Virgin Killer

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Virgin Killer
a naked prepubescent girl, her pubic area partially obscured by a "cracked glass" effect, posing suggestively on a black background; seen above her are the Scorpions text logo and the title of the album
The original album cover. The cracked-glass effect is part of the original image.
Studio album by
Released22 November 1976[1]
StudioDierks Studios, Stommeln, West Germany
ProducerDieter Dierks
Scorpions chronology
In Trance
Virgin Killer
Taken by Force
Singles from Virgin Killer
  1. "Pictured Life"
    Released: 1977 (Japan)
  2. "Virgin Killer"
    Released: 1977 (Japan)
Alternative cover
The replacement cover used in some countries

Virgin Killer is the fourth studio album by the German rock band Scorpions. It was released in 1976 and was the band's first album to attract attention outside Europe.[3] The title is described as being a reference to time as the killer of innocence.[4] The original cover featured a nude prepubescent girl, which stirred controversy in the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere. As a result, the album was re-issued with a different cover in some countries.

The image again gave rise to controversy in December 2008, when the British Internet Watch Foundation placed certain pages from Wikipedia on its internet blacklist, since it considered the image to be "potentially illegal" under the Protection of Children Act 1978, effectively classifying the website as child pornography.[5] This resulted in much of the UK being prevented from editing Wikipedia and significant public debate on the decision. The decision was reversed by the IWF after four days of blocking.[6]


Professional ratings
Review scores

Virgin Killer "failed to attain any serious attention in the United States" but was "quite popular in Japan"[8] where it peaked at number 32 in the charts.[9] The album was another step in the band's shift from psychedelic music to hard rock.[10] Critic Vincent Jeffries of AllMusic contend that the album was "the first of four studio releases that really defined the Scorpions and their urgent metallic sound that was to become highly influential."[11] He also counts the title track and "Pictured Life" among the "all-time Scorpions standouts." Uli Jon Roth considers Virgin Killer and the previous release In Trance, his favourite Scorpions albums.[12]


The original cover art for the album depicted a nude ten-year-old girl,[13] with a shattered glass effect obscuring her genitalia. The image was designed by Steffan Böhle[14] who was then the product manager for the West German branch of RCA Records.[12] In an interview conducted in early 2007 Francis Buchholz (the bassist for the band) recollects that the girl depicted on the cover was either the daughter or the niece of the cover designer.[15] The photograph was taken by Michael von Gimbut.[16] The band's rhythm guitarist Rudolf Schenker offers the following description of the circumstances behind the album cover:

We didn't actually have the idea. It was the record company. The record company guys were like, "Even if we have to go to jail, there's no question that we'll release that." On the song "Virgin Killer" time is the virgin killer. But then, when we had to do the interviews about it, we said "Look, listen to the lyrics and then you'll know what we're talking about. We're using this only to get attention. That's what we do." Even the girl, when we met her fifteen years later, had no problem with the cover. Growing up in Europe, sexuality, of course not with children, was very normal. The lyrics really say it all. Time is the virgin killer. A kid comes into the world very naive, they lose that naiveness and then go into this life losing all of this getting into trouble. That was the basic idea about all of it.[4]

In a separate interview Schenker also notes that he thought the cover art was a "great thing" and that he had "pushed the band to really stay behind it" as he felt that people would "think differently" when they looked at the lyrics and realized that the cover art was only being used as "a symbol of the lyrics."[17] Schenker added: "We would never again do something like this".[13] The band's former lead guitarist Uli Jon Roth notes that the cover art of the "old Scorpion albums" were "usually done by other people".[12] He has since expressed regret over the original album cover:

Looking at that picture today makes me cringe. It was done in the worst possible taste. Back then I was too immature to see that. Shame on me—I should have done everything in my power to stop it. The record company came up with the idea, I think. The lyrics incidentally were a take-off on Kiss, whom we had just supported on a tour. I was fooling around and played the riff of the song in the rehearsal room and spontaneously improvised 'cause he's a virgin killer!' trying to do a more or less way-off-the-mark Paul Stanley impersonation. Klaus immediately said 'that's great! You should do something with it.' Then I had the unenviable task of constructing a meaningful set of lyrics around the title, which I actually managed to do to some degree. But the song has a totally different meaning from what people would assume at first. Virgin Killer is none other than the demon of our time, the less compassionate side of the societies we live in today—brutally trampling upon the heart and soul of innocence.[18]

