Personalities | Uli Jon Roth | Scorpions to Sky Guitar | Guitar Heroes

Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, Ulrich ‘Uli’ Jon Roth (b. 1954) began his lifelong musical journey on the trumpet, before switching to the classical guitar at the age of 13.

This training, combined with his passion for classical music, would help Roth become one of the main protagonists of the neo-classical shred guitar style, later brought to the forefront by Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen.

From 1973 until 1978, Roth was the primary songwriter and lead guitarist for legendary German rock group Scorpions, having replaced guitarist Michael Schenker, who left to form UFO in 1973. Roth recorded five albums with the band, the final one being 1978’s Taken By Force, which featured the Roth-penned ‘Sails Of Charon’. This track, which Roth says was musically inspired by a Tchaikovsky violin concerto, is significant in that it represents arguably the first example of neo-classical shred guitar, and it would also come to be Roth’s best-known song in the US.

Soon after Taken By Force was released, Roth left Scorpions, dissatisfied with the commercial turn the band’s sound was taking. He next formed Electric Sun, which lasted from 1978 until 1985. It was during this time too that Roth focused more on the neo-classical aspects of his guitar playing. To execute his classically based compositional ideas, he replaced his long-beloved Fender Strat with a newly commissioned six-octave 32-fret guitar. The result, the Sky Guitar, made its debut on Electric Sun’s final album, Beyond The Astral Skies (1984) and has been Roth’s weapon of choice for over 20 years now.

Starting in 1985, Roth spent much of his time working in the classical music spectrum, writing four symphonies and two concertos, and playing with symphony orchestras throughout Europe. In 1991, he served as musical director for the television special ‘A Different Side of Jimi Hendrix’. In 1998, he joined Michael Schenker and Joe Satriani on the European leg of the G3 tour. In 2000, he released the two-CD set Transcendental Sky Guitar, and in 2004, the concerto Metamorphosis Of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, a twenty-first-century incarnation of the spirit of Vivaldi’s music. Roth’s Under A Dark Sky was released in 2008.

Essential Recordings

Scorpions: In Trance

Scorpions: Taken By Force

Electric Sun: Beyond The Astral Skies

Solo: Transcendental Sky Guitar

Personalities | Todd Rundgren | From Eclectic to Iconic | Guitar Heroes


An extensive music information resource, bringing together the talents and expertise of a wide range of editors and musicologists, including Stanley Sadie, Charles Wilson, Paul Du Noyer, Tony Byworth, Bob Allen, Howard Mandel, Cliff Douse, William Schafer, John Wilson...


Classical, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country and more. Flame Tree has been making encyclopaedias and guides about music for over 20 years. Now Flame Tree Pro brings together a huge canon of carefully curated information on genres, styles, artists and instruments. It's a perfect tool for study, and entertaining too, a great companion to our music books.

Rock, A Life Story

Rock, A Life Story

The ultimate story of a life of rock music, from the 1950s to the present day.

David Bowie

David Bowie

Fantastic new, unofficial biography covers his life, music, art and movies, with a sweep of incredible photographs.