“Dr Schenker‏”

“I wonder if I can play with my feet?” Michael Schenker

Michael Schenker (born Michael Willy Schenker on 10 January 1955 in Hannover, Germany) is a German rock guitarist, best known for his tenure in UFO, in addition to his solo band.

He first rose to fame as an early member of the Scorpions, then achieved fame in the mid-1970s as the lead guitar player for UFO. Since leaving UFO in 1978, he has been leading the Michael Schenker Group in various incarnations. He has rejoined UFO three times, producing an album each time. He is the younger brother of Rudolf Schenker, who is still a guitarist with the Scorpions


He started playing guitar at an early age, after his brother Rudolf brought home a Gibson Flying V guitar, which captured his imagination. He played his first gig when he was 11, with Rudolf and the Scorpions in a nightclub. Schenker debuted with Scorpions on their debut album “Lonesome Crow” at age 15

“I joined UFO, they were a psychedelic band. They were playing very different music. But I was attracted to them being British, since that’s where the music that I fell in love with came from: Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and Johnny Winter” Michael Schenker

“When I toured with UFO and Scorpions, the guitarist from UFO lost his passport, so in order to continue the tour, I had to play for both bands. That was when I was 16 years old. I opened up with the Scorpions and then I played with UFO for a couple of days. And that’s when they asked me to join them” Michael Schenker

“I always told the Scorpions that if a British band would ever ask me, I would go just to get to a country where there was the interest for rock & roll. In Germany it was dead. It was disco music and it wasn’t very interesting what I was doing. So I was more than happy to go over there. They invited me over and I took the offer”. Michael Schenker

Schenker wrote the music for most of UFO’s major label (Chrysalis Records) debut album Phenomenon

“When I got there I just laid down a riff and another one and another one, and Phil [Mogg] did his vocals to it and it just became a totally different band based on the pieces that I gave them, which every song was built on. I wrote that way right from the beginning, and it’s still how I write today”. Michael Schenker

“But because I had just joined them, we were more in the mode of making a record, touring, making a record, touring, making a record, touring. Because we were doing everything in the short amount of time, we spent a lot of time at the rehearsal studio”. Michael Schenker

“Seventeen a nature’s queen, you’ll know what I mean
Twenty one, a long one you can see the numbers run
Now you look so peaceful, lyin’ there asleep
With the wings of God above you, before the spirits meet”

“We were just sitting there looking for an additional song, and when I played “Rock Bottom,” the riff, that’s when Phil jumped up and said, “That’s it! That’s it!” So we started putting it together and putting it into form”. Michael Schenker

“Rock Bottom” has that piece in the middle of free expression, and it’s perfect for me because I love pure self-expression. It’s a really, really good part to play over that particular chord there, and it leaves a lot of space to come up with a whole bunch of creative ideas. Over the years, the solos have changed. I keep the basic structure of it, but there is a lot of space to put new “sparks” on here and there and keep it fresh. It’s always enjoyable to play over and over and over, because I can be very creative with it on the spot. That’s a very fascinating, enjoyable part of music for me”. Michael Schenker

“I was about 18 years old and I don’t know why I was thinking or what I was thinking. I don’t know. Maybe I was thinking, “I wonder if I can play with my feet?” And so I was just wondering if it was possible. [Laughing] So I started playing “Lipstick Traces” with my feet, and I went, “Wow, it is possible.” I played it to Andy But then I decided, “I think it’s better if I just focus on playing it with my fingers. It’s easier.” [Laughs] Michael Schenker

Schenker was one of many guitarists to audition for the lead guitar spot in The Rolling Stones in the mid-1970s following Mick Taylor’s dismissal:

“When UFO invited me, I came over. I was only over in England for a few months and then I get a phone call from someone asking me to audition for The Rolling Stones. I was very, very scared. [Laughing] I called my brother and told him and said to him, “What shall I do?” I was very nervous about it. I never called back and I left it”. Michael Schenker

“I had joined UFO, I’m 17 and very shy and very sensitive in a country without any knowledge of English. It was quite a big step already. So when that came my way, I remembered images of The Stones in the paper. First of all, Brian Jones had just died. And then I saw pictures of The Stones looking at each others’ lice. I mean, like, in the hair, looking for lice! The whole image that The Rolling Stones had, I was scared that it was a dangerous thing to be with them. UFO and Great Britain was a step that was big enough at that point in time”. Michael Schenker

“On songs like “Only You Can Rock Me” or “Lights Out,” Pete Way would come up with (guitar sounds – play the clip to hear), and that was it. Then I get inspired by that and find the additional parts. Or in the other song, that kind of happened quite a few times, too, that Pete came up with, like, “Only You Can Rock Me,” for instance (guitar sounds). But that was it. And then I added all the other pieces to it”. Michael Schenker

Despite having a series of successful albums and tours, Schenker finally left UFO soon after the last show of their US tour in Palo Alto, California, in October 1978; during this tour, the band recorded their seminal live album Strangers in the Night, which was released after he left the band.

UFO records with Michael Schenker:

1974 Phenomenon

Phil Mogg – vocals
Michael Schenker – guitar
Pete Way – bass
Andy Parker – drums
Additional musician; Bernie Marsden

1975 Force It
1976 No Heavy Petting
1977 Lights Out

Schenker briefly re-joined the Scorpions in late 1978, when they were recording the album “Lovedrive” (he plays lead guitar on three songs, “Another Piece Of Meat”, “Coast To Coast” and “Lovedrive”)

He also auditioned for Aerosmith in 1979 after Joe Perry left.

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 Randy. But, Ozzy claims, Schenker made too many outlandish demands (including a private jet).Schenker himself, in an interview with KNAC radio, claims he was the one to say “no” to Ozzy:

“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!!”

Schenker’s main guitar for much of his career was a Gibson Flying V, which he typically played through a wah-wah pedal (used as a parametric equalizer to strengthen the “sweet spot”) and Marshall amplifiers. In recent years Schenker has switched to using a signature model Dean V.

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