Freddie Mercury

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!

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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.

Illusions

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?

Berserk

“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?”

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Snobbish

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.”

Twitches

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.

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
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ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, November 2, 1974

Here we go again with yet another fairly old and exciting article. This time an early interview with Queen`s Freddie Mercury. Always extravagant, always  a star. Lucky were those who experienced him first-hand, and got to be called “Dear” or “Darling” by this legendary frontman. It is really funny how he hints about his sexuality at this early stage of his career and it is quite interesting in the context of this time in history.
The Sexual Offences Act that Britain passed in 1967 decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales. The 1967 Act did not extend to Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, where all homosexual behaviour remained illegal. The privacy restrictions of the act meant a third person could not be present and men could not have sex in a hotel. This was the law at the time of the interview. Only 10 years before this interview was conducted a UK opinion poll finds that 93% of respondents see homosexuality as a form of illness requiring medical treatment. No wonder that Mr. Mercury were a little guarded about this part of his personality.

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The contents of Freddie Mercury`s pants are his alone. They belong to him and to no-one else.

JULIE WEBB relentlessly probes the cut and contour of QUEEN`S Lead Trouser

Funny how times change. Seems like only yesterday that people were taking the mickey out of Queen. Of course, there were some who reckoned they had a genuine talent which would come to the fore, but for many they were merely a flash in the pan.
Two hit albums and two hit singles later, the band can afford a smirk at the expense of their journalistic detractors. This week Queen began their second major tour of Britain. Last time round they were just breaking “Seven Seas Of Rhye” – this time the new album “Sheer Heart Attack” will be featured, but strangely enough not their new single “Killer Queen,” since lead singer Freddie Mercury deems it “not necessary to add to what we are going to do on stage.”

It was Mercury, you may remember, who was so sublimey confident about the band`s chances of success – and he hasn`t changed. “Queen II” may have gone silver, but he reckons “it`ll go platinum” before long. Four months ago, you might have sneered – now it`s about time you listened.
The turning point for the band is really the new single. “A double A side, though no one seems to realise it because they keep playing `Killer Queen`,” interjects Mercury. It`s a turning point in that it sounds nothing like the noisy heavy metal sound to which we are accustomed from Queen, thus justifying their earlier claim of `versatility.` It`s more of a mixture of Beach Boys, early Beatles and 1920`s music-hall. Quaite naice, actually.

Says Mercury: “People are used to hard rock, energy music from Queen, yet with this single you almost expect Noel Coward to sing it. It`s one of those bowler hat, black suspender belt numbers – not that Noel Coward would wear that.”
And you?
“Oh no dear, just a nice little black number.”
It is apparent that success (in any shape or form) has not altered Mercury, who still insists on using the suffix “dear” at the end of many of his sentences. He is also still very much hung up on maintaining the `star` image.
For a start he never carries much money round with him. It`s not that he`s poverty-stricken or even mean – just that it`s difficult to keep cash in your shoes. A star to the last, he wears pocketless trousers and keeps his finances close to his feet.
“I hate pockets in trousers,” he stresses. “By the way, I do not wear a hose. My hose is my own. No coke bottle, nothing stuffed down there.”
Of course, Freddie.

However, sticking rigidly to the star image has its drawbacks. Satin trousers aren`t that durable (“I split a pair last week”) and velvet and sequins have a nasty habit of dulling in the rain. Still, they create the desired effect of getting people to stare. Mercury still adores the stares, of course – he`s insisted all along he`s a star and thinks he should dress accordingly. But for all the high camp, he`s got some grey matter in that head of his.
It was, after all, Mercury who wrote six of the thirteen cuts on the new album and being artistically inclined it was he who provided the idea for the album sleeve.
“God, the agony we went through to have the pictures taken, dear. Can you imagine trying to convince the others to cover themselves in Vaseline and then have a hose of water turned on them?”
Sheer agony, Freddie. The end result is four members of the band looking decidely unregal, tanned and healthy, and as drenched as if they`ve been sweating for a week.

“Everyone was expecting some sort of cover. A Queen III cover really, but this is completely new. It`s not that we`re changing altogether – it`s just a phase we are going through.”
But won`t Queen devotees be a trifle worried by this new image?
“They will love it. We`re still as poncy as ever. We`re still the dandies we started out to be. We`re just showing people we`re not merely a load of poofs, that we are capable of other things.”
The album, as detailed above, boasts 13 tracks – most of them a mere three minutes in length.
“Not a collection of singles, dear – although we might draw another one off later for a single. I`m not absolutely sure about that, though. No, not all the numbers last for ages. There were just so many songs we wanted to do. And it makes a change to have short numbers. It`s so varied that we were able to go to extremes. I only had about two weeks to write my songs so we`ve been working (expletive deleted) hard.”

