Michael Schenker Group

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Michael Schenker Group
Michael Schenker Group (2012)
Michael Schenker Group (2012)
General information
Genre (s) Hard rock
founding 1979, 1996
resolution 1985
Website MSG
Current occupation
Michael Schenker (1979–1985, since 1996)
Gary Barden (1979–1982, 1982–1985, since 2008)
Simon Phillips (1980, 2008, since 2009)
Neil Murray (2008, since 2009)
Guitar, keyboard and vocals
Wayne Findlay (2000–2001, since 2004)
former members
Billy Sheehan (1979)
Denny Carmassi (1979)
Don Airey (1980, 2008)
Mo Foster (1980)
Cozy Powell (1981-1982)
Guitar, keyboard and vocals
Paul Raymond (1981-1982)
Chris Glen (1981–1985, 2008, 2009)
Graham Bonnet (1982)
Tommy Eyre (1982)
Ted McKenna (1982–1985, 2008)
Andy Nye (1982–1985)
Guitar and vocals
Derek St. Holmes (1984–1985)
Leif Sundin (1996-1997)
Barry Sparks (1996-1997, 1999-2000)
Drums and vocals
Shane Gaalaas (1996-1997)
Guitar, keyboard and vocals
Seth Bernstein (1997-1999)
Singing and percussion
David VanLanding (1998–1999; † 2015)
Guitar, keyboard and vocals
Kelly Keeling (1998-1999)
John Onder (1998-1999)
Keith Slack (1999-2000)
Chris Logan (2001-2004)
James "Reverend" Jones (2001-2002, 2004, 2009)
Jeff Martin (2001-2002, 2005-2006)
"Stu" Stuart Hamm (2003)
Jeremy Colson (2003)
Pete Holmes (2004, 2009)
Jari Tiura (2005-2006)
Pete Way (2005-2006)
Chris Slade (2008, 2009)

The Michael Schenker Group (MSG for short) is a hard rock band founded in 1979 . Its founder and namesake is the German guitarist Michael Schenker , who is also the only constant in the group, which is otherwise characterized by frequent membership changes. In fact, it is a solo project by Schenker in which his guitar playing is in the foreground. After disbanding the group in 1985, he re-established it in 1996. The style is a hard rock rooted in the 1980s that has basically continued unchanged to this day. The concise band logo consists of the intertwined letters M, S and G., which capture its trademark, the Flying V guitar.


Phase 1: 1979 to 1985

After leaving his former band UFO and a brief guest appearance with the Scorpions , Michael Schenker founded his own band in 1979, in which he no longer had to make compromises. After initially working with Geddy Lee and Neil Peart from Rush , the founding line-up included bassist Billy Sheehan and drummer Denny Carmassi (later Whitesnake ) as well as the then unknown singer Gary Barden. The cast, which recorded several demos (released on the remastered version of the 2009 debut album), only lasted a month. Then Schenker suddenly disappeared, leaving his band at a loss. When he wanted to continue a few months later, his band mates Sheehan and Carmassi were no longer in the mood. Schenker continued with Barden and then recruited a new band from the studio musicians Simon Phillips (drums, later Toto ), Mo Foster (bass) and Don Airey (keyboards, ex- Rainbow , since 2002 Deep Purple ). (At the same time Phillips and Foster formed the rhythm section with Jeff Beck , with whom they recorded the album There and Back .) The first album, The Michael Schenker Group , released in 1980, was recorded with this line-up. However, the studio musicians were not available for the subsequent tour and were replaced by drummer Cozy Powell (ex-Rainbow), bassist Chris Glen (ex- sensational Alex Harvey Band ) and keyboardist and guitarist Paul Raymond . Michael Schenker had already played with the latter from 1977 to 1978 at UFO. This band incarnation is widely regarded as the strongest. Also the only studio album recorded with this line-up in 1981, "MSG", which contains many live classics, is considered by many to be the best album of the group. The new band feeling was documented by the fact that the entire band was shown on the cover and not - as was the case with the debut  - just the namesake of the group. Paul McCartney , Stephen Stills and Billy Nicholls were guests . The live album One Night at Budokan , which was recorded with the same line-up before the studio album was released and initially only intended for the Japanese market, was subsequently released worldwide.

Nevertheless, this band incarnation was not of long duration. At the instigation of management and Cozy Powell, Gary Barden was fired in 1982 to be replaced by a better singer. New vocalists were David Coverdale from Whitesnake and Graham Bonnet , who played with Airey and Powell on Rainbow. Schenker decided against the will of his manager Peter Mensch for Bonnet. During the recording of the next record, first Raymond and then Powell (the latter towards Whitesnake) left the band. In their place, drummer Ted McKenna and keyboardist Tommy Eyre, who succeeded Chris Glen of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band, joined the band. Together they released the critically acclaimed album Assault Attack, produced by the renowned Martin Birch , in 1982 . After a disastrous warm-up gig two days before the Reading Festival, Bonnet was fired and replaced by his predecessor Gary Barden. He acquired the new band repertoire within two days , so that the concert in Reading could be completed successfully.