In 2008, photographer Michael von Gimbut emphasized that he, his wife, the girl's mother, sister, and three female assistants had been present during the shooting and stated: "Back then, we loved and protected children and did not sleep with them."[13]

The cover generated controversy: the album could only be sold sealed in black plastic in several countries[13] and the cover was replaced in some countries with an alternative cover art depicting the band members.[10] The original is named in various "worst album cover" lists: Cracked magazine online named it the No. 1 "Worst Album Cover of All-Time",[19] while lists it as No. 1 on its March 2008 "The 50 Most Controversial Album Covers of All Time!" list. It was named by UGO Networks as one of the "Weirdest Album Covers"[20] and placed No. 6 on the "All-Time Worst Album Covers" list made by magazine.[21]

This would not be the last time that the band attracted controversy with its album covers. Taken by Force originally featured cover art that depicted "children playing with guns at a military cemetery in France and some people found that offensive".[12] Lovedrive featured a "bizarre artwork" that depicts "a woman on the back seat of a car with bubblegum over her breast."[10] Both covers were replaced by an alternative design.[22][23] Vocalist Klaus Meine explains that the band's penchant for controversial cover art stems from a desire "to go over the edge" and not "to offend some people or make the headlines [as] that would be stupid", contrasting guitarist Rudolf Schenker's earlier statement: "We're using this only to get attention."[3][4] In a 2010 interview Meine commented on the cover art again stating:

Back in those days [the 1970s] it was RCA, our record label then, went over the edge with Virgin Killer. Today when you think of child pornography on the net, you would never do something like that. We never did this in the sense of pornography, we did it in the sense of art. It is about the song and the label was pushing the idea because they wanted to get the controversy to help the album sale and you cannot get better promotion than that. Looking back from the band point of view it was never an album cover that we took home to our parents and said, "Look what we just released." There was always mixed feelings about it and even 30 years later it caused a scandal at Wikipedia because the site for that album was blocked and even the FBI was getting involved. All of that after so many years, can you believe that?[24]

In August 2015, a court in Sweden said that it considered the album cover to be child pornography.[25]

Wikipedia controversy

In May 2008, the US-based social conservative site WorldNetDaily reported the cover image on Wikipedia to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A subsequent investigation by the FBI concluded that the artwork did not violate any US laws.[26] EContent magazine subsequently reported the Wikipedia community's internal debate: "Prior discussion has determined by broad consensus that the Virgin Killer cover will not be removed" and asserted that Wikipedia contributors "favour inclusion in all but the most extreme cases".[27]

In December 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a UK-based non-government organization added the Wikipedia article Virgin Killer to its internet blacklist due to concerns over legality of the image, which had been assessed as the lowest level of legal concern: "erotic posing with no sexual activity".[28] As a result, people using many major UK ISPs were blocked from viewing the entire article by the Cleanfeed system.[28][29][30] A large part of the UK was blocked from editing Wikipedia. Following representations by the Wikimedia Foundation (which hosts the Wikipedia website)[31] and public complaints,[32] the IWF reversed their decision three days later and confirmed that in future they would not block copies of the image that were hosted overseas.[6] The IWF stated that one of the reasons for reversing their decision was that it had increased public interest in the image—an example of the Streisand effect.[33]

Track listing

Side one
1."Pictured Life"Klaus Meine, Ulrich Roth, Rudolf Schenker3:21
2."Catch Your Train"Meine, Schenker3:32
3."In Your Park"Meine, Schenker3:39
4."Backstage Queen"Meine, Schenker3:10
5."Virgin Killer"Roth3:41
Side two
7."Crying Days"Meine, Schenker4:36
8."Polar Nights"Roth5:04
9."Yellow Raven"Roth4:58



Additional musicians


Covered songs


Chart (1976) Peak
Japanese Albums (Oricon)[38] 32


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Germany 120,000[39]
Japan (RIAJ)[40] Gold 100,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also


