ARTICLE ABOUT Freddie Mercury (Queen) FROM Sounds, January 31, 1976

It is always a joy to read old interviews with our dear Freddie. He is still a treasured frontman and very respected all over the world even so long after his death. A true icon!
Read on!


Mercury rising

“Your `Cock Opera` piece has done me more harm than good. I`ve got to live up to it now. The insinuations of hosepipes and things, it`s gotten really amazing. My God! A day hasn`t passed when someone hasn`t had a comment on it.”

Interview by John Ingham

AND SO it came to pass that the Santa Claus single this Yuletide season was a spaghetti-melodrama of Love and Death. By that most British named of groups, Queen. (Ignore that in the early days it caused snickers due to its, uh, fag connotations so fashionable at the time. Times change.)
And lo, it came to pass that ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was joined in enthronement at the top of the charts by its parent album ‘A Night At The Opera’, And verily, the people showed these waxings and the group indeed special unto them and voted them Best Group, Single and Album in the SOUNDS Poll. And it came to pass that Freddie Mercury of the mighty larynx spake unto the tape recorder.
The only gossip that emanates about Fred comes from his record company. It’s sparse at that, but the dominating feature teeters to be an excess of ego and a style on the raconteur’s part that is at the warmest condescending. And Lord knows Freddie can humiliate you with an effectively blunt savagery when he wants to. Which is okay — if it takes that attitude to produce the goods, so be it.


But then he bounds through the door into what must be the only room in stately Rocket Records Mayfair offices that looks like an office (and in so doing makes up for the lack of it elsewhere), and you’re so overwhelmed by his ebullience and verve that you immediately warm to the guy. He’s spent the afternoon talking to a pencil ‘n’ pad from Fleet Street and apologises for his tendency to ramble in subject.
With ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ enjoying its eighth week at Numero Uno, it seemed a logical subject.
“I’m going to shatter some illusions,” he smiled. “It was just one of those pieces I wrote for the album; just writing my batch of songs. In its early stages I almost rejected it, but then it grew. We started deciding on a single about half-way through. There were a few contenders — we were thinking of ‘The Phrophet’s Song’ at one point — but then ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ seemed the one.
“There was a time when the others wanted to chop it around a bit, but I refused. If it was going to be released, it would be in its entirety. We knew it was very risky, but we had so much confidence in that song — I did anyway. It was a good representation of what Queen were doing at the time. I felt, underneath it all, that if it was successful it would earn a lot of respect.”
He takes a fresh breath and continues. “People were all going, ‘You’re joking, they’ll never play it, you’ll only hear the first few bars and then they’ll fade it out’. We had numerous rows. EMI were shocked. ‘A six minute single? You must be joking!’ The same in America. ‘Oh, you just got away with it in Britian.'”
It transpires that although `BH’ is leaping up the American charts – 59th in its third week – it is acceptance of the album (48 in its fourth) that is more important. Not that Fred wouldn’t be overjoyed if `BH’ got to Number One.
“What its success means to the band is acceptance,” and then breaking off: “Ooh, what a lovely Christmas gift. I didn’t open any others!” He laughs naughtily.
If nothing else, Queen have only Todd Rundgren to beat in utilising the full capacities of a studio: “I do enjoy the studio, yes. It’s the most strenuous part of my career, to be honest. It’s so exhausting, mentally and physically. It drains you dry. I sometimes ask myself why I do it. After ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ we were insane and said never again. And then look what happens!”
Were you wanting to get into a studio badly in your early days?


