Michael Schenker
Schenker in 2015
Schenker in 2015
Background information
Born (1955-01-10) 10 January 1955 (age 68)
Sarstedt, West Germany[1]
Years active1966–present
LabelsNuclear Blast
Member of
Formerly of

Michael Schenker (born 10 January 1955)[2] is a German guitarist. He played in the rock band UFO and leads the Michael Schenker Group. He was an early member of the hard rock band Scorpions, a band co-founded by his elder brother Rudolf Schenker. In the mid-1970s, Schenker joined UFO, playing lead and rhythm guitar. He left the band in 1978 to found the Michael Schenker Group. He has rejoined UFO three times, producing an album each time. Schenker continues to perform and record.[3] He has been called "a legendary figure in the history of metal guitar".[4]


Early career and rise to fame: Scorpions and UFO

Schenker started playing guitar at an early age, after his brother Rudolf got a Gibson Flying V guitar for his birthday, which captured his imagination. His main influences were Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Leslie West, Johnny Winter and Rory Gallagher.[5] He played his first gig when he was 11, with Rudolf and the Scorpions in a nightclub. Schenker played with the Scorpions on their debut Lonesome Crow at the age of 16.[6][7]

After recording their first album, the Scorpions opened for up-and-coming UK band UFO in Germany. Schenker was invited to be lead guitarist for UFO (taking over from Bernie Marsden, himself a temporary replacement for Mick Bolton).[8] With Rudolf's blessing, Schenker accepted. (The Scorpions replaced him with Uli Roth.)

Schenker cowrote most of the songs on UFO's major label (Chrysalis Records) debut Phenomenon. His career with UFO was turbulent, sometimes walking off mid-song and causing shows to be cancelled. Despite successful albums and tours, Schenker unequivocally quit UFO after their show in Palo Alto, California, on 29 October 1978. During this tour the band had recorded six concerts, from which selected tracks would make up their live album Strangers in the Night, released after he left the band. "[Singer Phil] Mogg later claimed that I left UFO over a disagreement about which version of 'Rock Bottom' appeared on Strangers," Schenker recalled, "but don't believe everything you read."[9]

Schenker briefly rejoined Scorpions in late 1978, when they were recording Lovedrive. He composed and played lead guitar on "Another Piece of Meat", "Coast To Coast" and "Lovedrive".[6] Although it was believed for decades that those three were Schenker's only contributions to the record, during an interview with satellite radio host Eddie Trunk, Schenker vehemently maintained that he contributed to the whole album.[10] In 1979, Schenker briefly toured with the band in support of the album. He blamed his very short stay on finding out he did not enjoy playing other people's songs. He was permanently replaced by Matthias Jabs, who had originally joined Scorpions before Schenker's return.

Schenker auditioned for Aerosmith in 1979 after Joe Perry left.[11] According to Martin Huxley, Schenker stormed out of the room after producer Gary Lyons made jokes about Nazis.[12] After the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne's first call was to Schenker to replace Rhoads, as the German guitarist and his iconic Flying V were a huge influence on the latter.[13] But, Osbourne claims, Schenker made too many outlandish demands (including a private jet).[14] Schenker himself, in an interview with KNAC radio, claims he was the one to say "no" to Osbourne: "If I would have joined Ozzy Osbourne, I would have screwed up my life. I was almost about to do it, and something told me: DON'T!!"[15] Schenker has also claimed that at some point he was offered, but turned down joining the likes of Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Ian Hunter and Motörhead in order to focus on his solo career.[16]

Michael Schenker Group, McAuley Schenker Group and UFO Reunion

Schenker in 1981

In 1979, Schenker started a solo career by founding the Michael Schenker Group (MSG). The history of MSG is strewn with personality conflicts and incidents. In 1982, original singer Gary Barden, who sang on the first two studio albums and a live album, was fired in favour of Graham Bonnet. Bonnet lasted one album (Assault Attack) and a single gig, at Sheffield University, where he drunkenly exposed himself and was subsequently fired from the band.[17] Barden rejoined MSG for the rest of the tour. He also appeared on the 1983 studio album (Built to Destroy) and the band's second live album (Rock Will Never Die).

