Michael Schenker


musical style: 

photograph of Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker (born January 10, 1955) is a hard rock and heavy metal guitarist of UFO and a founding member of the Scorpions. He signed with Chrysalis Records in autumn 1979 after leaving UFO. He is the younger brother of Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions fame.

Michael was born in Sarstedt, Germany. He started playing in his early teens when his brother Rudolph brought home a Flying V guitar, which captured Michael's imagination. His playing style is unusual in that he seems not to use conventionally practiced guitar scales but seems instead to improvise.

Schenker joined UFO under unusual circumstances. The band left the UK to play some dates in Germany. Their guitarist at the time; Bernie Marsden, forgot his passport and was unable to make the first gig. At the venue UFO spotted Michael playing a soundcheck with the Scorpions and managed to persuade him into playing that evening's show. Despite the language barrier; he spoke no English and they spoke no German, something clearly "clicked" and Schenker brought the ellusive X factor to the band and took them to another level musically.

Schenker has had a turbulent career with UFO, often walking out mid song and causing shows to be cancelled. He is evidently as temperamental as he is gifted. Schenker says his playing with UFO is like chocolate: fantastic for a while but once you've had enough....

Clearly a musical prodigy, Schenker was one of the 1970's most inspirational guitarists, influencing later musicians such as Kirk Hammett from the band Metallica.

Michael was offered gigs with Aerosmith and Ozzy Osbourne but decided he wanted to play his own music and not be a hired hand in another group. In 1979, he founded the Michael Schenker Group (M.S.G). The history of the Michael Schenker Group has been strewn with personality conflicts and "incidents" between band members. In 1982, original vocalist Gary Barden was sacked in favor of Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, Alcatrazz) who lasted one album (Assault Attack) and was fired from the band after dropping his pants in a warm-up gig before the Reading festival. Gary Barden was enticed back to the band for Reading and stayed with M.S.G. for the recording of a new studio album (Built to Destroy) and a live album (Rock Will Never Die). After the second departure of vocalist Gary Barden after the Built to Destroy album, Michael reorganized the band around himself and vocalist Robin McAuley as the McAuley Schenker Group. After three albums in that configuration, Michael and Robin parted company.

Michael next rejoined UFO for the album Walk on Water. A short tour punctuated by a fight between Michael and vocalist Phil Mogg ended the reunion.

Michael resurrected the Michael Schenker Group with all new players and recorded three decent albums and toured yearly to appreciative Schenker-heads around the United States and Europe.

Michael fell on hard times in the early 2000's after his divorce in which he lost rights to his own music, his Mercedes and his prized Flying V guitars.

Michael picked himself up and got back to the business of making and performing music. The recording of the album Arachnophobiac and the resulting two years of touring got Michael back in rocking form.

2005 brings the 25th anniversary of the Michael Schenker Group. Michael is putting together a new album of songs called Tales of Rock and Roll honoring that anniversary. Singers from each iteration of the group have been enlisted to sing on a track or two.

A new Michael Schenker Group album is as much about finding out who is left in the band as it is about the music. Devoted fans love him regardless of his personal and personnel problems.

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Gear used by Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker electric guitars

Michael Schenker links