Scorpions’ Rudolf Schenker on Ex-Drummer James Kottak: “We could ignore the drums sometimes when he played badly” – 2022

Ultimate Classic Rock:

Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker talked to UCR about recent recruit Mikkey Dee.

You can read the entire interview @ this location. An excerpt has been provided below.

On drummer Mikkey Dee joining the Scorpions:

Rudolf Schenker:

That was an idea from Matthias (Jabs). Because we tried very hard to get James [Kottak] back to us. When you live in Los Angeles, it’s very easy to drift away. I think a very important part is that he always had to come from the United States, from California to Germany.

When we’d start a tour and when we did promo and stuff like that. It’s not so easy flying this long distance. It’s very hard to take. He also had problems familywise. He tried to fix everything with alcohol and then we couldn’t play anymore. The other four guys are so locked in that we could ignore the drums sometimes when he played badly. We went through the concerts, but then we said, “Look, we can’t take this for [any] longer, because it takes so much energy.” We brought him to Eric Clapton’s rehab on an island and we thought he was ready to rock again. But then he was falling back into his situation.

Matthias said, “Hey, look guys, Mikkey Dee is now available.” Because Lemmy [Kilmister] died and [that’s] too bad. We love Lemmy and Motorhead because we were good friends over the years. So, we said, “Yeah, why not? Let’s see.” We had a rehearsal with him, and it fit perfectly. Because he is a very up-tempo kind of drummer and he plays similar to me, [several] milliseconds before the beat. It makes the new album very much a driving kind of thing.

We recorded our album in the studio together, so there’s this live feeling. [Dee’s energy] helped us sound more like a young band. That’s Mikkey Dee supporting me and Pawel as a bass player; he can play everything when you ask him. He was locked in too and with Matthias and Klaus – he can sing like a bird still, which is fantastic for a career of over 50 years.

On the Moscow Music Peace Festival:

In ‘88 we played 10 shows in Leningrad. We couldn’t believe how many people came from Siberia, from everywhere. Because we were supposed to play five shows in Moscow and five shows in Leningrad. But somehow, Afghanistan and the whole political situation, authorities in Moscow said, “No, we’ll only give the Scorpions 10 shows in Leningrad. First, we were close to saying, “OK, do we cancel it?” But then we said, “No. All of the fans would be very unhappy – let’s do it and let’s see.” It was fantastic. Our support band, Gorky Park, came onstage the first time we did soundcheck. They said, “Hey, guys, can you help us? Our manager promised us equipment and we have nothing.” We said, “Look, guys. Look at what you can find and what you’d like to use and you’re welcome.” We became friends and we noticed that this band is a great band with great people.

We did those 10 shows and then one year later, Doc McGhee became our manager. He knew how big we were already in Russia and because he had something to do for the authorities in the United States, he did this Stairway to Heaven/ Highway to Hell project and [what became the Moscow Music Peace Festival]. They found a stadium and we played under the Olympic torch. It was unbelievable.

I remember we played before Bon Jovi, because in those days, [they were] very much a big MTV band with a lot of great hits and songs. They played behind us, because MTV said, “Look, we’ll show the whole show in the United States, and we know they have more of a following than the Scorpions.” We said, “OK, no problem.” But the problem was that when we finished, the people [were] leaving when Bon Jovi played. [Laughs] I remember Jon [Bon Jovi] said on the interview, “Promise me something: I’ll never play after the Scorpions!” But it was great. It was rock ‘n’ roll pure.

Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Skid Row and Cinderella were there. I remember there was an authority guy from the government who [got the crowd fired up]. Sebastian Bach came up with some very American sayings, something like, “Fuckin’ rock ‘n’ roll!” You know, completely out of the way of what people [there would expect]. The whole stadium was full and the audience was unbelievable.

You can read the entire interview @ this location.