose.), and as such any changein the line-up can lead to not only an alteration in the sound ofthe band, but also to an attitude adjustment by fans. A lot doesdepend upon the way such things are handled. If you forcesomeone out, there can be a backlash. But in all honesty, in all
my years in music, I’ve yet to hear anyone say, “I’m not interestedin that band anymore because they changed producers!”
The resulting album not only marked a shift back toward ouroriginal sound, but, as you know, brought forth the worldwidesmash “Wind of Change”. It was the first song Klaus had everwritten completely by himself, and there is a little anecdote thatgoes with it. When he originally presented it to me, he whistledthe melody. The words were not yet written. Just a melody... Itold him right then and there, “This is a smash hit! Keep it just asit is.” The whistling was so compelling that we decided to make ita part when we finally recorded it. After all, a whistle is a wind ofsorts. I know that’s a very esoteric metaphor, but we hoped ourfans would understand it. Anyway, when the record label and thethen president of Polygram Records, Allen Levy, got “wind” of it,metaphoric or not, he basically thought the song as we hadrecorded it “broke wind”. He said, “What the hell is this, the AndyGriffith Show?” But we didn’t care, nor did we know who the hellAndy Griffith was. (Levy actually didn’t say the part about AndyGriffith. He wasn’t that funny...) We liked it! That was whatmattered. And I think you liked it as well since the song propelledthe album and the Scorpions to even greater acceptance andrecognition in markets around the world!
One thing that can’t be overlooked or ignored is the fact thatat that point, the basic core of the group, Klaus, Rudolf, Matthias,Francis and myself had been together through thick and thin formore than a decade. And in truth, there are positives andnegatives with such longevity. One negative is that everythingbegins to get a little stale. As a result, we had, with this album, a
collaborator on the writing side in Jim Vallance. Vallance, aCanadian music legend as some of you may know, was thewriting partner of Bryan Adams for many years as well as beingpart of bands like Bachman-Turner-Overdrive. Bruce Fairbairnrecommended him to us originally and, in fact, Klaus and I wentto Vancouver and started writing with him there. He contributedto several of the songs on the album.
I liked him a lot, and I have to say he was probably the mostdiligent and regimented songwriter IVe ever known. He wouldstart at around ii:oo each morning and work until he took abreak for teatime in the afternoon, and then work straightthrough until 7:00 at night. He kept this up for the entire threeweeks we spent there writing songs with him. Most people whowrite songs can only write when an inspiration strikes them.Vallance could write anytime, anyplace and provide his owninspiration.
Crazy World is one of my favorite albums, and Keith Olsenhad a lot to do with it. He did a tremendous job bringing out thebest of what we had left. It was really the most fun I had ever hadworking in the studio, and the contrast between Olsen and Dierkswas like night and day. Again, this is not meant to belittle orslight the work Dieter did with or for us, or that the album wouldnot have been just as good had he been the man in charge ofproduction. In truth, I don’t think we could ever have reached thelevel of success we did if it were not for him. The lessons welearned and the techniques he taught us sort of “paper-trained”us for those who followed. The recording of the album wascompleted in about three months, and the rigidity of structure
AND SPEAKING OF SCORPIONS... THE AUTOBIOGRAPH
that was so much a previous trademark of the band was replacedby feel and soul. If you listen to the album, you can’t help but getcaught up in the groove. In that way, it was unlike anything wehad ever done, and yet, the overall sound was perfectly in linewith what I knew our fans expected and wanted. That is whatmattered the most.
that now seem to run together of life on the road have made it insome ways seem very anti-climactic, as it was hardly the waypeople portray it or want to believe it is. Today, as I look back atmy life, I see only albums and tours, and relate the events withinmy own personal life to where I was and what I was working on,not the people I met or the places I visited. I know I was inZagreb, Yugoslavia (At least it was then... I think.), during thattour, for example and can remember events not only taking placethere, but also taking place in my life while I was there. But thereare many other events, events outside of music, that in all candor,I couldn’t tell you the exact year it happened because for methere were no months, years or days in the week. Maybe I didsomething during 1983? Or perhaps it was 1993? It’s only thoseevents that were tied directly to our music that I can date morespecifically because there is a timeline to follow.
We toured in 1991 with an assortment of young stallions likeTrixter and Winger who would both come and go while wecontinued atop the mount. Many groups were in support of usthrough the years, and most came and went with every shift ofthe winds of change. Artists and groups can have the dooropened for them. However, it takes much more than an opendoor to help boost an act from being one of support to one in thelead. I have watched some outstanding musicians die a slowdeath not because they weren’t talented, but because they hadlimitations in their presentation. Magnetism can’t be taught. It isinherent. Certain artists clearly have it. Elvis. The Beatles. Mickdagger. Tom Jones. Other artists earn respect through theirmusicianship. I don’t mean this as a negative thing in the least.
THE LONG AND WINDY ROADrYAWN...1I cannot say in all specificity when I began to think about a
future beyond the Scorpions. Traveling, touring and seeing theworld as we were was, of course, an incredible gift I was given bythe music gods. Yet within me, as there is I suspect with mostartists in the world, there was always an itch. (Especially thosewho... I can’t say it. But it’s a funny thought. You’re on your ownto try and decipher my train of thought.) At that point in time,the early 1990’s, I had been with the Scorpions following thesame basic routine for more than 15 years. Sure there werebreaks in the status quo (Another British band that never calledme during my time in England...). In fact, for a man who hadnever spent more than 5 years doing any one thing,contemplation of the future was an inevitable reality.
However, as we toured in support of our Crazy World albumin 1991, the only thoughts I had were those of a man who wascontent. That’s what I kept telling myself. But the endless days
Some of the greatest talents in rock history fall into this category,if you ask me. Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Paige and RobinTrower as well as bands like Steely Dan, Pink Floyd andEmerson, Lake and Palmer are all part of this eclectic group. Andthen added to these lists are the ones who learn to play thepublicity and promotion game but don’t necessarily have themusical credentials to be called legendary. This is not meant as acriticism. There are many ways to reach the top and more ways toentertain the masses. KISS comes immediately to mind, forexample. I personally like what they do and have done musically,but I don’t know if it really can be attributed to the music morethan it can be to the presentation and promotion that originallypropelled them. That is one problem a group or artist can face bybeing too dramatic or dynamic when it comes to performance. Itcan overshadow the music. The perception might be that they areall show and no go. I think in some ways, great bands like AliceCooper, The Tubes and, yes, KISS have had their reputationstarnished and tainted because they were putting on tremendousshows for the public. Media types love to find fault with artists inhopes of attracting attention to themselves.
Today in music, as a result of those earlier pioneers of thegenre, there are countless artists who have promotion teamspushing them so hard they can’t possibly fail, even though theirtalent is, in fact, marginal at best. Do you really believe the bestmusic available is that which you know about? If you search theInternet, I’m sure you can find all kinds of hidden treasures thatno one has taken the time to uncover. I know several myself, andI really don’t spend much time searching. Being in the right placeat the right time means much more than actually having talent.That’s why, when I look back at the Scorpions, I find it hard tofathom how we were ever able to get discovered considering ourgenesis. There was just little to nothing happening when it cameto original rock and roll in West Germany. We simply defied theodds.
