Michael Schenker Asked K.K. Downing to Join the Scorpions Interview Excerpt Uli Jon Roth Judas Priest
The excerpt below was taken from the full in bloom interview with Judas Priest co-founder / guitarist K.K. Downing.
K.K. talks about being asked to join the Scorpions by Michael Schenker.
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full in bloom: In your book you talk about a Hell’s Angels story involving UFO and how you were friends with Michael Schenker. He always seems like such a reserved guy. What was that friendship like?
K.K.: It was more of a professional friendship, I think really. I think that we had a lot in common for some reason, probably because of his association with UFO. I mean back in the early days, I think UFO and Scorpions were my favorite bands and I hope that Priest was one of their favorite bands. I think in that genre of music, Priest, Scorpions and UFO were probably in a niche together, really, in a certain way, if that makes any sense. Obviously, me playing the Flying Vs and Michael playing the Flying Vs and, you know, I got to know all of the guys well in the Scorpions….really quite well. I spent a lot of time living down there in Spain in Costa del Sol and their father lived down there, you know, Michael and Rudolf’s father. He lived down there with a lady and they asked me to take him some gifts one day, because they didn’t know exactly where he was, but I managed to find out where he was…..and they have a sister, Barbara. Michael used to always get on my case because he wanted that ’67 Flying V (laughs) and I think I bought it the day before he came up from London to buy that guitar. The guys told him ‘ahhh, Ken Downing of Judas Priest bought it yesterday.’ He never forgave me for that and he certainly won’t now if he knows he pitched 200 grand (laughs). But every time we meet up…..Michael did ask me to join the Scorpions at one point in Los Angeles. He also asked quite a few other guitar players.
full in bloom: What year was that?
K.K.: When Uli (Jon Roth) left the band.
full in bloom: Wow. Did you consider it at all?
K.K.: No. Michael came to a show at the Whisky (a Go Go) on Sunset Strip and we had just played 5 shows in 3 days, and so we were doing well, you know….and I was happy. Otherwise, I would have gone. But I felt that Priest were probably going to do better than the Scorpions. It was a good idea to weaken Priest and strengthen the Scorpions (laughs). I guess we were pretty big rivals, really, the Scorpions and Priest. Well, you know, in a healthy way. Yeah, Uli left and they asked Michael to look out for a guitar player and I guess I fit the bill because Uli, we were kind of similar players in a way, I suppose, me and Uli back then with whammy bar stuff and being what some people would call ‘sons of Hendrix,’ which Uli certainly was….and a great player. I was very flattered, really, because Uli was an excellent guitar player.
full in bloom: What was Pete Way like at that time?
K.K.: Pete was quite an amazing guy….but they were pretty reckless, those guys were, UFO….and I guess Michael found that hard to come to terms with, really. They really lived the (laughs) rock n’ roll lifestyle. It was pretty crazy stuff.
Listen to the entire interview at this location.