Blog You Like a Hurricane: My First Scorps Blog By Matt Blackett

July 09, 2010
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 Just when I thought that there are no cool hookups left in this crazy business of music, my phone rings and it’s one of my favorite publicists, Wendy Brynford-Jones. “Would you be interested in going on the road with the Scorpions?” she asks. I immediately think it’s a trick question, a cruel hoax, or a clever ruse. “They’ve never even heard me play,” I say. “I’m pretty sure it would be as a writer,” she responds, doing her best to let me down easy. Despite my crestfallen disappointment, I tell her that yes, I’m into it, and I’ve been a fan since 1978. Several calls and emails later and it’s a done deal: I’ll be joining the Scorps for the Florida leg of their farewell tour next week and I’ll be blogging, writing, videoing, interviewing, and rocking in a fashion not dissimilar to that of a hurricane all about it here as well as in the pages of GP. Gearing up for the trip, I think back to the first time I heard the Scorpions…
[Cue dream-sequence, whole-tone scale harp music.]
I was a kid in Novato, CA, and I had been playing guitar for less than a year. The record store in town, Gettin’ in Tune, had a young Mike Varney working behind the counter. My guitarist friends and I all considered him to be the expert on heavy rock guitar (still do), and I rode my skateboard down to the store to look at some records check out some music. Varney asked me what guitarists I liked, and I told him Eddie Van Halen and Michael Schenker. He said, “You should check this out. This is Schenker’s brother’s band.” He unwrapped a brand new copy of the Scorpions’ double live album Tokyo Tapes and put it on the turntable. I remember being blown away by the great tones, the power-chord riffing, and the wild solos. I would learn that “Schenker’s brother” was named Rudolf, and he was the driving rhythm guitar force in the band, with the supremely bitchin’ rig of a Flying V into a Marshall. The insane lead guitar was provided by Ulrich Roth who, along with Van Halen, would become a huge influence on my whammy bar technique, as well as my sense of melody and composition. When I could afford my own copy of Tokyo Tapes, I devoured the guitar parts in tunes like “Speedy’s Coming,” “In Trance” (where I learned a Dm voicing that I still use to this day), “Dark Lady” (which contributed to my love of mixing major scale leads with minor scale chord progressions), and “Steamrock Fever.” It was a huge record and, in my opinion, a criminally underrated one. The tunes, tones, and performances hold up remarkably well after more than three decades, and if any rockers reading this haven’t heard it, what the hell are you waiting for?
Of course, I soon learned that Ulrich Roth had left the band (and Michael Schenker had left UFO—it was a tough summer!) and that the Scorpions would be moving in a new direction as the decade drew to a close. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Stay tuned…

 

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