I had the amazing opportunity last year
to sit and chat with one of rock's
history-makers. Herman Rarebell was the
drummers for the Scorpions from
1977-1995 and has been recently touting
his audiobook, "My Life as a Scorpion"
(Dark Star Records). He also has
released the album, "Take it as it
Comes" (Dark Star Records), under the
moniker Herman ze German, a nickname he
was given when he was hanging out at the
Rainbow in Hollywood during the '80s.
Rarebell is noted for writing Scorps'
songs such as "Another Piece of Meat,"
"Passion Rules the Game" and "Falling in
Love" and also wrote the lyrics for
"Rock You Like a Hurricane," "Make it
Real," and more. After parting ways, he
still remains friendly with the band.
Rarebell lives in Munich, Germany and
has a home in Brighton, England. We met
in a hotel room in Hollywood and were
soon chatting like old friends... and
musicians. I asked him to begin by
telling me about his earliest interests
"Of course when you are five or six
years you play on pots, but that's not
serious drumming, that was just the
first time for me to bang on something,"
begins Rarebell. "I fell in love with
the drums when I was 12 or 13, when I
went to a wedding. After mum and dad and
everybody was probably drunk and the
band finally stopped playing at one or
two in the morning, I was sitting behind
this drum kit just tripping out and then
I noticed this new kind of instrument, I
fell in love with the drums then.
"Then the Beatles came around and
everybody played the guitar so I started
to play the drums. I played in a little
band when I was 13 and 14. When I was
15, we made our first good band called
the Mastermen. I started to really take
it more serious and by 16, 17, my school
headmaster said, 'What do you want to
do? Do you want to become a professional
"I studied music at the Music School in
Saarbrucken for two years. I studied
piano and drums, classical of course,
and then in 1971 I left for England. As
a young man I decided to join the next
heavy metal band, which was in England
waiting there for me," Rarebell laughs.
"I wanted to go there since I was 17.
"In 1971 I had my dreams of becoming a
big rock star and I went to England with
$2,000 in my pocket and of course after
four to six weeks the money was gone and
I had to become a taxi driver. I was a
gardener, I was a barman, none of those
big heavy metal bands were waiting for
Herman, but in 1974 I started doing
studio jobs in England and I made myself
a name with it. Then in 1977, Michael
Schenker, who was already in England
with me because he played with UFO, said
to me 'My brother is coming over, he has
a band from Germany called the Scorpions
and they are looking for a drummer, why
don't you go to the audition?'
"I went and there was another 50, 60
guys there and we each played three
songs and after the three songs, came
the famous don't call us, we'll call
you. I thought sure. But it turned out
the next day they called me up and said,
'Yeah, do you want the job? Can we take
your drums with us to Germany?' I said
I'm going to have to talk to my
girlfriend because she doesn't know I'm
going to go to Germany now this is my
new job," Rarebell continues. "Anyway I
let them take the drums and two weeks
later I was in Hanover. I joined the
Scorpions on the 17th of May 1977. Klaus
(Meine, vocals) got married on that day,
that's why I know that. Then I moved to
Germany and that summer we started to
write music and in fall '77 I recorded
my first album with the band called
'Taken by Force.'"
Here, we pause to discuss what we like
to do when we're not working.
I live by the sea, so my hobby is
obviously walking," shares Rarebell. "I
love long walks along the sea, I like
swimming and snorkeling. I love
snorkeling where the water is warm and
you can see what's happening under the
sea. I can snorkel for hours. I enjoy
fitness, I work out. I'm trying to keep
myself fit for drumming."
Returning to the business at hand, I ask
Rarebell about his writing process.
"It depends really on the story I'm want
to tell," Rarebell responds. "For
example, if you take the song like
'Another Piece of Meat' that I wrote,
obviously it's from real life
experience, the same way like when I
wrote 'Rock You Like a Hurricane,' the
biggest Scorpions' hit. It happened
literally in the morning- 'It's early
morning and sun comes out, last night
was shaking and pretty loud,' it was a
heavy party night, 'My cat is purring
and scratches my skin, so what is wrong
with another sin' obviously during
lovemaking this girl is scratching me
and in the morning the sun came out and
I wrote 'Rock You Like a Hurricane.'"
"Which do you write first, the music or
the lyrics?" I ask.
"It depends," answers Rarebell. "With
this song 'Rock You Like a Hurricane,'
Rudolf played me this song. He said,
'Listen I have this song, do you have
any ideas for lyrics?' I said,
'Leave me the tape.' I woke up five or
six o'clock the next morning, the sun
came out and then I wrote it down right
out of inspiration, being with the girl
the same night so everything was fresh,
the smell of love was still in the room
and it was just the time to write it
because it's a very sexual song. This
was the mood I was in when I was
"The same with 'Another Piece of Meat.'
I was in Japan touring and the girl I
was with then was really crazy and she
was totally into kickboxing and the more
blood ran all over the stage, the more
turned on she got, so in the end I had
to get out of there. I said, 'Come on
let's go, don't put on a show, you're
just another piece of meat.' 'Passion
Rules the Game' I wrote the music, I had
no idea for the lyrics so I went to
Klaus Meine and I asked 'Do you have any
ideas for this song?'"
I want to
know more about Rarebell's album, "Take
it as it Comes."
basically the producer of this album."