“I think that is the basis of Queen, actually. We were very, very meticulous. That has now become an obsession in a funny way, for want of a better word. It’s subconscious now, but we feel that we have to better that past standard we’ve created. Otherwise they’ll say, `God, look at what they did on ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ and look at what they’re churning out now.’ And you have to supercede it for your own satisfaction.
“But I did discipline myself… Take vocals, because they’re my forte — especially harmonies and those kind of things. On ‘Queen II’ we’ve gone berserk: But on this album I consciously restricted myself. That’s brought the songwriting side of it across, and I think those are some of the strongest songs we’ve ever written.”
Suddenly, he changes track. “I’ve just heard we’ve sold out the first three days in New York. We were going to do a big one, but John (Reid) decided it would be better to play several small ones. Because our stage act works well in that size hall just now, and it’s nice to take it over to America in that capacity …”
He flounders for words and just as suddenly plucks at his jacket. “Isn’t this outrageous?” he asks with glee, “I got it in Florida.” ‘It’ is skeins of wool the thickness of swollen spaghetti utilising what appears to be every tint and shade of every colour in combinations no doubt pleasing to a Turkish hop head. It looks great. “I just bought it on the offchance; I`m usually a black and white person.”
Speaking of which, what about the ever present black nail polish gracing your left hand?
“I’ve always worn it. Why one hand? I can’t think of an answer.”
Because you’re right handed?
“That’s it! Exactly.”
(A lady friend has subsequently assured me that getting those right fingernails is a true test of artistry.)
“It started in the early days when the black and white thing was really strong. That was, for want of a better word, a concept, and we thought we’d take it that one stage further. We did like to dress in black a lot, but then we got into white because we became very aware of projection and all that.”
Which reached a climax of sorts with ‘Queen II’. “It just evolved to where there was a batch of songs that could be considered aggressive, or a Black Side, and there was the smoother side.”
Such concepts, he continues, extend to all areas, such as the airbrushed crest which graces the cover of ‘A Night At The Opera’, and from there to T-shirts, posters and etc. “I think each — we look upon it as a campaign and project — should have a label and a stamp on it. It has a nice tying-up quality about it. The advertising side of me comes out in that aspect. It’s not just music, it’s whatever’s interesting. Why not? Why just stick to music?”



This thinking has developed with experience. In the early days “it was much more general. Can the four of us really — we weren’t going to enter into it if we weren’t really serious enough to actually go the whole hog. When Queen was formed and we were still in university, we decided to finish our courses first, which meant one and a half years. If we were still together then it meant we were serious.
“At that time we said, ‘Okay, but let’s try to make it interesting, let’s try to incorporate all the different background that we’ve acquired’. We weren’t snobbish but we were very careful. We did want to appear tastefully. Even though we weren’t anybody we felt we should appear that way. We shouldn’t do the club circuit and . . . well, it was snobbish really. We didn’t want Queen to be just everybody’s band but a select few to start with.”
Speaking as you were all those paragraphs ago about the new album containing strong songs, was ‘Death On Two Legs’ written in a strong emotional mood?
“Ooh, yes!” Freddie laughs nastily. “The words came very easily… Let’s say that song has made its mark.” He chortles again.
“I decided that if I wanted to stress something strongly I might as well go whole hog and not compromise. I had a tough time trying to get the lyrics across… I wanted to make them as coarse as possible. My throat was bleeding, the whole bit. I was changing lyrics every day trying to get it as vicious as possible.
“When the others first heard it they were in a state of shock,” he laughs. It gives him great amusement to recount these anecdotes. “When I was describing it they went, `Oh yeah`, and then they saw the words and they were frightened by it. But for me the step had been taken and I was completely engrossed in it, swimming in it. Wow! I was a demon for a few days. “The album needed a strong open and what better way than to have the first words, ‘You suck my blood like a leech`? Initially it was going to have the intro and then everything stop and the the words, ‘YOU, SUCK, MY – but that was going too far.”

