Scorpions Frontman on Losing His Voice: ‘I Thought My Career Was Over’
They might have announced their retirement in 2010, but the Scorpions have been running the kind of schedule bands half their age couldn’t even keep up with. Not only have the German hard rock elder statesmen been out on an exhaustive farewell world tour for the past year or so, they also managed to record a new album in between their treks.
Half of ‘Comeblack’ features re-recorded versions of some of the most revered songs from the Scorpions catalog. The rest of the new album features the band covering some of the artists that helped influence them in their earlier years, including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Small Faces, and T. Rex.
The Scorpions may be closing shop on a high note, but little do most people know how close the band was to losing their beloved frontman, Klaus Meine. In 1982, Meine developed nodes and a polyp on his vocal cords. The condition wreaked havoc on his singing voice, and forced him to walk away from the band during a pivotal point in their career.
“During the early days of the Scorpions – when Michael Schenker was in the band – my voice was really nice and clean sounding. But the problem was we were playing all of these rock ‘n’ roll cover songs, and I wanted my voice to be trashier sounding. So I started really messing up my voice by screaming during those early days for hours.
“You have to understand, in my early club days in Germany, I wasn’t playing the usual 90 minute set. We were doing cover songs and sometimes we would play five to six hours a night, with little breaks in between. Years later, with the Scorpions, I think the heavy touring and studio schedule finally got me. My voice was in bad shape. I couldn’t sing and I thought my career was over,” Meine, 63, told Noisecreep about the tumultuous period.
Watch Scorpions’ ‘All Day and All of the Night’ Video
It couldn’t have been worse timing for the Scorpions. After years of success throughout Europe, the group finally cracked the American market with their 1980 ‘Animal Magnetism’ album. Two years later, Meine and the Scorpions entered the studio to record their soon-to-be classic ‘Blackout’ record, but the frontman’s voice wasn’t cooperating.
“I couldn’t sing. It was that simple. So our good friend Don Dokken came to Germany and worked with the rest of the Scorpions in the studio. He recorded some of the songs with them. Anyway, I had some surgeries done and rested my voice for about six months or something. When I finally came back, I was in really good shape. I even did the high-pitched backing vocals like I did on the older records [laughs].”
Noisecreep asked Meine if any of the Don Dokken stuff ended up on the final version of the ‘Blackout’ album: “You know, I think one or two songs still have Don somewhere in the background vocals, but I really don’t know for sure. No one could figure it out, including me [laughs].”
With Meine back in fighting shape, the Scorpions headed out on a grueling world tour, and hit pay dirt when their ‘No One Like You’ single hit the charts in the States. “I had proven to the band that I could sing in the studio again, but I wasn’t sure if my voice could handle being out for a few weeks at a time on tour. We came back from tour eight months later [laughs]. But my voice definitely held up, and I felt really confident again. I felt like I was given a second chance. It’s amazing to think that happened 30 years ago. We ended up having the biggest years of our career after that all happened. Not too bad for an encore, right?”
Scorpions’ new album, ‘Comeblack,’ is available now via Sony/Legacy Recordings.