Michael Schenker was born on the 10th January 1955 in a town named Sarstedt near Hannover in the north of Germany some 180km’s south of Hamburg.
Michael’s passion for music, sport and creativity was apparent from a very early age.
As a 3 year old he was already having fun on his Dads ski’s, at 5 he was playing drums on pots and pans from the kitchen, picked up his Dad’s violin at 6,tried his Mum’...s piano and joined a football team. He enjoyed singing and eventually as a nine year old discovered his older brother, Rudolf’s, guitar. With no time to waste Michael learned everything available from the Shadows to the Beatles to the Stones and anything at all with lead guitar. Michael jammed with the Scorpions on stage for the first time at the age of 11 and became a member of ‘The Enervates’ which Rudolf introduced him to.
At the age of 13 Michael joined another band called ‘The Cry’ with Rudolf keeping a close eye on his development. Rudolf’s ability to spot talent took Michael, now 14 years of age, to the next level in his fast developing career when he introduced him to Rudolf’s favourite singer in their neighborhood, Klaus Meine. This was also the time Michael discovered how much fun playing loud distorted lead guitar was.
Michael and Klaus went straight into playing lots of gigs under the name of ‘Copernicus’ with a set list of songs from Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Rory Gallagher, Black Sabbath and other songs with lead guitar and great vocals.
Rudolf had watched the development very closely and on one day in Hannover when the Scorpions and Copernicus were rehearsing back to back in the same studio and as the original singer and guitarist from the Scorpions hadn’t shown up he took the opportunity to ask Klaus and Michael to rehearse with them.
The bond was immediate and developed into the Scorpions first record.
Michael was 15 at the time and had written his first piece of music and with Klaus’s lyrics and vocals it became ‘In Search Of Peace Of Mind’ (Michaels theme for life). He kept writing and had numerous ideas for songs which soon lead to the first Scorpions album ‘Lonesome Crow’ being recorded.
There was also a period in Michael’s life where he had a very strong desire to become a Monk but, he decided to take a course in spiritual learning instead and continued with his music. His passion for playing lead guitar became stronger as did his song writing. However, there was a problem. The German music scene just wasn’t that interested in this kind of music and Michael expressed his concern to the other members of the Scorpions saying that if he was made an offer by any band in the UK to join them he would leave the Scorpions. He wanted to be where the music he loved so much was born and soon found himself joining ‘UFO at the age of 17. A very different kind of music but that wasn’t a problem as he was now in a country surrounded by people who loved Rock music.
Before Michael left the Scorpions he wanted to make sure he was replaced by someone who would keep Rudolf’s vision going and remembered a guy he had watched when he was 14. Ulli Roth.
They met and Michael asked Ulli to help out, the rest as they say, is history.
With Michael now fully concentrating on song writing with Phil Mogg very soon a new UFO was born. ‘Phenomenon’ was their first album followed by ‘Force it’ and then ‘No Heavy Petting’.
While this was all going on Michael received a phone call asking him to audition for the Rolling Stones. He remembers shaking with nerves and calling his brother Rudolf for advice. Michael decided not to go concluding it would be too much and too dangerous. He was an extremely sensitive and fragile young teenager who was fully aware of how much he could or couldn’t handle and decided that UFO was what he wanted and now focused all his energy into the band.
With the beginning of UFO Michael made the decision to concentrate on his own abilities and to stop learning and looking to others. He believed it was important to express himself from within and was aware that in order to stay fresh and excited about Rock Music he needed to stay away from other influences as much as possible.
‘Lights Out’ was the next record to be made but they needed 2 more things, a producer and another song writer. With Ron Nevision and Paul Raymond they had what they needed to become sensational.
‘Lights Out’ was a hit and Michael became scared. Now it was getting serious and very demanding and Michael didn’t feel ready. He’d never really liked performing live on stage and panicked. Michael packed his things, sold his belongings and disappeared off the face of the earth.
2 months later he was tracked down by Pete Way who convinced Michael to return to UFO and he went on to record ‘Obsession’ and the final live album ‘Strangers In The Night’ with them but that was all there was to be with Michael as a guitarist with UFO.
Around 78/79 it all became a bit blurred, a transition time it seemed. Something else need to happen but what? By now Michael was playing his famous black and white V guitar. This marked a new era in Michael’s musical and personal development. Bouncing from one thing to another Michael found himself back with the Scorpions for their ‘Lovedrive’ recording which opened doors in the States for the Scorpions but Michael was searching for something else. He was invited to jam with Aerosmith but felt it was more of the same and eventually together with Peter Mensch, Michael prepared for a solo career. At his own pace and in his own time Michael continued his journey. MSG – Michael Schenker Group was created for Michaels continuing development as a lead guitarist and also for personal achievements.
Michael’s vision of life is different to that of most and he says “it’s as if ‘In Search Of Peace Of Mind’ and ‘Lonesome Crow’ are the theme of my life. For some reason I’ve been whistling ‘The Loner’ for the past 30 years and I can’t wait until I’m 80 to find out what it was all about”.
Michael went through numerous different rehearsal session’s with various musicians and artists such as Joe Kraemer & Tom Hamilton from Aerosmith, Mr Big’s Billy Sheehan and Montrose & Hearts drummer Danny Carmassi. He also had discussions with Geddy Lee & Neil Peart from Rush at their recording studios to help him with his solo album. Eventually Simon Phillips, Mo Foster, Don Airey, a new guy named Gary Barden as the singer and with Roger Glover as producer, the final line up for Michaels first solo album ‘Michael Schenker Group’ was complete.
They turned their attention to looking for a live line up and found the former drummer from Jeff Beck’s & Rainbow, Cozy Powell, along with Chris Glenn from Alex Harvey Band & Paul Raymond who left UFO to join Michael. And with that ‘One Night At Budokan’ became a great live album.
At this time Michael and Peter Mensch went their separate ways and Michael joined force with Graham Bonnet although Michael had been offered a place in Ozzy Osbourne’s band which he declined. They went on to record their( musicians favorites ) album ‘Assault Attack’ which due to internal record company problems never got the deserved exposure. By now Michael had become one of the world’s top guitarists being voted #1 guitar player in 9 different countries in 1982 and also being named as one of Slash’s & Kirk Hammetts (to name but a few) favourite guitarist.
Michael was eager at this time to find a great singer with whom he could enter a 50/50 partnership and in 1986 found just what he had been looking for in Robin McAuley.
After releasing 3 albums in 1991 Michael went on to immerse himself in a number of varied musical and spiritual ventures. He says it was an amazing era and that at this time he experienced a peak in his spiritual development.
In ’93 Michael was back with the Scorpions to take part in a live acoustic set in their show, around the same time he was invited to join Deep Purple but reunited with UFO instead and was also still recording with MSG. In 2008 he recorded ‘In The Midst Of beauty’ with Gary Barden and discovered how much he now enjoyed playing live on stage.
Michael continues to discover new ways of playing just as he always has from very early on in his career.
‘Temple Of Rock’ is his latest release and, they get better and better.