For most musicians, missing opportunities to join legendary rockers like The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith or Ozzy Osbourne would be cause for regret. Not so for German metal guitar master Michael Schenker.
“I think I would’ve regreted it if I did it,” Schenker told The Listening Room recently. “I can experiment, I can do what I want. I have a lot of need to create musically, have the freedom of creation. And I don’t think it would’ve been possible with those bands.”
“I was also approached by Deep Purple and, you know, it was always coming back to the same thing,” he said. “For me, it’s very important to be me, and that’s it.”
With three dozen albums and a 40-year career as one of hard rock’s premier lead guitarists, it’s kind of hard to argue with him.
(photo courtesy of Debbie Turska and debbieturska.com)
Schenker was just 15 when he formed the Scorpions with his brother Rudolf and singer Klaus Meine, then went on to a career that included a lengthy stint with British rockers UFO before forming his own band, the Michael Schenker Group. Fans know it simply as MSG.
Along the way Schenker attracted a legion of fans that remain with him to this day. He was one of the early innovators of heavy metal lead guitar, credited as a major influence by established guitarists like Def Leppard’s Phil Collen and Metallica’s Kirk Hammet.
Nicknamed the Mad Axeman, Schenker’s penchant for the distinctive Gibson Flying-V guitar also prompted Dean guitar makers to design and market a signature Schenker guitar.
But while he has no regrets in his musical career, Schenker said he has learned a thing or two about the business of music.
“In ‘92, ‘93 I had my own company,” he said. “I was earning money for the first time in my life, realizing that old managers and record companies and whatever — I guess managers mainly — they were taking all the money basically and there was never any money for some reason. And when I had my own company and started doing everything myself I kind of earned a lot of money for the first time.”
“And I realized that a lot of money was taken away from me,” he said. “Basically, stolen.”
At 54, Schenker has weathered every storm that has come his way and landed firmly on his feet. His latest album, In the Midst of Beauty, has gotten positive reviews, and has reunited him with original MSG singer/songwriter Gary Barden.
He’s also due to tour the U.S. later this year, including a scheduled New York city appearance on June 24.
“I think things happen for a reason and it needed to be the way it was,” Schenker said. “Making choices is what life is based on.”
“But of course, with my knowledge today, of course I would do things differently,” he added. “First of all, I wouldn’t give the managers all the money, for one thing. Musically, I doubt it. I did everything I wanted to do because I have that musical freedom.”
(note on the following clip: he does his thing 6 minutes in)
<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/-oZ_aw4L1oQ&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/-oZ_aw4L1oQ&hl=en&fs=1″ type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>
(NOTE: This is part of my ongoing series of reports on guitar players who fly under the mainstream radar. Keep checking The Listening Room for future installments of guitar players you should know – JF)