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50th anniversary makes Scorpions feel "old" but accomplished

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Back in 1971, German rockers Scorpions butted heads with their then-producer Conny Plank about song publishing.

He wanted them to sign to his publishing companies, but the group wanted to work with a more international concert. "I said, 'We want to play all over the world. We want to play in America,'" guitarist Rudolf Schenker, 67, recalls by phone from Hanover. "And (Plank) was laughing like crazy."

Adds Meine, 57, "He said, 'Keep on dreaming. There's no chance.' There was no German band before who became successful in the United States. This is a very unique story at the end of the day."

Schenker, Meine and their compatriots had the last laugh, of course. Scorpions -- which Schenker formed 50 years ago in Hanover -- indeed went on to make it big in the U.S. and around the globe. It's sold an estimated more than 10 million albums in the U.S. alone and worldwide has notched more than 200 gold and platinum certifications. "The Zoo," "Rock You Like a Hurricane" (No. 18 on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs) "Still Loving You" and the socio-political anthem "Wind of Change" are enduring rock radio (and Guitar Hero/Rock Band) hits, and the group has won three World Music Awards and received a star on the Hollywood Rock Walk.

So the group feels a sense of redemption for this year's 50th anniversary celebration -- accompanied by a new album, "Return To Forever" -- even if Scorpions voice slightly ambivalent feelings about hitting the mark.

"Fifty years -- it sounds so damn old!" Meine, who joined Scorpions during 1969, says with a laugh. "But then you join this exclusive club, bands like the Stones, the Who, the Beach Boys, still around and still doing great. All the highs and lows, we've weathered the storms. Like in the (new) song, 'We Built This House,' we built this house on rock 'n' roll -- and it still stands."

What makes this year also sweet is that Scorpions conducted a Final Sting farewell tour during 2011-2012. But the reception for that and for 2013's "MTV Unplugged -- Live in Athens" album convinced the group to reconsider its self-imposed demise.

"We thought we'd stop on a high note, but it went so well it was so successful and it seemed like people wanted more Scorpions," Schenker explains. "We thought, 'They still want us. We still love doing this. Let's keep going.'"


9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19.

The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, 377 E. Riverside Drive.

Tickets are $45-$91.

Call 1-800-991-777 or visit www.caesarswindsor.com.

Web Site: www.caesars.com/caesars-windsor

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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