  1. ^ "Scorpions albums".
  2. ^ Anderson, Jason. "Scorpions Virgin Killer - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b Yasui, Todd Allan (30 August 1988). "The Sign of the Scorpions; The West German Metal Meisters' Tour de Force". The Washington Post. pp. F3.
  4. ^ a b c "Scorpions Guitarist: We Wanted To 'Make A Masterpiece For Our Own History'". 3 October 2007. Archived from the original on 6 June 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  5. ^ "Scorpions censored". BBC. 8 December 2008. Archived from the original on 4 January 2009. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b "IWF statement regarding Wikipedia webpage". Internet Watch Foundation. Archived from the original on 7 June 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2008.
  7. ^ Anderson, Jason. "Scorpions Virgin Killer review". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 16 May 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2012.
  8. ^ Weber, Barry. "Scorpions". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  9. ^ Sharpe-Young, Garry. "Scorpions discography". Rockdetector. Archived from the original on 28 December 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  10. ^ a b c Berelian, Essi (2003). Buckley, Peter; Buckley, Jonathan (eds.). The Rough Guide to Rock. London: Rough Guides. p. 909. ISBN 1-84353-105-4.
  11. ^ Jeffries, Vincent. "Virgin Killer review". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  12. ^ a b c d Syrjälä, Marko. "Interview with Uli Jon Roth". Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  13. ^ a b c d Martin Zips: Die böse Blöße Archived 12 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11 December 2008 (in German)
  14. ^ "Das Rock Hard-Magazin feiert 250. Ausgabe im Großformat" (in German). 2 December 2008. Archived from the original on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  15. ^ Syrjälä, Marko. "Interview with Francis Buchholz". Archived from the original on 18 June 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2008. This was the record company, the guy who did the cover design, it was his daughter or his niece and they did this photo and said they had this great idea.
  16. ^ In Trance Virgin Killer: The Back to Black Collection (Media notes). Scorpions. France: Axe Killer Music. 2000. 3056462.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  17. ^ Trunk, Russell A. "Scorpions: Yet Another Sting In The Tale!". Archived from the original on 13 April 2008. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  18. ^ "Uli Jon Roth Says 'Virgin Killer' Album Cover Makes Him Cringe". 3 April 2006. Archived from the original on 9 May 2010. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  19. ^ "The 15 Worst Album Covers of All-Time" Archived 8 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine by Ben Dennison, Cracked
  20. ^ Jensen, K. Thor (3 September 2008). "Weirdest & Worst Album Covers". UGO Networks. Slide 3: 'Scorpions: Virgin Killer'. Archived from the original on 17 November 2013.
  21. ^ "The All-Time Worst Album Covers" Archived 10 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, magazine
  22. ^ Palmer, Andrew (28 December 1999). "Rock You Like a Piece of Meat". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
  23. ^ Weber, Barry. "Scorpions". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
  24. ^ Jeffrey Easton. "Metal Exiles interview with Klaus Meine'". Archived from the original on 18 April 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  25. ^ "Scorpionsomslag anses vara barnporr". Svenska dagbladet (in Swedish). 7 August 2015. Archived from the original on 26 September 2015. Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  26. ^ Fisher, Frank (9 December 2008). "A nasty sting in the censors' tail". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 April 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2017.
  27. ^ "Wikipedia Weighs Information Against Indecency" Archived 24 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine by Jessica Dye, July/August 2008 issue ofEContent
  28. ^ a b Arthur, Charles (8 December 2008). "Wikipedia row escalates as internet watchdog considers censoring Amazon US over Scorpions image". Archived from the original on 5 September 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
  29. ^ "Wikipedia child image censored". BBC News. 8 December 2008. Archived from the original on 9 December 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2008.
  30. ^ "Wikipedia article blocked in UK over child photo". The Independent. Associated Press. 8 December 2008. Archived from the original on 9 December 2008. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  31. ^ "Censorship in the United Kingdom disenfranchises tens of thousands of Wikipedia editors" Archived 11 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Wikimedia Foundation press release, 7 December 2008
  32. ^ ZDNet Archived 19 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine cites "floods of angry users".
  33. ^ Morozov, Evgeny (26 December 2008). "Living with the Streisand Effect". The New York Times. New York. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 7 June 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  34. ^ Siva, Shan. "Interview with Gus G. of Firewind". Archived from the original on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  35. ^ "Between Heaven and Hell". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  36. ^ Mezzera, Riccardo. "A Tribute to the Scorpions review" (in Italian). Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  37. ^ "A Tribute to the Scorpions". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  38. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005 (in Japanese). Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  39. ^ "Dierks Studios Soar" (PDF). Record World. 21 January 1978. p. 24 - Sectio II (scroll to page 62). Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  40. ^ "The Score of the Scorpions-Highlights of Two Generations-1976" (PDF). Billboard. 16 November 1991. p. 58. Retrieved 20 December 2020.

External links