Just as it isn’t always the best looking guy who gets the girl, itisn’t the best group or artist that reaches the pinnacle of rock androll. I can site some wonderful examples here. Rory Gallagher isone who I think never received his due. Though respected withinthe industry as one of the greatest blues guitarists ever to comedown the pike, on a par definitely with Clapton and Beck to besure, he just never found the right support to give him the neededpush. (Dieter, in fact, produced an album for him in the early1980’s, Jinx.) Without that, no one can ever hope to rise abovethe status of “cult” hero, especially today, when there is so muchout there competing for the limited amount of attentionavailable. That is what many don’t realize. You can be thegreatest guitar player the world has ever known, but that doesn’tmean anyone will notice or care. Presence and presentation isjust as much a part of performance as talent, and don’t let anyonetell you differently. Herman Ze German is hardly the world’sgreatest drummer. Frankly, there are many much better. But thereason you are reading this book is as much a tribute to thepresentation of my work as any talent I might otherwise actuallyhave. Oh sure, I do think 1 have some talent. (I can walk andchew gum simultaneously!) One has to have a little arrogance tobecome famous. But I’m not going to sit here (Or anywhere elsefor that matter...) and tell you I’m Buddy Rich or Gene Krupa. (Iwould really have to be stupid to do that since both of them aredead...) I really just think, as I said before, it’s sometimes amatter of fate - being in the right place at the right time. I wasthat night in England when I crossed paths with MichaelSchenker.
Of course, there are other reasons groups and artists fail tocatch on with the public. Labels lose interest. Groups fail tocapture the imagination of the audiences on the road. Inner egoclashes. The list is truly endless. To sustain as we did for so manyyears is a tribute to our ability to work together, and yet, as Imentioned, there was a slight twinge of curiosity beginning toshow itself within my music and my life. Perhaps there was morefor Herman than just playing drums in the Scorpions. I wascontent but curious - sort of like a Bill Clinton at a beautypageant. It was during this tour that I did begin to wonder as mymind began to wander.
Our tour lasted throughout most of 1991, again seeing muchof the world (Yawn...) along the way. The fans seemed really tonotice very little with regard to the new album as compared tothe predecessor. We were still the Scorpions, and that was whatmattered to most of them, though in truth our sets began restingon our past laurels and accolades more than they did on ourpresent album excluding, of course, “Wind of Change”. When youhave a catalog of popular songs as we had amassed andaccumulated through the years, there is only so much that can bepresented on stage during the time we had allotted to us betweensexual interludes. (But even the sex got old, believe it or not. No,
I don’t mean that we only attracted a bunch of geriatrics in ironlungs and wheelchairs now that we were a bit older... I meant theact and routine itself got old.) And so even though technically wewere touring in “support of’ our Crazy World album, the bulk ofour 90 minutes on stage was dedicated to our history. We had noother choice. If we didn’t play someone’s favorite, we’d surely betagged with the label of being insensitive or uncaring regardingour fans’ wishes or egocentric asses by critics hoping to topple usfrom atop the apple cart.
One very notable appearance we made during this tour of“change” was a performance in our native country. We had thehonor of opening a concert at the Berlin Wall called,appropriately, “The Wall”, at the exact spot where the separationof east and west was such a predominant part of the Cold War.Roger Waters of Pink Floyd put together an all-star extravaganzaof artists to take part in that event, which made us initiallywonder why the hell we were invited. Bryan Adams, CyndiLauper, Jeri Hall (Mick dagger’s wife) took part as well. (Afterseeing the line up, we figured we must have been the drawingcard...) Each performer played one of the songs from the classicFloyd album. Our contribution was that of playing the song “Inthe Flesh”.
Though it is often said, it’s most difficult to be appreciated athome, if you can imagine this, we were treated like royalty by thepromoter of the event. For example, as a part of the show, werode on to the stage in a big, decadent, white, stretch limousine,which, in some ways, was the epitome of what the Cold War wasall about. I don’t know if that was a point they were trying to
make, but we weren’t, as I said, a political band, so we did whatwe were told to do without too much concern for our placementon the world’s stage. What has to be mentioned about theprocession or motorcade is that local Hell’s Angels onmotorcycles (As if they would have been on foot...) escorted thelimo - six or ten in front and the same number at the back - onto the stage. (By the way, the difference between European Hell’sAngels and those in America is quite stark to say the least. Thoseof you in America remember only “Altamont”, whereas we inEurope know why the Rolling Stones chose members of thatgroup to do security for their concert. In Europe, they arecompletely different.) I recommend highly that you watch “TheWall” concert on DVD because it was a spectacular event not justfor those of us who grew up in postwar West Germany but alsofor everyone everywhere who just enjoys the grandeur of a greatspectacle.
20
IF YOU CAN’T STAND THE HEAT...GET OUT OF THE SCORPIONS!As the tour wound down, Herman Ze German did as well, as we
began work on what would be my final studio album with theScorpions, Face the Heat. In fact, gone, already, was Francis. Ithink it’s important to at least touch upon the circumstancessurrounding his departure. I can say, it is hardly as innocent ashe portrays it on his website. Simply put, we fired him as well asour accountant Dieter Winkler. Francis was the CEO of theScorpions, a company we had created for tax benefits andpurposes. We basically had lost confidence in what he andWinkler, with whom he worked closely, had been doing. That’s asinoffensively as I can put it. You fill in the blanks however youwish. We had a lot of suspicions, and we really were notcomfortable about the entire situation. I will keep this brief, but Iwill say there was a lot more to it. I just don’t wish to go into it atthis point in time. Incessant whining and belly-aching about thepast will never lead to anything more than just more whining and
belly-aching. This book is written to entertain, amuse andcelebrate a great band, not become a kiss and tell piece garbagethat is meant to provide innuendo, speculation and scuttlebuttfor those who enjoy hearing about the problems of others.However, I think I have left enough of a trail in my wake here togive you a pretty good idea as to what happened.
As for myself, I really began to feel as if my own time wasgrowing short with the band as well. Some of that was the resultof the treatment I was receiving from the remaining members.For the first time, I was completely locked out from thesongwriting on an album. My replacement in the writing was afellow from Los Angeles named Mark Hudson. He worked withKlaus and Rudolf through the recommendation of someone,though, in truth, I don’t know exactly who.
Face the Heat, itself, was a well-produced album. I will saythat. However, I really didn’t like the songs on it if I am going tobe completely honest. Some will surely say that my opinion wassimply “sour grapes”. So be it. But if you want the truth, I justdidn’t think they were up to the standard we had previously setwith the remainder of our catalog.
At that point, for me playing in the band seemed much morelike the band had evolved into Klaus and Rudolf s supportingcast, not so much a band of five equals, six or even seven or eightif you wish to count Dieter and go back to Michael and Uli.Throughout all the prior years and the previous successes, weworked together. We were a “team”. I think that is really whatmade me start to assess and consider all my options quiteseriously. I had written numerous songs through the years, and
needed an outlet. It was apparent the outlet wasn’t going to bewithin the band’s context. So that meant I needed to really dosome inner soul searching.
