Interview with "Scorpions" Bassist Ralph Rieckerman
Rockstar Ralph Rieckermann Trades His Bass for 'Brushes
Ralph Rieckermann from The Scorpions
Photos by Michael Angelo
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Photo Shoot Creative Driector: Heather Winfield / Fashion Director: Siomara Garcia /
Hair and Makeup: Sarah Sims / Fashions By: GSB Men's Clothier
When Ralph Rieckermann left Germany after his schooling and immigrated to the United States, he never would have guessed that one day he’d be the bass player for international sensation Scorpions. Through a bit of luck, personal struggle and endless talent, Rieckermann soared to new heights as an enviable rockstar and has maintained a strong presence and career even upon exiting the Scorpions roster. From classic musician to celebrated rockstar, from film composer to unique DJ, Ralph Rieckermann has excelled in the creative arts throughout his life. Now, Rieckermann is taking his renowned creativity to new heights as he delves into the world of painting and fine arts.
While he initially studied classical music at an esteemed conservatory in Germany, Ralph Rieckermann rose to fame in 1991 when he joined the world-famous rock band Scorpions as their new bass player. The now-classic German rock band originally formed in 1965 in Hanover, eventually finding extreme success stateside.
According to Rieckermann his lifechanging chance with Scorpions came at a time when he desperately needed it. Feeling alone and down on his luck as a recent immigrant to the United States, Rieckermann received a phone call that would forever change his life. “A friend of mine called me and said, ‘The band Scorpions is hiring a bass player, and you’re the perfect guy,’” Rieckermann says, amusement coloring his voice. “I hung up the phone because I was asleep—it was 2 in the morning. I said, ‘Dude, call me later, I’m not in the mood.’ He called me back and screamed in my ear: ‘Are you f***ing crazy? They’re one of the biggest bands in the world!’”
Recognizing the importance of such an opportunity, Rieckermann was quick to send an audition tape. Though he was confident in his own skills as a bassist, he was initially skeptical about his chances playing for the Scorpions. “They said they’d fly me to Germany and I’d meet the band. We played about 6 or 7 songs… after about an hour, they were super rude to me—they said I had to go because they had a business meeting—and they didn’t even ask for my number. I went back to Los Angeles.” While Rieckermann may have assumed he’d been passed over, he quickly found out he was wrong. “About a month later I had a message [saying] that the Scorpions wanted me to play on their new single, and [then] that I was the new bassist,” he explains. “They never auditioned or even talked to anybody other than me.” Rieckermann continued to play with the Scorpions until 2004.
Since leaving the band, he’s found success composing scores for feature films. “I studied classical music in Germany,” Rieckermann offers. “I’m very good… One day, a friend asked if I wanted to score Lancelot: Guardian of Time, and I said ‘Why not?’” he explains. “By now, I’ve done film scoring and acting in about 42 films.”
While Rieckermann’s talent for composing new music is immense, he’s since found a new passion in life, one that allows him to further his creative drive in a new, tangible manner: painting. The former prolific rockstar creates detailed pieces teeming with vibrant colors and bold themes across the canvas. Rieckermann’s paintings are unique and burgeoning with character, but unlike his history with music, Rieckermann never received formal artistic training. “About 3 years ago, I was working on a movie with Sharon Stone [What About Love, out 2017],” Rieckermann recalls. I was sick and tired of looking at computer monitors. I was really bored—I was like a girl. I wanted to go out and shop, and look at something other than computers and music. I ended up at an art store. There were all these cameras and all these paints. I’d never painted before, and I thought, ‘Why not try painting?’”