“We wanted to break away from Germany’s ugly history”

Needless to say, the band’s music has aged much better than its press releases. Scorpions fans can be roughly divided into two camps: older listeners who prefer the neo-classical shading of early records such as Lonesome Crow and Fly To The Rainbow – released under the tenure of virtuoso guitarist Uli Jon Roth – or the arena – the era of rocking monster ballads from albums such as Blackout and Love At First Sting. Because of more of the latter, Rock Survivor features the one constant that has long separated its authors from many other bands of their genre – a touch of class.

Of course, at this point in their career, the Scorpions have very little need to bother with new material. “You ask yourself, ‘should we make a new album or should we just keep going?’ admits Meine. “We have a huge back catalog. Is there a need for a new one?” The band decided to go ahead anyway after being told by a “super-fan” in Athens that their supporters would welcome a brand new record, as long as it rocked. that there was a bit of a punch behind it. “Of course,” the singer said, “the next question then is, ‘How?’ Is there a loss of confidence after all these years? It’s a huge question mark and a huge challenge to begin with.

In fact, it has always been so. Regardless of the critical applause that pleased their compatriots Kraftwerk and Can, the formation of Scorpions in 1965 proved to be an important chapter in the healing process undertaken by Germany’s post-war generation. Slipping into traditional schlager music, its members listened to Elvis and Little Richard on international radio as children. Early gigs saw them playing western rock standards without having a clue what they were singing.

Klaus Meine is convinced of this. “In hindsight”, the reason the band wrote their own English songs “was because we tried to break away from Germany’s ugly history”. Instead, “we tried to be part of the global community of musicians. We wanted to be part of the international rock family. And singing in English, even if the English wasn’t good enough, [that] was the ticket to take our music all over the world and be part of the global community.

It worked too. As a young teenager, I remember looking at a photo of the band performing in front of 350,000 people, on the gatefold of the 1985 LP World Wide Live double gig, and wondering where the hell such an event could have been. organized. The answer, I would learn later, was Glen Helen Regional Park in San Bernardino, California, where Scorpions appeared under the sole headliners Van Halen during the short-lived American festival’s “Heavy Metal Day.” long and financially ruinous.

“We thought, ‘Well, how can we do this [show] special?” recalls the singer. “Besides playing a great concert, you know? So someone hired fighter jets. Five fighter planes. When we came out on stage, these five fighter jets flew over the San Bernardino Valley, high above the audience, and it was the most amazing intro a band could ever think of.

You get the picture. As the Scorpions jumped aboard a custom-painted 747 chartered by convicted music mogul and drug dealer Harold “Doc” McGhee en route to the Moscow Peace Music Festival in 1989, they were as much a part of the western hard rock firmament as fellow passengers Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Motley Crue. The only difference was that they lived in a city just two hours from a Berlin Wall that had divided the northern hemisphere since 1961.