Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The #86 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Uli Jon Roth

At #86 for the Rock Era, a guitarist who has shown his worth in a variety of musical styles, and that makes him all the more impressive.  Here's Uli Jon Roth:
#86:  Uli Jon Roth, the Scorpions, Electric Sun
45 years as an active guitar player
(Solo on "Why")

Ulrich Roth was born December 18, 1954.  Known as Uli Jon Roth, he first gained notoriety as the lead guitarist of the Scorpions.

Roth formed the group Dawn Road in the early 1970's with Achim Kirschning, Francis Buchholz and Jurgen Rosenthal.  In 1973, Michael Schenker left the Scorpions to join UFO and the Scorpions split up.  The two remaining members of the Scorpions, Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Mein joined with the members of Dawn Road, using the name the Scorpions.  Roth was the lead guitarist, songwriter and occasional lead singer for the group that released four albums between 1974 and 1977.  He was also with the group when they recorded the live album Tokyo Tapes.

Roth left the Scorpions in 1978 and formed the band Electric Sun.  That group released three albums from 1979 to 1985.
Following the end of Electric Sun, Roth composed four symphonies and two concertos, performing with symphony orchestras throughout Europe.  Roth played with Joe Satriani and Michael Schenker on the G3 European tour in 1998.

In 2006, Roth and two other former members of the Scorpions joined the group at the Wacken Open Air Festival.  The concert was filmed and released on DVD, and its success necessitated more similar performances on several tours that followed.  In 2008, Roth released a studio album called Under A Dark Sky, the first release in a series of Symphonic Legends.

In the 1980's, Roth commissioned master luthier Andreas Demetriou to construct custom guitars with additional frets.  Roth developed the concept adding is own specifications and had five of what he called "Sky Guitars" handcrafted.  All of the Sky Guitars contained extra frets to emulate the high notes of a violin.  All of the guitars are either fretless above the 30th fret or have whole-step fret spacing above the 27th fret and have extensive fretboard scalloping.  Roth prefers the Framus Dragon amplifier and he uses a stalk mounted Vibesware guitar resonator or sustainer to introduce infinite sustain during solos. 

Roth is a pleasure to watch, because you appreciate his immense knowledge, not only of the guitar, but of music itself.  He incorporates advanced elements from European classical music, such as pedal tone sequences and intricate arpeggios.  The classical influence has dominated his playing beginning with Electric Sun.  His great influence extends to guitarists such as Yngwie Malmsteen, who loves his Sky Guitars, Marty Friedman, Kirk Hammett and many others.

The fascinating Uli Jon Roth is #86...

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