After Barden's second departure, Schenker reorganized the band around himself and new singer Robin McAuley and renamed it the McAuley Schenker Group. The new incarnation of MSG was steered toward a more commercial hard rock sound. After three albums, Schenker and McAuley parted company. In the meantime, he briefly replaced Robbin Crosby in Ratt, appearing on their 1990 MTV Unplugged performance.

In 1993, Schenker rejoined UFO. He co-wrote (with Phil Mogg) nearly the whole of their reunion album, Walk on Water (1995), and toured with them briefly.

He then resurrected the Michael Schenker Group with all new members and recorded three more albums, Written in the Sand, The Unforgiven, and Be Aware of Scorpions before rejoining UFO for two further releases, Covenant and Sharks.


Schenker fell on hard times in the early 2000s, despite his rejoining UFO that year.[3] He later recorded the album Arachnophobiac and supported it with two years of touring. In 2004, recognition came from Dean Guitars, which began producing a Schenker signature Dean V (with subtle differences from the Gibson, but with the split black and white trademark Schenker finish).

2005 was the 25th anniversary of the Michael Schenker Group. Schenker put together a new album of songs called Tales of Rock'n'Roll to celebrate the anniversary and enlisted singers from each iteration of the band to sing on the album. However, in that same year the collection Heavy Hitters, a set of covers featuring Schenker and a revolving group of heavy metal all-stars, was marketed as a Michael Schenker Group album, with the result that Schenker only received a flat fee.[3]

After nearly-disastrous North American and European tours in 2007, which included cancelled shows and less-than-stellar performances caused by heavy drinking, Schenker regained his composure and toured in the UK as Michael Schenker & Friends in 2008. Early 2008, Schenker worked with Gary Barden, Don Airey, Simon Phillips, and Neil Murray on a new MSG album In the Midst of Beauty, which was released in May 2008, followed by touring.

In 2009 Schenker toured extensively including Russia, UK and the US with MSG including original members Gary Barden and Chris Glenn.

In November 2010, Schenker was given the Marshall "11" award in London along with other rock legends including Ron Wood and Slash. The award was presented to Schenker by Alice Cooper, with Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi and John Paul Jones also in attendance. The award is given to "those artists and musicians who represent rock 'n' roll excess and livin' on the edge."[18]

In 2011 Schenker released a new album, Temple of Rock. It was supported with a tour of Europe, Japan and the USA. In Europe the line up included Herman Rarebell on drums and Francis Buchholz on bass, both former members of Scorpions (Rarebell also joined the band for the Japanese dates) and Doogie White, formerly singer for Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen. With this line-up he recorded the album Bridge the Gap which was released in 2013.

In August 2012 Schenker received a Lifetime Achievement in Rock and Roll Award from Vegas Rocks! Magazine. The award was presented by David Coverdale of Whitesnake. During the award ceremony Schenker performed with Sammy Hagar of Chickenfoot, Montrose and Van Halen.

In 2016, Schenker toured Japan under the name of "The Michael Schenker Fest" featuring current and former singers: Doogie White, Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin MacAuley, bassist Chris Glen, drummer Ted MacKenna and keyboardist/guitarist Steve Mann, releasing one live album "Fest: Live Tokyo International Forum Hall" (2Cd/Dvd) following more two albuns, Revelation (2018) and Resurrection (2019). This lineup disbanded after the loss of the drummer Ted Mackenna in January that year.

In 2021, Schenker announced the return to the MSG brand, releasing "Immortal" with some of former MSG/ Fest members: singers Michael Voss, Doogie White, Robin MacAuley and Gary Barden, bassist Barry Sparks, guitarist Steve Mann and drummer Bodo Schopp along with special guests: former Rainbow singers Joe Lynn Turner and Ronnie Romero, longtime collaborators Simon Phillips and Brian Tichy on drums. The following year MSG released the album "Universal" featuring a new steady lineup with Mann, Schopp, Romero and bassist Barry Sparks. And as usual some special guest such as vocalists Ralph Scheepers (Primal Fear) and Michael Kiske (Helloween), former Rainbow members, keyboardist Tony Carey, drummer Bobby Rondinelli and bassist Bob Daisley. In July 2022 Dutch bassist Barend Corbois (ex-Blind Guardian) was announced as the new touring bass player.

