Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker (born 10 January 1955) is a German rock guitarist who has played in UFO and led the Michael Schenker Group. He was an early member of Scorpions, the band co-founded by his elder brother Rudolf Schenker. In the mid-1970s Michael joined UFO, playing lead guitar. He left the band in 1978 to found the Michael Schenker Group. He has rejoined UFO three times, producing an album each time. Schenker continues to perform and record.[1] He has been called "a legendary figure in the history of metal guitar."[2]

Michael Schenker
Schenker performing live at the Rock Hard Festival in 2015
Background information
Born (1955-01-10) 10 January 1955
Sarstedt, West Germany
GenresHard rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
Years active1969–present
Associated actsScorpions, UFO, Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group, Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock, Michael Schenker Fest, Contraband, G3, Schenker Pattison Summit


Early career and rise to fame: Scorpions and UFO

Michael Schenker started playing guitar at an early age, after his brother Rudolf got a Gibson Flying V guitar for his birthday, which captured his imagination. His main influences were Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Leslie West, Johnny Winter and Rory Gallagher.[3] He played his first gig when he was 11, with Rudolf and the Scorpions in a nightclub. Schenker debuted with Scorpions on their debut album Lonesome Crow at age 16.[4][5]

Scorpions went on tour after recording their first album as the opening act for up-and-coming UK band UFO in Germany. Schenker was offered the position of lead guitar player for UFO (taking over for Bernie Marsden, himself a temporary replacement for Mick Bolton)[6] and, with the blessing of his brother, accepted (Scorpions replaced him with Uli Roth), even though he didn't speak English.

Schenker co-wrote most of the songs on UFO's major label (Chrysalis Records) debut album Phenomenon. His career with UFO was turbulent, sometimes walking off mid-song causing shows to be cancelled. Despite having a series of successful albums and tours, Schenker unequivocally quit UFO after their show in Palo Alto, California, on 29 October 1978. During this tour the band had recorded six concerts whose selected tracks would make up their live album Strangers in the Night, which was released after he left the band.

Schenker briefly re-joined Scorpions in late 1978, when they were recording the album Lovedrive. He composed and played lead guitar on three songs, "Another Piece of Meat", "Coast To Coast" and "Lovedrive".[4] Although it had been widely believed for decades that the three songs were Schenker's only contribution to the record, during an interview with satellite radio host Eddie Trunk, Michael vehemently maintained that he contributed to the whole album.[7] In 1979, Schenker briefly toured with the band in support of the album. He blamed his very short stay on finding out he did not enjoy playing other people's songs. He was permanently replaced by Matthias Jabs, who had originally joined Scorpions before Schenker's return.

Schenker auditioned for Aerosmith in 1979 after Joe Perry left.[8] According to Martin Huxley, Schenker stormed out of the room after producer Gary Lyons made several jokes about Nazis.[9] After the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne's first call was to Schenker to replace Rhoads, as the German guitarist and his iconic Flying V were a huge influence on Rhoads.[10] But, Osbourne claims, Schenker made too many outlandish demands (including a private jet).[11] Schenker himself, in an interview with KNAC radio, claims he was the one to say "no" to Osbourne: "If I would have joined Ozzy Osbourne, I would have screwed up my life. I was almost about to do it, and something told me: DON'T!!"[12]

Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group and UFO Reunion

In 1979, Schenker started a solo career by founding the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). The history of MSG is strewn with personality conflicts and incidents. In 1982, original singer Gary Barden, who sang on the first two studio albums and a live album, was fired in favour of Graham Bonnet. Bonnet lasted one album (Assault Attack) and a single gig, at Sheffield University, where he drunkenly exposed himself and was subsequently fired from the band.[13] Barden rejoined MSG for the rest of the tour. He also appeared on the 1983 studio album (Built to Destroy) and the band's second live album (Rock Will Never Die).

After Barden's second departure, Schenker reorganized the band around himself and new singer Robin McAuley and renamed it the McAuley Schenker Group. The new incarnation of MSG was steered toward a more commercial hard rock sound. After three albums, Schenker and McAuley parted company. In the meantime, he briefly replaced Robbin Crosby in Ratt, appearing on their 1990 MTV Unplugged performance.

In 1993, Schenker rejoined UFO. He co-wrote (with Phil Mogg) nearly the whole of their reunion album, Walk on Water ('95), and toured with them briefly.

He then resurrected the Michael Schenker Group with all new members and recorded three more albums, Written in the Sand, The Unforgiven, and Be Aware of Scorpions before rejoining UFO for two further releases, Covenant and Sharks.


