Herman Rarebell - The 10 Records That Changed My Life

Herman Rarebell

The powerful drumming of Herman Rarebell was a major ingredient in what turned out to be the most commercially successful era of the Scorpions (the 1980’s), a period in which he also co-penned some of their most classic tracks (Rock You Like a Hurricane, Blackout, Another Piece of Meat, etc.).

Just prior to the self-titled debut release of his new band, Rock Wolves, Herman looked back at the music that mattered to him most way back when. “These albums had a big impact on me because they show where I come from, musically-speaking. All these bands were my influences.”

Led Zeppelin - II (1969)

The album that made a huge difference in my life was Led Zeppelin II. From Led Zeppelin I through Physical Graffiti, all those albums made an amazing difference in my life, because being a big John Bonham fan, it was always interesting for me to hear what he played, how he approached songs. 

I always loved the songwriting of Jimmy Page, and I liked the depth of the band. To this day, I have not heard a better heavy metal band in the world. I remember driving in the car with friends, and I suddenly heard on the radio [sings “Whole Lotta Love” riff]. I said, “Put it up! Put it up! What is this?!” It was a revolution at the time.

Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced? (1967)

I remember when I heard Hey Joe the first time at a club, and then a few months later, on Beat Club, he played Purple Haze. I heard the phrase “Excuse me while I kiss the sky”. Remember, this is ’67. I was like, “Huh? What did he say?” That was heavy stuff for me. Another great drummer from this era was Mitch Mitchell. It was a very influential album for me.

Cream - Disraeli Gears (1967)

Then, of course, Cream, and Sunshine of Your Love. And the first song they had out, I Feel Free [issued as a single in the UK in 1966, but was included on their debut album, Fresh Cream, in the US]. Killer song. Ginger Baker, great drummer. And it’s two bass drums - I bought my first two bass drums then. He was a huge influence on me.

The Who - Who Are You (1978)

The same with Keith Moon. What was the album from the Who with Who Are You? That was another album that influenced me totally. Being a Keith Moon fan since My Generation, that album influenced me tremendously.

Small Faces - Tin Soldier (1967)

I had the pleasure to work with Steve Marriott on my solo album [1986’s Herman Ze German] - he sang a song called Having a Good Time. But the influence was definitely the Small Faces. Tin Soldier was a song that I really, really loved.

The Beatles - Meet the Beatles! (1964)

An album that influenced me when I was a young kid - 14/15 - was Meet the Beatles! I Want to Hold Your Hand was the first song that was big in Germany. This influenced me very much. I played it up and down. They were my first big influence. I sat in my bedroom and thought, “That’s what I want to do. I want to become a rock star - like them.”

Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti (1975)

We definitely have to add Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, the double album. The song In My Time of Dying, I love it. I said my wife, “When I die one day, I want you to play this song.” This album influenced me totally. When I heard Kashmir, I was like, “This is the kind of drums that I like. This is the kind of music I want to do.”

Jeff Beck - Blow by Blow (1975)

Another album that I like very much was Jeff Beck, Blow by Blow. It was all instrumental. Every song was a killer song. Great drumming, fantastic guitar playing. The drumming [courtesy of Richard Bailey] was very creative - not really as heavy as I like it, but I like the finesse on there.

Scorpions - Lovedrive (1979)

An album that influenced me greatly was definitely the Lovedrive album, where Michael Schenker was playing lead guitar on many of the songs, as he wrote many of them. In America, the cover got banned, because it had a woman with chewing gum over her breast, but it became Cover Of The Year in Playboy! 

This was a very transformative album - it was an album where we made our breakthrough in America. There was a song that made it big in England, Another Piece of Meat - I wrote that song and Michael plays lead guitar.

Queen - A Night at the Opera (1975)

The album with Bohemian Rhapsody, this album was a big influence on me… and also Bad Company. It’s hard to pick. But I was more a Queen fan than a Bad Company fan, to be honest. I listened to A Night at the Opera up and down at the time. Roger Taylor’s drumming always fascinated me… and also Cozy Powell. 

But Cozy never had a “big album,” so to speak - he was just a great drummer. All three of us - me, Roger, and Cozy - our idol was John Bonham. You can hear it in our style - all three of us are very solid drummers. For me, the foundation of Queen was absolutely Roger Taylor.

Greg Prato

Contributing writer at Classic Rock magazine since 2004. He has written for other outlets over the years, and has interviewed some of his favourite rock artists: Black Sabbath, Rush, Kiss, The Police, Devo, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Soundgarden, Meat Puppets, Blind Melon, Primus, King’s X… heck, even William Shatner! He is also the author of quite a few books, including Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, A Devil on One Shoulder And An Angel on the Other: The Story of Shannon Hoon And Blind Melon, and MTV Ruled the World: The Early Years of Music Video, among others.