Elsewhere on the platter, of course, are those tunes that sound straight from George Formby, a curious aspect for a group whose reputation has built on flash and show and volume and imagination.
“Do you like those songs?” he asks. Sure, but they’re not exactly `I’m In Love With My Car’.
“It’s a sign of transition. We could probably have done them on the first album but you can’t have it all, and it’s taken until this fourth album to try to put it across. There’s so many things we want to do — there’s not just one area we want to delve into. I’ve always wanted to write something like that. I’ve become more piano orientated anyway. `Ogre Battle’ was written on a guitar but I’ve given that up. I’m getting into ‘The Love Of My Life’ and ‘Lily Of The Valley’ type things. I’ve always listened to that kind of music.”
(`Bad Boy Leroy Brown’, the first recorded evidence of these musical tastes, goes down a bomb in concert, so the band aren’t alone in their appreciation of the form.)
Inevitably, talk turns to their Christmas TV show. Both Freddie and Brian (who was downstairs autographing pix for a contest) opined that they felt the show was fantastic while they were doing it but were horrified when they saw a videotape immediately afterwards.
“It’s not up to you anymore. It’s up to the cameras, the lighting people. You can’t help getting Mycroft images (those coloured lines that obscured the show half the time) when a camera’s that close to me. I knew that was going to happen.
“It’s also very hard to decide what audience to cater for. The people in front of you have paid money to see you but at the same time you’re doing a very prestigious concert and you have to try to make sure you come across on television.”
Both Fred and Brian felt they had failed in that respect. But then, it did come in the middle of business meetings delayed by their recent tour and preparations for four months in America, the Far East and Australia. They had two days to “precis the repertoire and what do you choose and what do you leave out? Also, we were used to pacing ourselves for an hour and a half…
“I wouldn’t want to do live TV again. Film is much better because you have more control over it.”


The case in point being, of course, the film that accompanied `Bohemian Rhapsody’ on ‘Top Of The Pops’. Worked out by the group while rehearsing at Shepperton, they called in Bruce Gowers, who has worked with them before, and filmed it in four hours the day before the tour started. Freddie concedes that it was instrumental in the single’s success.
He has been talking almost an hour and from the rapid increase in body twitches it’s obvious he’s wanting to leave. He gets up to go but then thinks of something else.
“You know, your ‘Cock Opera’ piece has done me more harm than good. It was a wonderful piece, but my God, I’ve got to live up to it now. The insinuations of hosepipes and things, it’s gotten really amazing. My God! A day hasn’t passed when someone hasn’t had a comment on it.”
I was reminded of Lillian Roxon interviewing Tom Jones and wanting to poke her pencil there to see if it was all Tom.
I guess only Fred’s tailor knows for sure.


The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Roger Taylor (Queen) FROM SOUNDS, October 19, 1974

I don`t know what it is, but I`m guessing that the film “Bohemian Rhapsody” has led to a renewed interest in the band Queen. I notice that more people than ever is looking at the Queen articles on my blog lately. So here is an short article with the cutest guy in a drag outfit ever – Roger Taylor.


`A drum is a drum is a drum…
and that`s as far as it goes`

By Geoff Barton

A lot of musicians featured recently in “Play Your Own Sounds” have admitted to being frustrated guitarists, and Queen`s drummer Roger Meadows-Taylor appears to be no exception: “I really would have liked to be a guitarist – my first instrument was a guitar, but I just somehow found myself with some drums and it went from there.
“I first started playing drums when I was about 11 or 12, along with some friends who were also learning instruments at the time. I found that I was best on drums by far, and it eventually blossomed into a bit of an obsession.
“I began to acquire a collection of drums, and I built a kit up slowly. I worked at it a bit and gradually learnt how to play and earned a bit of money to get a better kit. I had a Premier kit for years, but now I`ve got a very nice big Ludwig kit which has taken some time to get together really, because it`s made up of unusually-sized drums. I`ve always liked Ludwig best. They`ve always been the drums I`ve wanted – I like the sound of them and all my favourite drummers play them. I just couldn`t think of playing anything else.”


Roger had amongst his array of equipment a seven and a half inch Ludwig snare; a large 26 inch bass drum; an assortment of Paiste cymbals and Shaftesbury stands, which he recommends. He uses Ginger Baker sticks: “They`re one of the few sticks made that don`t get very thin at the end. They get thin, but not too thin – they don`t snap too easily. Also, you can get a really good whip on them and they`re very controllable.”
Roger said that he was quite obsessed with drum playing. I wondered how far that obsession went – was he as dedicated a musician as, say, Billy Cobham?
“No, I`m not as dedicated as he is. I`m… fairly dedicated, but it doesn`t run my whole life. There are times, like when I`m on holiday, when I forget I`m a drummer.”
Visually, Queen are a very exciting, very active band. Do you ever tend to feel in the background?
“I don`t know… I`m not really the sort of person to be in the background. The drummer always works so hard. It`s the most energetic job, no matter how much your lead singer might prance around. If your lighting is good, there`s no need for you to feel in the background at all.”



