Michael Schenker is a German rock guitarist best known for his tenure in UFO, along with a long career performing with his solo band. He first rose to prominence as a founding member, along with his brother Rudolph, of the hugely successful band, The Scorpions. He then founded the band UFO in the mid 70s before going on to lead the Michael Schenker Group in a number of different incarnations. Schenker is considered by many a legendary figure in the history of heavy metal guitar.
Michael Schenker was born January 10th, 1955 in Savstedt, Germany. He began playing guitar at a very early age when his older brother Rudolph brought home a Gibson Flying V, which reportedly captured Michael's imagination. His first gig came when he was 11, playing at a local nightclub with Rudy and the Scorpions. Schenker's recording debut came on the Scorpions' first album, “Lonesome Crow” when he was just 17.
The Scorpions went on tour in support of “Lonesome Crow” in 1972, opening up for the upcoming UK band UFO on the German leg of their tour. Schenker was subsequently offered the position of lead guitarist in UFO, which he accepted with the blessing of his brother. Schenker was replaced with Uli Roth by the Scorpions.
Schenker would go on to write the majority of UFO's major label debut, “Phenomenon,” released in 1974. His career with the band was quite turbulent, and he sometimes even walked off-stage in the middle of shows, causing them to be canceled. Despite a series of successful albums and tours, Schenker left the group in 1978. Schenker's career with UFO attracted serious attention from music critics, especially those in the guitar community.
Schenker would reunite with his brother in the Scorpions in late 1978, while the band was recording its classic album, “Lovedrive,” playing lead guitar on three songs on that album: "Another Piece Of Meat", "Coast To Coast" and "Lovedrive". He would go on to tour with the band in support of the album, but leave the band three months into the tour following a number of occasions when he could not perform because of fatigue and alcohol-related problems. He would then be replaced permanently by Matthias Jabs.
Schenker would go on to audition for Aerosmith in 1979 when Joe Perry left the band. But he reportedly stormed out of the audition when some Nazi jokes were made. He was then reportedly contacted by Ozzy Osbourne about the lead guitar role in his band after Randy Rhoads died in a plane crash. Ozzy has said that Schenker wanted too much money, while Schenker insists that he was offered the gig but chose not to take it.
Schenker would go on to form his own band, the Michael Schenker Group (MSG) in 1979. The history of the band is strewn with incidents and personality conflicts. The band's original singer, Gary Barden sang on its first two studio albums, as well as the live album “One Night at Budokan.” He was fired in 1982 in favor of Rainbow / Alcatrazz vocalist Graham Bonnet, who recorded the band's third album, “Assault Attack,” before being fired because he often lost his voice during shows. Barden was brought back into the fold for the band's fourth album, “Built to Destroy,” and another live album before leaving for a second time.
Schenker would then join forces with singer Robin McAuley and rename the band the McAuley Schenker Group. This incarnation of MSG would stick around for three albums before disbanding. From there, Schenker briefly replaced guitarist Robbin Crosby in Ratt, appearing in the band's 1990 performance on the MTV show, “Unplugged.” Then, in 1995, Schenker rejoined UFO for their reunion album, “Walk on Water,” touring with the band for a short time before leaving again. Schenker would resurrect the Michael Schenker Group in the late 90s, releasing three more studio albums. He would also later rejoin UFO for two more releases.
The early 2000s brought hard times for Michael Schenker. His wife, after selling off most of his belongings, divorced him and disappeared with their son, and his manager allegedly ran off with the bulk of his earnings. Schenker would be forced to sell three of his prized Flying V guitars to make ends meet. He would get back on the horse, releasing the album, “Arachnaphobiac,” in 2003 and supporting it with two years on the road.
2005 marked the 25th anniversary of the Michael Schenker Group. Schenker released a new album, “Tales of Rock n' Roll,” in honor of the benchmark and enlisted the services of all his former singers for the album. After a trouble-riddled tour in 2007, which was strewn with canceled shows and disappointing performances caused by his heavy drinking, Schenker regained his composure and hit the road in 2008 with Michael Schenker & Friends. With Schenker now clean shaven and having lost weight many fans commented that he both looked and sounded his best, with the tour receiving rave reviews from loyal fans.
Official Michael Schenker Website
Michael Schenker Tour Dates
Michael Schenker, UFO, Scorpions, MSG Videos
Gibson White No.4 Flying V
Gibson Black & White Flying V with dot inlay (mid-70's model)
Dean Michael Schenker Signature Limited Edition V
Dean Michael Schenker Lights Out Humbucker Pickup
JMP Marshall MK2
4-hole 50W Marshall
Amp Head: Marshall JCM 800 (50W) 2205
Amp Cabinet: Marshall 912M
Marshall JCM 50 Watts Split channel [JCM800]
Green Back Marshall Cabinet
BOSS DD-3 (Digital Delay)
BOSS CE-5 (Chorus Ensemble)
Marshall Switch Box (Delay/Chorus)
Cry Baby: JEN
Dunlop Dimebag Wah Wah
D'Angelico 009, .011, .016, .024, .032, and .040.
Michael started out using a Gibson Les Paul until he broke a string and borrowed his brother's (Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker) Flying V. From there, he fell in love with the 50-watt Marshall and V combo.
(Schenker does not use any effects in the studio, saying he adds the effects later)
*If you have more knowledge about what kind of gear Michael is using, or has used, please leave a comment below and we will add it to the bio.
Michael Schenker Discography
No Heavy Petting
Walk On Water
Michael Schenker Group:
The Michael Schenker Group
Built To Destroy
Written In The Sand
McAuley Schenker Group:
Nightmare - The Accousitc MSG
Schenker Pattison Summit:
The Endless Jam
The Endless Jam Continues
Siggi Schwarz and the Electric Guitar Legends Volume I
Siggi Schwarz and the Electric Rock Legends Volume II: Woodstock
Adventures Of The Imagination
The Odd Trio
Dreams and Expressions
Thank You 3
Thank You 2
Thank You 4
Strangers In The Night
One Night At Budokan
Rock Will Never Die
BBC Radio One Live In Concert
Unplugged - Live
Story of Michael Schenker
Unforgiven World Tour
Legends Of Rock (w/ Uli Jon Roth)