Sundays are usually boring.
But not always…
“Dude — get to the bar. Now.”
Usually, that’s enough to get me, I’ll be honest. After all, my beloved Yankees were playing the abominable Red Sox, and I don’t have cable, so I was already debating going to watch the game anyway. So when I got a call from Kevin that started with that line, it wasn’t a difficult decision.
“Seriously. Get here. I’m pretty sure this is Rudolf Schenker at the bar.”
Okay. Now I’m really interested. And, weirdly, if it is Rudolf, it makes sense — Scorpions should be in town; they’re playing the next day with Queensrÿche. I have a ticket. I love both bands, so I wasn’t planning on missing them.
So the decision is made, and I’m in the car. I know the bar where my friend is, and it’s about fifteen minutes away; I’m on the way, driving like a bat out of you-know-where. Five minutes later, the phone rings, and…
“Dude, it’s definitely him. Hurry up. He’s getting ready to go.”
The bar as it usually looks, which is without Rudolf Schenker.
I’ll be there in ten minutes. Hang tight. Don’t bug him. If he needs to go, that’s cool. Five minutes later, the phone rings, and…
Kevin is halfway through a sentence when I answer. He says, to someone, “Okay, yeah, hold on…” and to me, “Where are you?” I say “I’m getting off the highway, maybe five minutes,” and he says, “Okay. Hold on. He wants to talk to you.”
And then another voice comes on, a German voice: “I have to leave. I’m really sorry. I have to do an interview. I gave your buddy a number for you to call, and I will give you passes to the show tomorrow.” I’m paraphrasing here because I can’t really remember what he said — I mean, holy hell, I’m on the phone with Rudolf Schenker… I do know what I said, which was “Uhhhhhhhhhhh…. Man…… Uhhhhh… Thank you.” Turns out I didn’t have a speech prepared for The Time Rudolf Schenker Calls Me From Kevin’s Phone To Apologize For Leaving The Bar Before I Get There… I’ll do better next time, Rudi, I promise.
So, if I may, allow me to lay out what has happened so far: I am a dude in my late 30s; I have listened to the Scorpions for nearly three decades. I was lying on my couch; now I am en route to a bar. I am obviously very awesome, but I am tragically not the kind of awesome wherein Rudolf Schenker needs to call and apologize for not having a drink with me, and I am certainly not the kind of awesome where he needs to offer me a gift. But yet, somehow, that… just… sort of happened…
So I get to the bar, and Rudi has just left. And everyone’s talking about the rock star, but it turns out no one but Kevin knew more than “Rock You Like A Hurricane,” which is a damned tragedy and further proof that modern Americans should be ashamed of themselves. Still, Kevin gives me a German cell number and a name, and says “He said to text this guy, and you can get into the show to meet them.” So feeling like King Doofus of Too-late-to-the-bar-ia, I send out: “Hey, I’m this guy, blah blah, my buddy met Rudolf in the bar and he gave us this number, said we could have two passes for the meet and greet, please don’t think we’re idiots, etc…” (Again, paraphrasing, and taking some liberties, but that’s how it felt…)
And there’s no answer. For sixteen hours, give or take. Until the next afternoon. Then I get a message back “OK. 2 tix.” That’s it. Nothing more than that. But hey, that’s enough… It’s more than enough, in fact. It’s miraculous. Keep in mind: I didn’t meet Rudolf. My buddy did. I’m just a random guy, whom another random guy in a bar told Rudolf about, said I was a big fan, and Rudolf then told the second random guy to tell the first random guy to text a third random guy, who then said “Cool. You can come hang out with us.”