Roger`s favourite drummers include Max Roch, Billy Cobham, Carmen Acapulco and John Bonham: “For a rock `n` roll drummer, Bonham is absolutely untouchable. His live sound is incredible.”
Queen are also a band very much into effects, both musically and visually. I wondered if Roger was particularly into that side of things.
“Fairly… just as a means to a musical end really. Some effects, like echoes are really important. There`s nothing wrong in using them.”
How about drum effects?
“Umm – no, you see we played about once with sort of different delayed effects, but that didn`t work out really. I think it`s all a matter of equalisation on the drums. If it sounds right that`s all that matters.”
And synthesised drums?
“Not interested, no, not really. A drum is a drum is a drum and that`s as far as it goes.”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Humble Pie, Stephen Stills, Robin Trower, Big John Vary, Aj Webber, Rolling Stones, Syreeta Wright, Wishbone Ash, Mike McGear, Bert Jansch, Rufus, Minnie Riperton, John Coghlan, Bob Henrit, Slade.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM SOUNDS, August 17, 1974

Something different with Queen today. A very tech-oriented article that should be very interesting for hard core fans and those Queen cover bands who will want to reproduce the “sound” of Queen exactly as it was. I hope this will make things clearer for you!


Queen with a bit of distinction

Edited by Geoff Barton

Like it or not, you have to admit that on record Queen have a pretty distinctive sound. You`ve got Brian May forcing those freaky sounds out of his custom-built guitar, and Freddie Mercury reaching some wine glass shattering notes on the vocals at times. All this, plus some expert overdubbing give Queen, as I say, an impressive recorded sound.
To reproduce this sound live is a task and a half for John Harris, the band`s sound engineer. John went to the same college as the band, and has been with them since the very beginning. That makes a total of about four years.
Queen rent their extensive sound system. It is Livewire RSC and they can squeeze an astonishing 3,500 watts out of it. The highest wattage the band used on their last British tour was 2,500 – and that was for places like the Newcastle City Hall.
But still, it`s pretty damn loud. The system incorporates JBL components with 15 inch bins and drivers on large acoustic speakers. The whole lot is held together by Quad Amps.
The band use two mixing desks. One is soley for the drums, which are mixed down and passed into the second desk which deals with the other instruments. That gives them a hell of a lot of channels to play around with.
In all, there are eight channels on the drums, which, as I say, are mixed down into a stereo pair. There are five – count `em, five – channels on vocals alone, two on bass, one on piano and three on guitar.
And that`s not all. Other pieces of equipment, such as a stereo casette machine, need channels as well.
Queen use AKG microphones, and John considers them to be very versatile.


To reproduce their recorded sound live, the band employ the use of various special effects. They include an echoplex on Freddie Mercury`s vocals, which gives them a delayed effect when required. Brian May uses two echoplexes to produce separate repeats. Each repeat is mixed up in turn, and Brian is able to add harmonies or elaborate on lines and riffs he has already played.
“All in all, the assembly of the whole system is pretty straight forward,” says John. “The only real problem we have is when we try to group the internal balance of the drums on the one mixer. But that`s not too bad, really.”
Queen favour a two hour sound check. The check takes that long because of the number of effects the band use. These have to be checked over and over again. Any malfunction or delay in operation can be disastrous – Queen rely that much on effects.
The whole PA system is balanced equally on either side of the band – “a straight stereo split” as John says. The band are currently thinking of adding speakers to the rear of an audience, but whether this will come about remains to be seen.
Unlike Tony McPhee, John is very much concerned about hall acoustics. Apparently, with some halls there is very little he is able to do about their echo qualities.
As for good venues, well, John thinks that the Glasgow Apollo is one of the best. When Queen played the Rainbow, they experimented by putting one mixer up in the gods, and having the other one down below. John was pleased with the results, as he considers the Rainbow a very awkward place in which to get a really good sound.
He is only too aware that in venues of that size someone high up in the audience may not be able to hear, for example, the drums, whereas someone in the stalls may complain that the drums are too loud. The problem is to strike a happy medium.
To compensate for hall acoustics, Queen use a third octave graphic equaliser on the outputs of the mixing desks.


