WEST VALLEY CITY Two years ago, hard rock legends Scorpions played a great concert at the USANA Amphitheatre in what was allegedly their farewell tour.
Monday, the Scorpions return to USANA, the first show of the summer for the amphitheatre. But long-time lead guitarist Matthias Jabs promises this time, it really is goodbye.
"Throughout the last two years, I thought for many many places, I thought maybe it was going to be the last time. But on this tour, I am 100% sure," Jabs told the Deseret News before the U.S. Tour started from his home in Germany. "This is really it. Due to great demand, we are playing certain cities one more time."
Since forming in 1965, the Scorpions have established themselves as one of the rock world's all-time most popular bands, selling more than 100 million albums worldwide. Commercially, their most successful time came in the '80 and early '90s when they released some of rock's biggest anthems ever with "Rock You Like A Hurricane," "No One Like You" and "Big City Nights" along with other classics such as, "Blackout," "The Zoo," "Still Loving You" and "Wind of Change."
The only constant during that time has been guitarist Rudolph Schenker who has been with the band since its inception. But only super hardcore fans remember a time before Klaus Meine took over vocals in 1970. Jabs has been on lead guitar since 1978.
"It feels strange that this is really going to be the last time," Jabs said.
When he's on stage each, Jabs said he tries not to think about how it will be the final time he ever plays that city. He wants to keep the adrenaline going to put on a good show. But Jabs said he can't help but notice, especially during ballads, that there are many fans at each show crying in the audience, realizing it's the last time they'll see their heros perform live.
Even though it will be the last time the Scorpions last time on stage, fans will still be hearing from the band in the years to come. Jabs said there are several projects in the works, including an album of unreleased older material due to come out early next year.
"We went thorough old material, released unfinished stuff form the early 80s, when a lot of people consider are more creative time," he said.
Looking back on more than three decades of memories - including constant touring during their peak years - Jabs said there have been a couple of standout highlights. When he was 25, Scorpions sold out Madison Square Garden, making Jabs, the youngest member in the group, the youngest German born musician ever to sell out the historic venue.
The other memory he points to is the infamous US Festival in 1983 on the day designated as Heavy Metal Day during the multil-day event. The lineup that day was a hall of fame showing of '80s bands including Motely Crue, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions and Van Halen. An estimated 375,000 people attended the show.
Video from the Scorps set, which can be found on You Tube today, shows a band that was arguably in the prime of their career.
But like the Scorpions, all of those bands are in the golden years of their careers. Some, like Judas Priest, have also embarked on their farewell tour.
"It makes you think, this type of rock music is coming to an end," Jabs said. "At some point there will be no more AC/DC or Rolling Stones because they'll all sooner or later will finish their careers."
While there used to be 20 bands like Scorpions, Jabs estimates that of the newer bands of today on the road, there are only about a half-dozen carrying on the torch of their type of rock music.
"I always like Nickelback a lot. They have their influences in bands like us. But they present them with a new touch. They are big enough to fill stadiums in some countries. They are definitely a big rock band of today," Jabs said.
But what gives Jabs hope for hard rock music is what he sees the young people doing who come into his guitar shop in Munich.
"I got to know many young guitar players, young kids, like 13 to 16. Not only do they play the same songs when I was learning to play, everything from Stairway to Heaven to Hendrix to AC/DC, Scorpions, they're starting off the same way we did. There's a new movement coming."
As for Jabs' own plans once the Scorpions play their final ever show, he says he'll eventually do music again, though it's still too early to say in what form it will be. But for now, he's just going to enjoy not doing things on schedule.
"I like to enjoy the time I can make my own plans. For much more than half of my lifetime, 33-34 years, there's always been non-stop something going. I'm looking froward to a break and having nobody tell me what to do," he said. "I want to experience first what it's like to not be in a band."