Instruments and sound

Schenker in 2022

Schenker's main guitar for most of his career was a Gibson Flying V, which he typically played through a "cocked" wah-wah pedal (switched on but left in a single position, around halfway through the travel of the foot pedal, and used as an equaliser to strengthen the midrange "sweet spot"[3]) and Marshall amplifiers. Schenker's "unmistakable midrange tone"[3] was emphasised by the partially engaged wah pedal,[19] as exemplified on the song "Rock Bottom" from the live UFO album Strangers in the Night, was listed among the 50 greatest tones of all time by Guitar Player magazine.[20] Since 2004, Schenker has switched to using a signature model Dean V.[21]

In 2007 Dean Guitars, after producing Schenker's signature Dean V, also made two acoustic models with the familiar black and white "V" design.[22]

Awards and recognition

  • Placed on Guitar World magazine's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists.[23]
  • In 2010 Schenker was given the Marshall "11" award.[24]
  • Schenker accepted his "Rock Guitar Legend" award at the Vegas Rocks! Magazine Music Awards 2012.[citation needed]
  • On 16 June 2014, Schenker was honored the Golden God Icon Award at the Metal Hammer Golden God Awards at the IndiO2 in London.[citation needed]


Schenker has been on the covers of many guitar magazines and has influenced many notable guitar players, including Kirk Hammett[25] and James Hetfield[26] (Metallica),[27] Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman (Megadeth),[27][28][29] Dimebag Darrell (Pantera),[27][30] Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson (Testament),[27][31] Mike McCready (Pearl Jam),[27] Gary Holt (Exodus),[27][32][33] Rob Cavestany (Death Angel),[34] Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden),[27] Slash,[27] John Norum (Europe), Paul Gilbert,[27] Randy Rhoads,[27] George Lynch (Dokken), Warren DeMartini (Ratt),[27] John Petrucci (Dream Theater),[27][35] Michael Amott (Arch Enemy),[27] Dan Spitz (Anthrax), Criss Oliva (Savatage), Jeff Waters (Annihilator),[27] Phil Campbell (Motörhead), Kerry King (Slayer),[27] and Syu (Galneryus).[36]

Michael Schenker Group band members

Current members

  • Michael Schenker – lead and rhythm guitars, backing vocals (1979–1984, 1986–1993, 1996–present)
  • Robin McAuley – lead vocals (1986–1993, 2011, 2012, 2016–2020, 2022 2023–present)
  • Bodo Schopf – drums (1986–1987, 1988–1991, 2007–2008, 2019–present)
  • Steve Mann – keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (1986–1987, 1988–1991, 2016–present)
  • Barend Courbois – bass, backing vocals (2021–present)


