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Family: Rudolf Schenker

You and Michael – the guitar-playing Schenker brothers – have made the family name world famous. As the elder brother, did you turn Michael on to playing guitar?

When I was sixteen, Michael was nine. I was playing rhythm. And I said to him: “It would be fantastic if we could play together.” So one day Michael took my father’s violin and played it. Not good, but somehow he got the right notes.

Did you form a band straight away?

No. He was too young for the Scorpions, so he joined The Cry, another band from Sarstedt, where we lived. They were all around twelve years old. They were good.

Was Michael an exceptional talent even back then?

Actually he was very lazy. But he was good. And because I was busy working, I paid him to work out the chords for the songs the Scorpions would play live – like the Stones’ As Tears Go By.

Did your parents approve of you being in rock bands?

They were very supportive. But when those kids in The Cry got to thirteen or fourteen, they started drinking. They liked to party. My father found out and told Michael: “No rock’n’roll any more. You have to finish school.”

Did you ever feel that Michael was the favourite, being the youngest?

I was my mother’s favourite because I looked like her. And Michael was my father’s favourite – he had the same blond hair and blue eyes. So we were equal. I think!

Michael was fourteen when he joined you in the Scorpions, and he got all the attention.

Oh yes. My brother was the star.

But in 1973, he left to join UFO. Were you angry with him?

No, no. I was really happy that he could make that move.

You played a Flying V before him too.

He borrowed my Flying V when the Scorpions played a festival in Germany. He had a Les Paul then, but he’d left it at his girlfriend’s parents’ house. After the concert he said: “Rudolf, I can’t give you the guitar back. It sounds so amazing, I want to play it.” So when he left for UFO I got another Flying V. And from that day I’ve played one.

Michael and UFO singer Phil Mogg had a fiery relationship.

They were always getting drunk and beating each other. Phil Mogg was not the easiest guy to work with – and neither was my brother.

It was a fight between them that led Michael to quit UFO in 1978 and rejoin the Scorpions. Did you want to give Mogg a pasting?

Because my brother decided to come back to the Scorpions? No! I sent him a bottle of whisky to say thank you!

Your brother is famously known as ‘Mad Michael’. Are you the sensible Schenker?

Some people, like my brother, are so sensitive but tough on the outside. I know how to handle my brother. When he was having drug or alcohol problems, I always helped him get stable again. I know he’s a good man, and he knows he can trust me.

And will you ever work together again?

We still have in mind a Schenker Brothers album. When the time’s right, we’ll do it.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2005, Paul Elliott has worked for leading music titles since 1985, including Sounds, Kerrang!, MOJO and Q. He is the author of several books including the first biography of Guns N’ Roses and the autobiography of bodyguard-to-the-stars Danny Francis. He has written liner notes for classic album reissues by artists such as Def Leppard, Thin Lizzy and Kiss, and currently works as content editor for Total Guitar. He lives in Bath - of which David Coverdale recently said: “How very Roman of you!”