Legendary guitarist Uli Jon Roth has posted the following message on his official web site:
"I don't know about you, but for me, personally, 2004 was a good and productive year in all and I really hope that you have also had a good year. Among the many personal highlights for me this last year was certainly the European tour in the spring and, of course, the U.S. tour in the summer. It was great having the opportunity to meet so many of you in person during and after our concerts. Your feedback and encouragement is very important to me — it makes me play better and helps me to understand your thoughts and emotions.
"On the recording front, we also made a lot of progress with the 'Requiem', and my intention is to keep the first half of this year free of concerts and other engagements — insofar as possible — in order to work in the studio. 'Requiem For An Angel' is a massive piece of music, which needs all my attention and concentration to complete it and I don't want to release this work until I am satisfied that I have done it full justice according to the best of my abilities.
"The second half of 2005 should see a lot of concerts in diverse parts of the world.
This will include several concerts with SKY ORCHESTRA.
"On a completely different and sad note, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to those of you who have lost loved ones in the very recent and on-going tsunami catastrophe.
"It is probably impossible for us here in Europe or America to imagine the full horror of the situation, which was brought about by the oceanic earthquakes in the region and which struck so devastatingly hard without warning.
"For me this tragedy also immediately puts most of our own little — or even big — everyday problems into perspective and makes them pale into petty insignificance in view of millions of shattered destinies in the tsunami-affected regions.
"Here we are on this planet — waging wars against one another and killing our fellowmen with man-made weapons — but when faced with such awesome forces of nature, everything is suddenly put into perspective as with a single gigantic blow of a cosmic hammer — it makes us feel so small, so helpless — at least, it does this for me on one level…
"But there are also other aspects to be considered at a time like this… Maybe some of you are sharing my sentiments regarding the following; the whole enormity of the devastation, the incredible loss of precious human life — as well as that of animals - infrastructure and property, famine, disease — displacement of millions of people — tragedies too awful to comprehend with our minds, too painful to fully contemplate with our hearts… Events like this should help us to come to our senses and challenge us to do everything possible to make and keep peace between the nations.
"I feel that these days — just as in days gone by — warfare is still seen far too readily as a genuine 'solution' to genuine problems. In reality, though, war is hardly ever a truly justifiable choice and it is almost always the crudest, most inhumane, most ineffective choice of action available. It is, in fact, the way that savages choose, because they have not yet learnt to cultivate the more sensitive strings in their hearts and wisdom has no place in their minds. Warfare is the way of the bull(y) in the china-shop — not the way of the skilled operator. It is intrinsically primitive by nature — although it comes increasingly disguised under the tinsel mantle of being fought in a highly sophisticated, technologically advanced manner replete with certain politically correct catch phrases — such as 'conducted with the least possible loss of human life' to make the whole atrocious affair as seemingly 'humane' as possible. Real warfare isn't like that at all — and never has been — never will be! Although there have been certain exceptions in the course of history, the true reality of war is virtually always the case of the wizard's apprentice who unwittingly unleashes catastrophic events which are soon completely beyond his control. Virtually all recent wars have borne this out, although some did achieve their 'objective' and some good has come undoubtedly from some wars. War is the way of the exterminator — not the way of the healer — nor is it the way of God. It is, in fact, the way of man unenlightened — the way of ignorance — the way of death. Instead of healing, it only creates more wounds and deeper ones. There is almost always a genuine alternative to war, which is the bluntest, least sophisticated weapon of all.
"Let us therefore always strive to strengthen the brotherhood of man, which is — in the case of the tsunami disaster — best represented by the gigantic relief efforts made by so many individuals from many countries under the direction of the United Nations and let our prayers and empathy be with those who have been hit directly by the tragedy.
"It seems to me that we have to prepare our minds for further cataclysmic changes, which will affect all of us in the not-so-distant future. Global warming is undoubtedly upon us — and I am personally convinced that many of our future problems are entirely man-made. We are constantly abusing our environments with reckless disregard of higher and sacred eternal laws — and we are doing so on a truly global scale like parasites feeding on a once healthy body. The greedy and ignorant destruction of our rainforests on an unprecedented scale is only one of many man-made time-bombs ticking away, albeit possibly the most lethal one. The sheer lack of respect towards the sanctity of nature displayed by the human race as a whole is a suicidal blasphemy against one of the Creator's most beautiful gardens, which we have the privilege to inhabit and which gives us life and nourishment.