Schenker fell on hard times in the early 2000s, despite his rejoining UFO that year.[1] He picked himself up and got back to making and performing music, recording the album Arachnophobiac and supporting it with two years of touring. In 2004, recognition came from Dean Guitars, which began producing a Schenker signature Dean V (with subtle differences from the Gibson, but with the split black and white trademark Schenker finish).

2005 was the 25th anniversary of the Michael Schenker Group. Schenker put together a new album of songs called Tales of Rock'n'Roll to celebrate the anniversary and enlisted singers from each iteration of the band to sing on the album. However, in that same year the collection Heavy Hitters, a set of covers featuring Schenker and a revolving group of heavy metal all-stars, was marketed as a Michael Schenker Group album, with the result that Schenker only received a flat fee.[1]

After nearly-disastrous North American and European tours in 2007, which included cancelled shows and less-than-stellar performances caused by heavy drinking, Schenker regained his composure and toured in the UK as Michael Schenker & Friends in 2008. Early 2008, Schenker worked with Gary Barden, Don Airey, Simon Phillips, and Neil Murray on a new MSG album In the Midst of Beauty, which was released in May 2008, followed by touring.

In 2009 Schenker toured extensively including Russia, UK and the US with MSG including original members Gary Barden and Chris Glenn.

In November 2010, Schenker was given the Marshall "11" award in London along with other rock legends including Ron Wood and Slash. The award was presented to Schenker by Alice Cooper, with Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi and John Paul Jones also in attendance. The award is given to "those artists and musicians who represent rock 'n' roll excess and livin' on the edge."[14]

In 2011 Schenker released a new album, Temple of Rock. It was supported with a tour of Europe, Japan and the USA. In Europe the line up included Herman Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass, both former members of Scorpions (Rarebell also joined the band for the Japanese dates) and Doogie White, formerly singer for Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen. With this line-up he recorded the album Bridge the Gap which was released in 2013.

In August 2012 Schenker received a Lifetime Achievement in Rock and Roll Award from Vegas Rocks! Magazine. The award was presented by David Coverdale of Whitesnake. During the award ceremony Schenker performed with Sammy Hagar of Chickenfoot, Montrose and Van Halen.

Instruments and sound

Schenker's main guitar for much of his career was a Gibson Flying V, which he typically played through a "cocked" wah-wah pedal (switched on but left in a single spot, around halfway through the travel of the foot pedal, and used as an equaliser to strengthen the midrange "sweet spot"[1]) and Marshall amplifiers. His "unmistakable midrange tone"[1] emphasised by the partially engaged wah,[15] as exemplified on the song "Rock Bottom" from the live UFO album Strangers in the Night, was listed among the 50 greatest tones of all time by Guitar Player magazine.[16] Since 2004, Michael Schenker has switched to using a signature model Dean V.[17]

In 2007 Dean Guitars, after producing a signature Schenker Dean V, also made two acoustic models with the familiar black and white "V" design.[18]

In video games

Awards and recognition

  • Placed on Guitar World magazine's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists.[19]
  • In 2010 Schenker was given the Marshall "11" award.[20]
  • Michael Schenker accepts his "Rock Guitar Legend" award at the Vegas Rocks! Magazine Music Awards 2012
  • On 16 June 2014. Michael Schenker was honored the Golden God Icon Award at the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards at the IndiO2 in London which was presented to him by Joe Perry of Aerosmith


Schenker has been on the covers of many guitar magazines and has influenced many notable guitar players, including Kirk Hammett[21] and James Hetfield[22] (Metallica),[23] Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman (Megadeth),[23][24][25] Dimebag Darrell (Pantera),[23][26] Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson (Testament),[23][27] Mike McCready (Pearl Jam),[23] Gary Holt (Exodus),[23][28][29] Rob Cavestany (Death Angel),[30] Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden),[23], Slash,[23] John Norum (Europe), Paul Gilbert,[23] Randy Rhoads,[23] George Lynch (Dokken),[23] Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions), Warren DeMartini (Ratt),[23] John Petrucci (Dream Theater),[23][31] Michael Amott (Arch Enemy),[23] Dan Spitz (Anthrax), Criss Oliva (Savatage), Jeff Waters (Annihilator),[23] Phil Campbell (Motörhead), and Kerry King (Slayer).[23]


with Scorpions

with UFO


known as Michael Schenker Group (1980–1986, 1993–2010) and McAuley Schenker Group (1986–1993)