Year Band Title Notes
1966 Michael Schenker "LIVE" At Age 11 With The Enervates Live with the Enervates. September 13, 1966 Beat Club 1
1972 Scorpions Lonesome Crow
1974 Scorpions Fly to the Rainbow co-writer
1974 UFO Phenomenon
1975 UFO Force It
1976 UFO No Heavy Petting
1977 UFO Lights Out
1978 UFO Obsession
1979 UFO Strangers in the Night Live
1979 Scorpions Lovedrive Lead guitar, backing vocals on 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 10
1980 Michael Schenker Group The Michael Schenker Group
1981 Michael Schenker Group MSG
1982 Michael Schenker Group One Night at Budokan Live
1982 Michael Schenker Group Assault Attack
1983 Michael Schenker Group Built to Destroy
1984 Michael Schenker Group Rock Will Never Die Live, CD/VHS
1984 Michael Schenker Group Super Rock '84 in Japan Live, VHS
1987 McAuley Schenker Group Perfect Timing
1989 McAuley Schenker Group Save Yourself
1991 Contraband Contraband
1992 UFO BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert Live, Tracks 9,10,11,12, Recorded in 1974 and 1976
1992 McAuley Schenker Group MSG
1992 McAuley Schenker Group Nightmare: The Acoustic M.S.G. EP
1992 McAuley Schenker Group "Unplugged" Live Live
1993 Michael Schenker (Solo) Thank You
1995 UFO Walk on Water
1996 UFO On With The Action Live, Recorded at the London Roundhouse Sunday 25 April 1976
1996 Michael Schenker Group Written in the Sand
1997 Michael Schenker Group The Michael Schenker Story Live Live, CD/VHS
1998 Michael Schenker (Solo) Thank You with Orchestra
1998 UFO Werewolves Of London Live, Recorded at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on 10 February 1998
1999 Michael Schenker Group The Unforgiven
1999 Michael Schenker Group The Unforgiven World Tour Live
2000 Michael Schenker Group Michael Schenker Live in Japan The Unforgiven World Tour 2000 Live, VHS
2000 Michael Schenker (Solo) Adventures of the Imagination
2000 Michael Schenker (Solo) The Odd Trio
2000 Michael Schenker (Solo) MS 2000: Dreams and Expressions
2000 UFO Covenant
2001 Michael Schenker Group Be Aware of Scorpions
2002 UFO Sharks
2002 Michael Schenker (Solo) Thank You 2
2002 Michael Schenker (Solo) Thank You 3
2003 Michael Schenker (Solo) Thank You 4
2003 Michael Schenker Group Arachnophobiac
2003 UFO Live on Earth Live, Recorded at Rockpalast, Vienna, Austria on 28 January 1998
2003 The Plot The Plot
2003 Amy Schugar, Michael Schenker Under Construction
2004 Michael Schenker Group World Wide Live 2004 Live, DVD
2004 Schenker Pattison Summit The Endless Jam
2005 Schenker Pattison Summit The Endless Jam Continues
2005 Michael Schenker Group Live in Tokyo 1997 Live, DVD
2005 Michael Schenker Group Heavy Hitters Cover
2006 Michael Schenker Group Tales of Rock'n'Roll
2008 Michael Schenker Group, Michael Schenker, Gary Barden[1] In the Midst of Beauty
2009 Schenker/Barden Acoustic Project Gipsy Lady
2010 Michael Schenker Group The 30th Anniversary Concert – Live in Tokyo Live, CD/DVD
2011 Michael Schenker Group By Invitation Only Cover
2011 Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock Temple of Rock
2012 Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock Temple of Rock – Live in Europe Live, CD/DVD
2013 Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock Bridge the Gap
2015 Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock Spirit on a Mission
2016 Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock On a Mission: Live in Madrid Live, CD/DVD
2017 Michael Schenker Fest Live: Tokyo International Forum Hall A Live, CD/DVD
2018 Michael Schenker Fest Resurrection
2019 Michael Schenker Fest Revelation
2021 Michael Schenker Group Immortal
2022 Michael Schenker Group Universal

Other Schenker projects


  • The Essential Michael Schenker Group (Best Of-style compilation, 1992)
  • The Story of Michael Schenker (1994, Compilation)
  • Armed & ready – the best of the Michael Schenker Group (1994, Music Collection International)
  • The Michael Schenker Story Live (1994): see also The Michael Schenker Story Live, the audio recording.
  • Forever And More: The Best of Michael Schenker (2003)
  • Guitar Master - The Kulick Sessions (2008)2
  • Guitar Master (2009)[3]
  • Greatest Riffs (2009, US-only compilation)
  • Instrumental Intensity (2010, Shrapnel Records compilation)
  • Blood Of The Sun (2014)[4]