There were other elements adding to the confusion, as well.There was yet another change in producers, as we had committedto Bruce Fairbairn before making Crazy World and honored thatcommitment, even though we were so very pleased with the workKeith Olsen did. One thing in this world that should never becompromised is a man’s word, and in that case, we remainedsteadfast in honoring that which we had verbally put in place. Noformal contract had been signed, and I suspect most bands in ourposition would have simply kept dancing with the same date. Butas I said, we weren’t like that, and so Olsen was sent packing andFairbairn came aboard to give us his version of our music. Butwith each change came an added wedge between the members, asthe band was more than simply growing apart. It was verging onan estrangement. Every change added to the division andseparation. From six we were now down to only 3 of the“original” members. As I said, a quick look around at all that washappening gave me a very real sense that I was next and my dayswere numbered, and I didn’t really question it. It was only amatter of time, and the clock was clearly ticking.
I remember when we met with Fairbairn for a preproductionmeeting for the Face the Heat album, we were all sitting aroundin one room listening as he played the demos, and he told us heliked what he heard. However, I wasn’t so sure of his sincerity.
He sounded a great deal more like a politician than a producer.I’m sure if I had told him the world was flat he would have found
some way to agree with me. I was used to Dieter who always toldus straight out what he liked or didn’t like, and I think in someways that may have ultimately spelled his demise. Some peoplewant to hear the truth while others will say they do whileexpecting the truth to mean what they want to hear. Ego canoften destroy as I’ve alluded throughout this book, and thedeterioration of the Scorpions might well be attributed to that.
I’m not without sin in this area at all, so please don’t think I’mtrying to point fingers at others. I was just as much a product ofmy own ego as the rest of the guys.
Anyway, during that initial meeting with Fairbairn, he asked ifwe wanted to continue on the lighter side of rock, or if we wantedto go heavier. We were a bit confused by the comment andwondered if Fairbairn really knew what we did. We all felt thatthe previous album was quite in line with all that we had built ourreputation on over the previous 15 years. However, with littlechoice being given, Rudolf, Matthias and myself, said we’d preferto go heavier because we felt that would be more in line withwhat our fans expected, and we preferred, even though, as I said,we felt the previous album was very good. It appeared we hadonly two options, and we didn’t want him to turn us into the nextABBA, which it sounded as if he may have had in mind.Remember, Led Zeppelin influenced us initially, and just as hadhappened when they released their third album which was adramatic contrast to their first two, some of our fans after CrazyWorld may have been a little disappointed in the direction wewere headed. Can’t imagine why or how but not everyone likessoulful, boogie rock and roll - at least that was the bread that
Fairbairn was buttering. And so we bought the loaf and thoughtmaybe it would be best to go back in the direction of our roots.
Also contributing to what was quickly deteriorating into afullblown cluster-intercourse, was the addition of our new bassplayer, Ralph Riekermann. I knew Ralph from some productionwork I had done for my friend Dave Cooper. As you may recall,he (Cooper) played on my first solo album, Herman Ze Germanand Friends. Laypeople often overlook or even disregard a bassplayer not really knowing why he’s there in the first place. But forus, or more appropriately, for any drummer worth a damn, thebass player was and is vital. Together we make up the “rhythmsection”. It is our responsibility to provide the foundation for allthe virtuosity out front. This is what is called in the industry the“pocket”, and in this case, it wasn’t there. Though Riekermannwas a very good player, perhaps even better than Francis in manyways, there just wasn’t the same feel to anything we were doing.
When the album was finally released, the “politicallyincorrect” “Alien Nation” was the first single. Keep in mind, thelyrically upbeat ballad “Wind of Change” was the previous single,and so when we sent out the very hard driving, heavy rock song“Alien Nation” with it’s extremely pessimistic and dark lyric lacedwith racist overtones, most radio stations didn’t know what to dowith it, though I suspect many simply filed it in the circular filingcabinet. They were waiting for another “innocent” power balladfilled with optimism and hope, and we gave them only the powerwithout the ballad serving a message they probably didn’tappreciate. We were disappointed in their behavior to say theleast, and yet, they were rightfully disappointed in us as well.
After the negative response, the label decided it would be bestto release another ballad to appease the radio stations, and so wereleased “Under The Same Sun” which was written by Hudson,Fairbairn and Klaus. But as is always the case when you try tokiss-ass, they, the radio stations, didn’t care for the song, and, assuch, didn’t play it because they said it wasn’t Scorpions music. Ican’t say that I disagree because a look at the writers pretty muchtells the story. When you have too many cooks, you can’t help butstray from the original recipe. Our stew had simmered too long,and we had begun to get too many chefs with their spatulas in thepot.
I know I have been a bit harsh with my criticism of thisalbum, but in fairness, there were some high points like the thirdsingle we released, “Woman”. Written by Klaus and Rudolf, I feltthat it was true Scorpion rock and roll, and the video for the songwas fantastic. However, the fans had a different tale to tellbecause the sales continued to slump and were hardly what weexpected or had become accustomed to with our previousofferings. All the touring in the world couldn’t and wouldn’t help.
The label, as they always did, started pointing fingers ateveryone except themselves for perhaps their own errors inmarketing the product. We pointed a finger at them, though Iwon’t bother to mention which one. But the truth was, in myopinion, there was plenty of blame to go around. As for me, I hadbeen reduced to being just a member of the band. Dieter wasn’tthere to kick me or the others in the ass, and perhaps I personallymay have not played as well as I could have because my heartwasn’t into it 100%. Though I truly think I played as well as I ever
had or at least as well as the material required, it still may nothave been my best. I did enjoy the way Fairbairn handled me, yetit wasn’t the same as recording with Dieter. Again, in starkcontrast to Dieter’s hard-line approach, which at times had meplaying the same damned thing lOO times in an effort to get itperfect, and much more like Olsen on the previous album,Fairbairn only asked me play each song about three times beforetelling me he’d fix any of the mistakes in the mix. If it were tocome to a debate, personally I don’t think it had any adverseaffect on the music, but it was different.
As for the label’s failures, they were the ones behind thechoice of singles, and they were trying to push us toward whatthey thought the market was. We weren’t kids in a grunge band,but that is what they wanted us to be. We were old-timers forrock and roll, and there is nothing more disgusting than peoplewho try to be something they aren’t. We were not self-consciousof our age or anything of that kind. We were proud of who wewere, and we didn’t think we needed to change our image. As Isaid, the fans didn’t buy any of it. Our true fans didn’t need us tobe 25 again!
In the fall of 1993, we began a tour of the world yet again thatwould run most of the next year. I really didn’t have my heart inthe tour, even though we journeyed to four continents playing forvery excited fans. I guess I had just had enough of it all. I don’tknow if the others knew how I was feeling, but I felt much morereclusive, and in a way, excluded - like an employee rather than apartner. It was nothing against Klaus or Rudolf or Matthias. Ilove them like brothers. They had their vision, however, and they
carried the ball throughout most of our time together. But for me,it was like I was on the outside looking in. I kind of felt like thekid stuck inside having to take a violin lesson while they were thekids out in the street in front of my house playing football.
