Scorpions brings 'Crazy World Tour' to Grand Theatre
The latest trek around the world by the German hard rock band Scorpions is called the “Crazy World Tour.” It shares a name with the band’s popular 1990 album which includes several topical, positive songs about changes in the world, including its biggest hit, “Wind of Change.”
Longtime Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker said that the “Crazy World” name is apt for his band’s latest sojourn -- although in a different way than decades ago.
“When we came out with ‘Crazy World,’ the world really was crazy, but in a more positive way,” said Schenker in a phone interview from his home in Germany. “Now, it’s crazy in a negative way, so we want to reflect the good times, when people were trying to understand each other. We’re not politicians, but we want to say, ‘Be careful, because it’s a crazy world out there, and what we want is to have peace.’”
Schenker and his bandmates will be spreading their very loud peace message to fans in Reno as they play on Oct. 3 at Grand Sierra Resort. Even though he spoke to Best Bets in a break from rehearsals, Schenker was already getting ready mentally for big touring for the rest of the year, both in the States and in Europe and Asia.
“I feel sometimes like a rally driver going from one place to the other and trying to make it,” Schenker said. “I’m still happy that the car is still rolling, of course, because of the German quality (laughs). ”
Fans will see the jovial Schenker and his crew play the band’s best-known songs on this tour, something that he said is inevitable these days.
“We do stick to the hits, but what you try to do of course is from time to time change things when you can,” he said. “Today, you can’t be so flexible like in the old days, because these days, we work with a lot of video equipment and then we have special footage, which works with certain songs we play.”
Not that Schenker doesn’t like all that technology: “The music is still here, and that’s why we’ve been around for a long time, but all of this stuff gives us something to make a classic rock band look new.”
Rocking the world
Schenker is the only founding member still in the band, although singer Klaus Meine has been there since 1969, while lead guitarist Matthias Jabs has been with the group since 1978. The bassist is Pawel Maciwoda (with Scorpions since 2003) and its new drummer is Mikkey Dee, best known for his work with metal legends Motorhead.
It was in 1965 that Schenker started Scorpions in Hanover, Germany, first as a more straightforward rock band and then eventually adding more hard rock to the mix.
“First of all, I was always a fan of people like Elvis Presley, Little Richard and a lot of the original rock and roll guys,” Schenker said. “I started playing guitar, but I put it back in the corner because soccer was more important. I didn’t want to play music by myself because I am a team player.”
The British Invasion changed all that for Schenker: “The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Pretty Things -- that was for me the sign that, yes, I want to do it. It was also good for me to be social and to have it always be about a friendship first in the band, even when we became bigger and bigger. That is why the Scorpions are still here.”
Schenker also had a motivation to show the world that Germans could bring rock and its positive messages to the world: “When we started to go to foreign countries, why we went in the first place was to show people that we in the post-war generation from Germany are not people with tanks making war. No! We wanted to bring love, peace and rock and roll to everyone. So, we played anywhere where they had electricity.”
With ambitions firmly in place, the group released its first album in 1972, “Lonesome Crow,” which also featured Rudolf’s brother and lead guitarist Michael Schenker, who joined and rejoined the band several times and also had a successful solo career. Throughout the ‘70s, Scorpions released albums and toured the world, earning a loyal following.
The group’s first big international success was stretched over three albums -- “Lovedrive” in 1979, “Animal Magnetism” in 1980 and “Blackout” in 1981. The rise of heavier sounds on radio in America, and later MTV, helped the group become a staple for hard rock fans. Big songs from this era include “Loving You Sunday Morning,” “The Zoo,” “No One Like You” and “Can’t Live Without You.”
Scorpions broke through to the mainstream in 1984 with the album “Love at First Sting.” The song “Rock You Like a Hurricane” became a top 30 hit, while power ballad “Still Loving You” was big on rock radio. The album eventually sold more than 3 million copies. Other hits followed in subsequent years, including “Rhythm of Love,” “Send Me an Angel” and “Wind of Change,” which became an anthem for the end of the Cold War and also reached No. 4 on the charts in America in 1991.
In subsequent decades, the band rode the breezes of changing tastes and continued to be a big live draw around the world, all while releasing more albums. Although the Scorpions announced that a 2010-11 tour would be its last, the group had a change of heart over time and hit the comeback trail with a new album and more touring in 2015. The album was called “Return to Forever.”
“We were very sure about the last tour, but then Facebook started at that time and we got a new generation of fans at our concerts,” Schenker said when asked why the band un-retired. “It proved that kids who were 18, 19, liked us, and there were many younger people at the shows. That kept us very euphoric about keeping going and it was more interesting to us.
“Also, when we did that farewell tour, we didn’t think we’d still be fit enough to jump around onstage, and especially the singer. You don’t know how the singer feels about it, and Klaus sings very high lead vocals. He didn’t want to be onstage and not give the people his best. But, then we found out that our chemistry still works very well and that we very much like what we do. Everyone is really excited.”