Personalities | Michael Schenker | UFO Guitar Legend | Guitar Heroes

Though he has been cited by countless rock guitarists as a major influence, and despite the fact that he cofounded legendary metal band Scorpions, guitarist Michael Schenker (b. 1955) remains one of the most underrated and underappreciated guitarists of all time.

Born in Sarstedt, Germany, Schenker was first turned on to the guitar when his older brother Rudolf brought home a Gibson Flying V. Inspired by the heavy tone of Mountain’s Leslie West and the nimble fretwork of Hank Marvin, Michael taught himself to play and would then join Rudolf in forming Scorpions, recording their first album, Lonesome Crow (1972), when he was just 17. But even at this young age, it was clear that Michael possessed considerable talent.

During the ensuing tour, British space-metal group UFO witnessed Schenker’s formidable guitar chops at a sound check and asked him to join the band as lead guitarist. With Rudolf’s blessing, Michael took the gig, and it was with UFO that Schenker’s reputation as a guitarist would begin to be formed. His first album with UFO, Phenomenon (1974), contained such future hard-rock classics as ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’. The album also contained an instrumental track titled ‘Lipstick Traces’, which Schenker played entirely with his feet! It was also around this time that he would begin playing his famous black and white Gibson Flying V, an instrument with which Michael would become synonymous.

After several more successful albums, Schenker’s alcohol abuse led to his exit from UFO in 1979. He rejoined Scorpions later that year, staying just long enough to record Lovedrive, before leaving again. He next set out on his own, starting the first of many incarnations of the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). Craving commercial success, however, he steered away from his hard-rock roots, and in the mid- to late 1980s, reached the cusp with singer Robin McCauley supplying the ‘M’ in MSG. Since then, Schenker has focused mostly on solo albums, including three releases in 2001 alone (MS 2000: Dreams And Expressions, Odd Trio and Be Aware Of Scorpions). The MSG album In The Midst Of Beauty was released in 2008, with further solo releases from Schenker including Temple Of Rock (2011) and Bridge The Gap (2013). Schenker also received an endorsement deal with Dean Guitars, which makes the black and white Michael Schenker Signature V guitar.

Essential Recordings

Scorpions: Lonesome Crow

UFO: Phenomenon

Michael Schenker Group: MSG

Solo: Thank You

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