Uli Jon Roth

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Uli Jon Rothulijonroth.com

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ULI JON ROTH

Uli Jon Roth was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, on Dec 18, 1954. He often cites his father, Carl-Joseph Roth, as a role model, an all-round artist, who made his living as a well-respected journalist. Early on, his father instilled in him a love and knowledge of the visual arts, including painting and photography, as well as writing poetry, storytelling and novels.

Uli discovered his love for the electric guitar in 1968 and played his first concert later that same year at the age of 13 as lead guitarist for the band Blue Infinity. His early influences were The Beatles, The Cream with Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. In the following years while still in high school, Uli played in a number of bands in Hanover including Dawn Road while also studying classical guitar as well as the piano. His influences at that time were Andrés Segovia and Julian Bream, but also Flamenco guitarists like Manitas de Plata and the great violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

Classical music has always played a fundamental role in Uli’s musical view of the world. Even during his time with the Scorpions, it was his classical leanings and techniques, which he borrowed from the world of violin and piano playing and which he managed to translate to the guitar, which set his playing apart and which brought him international recognition.

Uli was the first electric guitarist who had the vision and ability to significantly introduce a whole armoury of classical techniques towards the electric guitar, thus vastly expanding the hitherto somewhat limited technical vocabulary available on the guitar. Furthermore, Uli was the first guitar player in rock music who brought genuine classical know-how and virtuoso dexterity towards the instrument, a fact which has gained him the somewhat strange title of “father of neo-classical”. As early as 1976, Uli played fast and exciting diminished arpeggio runs during songs like Catch Your Train and the iconic Sails of Charon. This had never been heard before in rock music and many of Uli's ground-breaking techniques, his runs, phrasings, arpeggios - even dive bombs - became a blue-print and stepping-stone for legions of younger guitarists, who tried to emulate his style and ideas. This included younger players like Eddie van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, who - before embarking of successful careers of their own and becoming famous in their own right - have named him as a major influence.

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