THE IJVST DANCEAs the tour closed and my role within the band seemed fated to
diminish ever further as Klaus and Rudolf continued to takemore control of the music and direction, I began to think aboutand remember my past. I could not be angry or even remotelydisappointed because, as I thought about it, I realized, honestly,that even though we all worked together to make the Scorpions,without Klaus and Rudolf we probably would not have gottenwhere we did. And further, they were the ones who opened thedoor for me. When I was banging on the pots and pans in thekitchen I could not have imagined I would travel the worldseveral times over, make a small fortune financially, meet headsof state and even see Fresno.
There was one more Scorpion album to be released prior tomy final bow with the band, and that was another live album,Live Bites, which we recorded in Mexico City, Leningrad, SanFrancisco, Berlin and Munich from the period 1988 through theFace the Heat Tour in 1994.1 felt the album itself was very good.
Was it better than World Wide Live? Well, that can be debated,of course, but to me each has its own merits, and I don’t like tospend time comparing one to the other. If you like something, it’sgood. It really doesn’t matter what I think. I admit that I tend tobe considered a biased critic, but I think the cuts included on thealbum show exactly how good we were during those five or sixyears. However, unlike a lot of groups that will record a livealbum every few years, it wasn’t a rehash of the old since the bulkof the album consisted of songs that had been on the albums afterWorld Wide Live. That was something that some found difficultto swallow I am sure, yet it was meant as a continuation of theprior album not for purposes of supplanting. Sure somewondered where was “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “StillLoving You” but again, the idea wasn’t to try and better our priorwork, but simply to give the audience some new cuts to basicallyextend our first album from 8o minutes to 160. So our later hits,“Tease Me, Please Me”, “Rhythm of Love” and, of course, “Windof Change” are the centerpieces on the album. So, honestly,comparing the two live albums would be the same as comparingboth of them to the Tokyo Tapes from the late 1970’s. Yet, whenall three are combined, you have one of the most complete,chronological histories of live performances any band has everhad!
As we returned to Germany and began to consider the nextstep, which would eventually be the group’s album Pure Instinct,
I was, in truth, not all that enamored with the demos I heard forthe album, to put it quite mildly. I better understood how Dieterfelt when listening to what we had proudly assembled as our song
list for Savage Amusement, or how Uli must have felt after TakenBy Force. To me the songs sounded like prefabricated,boilerplate rubbish without any trace of personality, identity orsoul. There wasn’t anything that was along the lines of what Iknew our fans would want, expect or, most importantly, deserve.They were definitely spiraling in a negative direction. In myopinion, they were getting away from the Scorpion entree -straight ahead, hard-driving rock and roll - digressing to foreignterritory that seemed completely out of synch with who they hadworked over 20 years to become. As they were excitedly playingthe demos for me, bragging about their creations along the way(Dr. Frankenstein probably had a similar sense of glee until hismonster was released on the world...), at no time did they evenremotely ask me for any input.
Note, Tm saying “they” rather than “we” throughout thisdiscussion because, honestly, that was the way I was feeling.
After having been snubbed on the previous album as a writer, Iwas more than a little bit disappointed in the whole situation. Ithought at some point clearer heads would prevail, and theymight recognize that maybe the missing ingredient in our musicwas the open forum that invited input from all of us in all aspectsof the music making process. I suspect they just felt that it reallywas the record company’s fault that the prior album didn’t sell sowell. Or maybe they recognized that there were too many“outsiders” involved in the writing and recording. They felt I wasno longer part of the inner circle and made it quite clear to me,especially Klaus. After his success with “Wind of Change”, which,keep in mind, was at that point several years in the rear view
mirror, they had every intention of making not only the newalbum but all future albums featuring songs exclusively from heand Rudolf. Again, in my opinion, the end result, at least withPure Instinct (I don’t recall if I’ve even heard anything by themafter that.) was more a Klaus Meine solo album than a Scorpionsalbum.
A group will forever be a group regardless of what any smallerfaction within that body may want to believe. The idea of the“stars aligning” is not mythical in the least. It is real. Those inmusic often learn harsh lessons when they try to create “magic”.Magic isn’t created. It’s inspired. Whether it is realized or not, Iam sure everyone has, at one time or another, been in a situationthat inspires them to a higher level. You may be innocuouslygoing about your daily routine, but then, suddenly, perhaps outof nowhere, a twist of fate occurs, and you are surrounded by agroup of individuals or events that just seem to raise yourperformance a notch or two. It doesn’t take much to go frommediocrity to greatness. However, the moment that thatcombination of elements is altered, even if only slightly, themagic seems to disappear and it is almost impossible torecapture once it is gone. I am sure there are those of you readingthis who perhaps have never even considered this concept. Andyet, in my mind, it is as genuine as the beauty of a young SophiaLoren. (Actually, she’s even more beautiful today...) It is theepitome of synergetic logic. The strength of the many alwaysovercomes the strength of the few. Or in simpler and moregeneric terms, two heads are better than one.
There was no animosity whatsoever. There still isn’t. That is
an important point I hope IVe made. As I said, I was grateful forthe opportunity that was given to me. It was just time to go, andSO amicably and diplomatically I related my feelings to them atthat time. “Fm really not into playing on this album,” I began.“Fm a bit burned out, and honestly the music just doesn’t doanything for me. Why don’t you get Curt Cress?” Cress was a verywell-known session player in Germany. If they wanted a sessionplayer on drums, which was the role I felt I was now “asked” toassume, then I thought they might as well bring in a real sessionplayer because they didn’t want me. There was no doubt now thatmy role in the Scorpions, if I stayed, was going to be limited andredefined in a manner I was particularly comfortable with.
As I look back from a more learned and worldly perspectivetoday, I suspect they may have had an ulterior motive behindtheir headstrong and aggressive behavior toward me, which wasan obvious attempt to deceive and manipulate the fans. By“giving me the gate” outright, they would have risked thealienation of fans who would not like or agree with theirbehavior. It was a political move to be sure. They wanted to find away to simply nudge me out the door, and make it look like it wasmy own choice to move on.
I think what it really came down to was very simple, really.They didn’t want to share the wealth any longer. As such, theycommitted the cardinal sin when it comes to the music industry.They allowed a Deutche Mark symbol to fill their thoughts ratherthan the production of great music and even better albums, oractually at that point, CD’s. I don’t know the structure of theband after I left, so I cannot say with all certainty, but I suspect
what ultimately happened is they decided they could hire adrummer and simply put him on a salary rather than sharepercentages on album sales, concert performances, merchandiseand everything else related to the band. Such individuals arecalled “Hired Guns” in the music industry. In the end, it wouldmean a split of the big pie fewer ways.