Rarebell says, "I have, for the first
time, the luxury in my life to sit back
as a producer and tell my band and my
musicians I want to listen to all your
songs you ever created, so they each
played me their songs and I had 60 songs
to choose from. I said, 'This is great'
and I've written a few songs on there,
but basically I said to myself that,
being a drummer, you have to have
definitely one or two great songs on
"'Wipe Out' is a classic and I found
this version in my brushup books, I
recorded it in 1984. Then the record
company told me that this version is too
wild, make us a more commercial version,
so the 1984 version which we know from
'Herman ze German and Friends' first
album is not this one, this one is the
one which is the wild one, which has the
drums solo and the very wild guitar
solo. And the song, 'Drum Dance' I did
with my drum friends, Pete York and
myself and it was we had fun doing it.
"When I heard 'Take it as it Comes,'
which was written by my friend Thomas
Perry, I said to him this is my life
really. You have to take it as it comes
because now in this world, when you look
at it, if you don't take it as it comes,
you may go crazy," Rarebell continues.
"You have to think positively because I
know there's recession, there's
depression, but my philosophy is take it
as it comes, live your life because you
don't know how long you're going to
live, tomorrow could be your last day.
It could be over in the blink of a
"I think live your life every day to the
fullest, don't look back because you
cannot change the past, you only can
think ahead and be positive and if we
all think like this then we get out of
this shit. And I think take it as it
comes, live your life, this philosophy
and when you listen to the lyrics,
that's what I mean. And I wanted to make
sure of all the songs that I had chosen
as a producer that every song has a
potential to become I hit. I didn't want
to have any album fillers. I said make a
great album with songs so when you
listen to the album you don't get bored,
every song is good."
I remark that "Take it as is Comes" is a
"It's a fun album," assents Rarebell.
"You can play it at a barbecue party
outside, you can crank it up. That's
what I like about this album. I wanted
every song to be good."
About 12 different musicians appear on
the album. Stefan Erz provided vocals on
five songs and Claudia Raab, Rarebell's
wife, played saxophone.
"It was a great challenge to integrate
the saxophone in hard rock because it
hasn't been done and I think she does a
very good job," says Rarebell.
For "Rock You Like a Hurricane" on the
album, he wrote another verse and
changed the solo, making it low, deep
and dirty. This remake has garnered a
lot of different reactions from
"I have mixed opinions, a lot of
Scorpions fans come up to me,
'Fantastic, Herman,' then you have
die-hard fans, 'You should have never
touched it.' It's my song, I can do with
it what I want," Rarebell says. "And you
can't touch the original, it's still
great, it's proven, it still plays all
over the world today. As we talk right
now, there's probably 100 stations
playing it somewhere in the world. That
shows me that it's a timeless song and
that song was voted number 30 of the 100
best ever rock songs of all time."
I note that the songs on the album seem
to have a big touch of humor in them.
"It's intentional because that's my
nature, I like to have a good laugh,"
Rarebell tells me. "I think in general
there is nothing to get depressed about
in life, you should always have the
attitude that you'll take it as it
comes. If you can't laugh any more,
there's something wrong with you. Humor
is very important."
Rarebell shares that recently Vince Neil
told him that "Another Piece of Meat"
was his favorite song. Neil gave
Rarebell a copy of his own cover of the
tune. Interestingly enough, years ago,
Rarebell was approached by Tommy Lee and
Motley Crue to produce them, but he
turned them down because he had to go
back to Germany to work on a Scorpions
They told Rarebell he lost a million
dollars, he laughs. He would have loved
to produce them.
We move our talk to the subject of
Rarebell's audio book, "My Life as a
"I didn't want to make it like a
serialized audio book where I just sit
there and read my book and put it on
tape. I got together with a voice
imitator, Klaus Gorsch, and my friend
Pete York, another drummer who used to
play with the Spencer David Group,
interviewed me," explains Rarebell. "So
in the interview there's also the voice
imitator, he imitates, for example,
Arnold Schwarzenegger. As Arnold says to
me, 'Tell me Herman, what was it like
with the groupies?' Listening to this
interview you have the feeling that you
are sitting in a German beer garden,
drinking beer and eating sausages and
sauerkraut. I made it more funny and
entertaining. You hear my whole life,
what I did before the Scorpions and
about the Scorpions and of course my
future, at least what I wish for my
So what's in Rarebell's future? He wants
to tour the United States either on his
own or with another band on the bill.
His touring band will be Herman on
drums, Erz on vocals, Raab on saxophone,
Thomas Perry on guitar, James Jackson on
lead guitar and Jens Peter Abele on
bass. He is also writing for his next
album, which will be predominately his
own songs. He has quite a stack of
material already, but he may use a few
from his band members as well.
"I have a band now, so it's very
important that those people also have a
chance to write and express themselves,"
says Rarebell. "When I go on the road, I
don't want to be the big boss and
dictator, I like to have a band where
everybody is the same. If somebody plays
me a great song, I take it because when
you hear a great song nobody's asking
who wrote it, they just go 'Great
song.' That's what I want to do, just
put great songs out."
As I prepare
to leave, Rarebell and I talk about the
future of rock music.
"I think the circle is closing again now
and rock is back again because people
are tired of all the computer stuff,
they want to play music again. I see a
lot of kids nowadays are actually
learning instruments, when only 10 years
ago it was like putting one finger on
the computer and the computer doing
everything," Rarebell states. "I think
rock will stay because it's timeless.
"I love what I do very much," Rarebell
goes on. "When Klaus and Rudolph told me
they would like to retire and were
planning our farewell tour, 'Are you
crazy?' I said, 'I don't want to retire.
I want to play the songs that I want
to.' First of all, what else am I going
to do, retire and sit at home? I would
be bored after one day. I'm going to go