In 1983 the album Built to Destroy was released . The band at that time included the new keyboardist Andy Nye and the former Ted Nugent guitarist and background singer Derek St. Holmes, who was promoted to full band member. St. Holmes was on the previous tour as the second guitarist who played the rhythm guitar "invisibly" behind the amplifier towers. The album received scathing reviews because of its poor mix. The bad mix had already caught Schenker's attention, who then commissioned a remix in the United States . To his surprise, however, the original mix had already been released. The remix was only released in the United States until 2009; only in 2009 were both versions released together as remaster recordings. In 1983 the band undertook an extensive tour, partly together with Iron Maiden , which was documented the following year with the album Rock Will Never Die . With this live album, the band was able to achieve a position in the charts for the first time for four weeks with the top spot 58. Due to differences within the band, Barden and Glen left the band in 1985. Then Schenker broke up his band in frustration and instead founded the McAuley Schenker Group with Robin McAuley, which operates under the same logo .

Phase 2: 1996 to 2007

After Michael Schenker renewed his collaboration with UFO in 1995, he also re-founded the Michael Schenker Group in 1996. In the same year the comeback album Written in the Sand was released. At that time, MSG consisted of Michael Schenker, singer Leif Sundin, bassist Barry Sparks and drummer Shane Gaalaas. Guest keyboarder was Claude Gaudette. The following year the live album The Michael Schenker Story Live was released for the 25th anniversary of Michael Schenker's music recordings. In the meantime, Seth Bernstein had joined the band as keyboardist and second guitarist and David VanLanding (1964–2015) as second singer. MSG not only performs its own pieces on this album, but also tracks from all of Michael Schenker's creative periods and from bands he played with. The album was available as a fan club edition via mail order with two additional songs and the bonus album Live with the Enervates , which Schenker's father recorded during one of the very first appearances of the then 11-year-old. In 1999 the album The Unforgiven , which reached number 92 on the German album charts, was released. Kelly Keeling was now the reigning singer and John Onder the new bass player. On the subsequent tour, Barry Sparks returned to the band and Kelly Keeling was replaced by Keith Slack and Seth Bernstein by Wayne Findlay. On this tour in May 1999 in California / USA three concerts were recorded at The Edge in Palo Alto, which resulted in the double live CD: The Unforgiven World Tour , which was released in the same year .

2001 marked a turning point. Schenker changed the entire band. In addition to him, the band now included drummer Jeff Martin, with whom Schenker had previously played at UFO, singer Chris Logan and bassist James "Reverend" Jones. The album Be Aware of Scorpions was released, the first in the band's history without a keyboard player. In 2003 “Stu” Stuart Hamm took over bass and Jeremy Colson took over drums. This lineup released the album Arachnophobiac that same year . However, it fell apart before the subsequent tour in 2004, which was contested with the returnees James Jones and Wayne Findlay and the new drummer Pete Holmes.

In 2005 the album Heavy Hitters was released under the name Michael Schenker Group , which only contains cover versions of well-known rock songs. It is not an official MSG album, rather it was released as an MSG album by Bob Kulick and Brett Chassen against Schenker's will. The only connection to MSG is that Michael Schenker plays guitar on all songs and Gary Barden sings on one song. In the same year, recordings began for the 2006 album Tales of Rock 'N' Roll - Twenty-Five Years Celebration , with which Michael Schenker celebrated the 25th anniversary of MSG. The line-up of the band had completely changed again. Only Schenker and Findlay stayed. Former drummer Jeff Martin returned. The group was complemented by the singer Jari Tiura and Michael Schenker's longtime companion at UFO, the bassist Pete Way . The specialty of the album is that all former MSG singers as well as Robin McAuley participate as guest singers.

Phase 3: since 2008

Michael Schenker Group at the Kavarna Rock Fest 2012

In 2008 the band was radically changed again. Again only Schenker and Findlay stayed. But a circle came full circle when Schenker recorded the album “In The Midst Of Beauty” (number 78 in the German album charts) without Findlay's participation together with Gary Barden, Simon Phillips, Don Airey and bassist Neil Murray (ex-Whitesnake). That was almost the line-up of the first album again. As in 1980, Phillips, Airey and Murray were not available for the tour, so the collaboration was again limited to a studio album. The story repeated itself a third time when Chris Glen joined the band as bassist for the tour. Chris Slade (ex- AC / DC ) came on for Phillips . Findlay was still a member of the band and played the keyboards and second guitar again. In August 2008, of all people, Ted McKenna took over the drums from Chris Slade at the Japan concerts. The development of the band from 1980 to 1982 was almost repeated in 2008. In 2009 the group was reorganized. With the returnees James Jones on bass and Pete Holmes on drums, the band incarnation from 2004 was back at the start with the exception of singer Gary Barden. But even this lasted only a short time. At the performances in September 2009 Chris Glen took over the bass and Chris Slade the drums.

