How secretly embracing English glam rockers The Sweet put Scorpions on the launch pad to global stardom

Scopions on a TV show in the 1970s
(Image credit: United Archives GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

In 1975, The Scorpions were at the make-or-break point in a career that had kicked off a decade earlier in Hannover, northwestern Germany.  

The band's debut album, Lonesome Crow – produced by Krautrock pioneer Conny Plank and featuring a very young Michael Schenker – was a psychedelic curio, but it was very much the sound of a band searching for a direction. The follow-up, Fly To The Rainbow, was self-produced, and an improvement. With new guitarist Uli Jon Roth on board the sound widened in scope, and opener Speedy's Coming found the band coming to grips with their own style.

For album number three, they needed a producer, and Rudolf Schenker knew exactly who he wanted: Dieter Dierks, whose Dierks Studios had played host to a number of Krautock luminaries, including Ash Ra Tempel, Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh, as well as the English, Hamburg-based progressive rockers Nektar. So Schenker invited Dierks to a Scorpions festival show with Nektar and UFO

"Dieter got confused and showed up on the wrong day," Schenker told the Brazilian Guitar World magazine in 2012. "He asked someone, 'What time are Scorpions playing?' 'What? They already played, last night. They were amazing!' 

"He called me afterwards: 'Rudolf, is there another chance to see you live?' I said yes, that we would play in a city close to where his studio was. Dieter watched us and was impressed by our stage presence. He showed up in the dressing room and said, 'Hey guys! That was great, but I want to audition you guys."

So the band recorded two songs with Dierks. Both were German-language covers of recent hits by British glam rockers Sweet, whom Scorpions had supported while touring to promote Fly To The Rainbow. "They basically played to 14 to 16-year-olds," said Roth. "It wasn’t quite suitable for us, but we held our own when we did our tour supporting them."

Sweet's Fox On The Run became Fuchs Geh’ Voran, and Action was turned into Wenn Es Richtig Losgeht ('When It Goes Right'). Amusingly, the lyrics to Fox On The Run, originally written about a young female fan, were translated as the story of a literal fox being chased by hunters.

The two tracks were eventually put out as a single by the German label Colorit Records – attributed to The Hunters, average price now £250 on Discogs – and Dierks signed the band to his company Breeze Music. The rest is history. He'd go on to produce the next Scorpions' record, In Trance, and manned the desk until 1988, producing a run of eight career-defining albums as they became Germany's biggest musical export.

As for Sweet, guitarist Andy Scott was just happy to play his part in the Scorpions' story. "Klaus Meine told me that maybe they wouldn't be where they are today if they hadn't toured with us back then," he said. "Conversely, I have a lot of respect for the Scorpions."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.