"I am not a doomsday-sayer or a merchant of gloom; in fact — on the contrary — as those of you who personally know me will testify, I am much more inclined to be the ever-incorrigible optimist; however, I hope, one with a certain sense of realism and a sense of perspective. But in view of all the things that are so obviously and blatantly wrong with today's world it is easy to succumb to feelings of despondency and to respond to these wrongs with a sinking heart. It is only too easy to give up and to capitulate in the face of such seemingly overwhelming adversities and the general mess the human race as a whole has gotten itself into. It really does seem like the odds are heavily stacked against us — by ourselves!!! That is the amazing thing, the incomprehensible thing… We, as human beings, have painted ourselves into a corner and we are continuing to do so with reckless abandon in the case of some and in the spirit of helplessness in the case of others. In spite of all the forces of devastation, though, I feel it is always extremely important and simply vital to try and stay focused and centered in positive thought and action, particularly in times of crises, because one's personal attitude towards the events in the world around us, can and does make a difference, however small. And it is important to make a difference — however insignificant one's own little contribution might seem in our own eyes.
"This website brings us all together because of our shared love of music. There is a point to be made that art, by which I mean all sorts of artistic culture, including music, can also easily be regarded as superfluous and decadent in times as troubled as ours. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth — I am convinced that human societies of today have an essential need of art, because, even in times of war it is vital to not get completely disconnected from these things. While I am the first to admit that in ‘real life' there are more important things than the world of art — particularly when sheer survival is at stake — it is nevertheless important to keep these subtle heart strings ringing and to give them a good tune-up from time to time.
"To keep the flame burning and to nurture it for the sake of our sanity and for future generations to whom we owe much responsibility. This is why it is so important for us here to stick together and to not ever lose sight of these things. We as artists, or as true music lovers, are very much in an underdog position these days in the sense that, for society as a whole, true art — which is not commercially controlled or driven — has lost an enormous amount of importance and power to influence the course of events. This was not always so, but the current trend, which has begun some years ago, is no laughing matter and very, very real. Although I do hope that things will get better eventually, my personal assessment of the situation is unfortunately not too optimistic — at least not for the near future — let's hope I'm wrong here, please.
A society without art is far away from being a society without a heart.
"After all these sobering reflections I'd like to end on a positive note.
"We have started preparations for a large-scale Monika Dannemann exhibition at the Rock & Pop Museum in Gronau, Germany, and it is planned to have the opening in April 2006. The event will display most of Monika's amazing oil paintings publicly for the first time as well as many memorabilia from our collection.
"Preparing the exhibition will take quite a hefty chunk of time out of my schedule and will be very labor-intensive for me, but I am totally looking forward to it, because I am convinced that Monika's art needs to be seen by as many people as possible in person. Her paintings are too important to be locked away and to be enjoyed only by a privileged few, because it is one thing to see her art in a book, but a much more intense experience to see them in real life. The exhibition should change all that.
"We are also planning to hold the first Sky Academy seminar, which will be devoted to guiding advanced players towards a higher level of their potential. This project is something which is also close to my heart and I will personally conduct the initial 4-5 day seminar with just a few assistants. The Sky Academy concept has been brewing in my mind since a few years and is something which I hope can make a bit of a difference, because it might fill a certain void that I perceive. For some reason the time seems right to do this now. This first event will probably take place sometime in the second half of 2005 in California.
"We are currently looking for a suitable location.
"As soon as this is in place we will point those of you, who are interested in participating, towards a website, which will be put online.
"I hope I haven't taxed your precious time and patience too much with my excursions, but I just felt the urge to share these thoughts with those of you who are interested.
"Hopefully 2005 will bring all of you lots of positive things and inspiration!
"Peace and blessings to all of you, wherever you are!"