Herman Rarebell, drummer for the Scorpions, was a fun man to interview for a preview to their concert on May 4, 1991 at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
His German accent was thick and his laugh hearty.
I really enjoyed our conversation. He even invited me to share a beer backstage, which I did and enjoyed.
Here is the interview that was printed in The Indiana Gazette on May 4, 1991.
“The world is closing in, did you ever think, We could be so close, like brothers. The future’s in the air, I can feel it everywhere, Blowing with the wind of change. Take me to the magic of the moment, on the glory night, where the children of tomorrow share their dreams with you and me.”
— Lyrics from “Wind of Change” by the Scorpions.
The wind of change is blowing around the world and Germany’s premier heavy metal band, the Scorpions, are eagerly watching its effects.
The Scorpions broke ground in 1988 when they were the first heavy metal band to play within the Soviet Union.
They performed 10 sold-out shows in Leningrad’s Lenin Sports Palace and attracted more than 180,000 people.
They returned along with a group of other international rock bands as part of the “Moscow Music Peace Festival” in 1989 and delighted another 350,000 Soviets.
Then, in 1990, when the Berlin Wall came down in Germany, the Scorpions were there as Roger Waters staged Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” at the Brandenburg Gate in East Berlin with more than 300,000 people in attendance.
“The changes are amazing,” Herman Rarebell, the Scorpion’s drummer, explained, in a thick German accent.
“We never would have believed it would have been possible. If you had told me five years ago this would occur, I would have laughed.
“I watched television one night and saw people in Germany dancing on the Wall. I couldn’t believe it.”
During a recent telephone interview prior to the band’s performance in Rochester, N.Y., Rarebell said the Scorpions role in Waters’ show was important as they were the only German band in the show.
“It was a political statement,” he said. “It showed ‘there is no need for no walls nowhere.’ It was a very mind-blowing experience. The hair on my arm stood up through the whole show.
“I watched as Klaus (Meine, the Scorpion’s singer) was standing there singing in West Berlin and I was playing in East Berlin. It was unbelievable. This was definitely the biggest show I’ve played in my whole life.”
Rarebell, 41, grew up in Saarbrucken, in the western section of Germany, approximately 100 miles from Frankfurt.
He began playing drums at 15 and left Germany in 1971 when he headed for England.
“In 1977, I met a German band in England and joined. The rest is history,” he explained.
The band he joined was the Scorpions, currently composed of guitarist Rudolph Schenker, singer Klaus Meine, guitarist Matthias Jabs and bassist Francis Buchholz.
Schenker’s brother, Michael Schenker, performed for several years with the band and went on to be a member of the band UFO and currently, The McAuley/Schenker Group.
When the Scorpions recorded their first album, “Lonesome Crow,” in 1971, they had visions of traveling to America to perform, but the German producers laughed, stating the band would never make it out of the country.
The album cover included the address where the band could be reached, as Rarebell clarified, because “in those days in Germany, there was no management. To get gigs performers had to get in touch with the promoters. Having their address on the cover was a way to do that. The first album only sold 3,000 to 4,000 copies.”
In late 1990 they released their 14th album, “Crazy World,” complete with a new producer, new co-writers and newfound spirit.
For 10 years the band was under contract with producer Dieter Dierks, which limited the band’s freedom.
The band has explained in various other interviews that under Dierks influence they put in long hours in the recording studio owned by Dierks for records which did not please them, and that Dierks monopolized their publishing rights.
The glue that held the band together through those trying years was their friendship.
“We have survived so long because we are still friends,” Rarebell said. “We respect each other. We never began playing for the money and we are still the same people we’ve always been.
“When the contract ran out, we said ‘this is the time to get fresh blood.’ Keith Olsen (the new producer) was like a sixth member of the band. We also teamed with Jim Vallance who had written for Bryan Adams before.
“It was a great challenge having an outside writer. If we had signed another contract with Dierks, we would have lost our creativity and probably split up. If we were to start the band over, we would have good lawyers look into the legal side of the business. In those days, we didn’t have the money to pay for lawyers.”
These days, though, money is not a problem.
The band’s album “Taken By Force” went gold and platinum as did “Blackout.”
They were the opening act for such bands as Ted Nugent and AC/DC in 1979, and by 1980, they were headlining shows and Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Iron Maiden were opening for them.
The band is equally skilled in writing hard-driving songs like “Rock You Like a Hurricane,” “No One Like You,” and “The Zoo;” current hits “Tease Me, Please Me” and “Don’t Believe Her,” and power-ballads including “Still Loving You,” “Send Me An Angel,” and “Wind of Change.”
The current tour they are undertaking in support of the latest album, “Crazy World,” will take the band all over the world.
“We started the tour in Europe last November,” Rarebell said, “And then we hit America in February. We go back to Europe in September and have plans to go to Japan, South America and Australia.
“I love it here in America. The audience is crazy. You guys are rock and roll. Ever since I saw American performers on television, I wanted to play rock and roll.”
Rarebell said this is not a part-time job for him, music is his lifeblood.
“It seems that so many bands come and go,” he said.
“Most of them you can’t take seriously because they rely on their image. To last long, you have to give people good music.
“We haven’t survived because we’re pretty boys. Music is a lifetime job. I see myself playing 20 years from now. I saw Buddy Rich, who was 68, performing amazingly only two months before he died.”
Rarebell, who currently calls the South of France home, says he thrives from the constant touring because “I have problems sitting still in one place for more than a week. I have been around the world eight or nine times, I like the changing scenery. When I get itchy, I know it’s time to travel.”
His traveling companions include his wife, Anne-Marie, and 21-month-old daughter, Leah.
The Scorpions will be stopping in Pittsburgh on May 4 for a show that Rarebell promises will be “Very spectacular with nice surprises. It will be very entertaining. I won’t tell you the details so you will be surprised when you are at the show.”
Surprises aside, the triple-threat bill of Great White, Trixter and the Scorpions guarantees plenty of musical variety for everyone.
Rarebell left the band in 1996, prior to recording their 13th album, to start a recording label, Monaco Records, with Prince Albert of Monaco.
He still performs and records.
The Scorpion’s newest album, “Return to Forever” was released on Feb. 20, 2015.