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Tim Hardin, Joan Baez, Mike Garson, Mike Oldfield, ELO, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock, Russ Ballard, Wendy Waldman, Alan Stivell, Contraband.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.


I don`t know what is happenning. Lately I have had a peak in the number of views on this blog, but the number of visitors have stayed the same… I can see that I have a lot of views from the USA, so someone over there must be reading this blog extremely thoroughly. Well, to that someone: It seems you enjoy this as much as the rest of us do and I hope that you will take much pleasure in this one from the days when Queen still were a fairly unknown entity.


Queen street

Erskine does it again! This week, Queen`s drummer Roger Meddows Taylor

Gosh it would be so easy but I don`t think I can trash on a man who says he hated “Bridge Over Troubled Water” even if he does fruit about with a band who, it has been decided, are the new persona non grata.
Are Queen really that obnoxious? You tell me. I wouldn`t rightly know, never having heard them you see. I tried but the albums never arrived in time. They were despatched no doubt, strapped to the horny hindquarters of a rheumatic tortoise still making its way past Victoria Station.
So anyway, at least they`ve inspired extremes of opinion and a predominantly negative reaction from the press all of which is good for business because then the kids who buy the albums and go to the gigs can feel that they know something we don`t – and they could just be right.
A rather smug lady who figures she discovered the band has finished her interview and is flicking through the papers sneering at this week`s putdowns of her new pets and she also figures she knows something the rest of us don`t and makes quite sure everyone in the office realises it. I tell you, socially your rock clique has to be the most exciting thing since the day the paperclips arrived.
“I don`t pretend to understand the workings of the journalistic mind.” Drummer Roger Taylor`s looking svelte in felt – a black jacket with piped seams festooned with chains and silver coins. There had, it appeared, been a problem with the publicity shots. The one that you won`t be seeing on this page because it was too blurred and boring was officially approved. It had a `yes` scribbled on the back. The shots we are using instead are not approved. The smug lady shrinks in horror at the thought and my o my I`d sure like to stick one on her… Julie Andrews ain`t got nothin` on this doll.

Anyway, it`s hot and clear outside and I would much rather be cruising slowly round South London looking at office girls with trim little jugs and downy earlobes, but onward we go serving and returning the cliches like your verbal Ken Rosewalls.
“There are really only two things that hurt,” he continues, “firstly when we`re called a hype – that`s one thing we`re not. We`re making it in the old-fashioned way which is initially through selling records through playing concerts… enabling the record company to get behind you for the second album. The other thing is that they cast doubts on the musicianship which is one thing we`re really sure about… obviously we think we`re bloody good… oh yes, and we`ve also been accused of being a part of supermarket rock – which is a bit much when you write your own material.
“Considering the abuse we`ve had lately, I`m surprised that the new album has done so well. I suppose it`s basically that audiences like the band.”
Yes, I `spect it is.
“We`ve had the name for four years now, believe it or not – most people don`t – and it was Freddie`s idea. It was just a reflection of the social world we were in at the time, when he and I were working together on Kensington Market – it was good then. In those days there was a pretty eccentric crowd there, people in sombreros and a lot of them were gay and a lot of them pretended to be and it just seemed to fit in. I didn`t like the name originally and neither did Brian, but we got used to it. We thought that once we`d got established the music would become the identity more than the name…”
And how about this “New Zeppelin” tag with you in the States?
“Oh that`s happened here too, but it seems mainly an American thing. We haven`t been there yet but the first album did quite well there. Apparently we`re known to an extent on the East coast and in the South… sorry to go on about journalists but it seems to be a trait to describe any sort of band that the journalist isn`t particularly aware of in relation to other bands.