In some ways, the motives are becoming much more obviousnow some 15 years after the fact. The remaining members of thegroup are seemingly in the process of trying to rewrite history ina conscious effort to erase whatever true legacy of the band mayexist. At least that is what appears to be happening from theoutside. Having been unable to produce a “hit” over the pastdecade and a half, I understand the current line up, whatever itmay be, is rerecording some of our songs as I write this book.Some may ask why they would need to do this? It does seemrather silly. I mean they could easily record a live album featuringall the songs rather than doing it in the studio. If you ask me, it isactually rather transparent to be honest. The original songs arestill played on the radio, and fans still buy the original albums. Byrereleasing the old songs with the new line up they can hoperadio stations will start playing the new versions, which wouldmean Dieter, Francis, Uli, Michael and myself as well as anyoneelse who may be able to claim a piece of the action each time asong is played will no longer get anything more than perhaps thewriter's share we may be legally due since we are not part of thenew performances. I really don’t understand this sort of thing,and I suspect the fans will not be fooled. Putting out a newlyrecorded “greatest hits” CD is purely a blatant attempt to
capitalize on the past by changing it to better suit the needs anddesires of the individuals in the present.
So as has been the demise of so many groups, it all comesback to money, and that’s a shame. The fans are the ones wholose out in such situations. As for the Pure Instinct album, it fellflat on its face. I’m not saying this out of spite. The proof is in thepudding. From the millions in sales, as had been the norm forour prior albums, to a pedestrian number somewhere in therange of a few hundred thousand copies, the Scorpions hadfinally been toppled from atop the Mount Olympus of rockroyalty we had worked so hard to climb. They had beentransformed into just another classic rock band on the “seniorcircuit” that had perhaps stayed just a little too long and seemeddestined to rest on their laurels. Even though the album had afairly successful top 20 single, “You and I”, the fans just weren’tinterested any longer. Now maybe it was because they (the fans)read between the lines and were disenchanted with what theband was doing. Or, more likely, they, too, just didn’t feel themusic was Scorpion music. Who is to say? I only know that thedesire for money, and the new contract we had for publishingthat gave more to the writers was ultimately the final straw thatbroke the camel’s back. The golden goose was now only able tolay eggs of fool’s gold.
In the subsequent years, I do not believe the group, in anyincarnation, has produced a single million-selling album or hitsingle. Somehow, I think this leaves the argument open as to myreal place in the history of the band. But, of course, there wereothers who were vital as well, like Dieter. However, in the
simplest timeline of history one can look and say, as Dieter hasalready done in his foreword, before Herman Ze German arrivedon drums, there were lyrics like “Steamrock Fever” and little tonothing in the offing... After he left, once again the cupboard wasbare. But in between, the Scorpions made more than music... Wemade history.
A NEW DAWNSo there I was, for the first time in 20 years, without a job.
Perhaps I was in the midst of a midlife crisis of some sort, ormaybe it was just the right time. But regardless of the situation,my time as a Scorpion was up, and so I packed my snare, kickand hi-hat and prepared to move on. I felt there was more outthere for Herman Ze German, and a cordial adieu, adios,sayonara, dasvidania, farewell and auf wiedersehen was in order.
I was far from walking away from music all together. I was simplysaying goodbye to two decades of history, and embarking on thenext phase of my life. (If one can simply say goodbye to almosthalf of his life...)
I understand there are those within this world who think adrummer is only a drummer. They thought Ringo woulddisappear after the Beatles, for example. (Some probably think itwould have been for the best. However, Tm not among thatgroup.) And truthfully, if I were only a drummer that might easilyhave become the case. Thankfully, the training at the
Saarbrucken Music Academy, for all the fun I have had at theirexpense throughout this book, afforded me more than a fewoptions. Remember, there is reverence and respect in all humor.Imitation (And I will personally add mockery...) will forever bethe sincerest form of flattery.
Having been around the music industry for more than 30years at that point, I had seen so much that I felt could have beendone differently and better. For example, I had always thoughtabout the mistakes made by record companies in their handlingof artists and music, some of which I have alluded to within thisbook. (Such things are almost a certainty given the fact that youhave overly rigid businessmen interacting with overtly laid-backmusicians.) I felt there was a place for a real musician on theother side of the bargaining table and probably a place forsomeone like me as well... I had heard so many talented artiststell their tales of woe that I thought surely there had to be optionsother than the obviously political ones that existed in most recordcompanies.
It is easy to say here that many of the bands we worked withon the road were a little bit more than simply disenchanted withthe labels with which they had signed. (I suspect most wouldhave been happier with an inflamed case of hemorrhoids sinceboth are pains in the butt.) I don’t recall hearing too much praisecoming from artists about their label. Okay, so a great manyshould realistically have been counting their lucky stars thatanyone even noticed them because, frankly, they sucked. But forthose with more than a shred of talent, I understood how theyfelt. I could relate it to the way I felt when we were with RCA. Itwas clear they didn’t know what to do with us, and as a result, itled to frustration. It wasn’t really their fault. RCA was hardlyconsidered a “rock” label, and so the A and R department (Artistsand Repertoire) was probably ill-equipped to handle one. Isuspect, now as I look back, they just really had no real interest inus since our songs didn’t include the steady drone of a bass drumand a lyric about someone shaking their booty. Those whooriginally signed the band to the label had, more than likely,departed to pursue other options (Like renting “tandem” bikes onMalibu Beach...). The turnover at labels is always quite high. Ihad seen some great bands that seemed destined for big thingsfall by the wayside because they just didn’t have the support theydeserved. So many “should have beens” that wound up “neverweres” because they simply signed on the bottom line with thewrong pen.
Well, I felt my opportunity was there to try to make adifference at least to the extent and degree that my name andfinancial wherewithal could. I was hardly capable of raising thedead (That was better left to the people who created Viagra.), butI felt that I could bring integrity to the music industry I thought itmight have lacked. (Hell, at times there was more honesty in theNixon White House than at many record labels. Many. Not all. Asit is with agents and managers and just about everything else inthe world, there are some outstanding labels as well. I have beenblessed to work with some of these within my career.) With theconcept somewhat developed in my head, I immediatelycontacted my friend Prince Albert of Monaco who not only is agreat music lover, but also one of the truly wonderful people I’ve
ever had the opportunity to meet. He was a big fan of theScorpions and a drummer himself as well. (Being the Prince, hewas by far the best percussionist in all of Monaco, hands down!Who the hell was going to argue?) As a result, we had met andgotten to know each other while I was living in Monte Carlo.However, initially, when I mentioned my idea to him, that ofstarting our own record label, he was a bit skeptical. (Columbus,I’m sure, probably received a similar reaction from QueenIsabella initially.) But as I detailed and discussed it further withhim, he began to recognize that we could do something veryspecial. And so together we broke the proverbial bottle ofchampagne on the bow of the ship we christened MonacoRecords in 1996 with the production and release of our firstalbum by a German artist I loved named Thomas Perry. Shortlythereafter, we also signed a great artist from America namedGregory Darling who had previously been working for Polygramwith his band Darling Cruel. Darling and his band had alreadyachieved a gold album for their only release for Polygram, so wethought a lot of him and his chances to pull even bigger numbersfor our much more specialized and personal label. We also signeda world music group named Neapolies from Italy that I felt had asound that was destined to catch on and surely was deserving of aforum for release. For the next several years we brought forthtalent that we believed was worthy of our name and, honestly, wedid have some very talented artists in our fold.
