Michael Schenker: Appetite For Self-Destruction
Michael Schenker has enjoyed bouts of adulation and success, and endured periods of drug-fuelled madness. In 2006, Classic Rock separated myth from fact with the man himself
Many thousands of words have been written about Michael Schenker since 1970 when, as a raw 15 year old, he joined elder brother Rudolf’s band the Scorpions. The adjectives ‘mercurial’, ‘eccentric’, ‘selfish’, ‘egotistical’, ‘hot- headed’ and ‘self-destructive’ – even ‘genius’ – are all regularly applied to the Sarstedt-born guitar hero but few have dug beneath the surface of this painfully shy yet enigmatic individual. Which is, of course, what Classic Rock intends to do.
Our audience with Schenker takes place in the dressing room of London’s Mean Fiddler venue, where getting him to talk about himself or his work is like asking him to knit fog. Schenker claims to ignore reviews and the results of interviews he gives, but while professing not to give a damn about what people think of him, he begrudgingly reveals the opposite is true. Enquire about rock media’s obsession with ‘Mad Mickey Schenker’, the cartoonish maverick who cuts off his hair, destroys his trademark Flying V guitars and disappears when the going gets tough and Michael is, for once, candid.
“When Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake or whoever approached me to join them, I always ensured there were too many conditions,” he confides. (He also declined to audition for The Rolling Stones.) “I was so insecure, I made it impossible for them to take me.
“Life, as well as music, is full of ups and downs,” Michael adds, in response to the suggestion that troughs have outnumbered peaks since he left first the Scorpions, then UFO (as the latter were about to go global with 1979’s Strangers In The Night), then abandoned the Scorpions again after Lovedrive.