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It should be noted that the BBC seem to have taken “Killer Queen” to their collective bosom, since they`ve been flogging it to death. I wonder if they would be so keen if they realised the true story behind the single.
Mercury elucidates: “It`s about a high class call girl. I`m trying to say that classy people can be whores as well. That`s what the song is about, though I`d prefer people to put their own interpretation upon it – to read into it what they like.”
The British tour is their first live manifestation since their ill-fated American bonanza, when they played support to Mott The Hoople and returned early after guitarist Brian May contracted hepatisis.
As if that wasn`t bad enough, May was later informed that he had an ulcer. Currently he still has a certain air of frailty surrounding him, but he claims to be feeling “better than ever.”

Mercury advises: “Brian has got to look after himself in future. We all want to make sure something like that never happens again. So he`ll have to eat the right things and steer clear of hamburgers.”
Most inopportune, one would have thought, quitting their first US tour halfway through. Mercury however is as confident as ever of the band`s chances in America.
“We did what we had to, anyway. Sure, a whole tour would have helped us a bit more, but there`s no such thing as `we lost our chance.` I still believe that the time is right for us there and we`re going back pretty soon. We really did it – cause when we came back you should have seen the write-ups. They were beautiful and they just want us to come back as soon as we can. They are just waiting on new product.”

One particular review from the US sticks out in Mercury`s mind since it was, in a sense, on a personal level.
“We played a theatre in New York with Mott and this particular chick (well, they notice everything down to the pimple on your arse, dear) wrote that she noticed that when I did a costume change I changed even my shoes and socks. She also added she was so close she could tell what religion I was, and that I wasn`t wearing any knickers. She also pointed out that Ian Hunter had knickers on. Ian`s going to die…”
Indeed.

Since the American market is taking such an interest in Queen, it appears Japan is not very far behind.
“Queen II” was recently voted album of the year and all members of the band came up highly in the musicians` awards. “Quite a change for a country which has of late been apparently obsessed with the likes of ELP and Yes.
“We`re planning to go to Japan in the New Year,” states Mercury “Can`t wait, actually. All those geisha girls…” (he laughs) “and boys.”
Seems the Jap market have twigged quite early – even now they send presents to the band. At EMI Mercury received a Japanese wooden comb “for your birthday, please come over soon.”
Before the British tour, the main priority has been rehearsing. This time round, the sound should substantially improve, since they will be playing larger venues than before, which are more suited to their vast sound system.
“We`re just hoping to have a whale of a time. We are going to have to put across all three albums. The repertoire will be built around them. But the main thing is to put across the energy of the band and hopefully the versatility. I`d hate to just do hard rock all the time, dear. It should be good because we`ve got better lights, better everything.”

Part of this interview was conducted in a local hostelry which sold liquor. Beforehand, Mercury seemed a bit nervous about what kind of establishment it was.
“Is it working class?” he asked, in what sounded like an elitist manner. No, it wasn`t particularly rough. Even so, people did tend to stare when he entered.
“I love it, really” he commented, looking distinctly uncomfortable trying to avoid the stares of an old man nearby, whose eyes were attempting to leave their sockets.
“I just wanted to know what kind of place it was because I don`t want a load of cut-throats round me. I just wonder what they think. I mean when we walked in that man`s eyes did nearly pop out of his head.”
Does he ever get strange comments walking down the street?
“No, not really. I`ve had people try to pick me up once or twice, but I`m not intending to change into jeans because of it. I tried that a few weeks ago and people I knew remarked on that far more than my satin or velvet.”

Somehow I have enough confidence in Mercury to feel that he could carry off any occasion with typical aplomb. Just a short time ago he found himself in a somewhat embarrassing situation and miraculously escaped. But let him explain that:
“We`d had a hectic day at “Top Of The Pops” and our promotion man Eric Hall invited us out for a meal. Unfortunately the others in the band couldn`t come as they had to go back to the studio. Anyway, I had rather a lot to drink and I seem to remember at some point in the evening that someone removed my shoes and socks and hung them on a lampshade. Then I said something along the lines of `well, if you`re going to take everything off I shall remove my trousers…”
Picture this. Our hero, half under his table at a rather trendy nitespot with trousers akimbo, when the big white chief of the establishment approaches.
“I thought he was going to throw me out, but instead he said `I hear you`ve got a gold disc.` He meant to say silver. And then he presented me with a bottle of champagne.”
Now if Mercury can handle a situation like that with such style, think how easy it is for him to get everyone else convinced that he is a true star.

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Fashionable girls in this ad from 1974.

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own  webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Peter Gabriel, Fruupp, Leslie Richard McKeown (Bay City Rollers), Steve Harley, Johnny Winter, H.B. Barnum.