But with all things, of course, there was an end in sight to thisventure. To be quite honest, the music industry changeddrastically with the advent of the Internet. Downloads replaced
CD’s, and so the need for labels decreased significantly as the bigdistribution companies like Sony wouldn’t buy our product andhelp get it out there to the masses. And so I decided to closedown the company and go on to other adventures in life.
Even though I was technically “at home” during that period oftime in Monte Carlo with my family, honestly, there was verylittle time for me there as I was seemingly attending to countlessother things I sometimes wrongly deemed as more importantthan Anne Marie and Leah. Not really more important. That’s notthe right way to put it being completely honest. At no time wasthere anything more important than my family. It was mypriorities that were screwed up. I was, myself, motivated bymoney rather than doing that which I should have done. Okay, sosome of the separation was caused by the passing of my parentsin Germany, my father in August of 1996 and my mother in Juneof 1998. This left me on the road going back and forth fromMonaco to Germany handling their affairs and other relatedresponsibilities during most of those years. Remember, I was anonly child. And then add to that the time I had to spend trying topromote and build my new record company, and I think you cansee my life was not one spent on the golf course. However, inretrospect, I now realize how much I missed in not being therefor my daughter or my wife, both of whom I know loved me andneeded me as part of their everyday life. They both deservedbetter. I said all of this before, but it’s worthy of reiteration. I wasnot a model father, nor hardly the perfect husband. It is only inrecent years that I have finally come to understand all of that.
And so, as I mentioned previously, in 1998 Anne Marie filed for
divorce, and our life “together”, such as it was, was over.
As I mentioned earlier, it was about a year after Monacofolded (The record label, not the Principality. We closed the dooron the label in 2002, and as far as I know, the monarchy is stillgoing strong.) that I met Claudia. I really didn’t knowprofessionally where I was headed or what exactly I wanted to do.But with her musical talents, which were and are enormous, Ithought it would be fun to do something together. By thebeginning of 2004, we did our first project together called “ArtMeets Music”. The basic idea was to introduce paintings fromknown music artists supported by live music. Ronnie Wood ofRolling Stones took part in the first show. The second featuredthe work of a painter named Roland Muri from Switzerland.Though he isn’t a music artist, he is an incredible talent. As partof the shows, the paintings, themselves, were posted all about theroom, while we projected images of the artwork above the stagewhere our band that featured Claudia and myself, played. Alongwith our band on the stage was a bevy of beautiful dancing girlsto enhance the presentation. But even though the artists sold alot of pictures, we only did two shows as the production costsbecame quite prohibitive. But that doesn’t diminish the successwe achieved for the artists in terms of sales, or the quality of themusic we released on the Art Meets Music CD.
In 2005, Pete York, a long time friend and the originaldrummer with the Spencer Davis Group, and I decided to form aband called Drum Legends. We added another great Swissdrummer named Charly Antolini. Claudia took part as wellplaying sax in the back-up band that was made up of otheroutstanding musicians from Munich. We were together for morethan a year playing all over Germany in town halls that were soldout. The set up for the shows was quite unique. Pete, Charly and Ihad our drums out front at the foot of the stage with theremainder of the band playing behind in support. As you canimagine, we played at least 36 different version of “Wipeout”, andhad some wonderful drum wars, as we competed constantly in acordial competition for attention! For me, this was heaven.Playing with good friends who were also outstanding musicians, Icouldn’t have been happier. In my opinion, though many may notknow his name, Charly Antolini is one of the greatest technicaldrummers I have ever seen or had the pleasure of working with.The same goes for Pete. I have to say Pete is also by far the mostjovial and light-hearted guy I’ve ever met in music. I believe if hehad not become a drummer, he surely would have been acomedian. At our concerts, he would do a monologue betweenthe songs that would have the audience in stitches. He quite wellcould have been the next Benny Hill. We worked together, a bitlater, on my audio book, My Life As A Scorpion. He played thepart of a magazine writer who was interviewing me, and togetherwe had about as much fun as two old bastards can legally have.
In the summer of 2006, we, the Drum Legends, had an offerto play in Spain. However, a little dispute broke out betweenCharly and the rest of the group. As a result, it pretty muchbrought the Drum Legends to an end. But it doesn’t change thefact that for me it was a wonderful experience. The mere fact thatI was playing with such incredible percussionists forced me torethink my own work habits and spend much more time working
on my chops in practice sessions.
After taking a little, and I think given all that I had done in mylife, well-deserved break, I again assessed and weighed myoptions. I decided perhaps it was the right time to revive aversion of Herman Ze German. And so I began to write songswith the aid of not only Thomas Perry but my wife Claudia aswell, and in 20071 released my latest solo album in Germany,which initially was titled Vm Back. After local success within thefatherland, I decided to release it worldwide and in 2010 it wasre-titled and repackaged as Take It As It Comes, which is thesingle on the album, not to mention my philosophy of life as Ienter this stage of my career. (The video for the song can be seenon my website. It features not only myself, but also Claudiaplaying sax.) I think for those who have heard the album theynow realize what Herman Rarebell is all about - hard-drivingrock and roll meant for all to enjoy.
EPTT.OGIJEHave you ever taken time to ponder the odds against your being
exactly where you are today? I know that sounds rather cryptic,and yet if you were to take time to think about how trulyambiguous everything around you can be, it might stagger you toconsider the odds you have defied just to be where you are today.If you look back at your life and see the road upon which youhave traversed, you might find it was filled with crossroads andjunctions that could have led you to a completely differentdestiny. And yet you are where you are right now because of thechoices you made en route.
When I think back about my own life, I realize that I have hadan interesting ride. That’s putting it mildly. I have had what I amsure many would refer to as a fantasy life, though I am not onewho will ever use such highfalutin verbiage. I will only say thatmy life has been what it has been. I understand that’s quiteprofound, but I can only speak from my heart. There was a timenot so long ago, actually, when I would have said I have lived a
life filled with regret, and the entirety of this hook would havedwelled on what should have been. I was misled, and myallegiance misaligned. Yet I made my own choices, and so Icannot and should not point fingers at others. However, peopleare often tricked by the lies they tell themselves. I was nodifferent. I could lie with the best of them! A part of that was thegreatest lie of all, drugs. When added to the mix, you can see howeasily I led myself astray.
In truth, we all have the potential to have a fantasy life if weaccept the fates as they come to us. However, as I look back, Ithink how fortunate I am to be alive. I still have countless regrets,but not in areas that most might believe. They have changedquite significantly as the years have passed. My perspectives havebeen altered through strides I’ve made in personal growth. I nowfind myself regretting many of the choices I made within my life.
I regret the mistakes I made with regard to the setting of mypriorities. I see this book as a cleansing of the soul in many waysas I have tried to express myself as openly and honestly as anyman could. As perhaps you recognized, I am a long way fromcanonization.
