The Scorpions formed in Hanover, Germany, in 1971, and recorded their first album, Lonesome Crow, in Hamburg a little later.
The band embarked on a gruelling touring schedule, playing 130 concerts with very few breaks. In Germany, they quickly established themselves as competitors with the top British and American heavy metal bands.
It was on a tour supporting UFO, two years later, that they lost lead guitarist Michael Schenker.
Schenker was nicked by UFO in 1973, although he actually left UFO three times before making the split permanent and eventually rejoining The Scorpions at the start of 1979.
Guitarist Ulrich Roth replaced Schenker and the group recorded a second album, Fly To The Rainbow. But there were still personnel problems, and before long they lost drummer Jurgen Rosenthal. Rudi Lenners took his place.
In 1975, Scorpions made the crucial step of breaking out of Germany, with a tour of France and Belgium, again attracting a cult hard-rock audience. Around this time, too, they attracted the attention of Dieter Dierks, a German producer who owned a studio in Cologne. Dierks was impressed enough to produce a third album, In Trance, at his studio.
Shortly afterwards, Scorpions paid their first visit to Britain. They struck at the grassroots without making it to a more lucrative level, playing small clubs across the country.
In Trance, in the meantime, had become a best-selling album, in, of all places, Japan – where, coincidentally, UFO first made their mark. Dieter Dierks immediately negotiated a tour of the Far East.
Back in Europe, out came yet another album, Virgin Killer, and to promote it, another low-profile British tour.
Back in Germany, The Scorpions were lauded as the country’s top rock band. Conscious that a breakthrough in England is also a doorway to America, they plugged away at the British circuit. On this jaunt, they met a fellow countryman, Herman Rarebell, in the London Speakeasy.
Rarebell had gone to England because nobody in Germany was playing heavy rock ‘n’ roll, and when Rudi Lenners left the band with heart trouble, Rarebell, who had heard of the vacancy through Michael Schenker, was an obvious replacement. Their fifth album, Taken By Force, was released.
John Peel was apparently so appalled by The Scorpions set at the 1979 Reading Festival that it contributed to his decision to stop compering the event.
Also in 1979, The Tokyo Tapes became their last album on RCA and Harvest nipped in to sign them, marking a new era for the band. Ulrich Roth quit, Mathias Jabs joined and they recorded Lovedrive. Michael Schenker contributed three solos to the album and returned to the group. Jabs quit and was put on permanent standby.
The LP was followed by the gold Animal Magnetism (1980), and the platinum Blackout (1982) which gave the group their biggest chart success to date – reaching #11 in the UK and the Top 10 in the US.
In 1983, their appearance at California’s US Festival – second-billed only to Van Halen– helped bring them thousands of new converts, both directly and by later word-of-mouth. Their Love At First Sting (1984) album made the UK Top 20 and US Top 10.
The group toured the Soviet Union in the early 90s and the experience inspired lead singer Klaus Meine to write Wind Of Change (1991) – an uncharacteristic gentle ballad that became a worldwide hit.
In 2000, the band played concerts with the Berliner Philharmoniker Orchestra at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and the Acropolis in San Francisco.