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 around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
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ARTICLE ABOUT Queen FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, MARCH 16, 1974

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

Here is an article about Queen when they just recently had released their second album. They didn`t exactly have the critics on their side from the start. This is exactly why you never should listen too much to critics and music reviewers – they are sometimes horribly wrong. As Freddie Mercury would have said: Have a nice read, my dear! 😉

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QUEEN

Described by Roxy Music`s Paul Thompson as `too contrived` and by NME`s Nick Kent as `a bucket of urine`, this band have nonetheless come from obscurity to a headlining tour in six months flat.
They must have something. Mustn`t they?

JULIE WEBB finds out what…

Freddie Mercury’s a pretty regular guy – uses regular Biba black nail varnish, regular black eye liner and straightens his hair with regular electric tongs. You get the idea he’s bored with being told Queen are going to be big – he reckons he’s a star now and wears that star-apparent attitude like a well-fitted pair of trousers.
Freddie’s not bent, just camp. Ask him if he’s queer and he’ll turn round and say: ‘I’m as gay as a daffodil, dear’. (He has the habit of saying “dear” at the end of every sentence). Drummer Roger Taylor expounds: ‘Freddie’s just his natural self: just a poove, really.”
Apart from Nick Kent describing their first album as a “bucket of urine”, Queen have had few mentions in NME – yet even so they managed to pull second place in the “best new group” readers’ poll. Put them down as much as you may – they don`t really give a damn. They`ll still come up smelling of roses. This week their single “Seven Seas Of Rhye” makes its debut in the chart, just days after release. Soon, their second album “Queen II” will doubtless follow. For Queen are big business and though you may hate them they’re gonna confound you by being huge.

There’s money behind them for a start. For a band who are still on the verge of making big bread they’ve got an amazing amount of gear and a lighting system that Bowie would be jealous of. They also have a professional set up that makes you wonder why it’s taken them so long to get where they are now. Every one of them is academically bright; all possess degrees and, while no one likes a smartie-pants, being above average intelligence has helped them avoid being rooked.
Mercury: “The moment we made a demo we were aware of the sharks – we had such amazing offers from people saying `We’ll make you the next T Rex` – but we were very, very careful not to jump straight in. Literally, we went to about every company before we finally settled. We didn’t want to be treated like an ordinary band that`s going to be launched. We`re signed to Trident Audio, so basically all the money comes from them. We were their first management venture and they are prepared to lend us – or whatever – the money we need. Within reason.”

At the time of signing, Queen had no manager and it was Trident Audio who found them one, in the personage of Jack Nelson, a smooth-working character from America. “The whole point of him being our manager is that he`s based in London but he`s obviously got all the American contacts – which is great.” Shrewd too – advance publicity in America suggests the band promise more than most British groups – and already they`ve sold an incredible 150,000 copies of their first album stateside.

Backstage at Cambridge Corn Exchange the band are getting ratty. Drummer Roger Taylor explains: “The road crew got here early and were told by the promoter they couldn`t get in till five and when it takes hours to put up the equipment there`s just no way you can get a sound check.”
While support band Nuts are on stage, the road crew are still fixing up Queen`s lights. Guitarist Brian May says, “I`d walk off stage if I were them. D`you realise they`ve got all the house lights on? How can they play under conditions like that?”

Subject changes to hypes – Queen are very sensitive about being described as a hype: “It’s rubbish to say we were hyped,” Taylor claims. “We started playing the really small gigs and then we released an album. There was no big splash of publicity or any thing. Now Cockney Rebel – their publicity came before they’d done anything.”
At this stage in the proceedings, record producer John Antony is considering doing rock`s first streak, but finally comes out with this gem: “The best quote I ever heard about Queen was from the drummer of Roxy Music who said `I don`t like them because they are too contrived!` I laughed for about ten minutes. In fact, I almost had apoplexy.”

Cambridge Corn Exchange is one of those places that’s draughty but has atmosphere. Beer cans may litter the floor, and hot dogs may be on sale at the back of the hall, but it`s phantasmagorical, man. And when Queen take to the stage it’s echoey as well. In this establishment Queen fans look like any other fans except they wear overcoats. And before you know where you are, the place is being blacked out, the opening strains of “Procession” (from their new album) are being played, prior to lights switching on Mercury as he gets into “Father To Son”.
If I seem to be dwelling on Mercury and drummer Taylor it’s because they hit you between the eyes as the two genuine image makers in the band. Taylor is the pretty one with class, while Mercury is the evil-looking type with vibes. He describes himself as being “sluttish” on stage and it’s true – just the way he slinks around the place spells out “street-walker whore tart”. In fact, when he sings their encore “Big Spender” and yells ‘I don’t pop my cork for everyone’ you’d better believe him.