I have learned a great many lessons within my journeythrough this life. For example, I have discovered that we all haveour purpose and place. Some find it, and they wisely realize theyhave found it for the betterment of others. Many more search fortheir entire life without even an inkling as to why they were putin this place and time. And yet, sadly, there are some who don’tseem to care. You have to believe in a higher being, or you cannotpossibly find peace. That much I am sure of. I know this is a bold
and perhaps alienating opinion given the times within which welive, but I do have strong feelings about this. There has to be areason why we are all here. If you ask me, finding that answer isfinding utopia. To endlessly argue and debate the question is tolive a life in turmoil and confusion.
I am not trying to be Aristotle or Plato here. There’s nothingwithin these words that is unique or unilateral. I am so verythankful to all of you who are reading this book. You are the oneswho have given me a life. Life is not about me. It’s all about thatwhich I can bring to the lives of others to enhance or brightentheir existence here in some way. Each person I meet, I wish tohave a relationship with. It doesn’t matter how deep therelationship might be. It may be little more than a simple hello aswe pass each other at an airport. We may never see each otheragain, and yet, we shared a relationship for that instance in time.The world is filled with teachers; we only need to be open to theirlessons. Each person offers something different and can teach methat which I may never have had the chance to learn had we notmet. I’m quite grateful because I have been blessed to have theopportunity to make people happy and to see that happinessetched on their faces and in the glow within their eyes as weplayed our music for them time and again. And yet, on a muchsmaller stage, I am just as proud of the happiness I may bring tothose I meet while having lunch or afternoon tea just by sayingplease or thank you. You see it’s not the size of the stage thatmatters but what you do with it. Yes, the world is truly a stagewhere each of us plays a part. There are no small parts, onlydiminutive actors.
I know there will be arguments contrary to the opinions Ihave expressed within these pages, but in truth, I don’t think itreally matters. What matters is that we have had the chance toshare some time together. The time you have given me is themost precious of all gifts. And so to you I say thank you.
There are those who will attempt to cast a cynical pall over allof this by saying that I can spout such things because I am on topof the mountain. But guess again. I am nothing more thananother human with all the same qualities, good and bad, aseveryone else. That is the message I’ve tried to relate throughoutthe preceding text. I don’t pretend to be better. I don’t arrogantlytry to impress others with who I am or expect them to bow downto my resume of accolades and accomplishments. Today I live aquiet life where many of my acquaintances only know me asHerman. I prefer it this way. I will forever be Herman “ZeGerman” Rarebell. No one can take that away from me, nor canthey forever ignore my legacy, whatever it may have been orultimately will become. And yet, I am no different than the rest ofyou. We all have a legacy whether it comes from having raisedchildren properly who contribute to our world in a positivemanner or simply being the best person we can be. I know that Iwasn’t the greatest father in the history of parenthood, and yet, Iam proud of my daughter Leah, and today we share a very closerelationship. I visit her as often as possible in Scotland where shecurrently attends school. I am thankful for that and to AnneMarie for her work in raising her to be so very special.
I am certain there are those who will wonder if writing a booklike this and sharing so many intimate details about my life willperhaps taint the image I have painted of myself for my familyand friends. For example, there is my daughter to consider. Whatwill she think? What will her friends think? I do not know whatshe knows about my life beyond the stories I have related to herthrough the years, but in truth, I hope she will take the time toread this book. As a parent, I want her to see me as human, learnfrom my mistakes, and know that I will love her no matter whatchoices she makes just as I hope she will love me regardless ofhow tarnished my image may become. Showing your child youare human is perhaps the most important step a father can take.Within this book I think I’ve been quite frank with regard to thenumber of poor decisions I have rendered throughout my life.When presented with similar situations, I do hope Leah will usethe information to help make wiser choices than her father made.
If you really want to cut to the chase about life, the one thingthat I think is most important is really quite elementary. Treateveryone as you wish to be treated. That has been, and willforever be, my mantra. Yes, it is a derivative of the “Golden Rule”,and yet it goes much deeper than simple verbiage. It is what lifeis all about. Imagine if everyone thought this way. John Lennonwrote a song about that, and, in my opinion, his views on life maywell have contributed to his assassination. He was a threat to thestatus quo, because he represented a vision that was notwelcome. No, I am not offering some sort of conspiracy theoryhere. However, because he was so outspoken about peace andlove of all people he probably seemed much more accessible andapproachable than other celebrities, and that may have left thedoor open to his assailant. But the message cannot be ignored
and may be the most important aspect of his vast legacy. Peaceand love is really what life is about. So imagine, if you can, aworld within which you are last in your life but first in the lives ofeveryone else.
Do you not truly believe that this would be a better place fornot only yourself but for everyone?
Of course, as perhaps you have found within my story, itwasn’t always this way for me. The ego can alter our bestintentions and our perspective as it did my own at various timesin my life. It is only now, in recent years, that I have discoveredthe secrets to happiness. It isn’t about what you do or what youcan do but simply that which brings you peace. You cannot put anumber on that, nor is there a proper measuring stick to weighand balance your efforts and achievements. It isn’t selfishlymotivated in the least. Too many people parade around yellingand screaming about their “rights”. Well, just because I may havethe “right” to do something it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily“right”. As I said previously, that is what my friend Michael hasalways believed, and I agree 100%. I think there are those whoseek inner peace with all the wrong guidance. They start with theself. From the get-go they are doomed to failure since it doesn’tstart with the self. It is always about everyone else. Once you canwillingly subjugate yourself to all that is around you, you havereached the point of nirvana. I don’t know that I am at rest, but Ido know the most joyous feelings, as I have said, come from whatI do to make others happy. Ultimately, those efforts bring me joyand make me happy. Life is truly one long chain! So maybe thereis selfishness involved, and yet I always want to focus on what
makes others happy because the world is about them, not me.
On my new album, Take It As It Comes, the title song says itall. It is just about this one thing - inner peace. There are thosewho live in a constant state of fear. They are worried about whatwill happen tomorrow. They are worried about what happenedtoday. They are worried about what happened yesterday. All theworrying in the world won’t change anything. And yet there arethose who will spend every minute of everyday tiying to fix thingsin the past that cannot be fixed. Like a neutered dog, there’s nopoint to looking back there. You can only control the moment,and that which is ahead will be regardless of whether we are apart of tomorrow or not. Thus we have the idea of taking life as itcomes.
My life has been filled with so much that I could not havebegun to fathom when I was a young boy in West Germany.However, you may ask, given the relative obscurity I fell intoafter leaving the Scorpions, if I regret my decision. I don’t. Not inthe least. I have everything I need. For example, after havingspent so many years wandering aimlessly and confusing theterms lust and love or at least convincing myself that they wereinterchangeable, at last I found true love with my wife Claudia.After so many disappointments in that area of my life (And therewere substantially more than documented within these pages...),you cannot even begin to imagine the joy that such a stable andloving relationship has brought to me.
