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50 years have gone by since the days the juvenile Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs wandered the streets of Hannover, which was just awakening from post war paralysis, with a barrow carrying their instruments and amplifiers. In these 50 years, they have become Germany’s, or rather Continental Europe’s most successful rock band, the living proof that not only VW, Mercedes or BMW are able to compete internationally, but classic rock music made in Germany as well. Countless bands, including the Smashing Pumpkins as well as Green Day, Korn, System Of A Down or Queensryche have covered songs by the Scorpions throughout the years. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” on its own was covered over 150 times by different musicians.
Expressing a career like the one of the Scorpions in mere numbers is almost impossible. However, one number that should still be mentioned is more than 100 million records sold to date. This makes the Scorpions the most successful rock band of Continental Europe by far.
Below, there is a small – far from complete – selection of further milestones from fifty years of Scorpions history:
Records sold worldwide: more than 100,000,000 units
Certified album sales in the four most important markets: 22 million
First album in the US Billboard 200: 1979 Lovedrive (#55)
Top Ten positions in the US Billboard 200:
1988 Savage Amusement (#5)
1984 Love At First Sting (#6)
1982 Blackout (#10)
Billboard top hard rock albums (Top Ten only):
2010 Sting In The Tail (2)
2012 Comeblack (#7)
2014 MTV Unplugged (#7)
Billboard hit singles (Top Ten only):
1982 No One Like You (#1)
1991 Wind Of Change (#2)
1989 I Can‘t Explain (#5)
1988 Rhythm Of Love (#6)
1990 Tease Me, Please Me (#8)
1991 Send Me An Angel (#8)
1993 Alien Nation (#10)
In Germany, the Scorpions have sold more than one million copies of “Crazy World” alone – and with this, in the rock genre easily draw even with Nirvana (Nevermind), AC/DC (Back In Black) or Guns‘N Roses (Use Your Illusion I). They deservedly received double platinum for it in 1991. Like in Switzerland and Canada as well, by the way. Additionally, “Sting In The Tail” (1991) and the single “Wind Of Change” (1991) were awarded platinum in Germany. Incidentally, the latter was No.1 in seven countries! The complete inventory of worldwide gold awards is simply too extensive to be listed here.
However, countless silver, gold and platinum awards are only one side of the Scorpions’ history. Another is their unabated desire to travel. No other rock band of their caliber after so many years takes to the stage as often as the Hannover natives. They have played thousands of concerts in all corners of the planet: in Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Moscow, Washington, Dubai, Paris or Berlin.
In 1988, they were the first Western rock band to play sold-‐out shows five days in a row in the then still Soviet Leningrad. Pioneering achievements elsewhere as well: through very early concerts in China and Southeast Asia, they have opened doors for many other Western bands.
They’ve swept the board big time in Brazil in 1995 at the legendary “Rock in Rio” festival, when other German bands could at best dream of foreign countries. The performance is documented on the epochal live album “World Wide Live”, which was the band’s final breakthrough in the US, for all time cementing their reputation as one of the planet’s hottest live bands.
And then there was the 1989 “Moscow Music Peace” festival, where the Scorpions ultimately conquered Russia, inspiring Klaus Meine to write the track that not much later became the theme song to the Iron Curtain’s final fall: “Wind of Change”.
There were many magic live moments; some of them are captured on live albums, others on film and video recordings. These are the moments, which have cemented the Scorpions’ reputation as one of the rare bands rising far above the crowd.