Rudolf Schenker reveals how Scorpions thrived during the grunge years while peers flopped

(Image credit: Mark Weiss/WireImage)

Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker has revealed how the German hard rock veterans thrived at the height of grunge’s popularity when so many of his peers and contemporaries were left for dead.

Talking to Metal Hammer’s Rich Hobson, Schenker says that his band simply refocussed their sights on rocking like a hurricane in developing international markets worldwide while European and American rock fans obsessed over Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains.

“When grunge and alternative blew up we were playing over in Asia, places like Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia where we still played in huge stadiums,” the 73-year-old guitarist tells Hobson. “Why fight grunge in Europe and America when we could play huge shows in Russia, Taiwan and so on? It was a new generation of Germans coming into Russia not with tanks, but with guitars, bringing love and peace.”

“There’s an interview with Metallica and I don’t remember if it was James [Hetfield] or Kirk [Hammett] who was asked how many countries they played and either James or Kirk said ‘Not as many as Scorpions!’ Haha! We had no fear! It paid off too – we sold more albums in Thailand than Michael Jackson, something like 20 times platinum.”

Fifty years on from the release of Scorpions’ debut album, Lonesome Crow, Schenker  describes his band’s career as “an unbelievable journey.”

“Sometimes I’ll think about it and tears will run down my face because I’m so impressed with what we’ve learned and lived through,” he says. “We were the second highest selling artist in the world behind Peter Frampton at one point, that was an amazing thing. It was just an unbelievable time.”

You can read more from Rudolf Schenker in an upcoming issue of Metal Hammer.

Scorpions will release a new album, Rock Believer, via Spinefarm on February 25.

Frontman Klaus Meine says: “The new material sees us return to our roots. We simply wanted to reactivate the original Scorpions DNA – great riffs, strong melodies. We tried to transport that live feel to the studio with all five of us playing in one room again at last. Having [ex-Motorhead drummer] Mikkey Dee in the band is like a shot of fresh energy and real fun.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.