Studio albums

Live albums


Cover albums



Schenker Pattison Summit

  • The Endless Jam (2004)
  • The Endless Jam Continues (2005)


  • Acoustic Project: Gipsy Lady (2009)

Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock

  • Temple of Rock (2011)
  • Temple of Rock - Live in Europe (2012, live)
  • Bridge the Gap (2013)
  • Spirit on a Mission (2015)
  • On a Mission: Live in Madrid (2016)

Michael Schenker Fest

  • Live: Tokyo International Forum Hall A (2017)
  • Resurrection (2018)
  • Revelation (2019)

Other Schenker projects


  • The Essential Michael Schenker Group (Best Of-style compilation, 1992)
  • The Story of Michael Schenker (1994, Compilation)
  • Armed & ready – the best of the Michael Schenker Group (1994, Music Collection International)
  • The Michael Schenker Story Live (1994): see also The Michael Schenker Story Live, the audio recording.
  • Forever And More: The Best Of Michael Schenker (2003)
  • Greatest Riffs (2009, US-only compilation)
  • Instrumental Intensity (2010, Shrapnel Records compilation)

MSG videography


  1. Gill, Chris (September 2008). "Brick by Brick". Guitar World. p. 44-. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  2. Prown, Pete; HP Newquist; Jon F. Eiche (1997). Legends of rock guitar: the essential reference of rock's greatest guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-7935-4042-6.
  3. Simon Rushworth (8 December 2014). "EXCLUSIVE – MICHAEL SCHENKER INTERVIEW". rushonrock.com. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  4. Strong, Martin Charles; John Peel (2002). The Great Rock Discography. The National Academies. p. 926. ISBN 978-1-84195-312-0.
  5. Saulnier, Jason (23 January 2009). "Michael Schenker Interview". Music Legends. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  6. Dodd, Philip (2005). The Book of Rock: From the 1950s to Today. Thunder's Mouth. p. 470. ISBN 978-1-56025-729-5.
  7. "YouTube". Youtube.com.
  8. Power, Martin (1997). The complete guide to the music of Aerosmith. Omnibus. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-7119-5598-1.
  9. Huxley, Martin (1995). Aerosmith: the fall and the rise of rock's greatest band. Macmillan. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-312-11737-5.
  10. "Off-Rails-Aboard-Crazy-Blizzard" by Rudy Sarzo
  11. Osbourne, Ozzy; Ayres, Chris (2010). I Am Ozzy. Hachette. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-446-56989-7. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  12. Harris, Shelly (28 July 2009). "Behind Blue Eyes: Up Close and Personal with Iconic Guitar God Michael Schenker". KNAC. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  13. "Rock Music Star – Graham Bonnet". Rock Music Star. 21 April 2011. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  14. "Classic Rock Roll of Honour Winners Revealed!". Classic Rock Magazine. 10 November 2010. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  15. The Boss Book: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Popular Compact Effects for Guitar. Hal Leonard. 2002. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-634-04480-9.
  16. Blackett, Matt (October 2004). "The 50 Greatest Tones of All Time". Guitar Player: 44–66.
  17. "11 legends of the Flying V and explorer". Music Radar. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  18. Gill, Chris (September 2007). "Built to Destroy: Dean Michael Schenker Performer MSP and Exotica MSE Acoustic-Electric Guitars". Guitar World. p. 187. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  19. Blabbermouth GUITAR WORLD's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists Of All Time Archived 2 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 18 July 2008.
  20. "The Official Site". Michael Schenker Himself. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  21. ..James Hetfield recalls.'It was the second guitar I ever owned...I wanted a white one because Michael Schenker of U.F.O. had one, so I needed one, too..."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. "Michael Schenker - Metal Master Kingdom Interview". metalmasterkingdom.com. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  23. Dave Mustaine Quotes.. When I was a kid, I had guitar heroes: Jimmy Page, Michael Schenker, Angus Young.."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  24. ..Mustaine attributed his choice of the Flying V guitar to being a fan of UFO's Michael Schenker when he was growing up...Dave Mustaine
  25. "60 Minutes: Dimebag Darrell Compiles His Ultimate Compilation CD". Guitar World. 20 August 2013. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  26. "Interview: Testament's Eric Peterson Discusses Gear, Influences and Writing Guitar Solos". Guitar World. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  27. "Interview With Gary Holt Of Exodus". Metal Underground. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  28. "Exodus Holt owes a debt to Schenker". Team Rock. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  29. "DMS - Rob Cavestany". deanmarkley.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  30. "John Petrucci | Similar Artists". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2019.

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