One thing that is important to remember, God brings us herenaked, and we are assured of leaving naked. I know that’s cliche,but it is also a reality you cannot deny even if you deny the
existence of God. We enter with nothing and leave with even lessunless, of course, we have done right by others. Then we willforever leave that lasting impression for the world to remember. Ihave been told that the American author William Saroyan has abeautiful thought inscribed on the headstone of his resting place.The basic thought is, to paraphrase it a bit since it’s out inCalifornia and Tm in Europe, if you can live your life knowingyou have never brought any sorrow or pain to the lives of othersor even the life of another, then you have had a good life. Whatcould be more perfectly said or thought?
In case you are interested, I am not affiliated with anyparticular denomination or religion, but one thing is clear, I dobelieve in God and love. You can call God whatever you wish. Butlove and God will forever remain the driving force within all thatis good with the world. I believe something created all that ishere, and I don’t think we evolved from monkeys. Even thoughthere have been times when I, myself, partook in some “monkeybusiness”, I hardly think it is enough to draw metaphoric lines ofsymmetry for the sake of trying to prove a point.
The greatest gift we have is life itself. It is an opportunity tospend whatever time we are given doing what is right. What is allthe money in the world worth if you don’t use it to benefit others?Or tell me, what is money worth if you are not healthy? Perhapsthat brings the thought even closer to home for many. Gifts fromGod are taken for granted until they are no longer ours. We arehelpless within this world. We are all one-step from disaster atany point. Everything and everyone here is transient. We can’ttake it with us. Wait till next year... (Just threw that one in to see
if you were pa5ung attention.) Yes, these are more cliches, and yethow true are the thoughts? That is what you have to ask yourself.Though the phrases may be trite, the thoughts behind them arenot.
At my age today, I realize as I think about it, how many of myfriends have already left this world. So many who shared the roadwith me are now only a remembrance in the pages of rockhistory, as they have exited this stage for that which is beyondhere. All they had is still here, while they are no longer with us.And in some cases, what they left behind is a legacy for all tobehold. It still brings joy and happiness to many whom they willnever have the chance to meet. That is what life is all about.
Believe in yourself. Be happy. Make others happy. Give toother people because you will find that others will give back. Lovebegets love. There is no place for anger or hate. Yes, these aremore cliches. But again, tell me where there is something so badwithin any of these thoughts. A good example of this is this book.No, not the physical book, but the fact that Tm writing it. I had athought about writing a book (Who doesn’t?), and yet I had noway to even address the undertaking of such an overwhelmingproject. I had met my co-writer several years ago through hiswork with the Rock and Roll Remembers Foundation. About twoyears ago, he approached me with the idea, and even though, intruth, I knew him only fleetingly at the time through sometelephone conversations and emails we had exchanged, I trustedmy instincts and his sincerity. I believe I have been rewarded formy faith. Or perhaps it is you who has been rewarded, becauseyou’re the ones who are reading this book, and as I said in thededication, it is written for you. He has helped capture the spiritof my life and my true inner being in a way no one else ever couldhave. I could never have written this book in English, or even inGerman to be honest - not like we have together. And so Godsent to me just the person who could help me bring to the writtenpage my thoughts in a manner that at times made me shake myhead and marvel. And, Til admit here, he even brought tears tomy eyes on a couple of occasions. He got inside of my head, andhelped me bring forth all that was bound up inside. I know I haveshattered completely the traditional stealth-like protocol forbooks of this nature. But unlike many others who have “written”an “autobiography”, I am not going to try to hide the truth eventhough Michael is not happy with the inclusion of this admission,nor is he comfortable with the praise. But I wanted it here. Thishas been a joint effort of two people working together. Michaeltook my stories, and he gave them literary legs for you. Heinspired me to greater creativity through his efforts. He is agenius in my eyes, as I have said time and again within thesepages, and he is now a great friend. I will forever believe he was aGodsend. I know, given the sordid details about my past thathave come up at various points in this book, there may be thosewho’ll view this statement as blasphemous. So be it. But for me, itis nothing more than simply a statement of the truth.
Several years ago, Claudia introduced me to a book written bya man I regard now as my “teacher”, Paramahansa Yogananda.His book, “Autobiography of a Yogi” forever changed my life inways that I am only now starting to comprehend. I see today as Ihave never seen before and understand so much more about why
things happen the way they do within this world. It has trulychanged my life, as I said. I highly recommend it to all of you, asit will surely help you find that which you may not even realizeyou are seeking. I have since joined his organization, Self-Realization Fellowship or SFR in Los Angeles(www.yoaananda-srf.orgA. He clearly seems to echo mythoughts, or perhaps I echo his when it comes to life. Though he,of course, comes from India, and I know my first impression ofthat country was not all that spectacular, given the incident afterthe ice cream I ate, but I do believe his thoughts and impressionsof the world around us seem as concise and accurate today asthey were the day they were first written. You don’t have to belost to seek the truth. You only have to be open to it when you seeit. That is what stops most people. The message is the problem asmost don’t like what they find.
And so, this is the life of Herman “Ze German” Rarebell. Idon’t know if you think differently about me now that you haveread these words, but as I’ve said from the outset, my life isn’tabout me. It is about you. If, as you were reading you werebrought to laughter or pleasant remembrances of times nowpassed, then I think I have accomplished my goal. At no time didI write anything with the intent of offending anyone. I simply amone who tries to find the humor in all parts of life, and I hope youfound it with me as you read. As I hope you could tell, in myopinion life is more about smiles than tears, and so I chose towrite a book with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek to insurethat ultimately everyone would have fun and understand thespirit of my life as a Scorpion.
AND SPEAKING OF SCORPIONS... THE AUTOBIOGRAPH
Cheers to you all..
Herman
Special Thanks
The following deserve special thanks for helping make this booka reality.
The owner and staff of the Lane’s Hotel in Brighton.England.
The hours we spent in the lounge of the hotel putting the basicsof this book together cannot be ignored, nor can the hospitalitywe encountered from everyone there.
Irina Rausch
Tirelessly tolerating our endless changes as she designed thecover artwork for this book.
Svetlana Krikorian
Her help in reeling in the incredible imagination and creativity ofher husband as well as providing a grammatical consciencethroughout the writing cannot go without mention.
Michael Schenker
Without Michael, this book would not have been possible...Actually, it would have been possible, but it would not have beenabout my life as a Scorpion. (In other words, blame him!)(Actually, if you think about this, then I should thank his momand dad. But then I’d be on a track that would lead all the wayback to Adam and Eve. Clearly there would be too many peopleto thank then. So I’ll stop with just Michael, but hopefully you’ll
get the picture.)
And last but not least and perhaps most importantly.Pete Way
For just being Pete Way... And for being a good sport andfriend....
RET ATED T JNKSHerman Rarebell
iviviv.hermanrarebell.com
Dieter Dierks
HYPERLINK "http://www.dierks-studios.de" www.dierks-studios.de
The Scorpions
HYPERLINK "http://www.the-scorpions.com" www.the-scorpions.com
Self-realization Felloivship
www.uoaananda-srf.org
Rock and Roll Remembers
HYPERLINK "http://WWW.rockandrollremembers.or" WWW.rockandrollremembers.org
Michael Krikorian
krikorianmichael(a)uahoo.com or HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected]


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