We`ve been compared to Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Zeppelin, Purple… everybody, even Geordie and Nazareth. In fact, Geordie`s album was reviewed the other day and they got accused of sounding like us which made me laugh…
“There must be parallels but we`re not aware of them. Obviously we have our heroes. I personally think Zeppelin and the Who are the two best rock bands in the world. I`ve got all their albums and I`ve listened to them a lot. I still think John Bonham is one of the most underrated rock drummers, so I suppose we`ve absorbed some of that somewhere…”
The debut Queen album was universally ignored but is now selling in increasing quantities whilst “Queen II” has been universally panned and is selling in even larger quantities.
“We took so much trouble over that album, possibly too much, but when we finished we felt really proud. Immediately it got really bad reviews so I took it home to listen to again and thought Christ are they right? But after hearing it a few weeks later I still like it. I think it`s great. We`ll stick by it.
“There are a lot of things on the first album I don`t like, though, for example the drum sound. There are parts  of it which may sound contrived but it is very varied and it has lots of energy… but then I think one of the best albums last year was the “Mott” album and that had loads of inconsistencies and rough bits…”
Roger has `O` and `A` levels, a biology degree and is a former dropout from dental college. He also says he learnt from observing such luminaries as Pete Townshend and Ian Hunter who, he says, has “an interesting philosophy”. He is, Taylor adds, “far more intelligent than you might give him credit for”.
We are digressing. Could Roger see himself slipping into a Rick Wakeman lifestyle?
“To be quite honest I`d like to have a house here, one in Cornwall, a house in Greece and move back and forth between them but still be totally involved in music, but perhaps getting to that level removes the necessary paranoia that keeps you going.”
Oh yes and Roger says the stages were too small, the gigs too crowded, and in general the sound was bad on their recent British tour and I have to wonder because, as I say, I know very little about Queen, but to me it seems like rampant craziness to be starting yet another rock and roll band on the rise up the slippery pole at this point in time with all those prospects of marathon Stateside tours and continuing abuse from the press and an image which to say the least, has become a trifle hack-kneed. Although Roger claims it to be totally uncontrived although Zandra Rhodes is their stage costumier which must mean something… perhaps, as the lovely and indubitably Polish Pete Makowski says, that they are trying to straddle two markets at the same time – your progressive can-crushing and your pretty-boy teenscream, but I don`t know. It`s a nice day outside, the public bar awaits me and I have to investigate that torso of a man in his mid-40s and subsequently I have to put the cat out and mow the lawn…


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Elton John, Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, Refugee, Mott the Hoople, Uriah Heep, Sweet, The John Peel Column, Little Feat, Sparks, Strawbs, Ducks Deluxe, Alquin, Dr. Feelgood, Jimmy DeWar.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM SOUNDS, January 5, 1974

With the new Queen movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” now out in theaters everywhere, a movie I most definitely will go and see, I think this article can be interesting to look back on. Here they still were in their infancy and not yet the mega-band that they were to become. It must have been nice for Mr. Hayman, or anyone else for that matter, to meet such an influential band this early in their career. That`s sure something to tell your grandchildren or anyone else that have just a little bit of interest in this extremely creative and wonderful band.