For the 2010 tour under the title 30th Anniversary Tour , the bass was initially again occupied with Neil Murray and the drums again with Simon Phillips, thus reversing the band's development from 2008 to 2009. During the tour, however, Schenker, Barden and Findlay worked with different musicians. Simon Phillips, Carmine Appice , Chris Slade and Pete Holmes took turns on drums , the bass was alternately served by Chris Glen, Reverend Jones, Neil Murray and Elliott “Dean” Rubinson (owner of “Dean Guitars”). At the 30th Anniversary Shepperds Bush Empire Show on June 2, 2010 in London, there were also guest appearances by Herman Rarebell (ex-Scorpions) and Doogie White (ex-Rainbow). In the same year, the band released a pre-tour recording under the album title The 30th Anniversary Concert Live In Tokyo , which ranked 81 in the German album charts.

The band is currently on pause, as Schenker has been devoting himself exclusively to his projects Michael Schenker's Temple of Rock and Michael Schenker Fest since 2011 .

On August 11, 2020, Schenker announced on its website that a new MSG record will be released on January 8, 2021, with a lot of renowned musicians on board (lead singer Ronnie Romero). The title is Immortal . The album contains 10 tracks, including a new recording of In search of the peace of mind , the first song Michael wrote in 1971 at the age of only 16 for the first Scorpions LP Lonesome Crow .

useful information

One of the band's greatest live classics is the song Attack of the Mad Axeman . This ambiguous title could be both a crazy lumberjack and a crazy guitarist. The song earned Michael Schenker the nickname "Mad Axeman", which is occasionally used in the trade press . At the concert of the 1984 tour in London's Hammersmith Odeon, the Scorpions musicians Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine took part in the song “Doctor Doctor” . On the album Arachnophobiac Jeff Watson, the guitarist of Night Ranger , appears on four tracks. As part of the 2002 tour, the MSG concert was interrupted for some songs by the trio The Plot , consisting of Michael Schenker, Pete Way and Jeff Martin .


Studio albums

  • 1980 - The Michael Schenker Group (remastered version from 2009 with eight bonus tracks, including five demos from 1979)
  • 1981 - MSG (remastered version from 2009 with seven bonus tracks)
  • 1982 - Assault Attack (Japan CD and remastered version from 2009 each with a bonus track)
  • 1983 - Built to Destroy (Japan CD with five bonus tracks). (Remastered version from 2009 with nine bonus tracks; these bonus tracks are the US mix of the entire album. Officially: "US Version Remixed by Jack Douglas")
  • 1996 - Written in the Sand (Contains new studio versions of "Into the Arena" + "Cry for the Nations". Curious: "Cry for the Nations" is not mentioned on the cover or in the booklet)
  • 1999 - The Unforgiven
  • 2001 - Be Aware of Scorpions (Japan CD with the bonus track "Ride the Lightning")
  • 2003 - Arachnophobiac
  • 2006 - Tales of Rock 'N' Roll - Twenty-Five Years Celebration

Live albums or compilations

  • 1982 - One Night at Budokan (remastered version from 2009 with three bonus tracks, UK: silversilver)
  • 1984 - Rock Will Never Die (Japan CD and remastered version from 2009 each with six bonus tracks)
  • 1987 - portfolio
  • 1992 - Essential Michael Schenker Group (contains a previously unreleased title from 1983)
  • 1993 - BBC Radio One Live in Concert (MSG live at Reading Rock Festival 1982)
  • 1994 - Armed and Ready (Best of)
  • 1997 - The Michael Schenker Story Live
  • 1999 - The Unforgiven World Tour
  • 2005 - Back to Attack Live (1984 live concert)
  • 2009 - Walk the Stage (box with four live CDs from 1980–1982 and a live DVD from 1983)
  • 2010 - Rockpalast: Hardrock Legends Vol. 2 (contains a concert from the Hamburger Markthalle on January 24, 1981)
  • 2010 - The 30th Anniversary Concert Live In Tokyo
  • 2014 - Original Album Series (CD box with the first five albums)

Video albums

  • 1984 - Rock Will Never Die
  • 2004 - World Wide Live 2004 (DVD & Audio-CD)
  • 2005 - Live in Tokyo 1997 (contains the concert The Michael Schenker Story Live as well as a concert from 2000 as a bonus)
  • 2010 - Rockpalast: Hardrock Legends Vol. 2 (contains a concert from the Hamburger Markthalle on January 24, 1981)
  • 2010 - The 30th Anniversary Concert Live in Tokyo

German-language literature

  • Michael Schenker Group, by Herbert Chwalek, Tolga Karabagli, Andreas Jur
  • Lights Out… Spot on: UFO, by Martin Popoff
  • Michael Schenker Group - 25 Years Celebration (Official Tourbook), by Herbert Chwalek, Tolga Karabagli, Andreas Jur, Jowita Kaminska

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Former singer of the Michael Schenker Group is dead. In: metal-hammer.de. November 19, 2015, accessed November 28, 2015 .
  2. Music Sales Awards: UK