  1. ^ Clifford, Mike (1988). The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock. New York: Salamander Books, Harmony Books. p. 153.
  2. ^ Rose, Mike (10 January 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 10, 2023 includes celebrities Rod Stewart, Sarah Shahi". Cleveland.com. Retrieved 10 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e Gill, Chris (September 2008). "Brick by Brick". Guitar World. p. 44-. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
  4. ^ Prown, Pete; HP Newquist; Jon F. Eiche (1997). Legends of rock guitar: the essential reference of rock's greatest guitarists. Hal Leonard. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-7935-4042-6.
  5. ^ Simon Rushworth (8 December 2014). "EXCLUSIVE – MICHAEL SCHENKER INTERVIEW". rushonrock.com. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  6. ^ a b Strong, Martin Charles; John Peel (2002). The Great Rock Discography. The National Academies. p. 926. ISBN 978-1-84195-312-0.
  7. ^ Saulnier, Jason (23 January 2009). "Michael Schenker Interview". Music Legends. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  8. ^ Dodd, Philip (2005). The Book of Rock: From the 1950s to Today. Thunder's Mouth. p. 470. ISBN 978-1-56025-729-5.
  9. ^ Ling, Dave (November 2016). "100 Greatest Guitar Solos". Classic Rock. No. 229. p. 39.
  10. ^ "YouTube". Youtube.com. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019.
  11. ^ Power, Martin (1997). The complete guide to the music of Aerosmith. Omnibus. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-7119-5598-1.
  12. ^ Huxley, Martin (1995). Aerosmith: the fall and the rise of rock's greatest band. Macmillan. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-312-11737-5.
  13. ^ "Off-Rails-Aboard-Crazy-Blizzard" by Rudy Sarzo
  14. ^ Osbourne, Ozzy; Ayres, Chris (2010). I Am Ozzy. Hachette. p. 164. ISBN 978-0-446-56989-7. Retrieved 17 January 2012.
  15. ^ Harris, Shelly (28 July 2009). "Behind Blue Eyes: Up Close and Personal with Iconic Guitar God Michael Schenker". KNAC. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  16. ^ "Michael Schenker on creativity, immortality, and why he'll never make peace with Rudolf". Louder Sound. 6 May 2021. Retrieved 6 May 2021.
  17. ^ "Rock Music Star – Graham Bonnet". Rock Music Star. 21 April 2011. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Classic Rock Roll of Honour Winners Revealed!". Classic Rock Magazine. 10 November 2010. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  19. ^ The Boss Book: The Ultimate Guide to the World's Most Popular Compact Effects for Guitar. Hal Leonard. 2002. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-634-04480-9.
  20. ^ Blackett, Matt (October 2004). "The 50 Greatest Tones of All Time". Guitar Player: 44–66.
  21. ^ "11 legends of the Flying V and explorer". Music Radar. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 17 August 2009.
  22. ^ Gill, Chris (September 2007). "Built to Destroy: Dean Michael Schenker Performer MSP and Exotica MSE Acoustic-Electric Guitars". Guitar World. p. 187. Retrieved 17 August 2009.[dead link]
  23. ^ Blabbermouth GUITAR WORLD's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists Of All Time Archived 2 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 18 July 2008.
  24. ^ "The Official Site". Michael Schenker Himself. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  25. ^ "Kirk Hammett Questions and Answers 2001". 1 January 2004. Archived from the original on 1 January 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  26. ^ ..James Hetfield recalls.'It was the second guitar I ever owned...I wanted a white one because Michael Schenker of U.F.O. had one, so I needed one, too..."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Michael Schenker – Metal Master Kingdom Interview". metalmasterkingdom.com. 17 January 2018. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  28. ^ Dave Mustaine Quotes.. When I was a kid, I had guitar heroes: Jimmy Page, Michael Schenker, Angus Young.."BLABBERMOUTH.NET - MEGADETH's DAVE MUSTAINE: 'I Experimented with Black Magic and Witchcraft'". Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2016..
  29. ^ ..Mustaine attributed his choice of the Flying V guitar to being a fan of UFO's Michael Schenker when he was growing up...Dave Mustaine
  30. ^ "60 Minutes: Dimebag Darrell Compiles His Ultimate Compilation CD". Guitar World. 20 August 2013. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  31. ^ "Interview: Testament's Eric Peterson Discusses Gear, Influences and Writing Guitar Solos". Guitar World. 6 April 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  32. ^ "Interview With Gary Holt Of Exodus". Metal Underground. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  33. ^ "Exodus Holt owes a debt to Schenker". Team Rock. 12 September 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  34. ^ "DMS – Rob Cavestany". deanmarkley.com. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  35. ^ "John Petrucci | Similar Artists". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  36. ^ "Exclusive interview with Syu". Jame-world.com. 15 December 2006. Retrieved 3 July 2021.

External links