And before we go any further, let me just mention that, yes, I am a big fan. In fact, I’m a huge fan. Like I said, I’ve been listening to Scorpions for thirty years, which is long enough to know that the there’s no “the” in front of their name, and still not long enough for me not to insist upon putting it there, which I will from here on out… And I’ve not just been listening to them — I love this band. I love them long time. Because (the) Scorpions — whether or not they want the article — are one of the greatest bands in the history of rock, without a doubt. They rock like the hurricane you want to make the joke about, the same joke everyone makes, but then when you see them, you get it, and it’s not a joke at all, not even slightly — it’s for real. They rock, and they rock hard, and areyoureadybaybeeeeeee? I’ve seen them three times. Now I’m going for four, but this one’s getting weirder than expected…
As I mentioned, I already had a ticket — my buddy Dan and I were going — so I call him and inform him that we appear to have been upgraded. We arrive at the venue, receive our VIP passes, and immediately realize we have no idea what to do with them. After consulting with approximately five security people, the most informed among them tell us that we have actual backstage passes, like the kind that get you backstage. We are told specifically “Anywhere but on stage. Don’t go on stage.” Damn you and your rules…
(Side note, by way of comparison, earlier I ran into a friend whose friend had a “meet and greet” sticker. I said. honestly and innocently inquiring and wondering about my own, “Oh, you have that — what does that get you?” and he said “We get to meet the band.” I said, “We got these, but I don’t know what they do” — because I genuinely didn’t know. I produced my VIP laminate, and he said, “I don’t know either. We got ours from the band.” I said, “Oh, really?” because that sounded promising, since we had, too. He said, “Yeah, these came from the guitar tech.” I said, “These came from Rudolf.” He had no answer, and I still didn’t know what to do with my laminate, where to go and when to go there. I felt bad, because I one-upped him like a champ. But I didn’t mean to. I just really didn’t want to miss the meet and greet.)
But, hey, they’re backstage passes, right? So where do you go with a backstage pass?
You go backstage.
So we tried it, and it worked. We were wandering through the hallways, when this fellow approached us — “You are here with Rudolf?” I guess we looked like clueless guys from the bar. Fair enough. Can’t argue with that. “Yes, sir,” I said.
“I’m the tour manager. You texted me earlier,” he said, smiling, and shook our hands. In my day job, I’ve been a tour manager, and I’ve dealt with more than my share — many of them aren’t always personable, because the job is stressful. This guy was different — he was cool, polite, professional. He told us where to go, and let us know where not to stand, and he wasn’t gruff or harried. We waited where he told us to wait.
I said, “Yes, that was me. And thank you so much for this — this is amazing.”
He said, again paraphrased, “Sometimes things work out like this.” He thanked us for coming, and then he commented on, and then took a photo of, my patch vest, because I have a Motörhead patch and a Scorpions patch close together. (Motörhead drummer Mikkey Dee is filling in for long-time Scorps drummer James Kottak on this tour.) “Mikkey will love this,” Rudolf said. We had our photograph made with Rudi — he signed our ticket stubs — he was funny, nice, relaxed. The rest of the band hung out, talking to everyone, and we milled about for a bit. I got a photo with Wolf Hoffmann from Accept — he was an unexpected Teutonic metal bonus to my crazy night, and he graciously allowed me to be a pest. Rudolf came and talked to us again before we left, the perfect host, and even asked if he could take another photo of me because apparently I look like someone else he knows, that poor bastard. I thanked him profusely, and he once again said something to the effect of, “Sometimes these things just work out.” (Damn, I wish I could remember what wording he actually used — Rudolf, if it’s not that, I’m sorry — that’s what I remember, but I was a bit nervous. Next time, I’ll take notes.)
Herr Hoffmann and some dork in a vest.
But really, and if you’ve seen them then you know, it’s Rudolf that owns the stage. The man mugs; he rocks; he riffs; he stomps; he windmills; he plays the acoustic Flying V; he does it all. And he does it while playing some of the greatest hard rock songs of all time. Again: If you don’t like (the) Scorpions, you’re quite simply a fool. To make it even better, this being their 50th anniversary tour, they dug back into their 70s catalog, for the people like me that know it’s supremely underrated. Sure, it wasn’t too much: just a medley of “Steamrock Fever,” “Top Of The Bill,” “Speedy’s Coming,” and “Catch Your Train.” I’ve seen them do “In Trance” (my all-time favorite Scorps tune), but never any of those that I can recall, and it was awesome to hear it…
So after all that, I know I sound like a gushing fanboy. But I guess that’s because I am, and I was before, for thirty years, and now I am for the next thirty. The show ruled, and the band rules. That would’ve been enough to talk about at the bar next Sunday, for sure. But this one’s one to talk about forever, all because a guy from one of the greatest rock bands of all time cares enough about his fans to do something above and beyond. I’m just a guy who loves (the) Scorpions, one of millions of people who do, and Rudolf Schenker took the time to make me feel like I was someone special. He had no real reason to, but he did, and that’s amazing.
And it rocked… like all the hurricanes in all the world ever.