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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Scorpions: The Uli Jon Roth Years; A Personal Homage

Scorpions in Japan, 1978 (

Michael Schenker was replaced as Scorpions lead guitarist by Ulrich Roth in 1973. As a guitar player for Scorpions he recorded four great studio albums and one legendary live LP. The following is a homage to that era in heavy rock history.

Their first effort together was «Fly to the Rainbow» (1974). Uli Jon Roth wrote «Drifting Sun» and co-wrote the title track with Michael Schencker. Both tracks is amazingly great guitar based songs. Below you can watch Roth and Scorpions performing «Fly to the Rainbow» live in Athens, in 2007:

Recording their third album, and the second to feature Roth, «In Trance», (1975), the band began working with producer Dieter Dierks. «In Trance» became a best-seller in Japan. Uli Jon Roth wrote the killer opening track «Dark Lady» and three others as well for the album; «Evening Wind», «Sun in My Hand», the instrumental «Night Lights» and co-wrote, again with Rudolph Schencker, «Longing For Fire». The title track of the album is also a true classic. Below you can watch Scorpions - featuring both Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schencker -performing the song live in Wacken.

The Scorpions soon rise to fame becoming the top German hard rock band, when their fourth album «Virgin Killer» (1976) won the «LP of the Year» award in Germany. Again Roth penned several songs for the album; the title track, «Hell Cat», «Polar Nights», «Yellow Raven» and co-wrote the opening track «Pictured Life» with Klaus Meine and Rudolph Schencker. Even though the album is almost even more famous for the cover, tha album is another great Scorpions LP. Below you can listen to «Hell Cat», live from Japan.

«Virgin Killer» gave them their first Gold Disc in Japan. Their next album «Taken by Force» (1977) was also awarded a Japanese Gold Disc. The album is filled with classics, with three songs written by Roth; the might «The Sails of Charon», «Your Light» and «I`ve Got to Be Free». My all-time personal Scorpions favourite gotta be «The Sails of Charon» - but «I`ve Got to Be Free» is a killer as well. Below you can watch it in a rare video:

Uli Jon Roth would soon leave Scorpions. But before that happend the band toured Japan, and released the legendary double live album «Tokyo Tapes» (1978). On this album Scorpions is on fire! The playing is all over amazing. It stands as one of the best live recordings ever in my opinion. The show opener  « All Night Long» is written by Uli Jon Roth and Klaus Meine. Cheers!

For further reading I recommend the WikiPedia articles and the bio on the official site.


  1. Great. Good to read anything about my favourite guitarist who I've seen live many times, but if you don't mind I would just like to point out one small error. You say Uli co-wrote Fly To The Rainbow with Rudolph Schenker. Uli in fact co-wrote this with Michael Schenker. As I understand it the song was one that Michael had started writing before he left the band and Uli finished it off by adding the slower second part.

  2. Yeah - you`re absolutely right - I`ll fix it. Thanks!

  3. Nice assemblage! Was fortunate to live in Germany back in the day, and saw Scorpions 6 times at various venues. Mannheim, Saarbrucken, Kaiserslautern.
    During the RCA records/Uli days. Then 2 gigs without..Who's this new guy (Matthias)? Great music, great gigs! When they opened for KISS, was blown away, as I had never heard of the band before..Instant fan!