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Uli Jon Roth on Why He Left the Scorpions, Sharing His Guitar God Knowledge (INTERVIEW)

Ed Spinelli

German guitar legend Uli Jon Roth is returning to North America for a special tour in honor of his 40th anniversary of joining legendary metal founding fathers, the Scorpions.

Roth was one of the founding members of the Scorpions and wrote many of the songs on the first five albums all of which are now considered classics.The shows, which begin Jan. 25 in Los Angeles and run through March 3, will include an entire set of Scorpions tunes along with many other pieces from his celebrated solo career.

In addition to the 40th anniversary concerts, Roth will also be conducting his famous Sky Academy seminars while he tours. These teaching sessions are specially designed to help musicians reach their full potential. Information for the seminars can be found at www.sky-academy-registration.com.

Noisecreep had the honor of speaking with Roth recently to talk about the tour and his illustrious past.

Uli, talk a little bit about what you and the band will be playing on this tour.

Well, since this is my 40th anniversary of joining the Scorpions, to celebrate I’m going to be playing a lot of the best stuff that I did when I was involved with the Scorpions. I’ll also be playing some of the more recent stuff that I’ve done, but the centerpiece of the show will be the Scorpions material. People have asked me about this for for a long time and I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with my fans that like the early Scorpions material I played on. What’s interesting for me is that many of my fans have evolved with me through all the different phases of my career. So while some want to hear Scorpions music, I think just as many will be there for my other work.


Watch Roth Perform with the Scorpions in 2006

How do you go about putting together a set list for a tour like this?

Well we never play the same show twice. I’ve picked out about 20 Scorpion songs from the past and each night will play between 10 and 12 of them. As far as the material that rounds out the rest of the show, we like to keep that fresh each night which makes it interesting not just for us but for the audience as well.

Do you have good memories from your days with the Scorpions? Why did you leave the band?

Totally good memories. What happened was, toward the end I began getting dissatisfied with the direction of the music. But that was my problem, not the bands’. We were a great team together, a very positive group unlike many other bands that seem to go at each other’s throats. So that’s why when I left, there was no real bad feelings. We all just understood it was the right thing to do. That’s just how we work. Everyone in that band had a lot of common sense and we always tried to do the right thing by each other. We still see each other occasionally and it is always on good terms.


Through your Sky Academy seminars you are able to help the next generation of musician develop and evolve. That seems like it would be very rewarding.

It is. It’s a different world today than when I grew up. Back then, there weren’t really guitar teachers like you have today. We would just sit down and copy the playing we heard on our favorite records. Today though, kids can learn from teachers they can watch clinics on YouTube – there are many ways for young players to learn. On this tour, I’m happy to say that one of our three guitarists is a 16-year-old prodigy that I found in Europe. He is an amazing player and the sort of musician that really gives me hope for the future.

Watch Roth Perform ‘Sky Overture’ Live

Do you remember the first concert that you saw growing up in Germany?

I absolutely do. There were three local German bands that were playing covers. One group played Beatles songs and another one of the groups had a really great guitar player who did an amazing note for note version of “Red House.” That made a real impression on me.

Uli Jon Roth tour dates (SA means it’s a Sky Academy date):

1/21: Los Angeles, CA @ Santa Monica Playhouse *Sky Academy Only*
1/22: Los Angeles, CA @ Santa Monica Playhouse *Sky Academy Only*
1/23: San Francisco, CA @ Slim’s *Jason Becker Event
1/25: Hollywood, CA @ Whiskey A Go-Go
1/26: Santa Ana, CA @ Malone’s
1/27: San Diego, CA @ Brick by Brick *SA
1/29: Denver, CO @ Jammin’ Joe’s
1/31: Milwaukee, WI @ Shank Hall * SA
2/1: Detroit, MI @ Token Lounge *SA
2/2: Cleveland, OH @ Pirate’s Cove at Peabody’s
2/3: Old Bridge, NJ @ Old Bridge Music Center *Sky Academy Only*
2/5: Chantilly, VA @ Sully’s
2/6: New York, NY @ Stage 48 *SA
2/7: White Marsh, MD @ House of Rock *SA
2/8: Montreal, QC @ Le National
2/9: Toronto, ON @ The Rock Pile *SA
2/10: Toronto, ON @ The Rock Pile
2/12: Ottawa, ON @ The Brass Monkey *SA
2/13: Sellersville, PA @ Sellersville Theater *SA
2/15: Kenosha, WI @ Hatrix
2/16: Savage, MN @ Neisen’s Sports Bar & Grill *SA
2/17: Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s Rock Club *SA
2/21: Tempe, AZ @ Club Red
2/22: Las Vegas, NV @ Vamp’d
2/23: Corona, CA @ Marquee 15
2/24: Santa Rosa, CA @ The Last Day Saloon
2/26: Seattle, WA @ El Corazon *SA
2/27: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater *SA
3/1: Concord, CA @ Vinnies

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