Queen: Britain`s biggest unknowns

By Martin Hayman

Queen are being hailed as the natural successors to Led Zeppelin on the other side of the Atlantic. This may cause an outburst of derisive laughter, hoots, boos, jeers and catcalls from those who think Zep are the cat`s whiskers. But most of the people who have seen Queen agree that they are pretty hot.
They have been touring with Mott the Hoople and make a good showing on what is now a pretty tough assignment, opening the show for Mott: They write and play punchy songs, they are loud and aggressive to the right degree, they look good and move well on stage, especially their singer Freddie Mercury, who besides strutting and prancing has an excellent sharp-edged voice with a lot of power.
It makes one wonder why the New York Dolls were so lavishly feted on their derisory couple of British gigs. I reckon that a British provincial audience would have pulled the Dolls apart in a jiffy; Queen handle them well, and they were getting encores on their set.
And the public are giving them the thumbs up too, which is reflected in steady sales of their debut album – standing now at 15,000 in Britain and a quite incredible 85,000 in the States, where it has crept into the lower reaches of the album charts. Not bad when you think how comparatively unknown they are even here. Evidently not as unknown as we imagine. You might say they were Britain`s biggest unknowns.
I went to Trident Studios on a rainy night before Christmas to find the band hard at work trying to complete their second album before the inevitable cutbacks in production at EMI slowed up their progress. For at this point Queen are at a crucial stage of their career – just before the break, as they say in the business. If they are to maintain the initial impetus it is essential that they get out another album – and preferably a single too – and then get a support gig with a big British act in America.

Business-wise Queen seem to be quite well set. They are signed to Trident Audio Productions, the production and management arm of the studios. Queen are TAP`s first signing and this is likely to give the group considerable leverage with EMI. They are no newcomers to the music scene though, it`s only in the last year that they have turned to music full-time. Bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor had been in a semi-professional group called Smile for a year or two while at college, but it was not until singer Freddie Mercury`s arrival that they named themselves Queen. Wisely they all decided to finish their respective courses before going professional.
John, originally from Leicester, had been at the Chelsea College of Arts and Technology; Roger, up from Cornwall after leaving dental college, joined up with Freddie to run a stall in the Kensington Market; Brian May the guitarist took a degree in Physics and went on to do a Ph.D. in, believe it or not, infra-red astronomy; and Freddie they just describe as a “Kensington poseur”.
I talked to John and Roger in Trident`s re-mix room as they played through such rough mixes as they had finished. The sound was still a bit raw and ragged, but there was no mistaking the originality of the songs and the thrusting energy of the playing, the kind of buzz you only get from a new band whose creativity has not yet peaked.
First song up was “Fairy Feller`s Masterstroke”, so titled after a painting by the Victorian Richard Dadd (it hangs in the Tate Gallery). “Freddie just wrote a song using all the characters in the painting – it`s fairly incomprehensible,” commented Roger. Next up were “Loser In The End” and the atmospheric “Ogre Battle”, with bumping and grinding effects. Freddie (the one with the Bugs Bunny mush and the wigwam of dark hair) is the principal writer, followed closely by Brian, although Roger occasionally turns in a song.


The band were complimentary about the way their first album had been handled by the American record company Elektra, who had used the original cover art-work supplied by the group, which EMI here had not done. They also complained that the record had gone out of stock for six weeks in this country, which could have done them a lot of damage if they were not pushing hard.
It`s to avoid such complications that they are working so hard on the album, to give plenty of margin for other people`s errors. They have their heads screwed on, these fellers, following the business manoeuvres with an interested eye, and Roger was able to give me a sort of market breakdown of Queen`s global trading position – they are especially strong, it appears, in Germany and Sweden as well as the US.
But closer to home, they feel that they acquitted themselves fairly well on the recent Mott tour, despite an outdated PA – actually David Bowie`s old Ground Control. “It was the first time we`d done gig after gig, night after night,” says John, “but we were really pleased with some places – Newcastle and Glasgow and, strangely enough, Bournemouth, seemed to know about us.”
Continued Roger: “I`ve been with the band two and a half years and I`m the newest member. Queen was Freddie`s idea really, about three years back. We`d like to make it everywhere, but we are placing a lot of emphasis on America, but we don`t want to go out there too soon and blow it. For example we`ve been giving a lot of thought to getting in a keyboard. We may get another guy in. It would thicken the sound up. It`s a bit limited with only three instruments on stage, but we don`t really want to make it a five-piece. We`re going to do a tour of concerts before we go to the States. That`ll probably be in April. It`s got to improve a lot yet, the stage sound has to be good every night.”


I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Denny Laine, Hughie Nicholson, Savoy Brown, Deep Purple, Greenslade, Gary Glitter, Dave Lambert.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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