Musically Queen are brash, loud and heavy. There`s little subtlety at this point in their musical career and – there`s not an awful lot that`s totally original but they do have a flash way of putting it across that makes it with the audience. It seemed a compromise when they played “Jailhouse Rock” coupled with “Stupid Cupid” – who needs that, after all? Yet Mercury was adamant afterwards that it was a vital and relevant part of the stage act.
“You see, the thing is we`re out on stage to entertain and it`s no good saying `look we`ve got a new album and you are going to get a whole barrage of our new songs whether you like it or not`. It`s nice to do a barrage but in the end it`s nice to do something they can associate with so they don`t have to listen too much. All they do is boogie and have a good time.
“We do `Jailhouse Rock` because we`ve been doing it for years and I don`t give a fuck if people say it`s now a trendy thing to play. It suits us and that`s all that matters.”

Early days for Mercury

Early days for Mercury

Strangely enough, Mercury, self-confessed poseur and dandy, says they don’t come in for a big gay following. “We don’t get letters from gay people or anything, though I’ve had letters from people saying I look very evil.” True, he does look evil and if you study the lyrics on their second album with its mentions of thunder and lightening, defying the laws of nature and ogres… you begin to wonder. “I just like people to put their own interpretation on my songs. Really, they are just little fairy stories. Last night (at Sunderland) I felt really evil when I came on stage – when I’m out there I’m really in a world of my own, I go up there and have a good time. It’s the audience participation that counts and last night they were really great – I felt I could do anything. I could have gone into the audience and had a rave. Just Freddie Mercury poncing on stage and having a good time.
“People expect something special so you`ve got to create a real show – the Mott tour helped us an immense amount. I don`t think we were a real band before that – but Mott taught us how to behave as a band and how to survive over a long period.”

Was it a difficult transition to make – from being support band a few months ago to now headlining their own British tour?
Mercury: “The responsibility now lies with us. but I’ve always thought of us as a top group. Sounds very bigheaded, I know, but that’s the way it is. The opportunity of playing with mott was great but I knew darn well, – and even Ian Hunter knew – the moment we finished that tour as far as Britain was concerned we’d be headlining.
“We took it in our stride. It was something we had to do – I wouldn`t have liked to have done a headline straight away because we wouldn`t have attracted many people but the Mott tour just did us right.”

On their debut album “Queen” the band were compared to a variety of bands, mainly Zeppelin and Yes. I asked Mercury if he was aware that, at times, his voice sounded remarkably similar to that of Jon Anderson.
“I`m not as weak as that…” he counters – then thinks, realises he hasn`t said the right thing, and adds “I could take that as a compliment because I know I sound gritty in other places. In other works, you are saying it`s versatility. I don`t sound like Jon Anderson all the time, do I?”
Everything in this man`s manner suggests he is vain. I broach the subject.
“My dear I`m the vainest creature going but then so are all pop stars…”
I tell him I noticed him tonging his hair in the dressing room.
“I`ve been doing that for the last two years – look at it, it`s all dry. I know it`s bad for the hair…”

He poses quite a lot on stage, looking evilly at the assembled masses around the stage before standing sideways, holding his head in profile for seconds, flicking his hair back. All good stuff. And there’s more to come if he gets more of his ideas through: “I’d like to be carried on stage by six nubile slaves with palms and all.”
It had been suggested to me prior to the gig by a somewhat cynical but articulate person that Queen had sat down and, in the manner of Chinn Chapman, cleverly worked out what was commercially needed in the music business. Therefore, they were clinical in their approach.
Mercury: “Untrue. We haven`t suddenly decided `here is an open market`.
“We`ve geared ourselves, certainly – but with our music coming first. And we`ve been pretty confident all along. I still think the strongest thing we do is our music – and the way we put it across. That is all we`re about actually – from start to finish. I don`t think we`re suddenly going to say `Oh! Look! the phase is going to change.` That`s why we are concerned about people saying `here come Queen`. Suddenly, glam rock is in and they are following the tradition.` We were called Queen over three years ago – and that`s pre-Bowie.”

They seem ultra touchy about being accused of jumping on bandwagons yet Mercury adamantly states: “I don’t care what they say, really. I think people have said things about us and then changed their minds after listening to the album.”
I venture that “Liar”, a track on their first album, has been described as ascloseasthis to the Ballard composition of the same name – and Mercury counters with “Bullshit”, before adding, “I thought that might arise, actually. It`s a very old song that we used to do on stage ages ago. I heard much later there was an Argent track with the same name but that`s a completely different song.”
With an education and qualifications apparently second to none behind them, it might appear that this is just a gathering of four intellectuals who want to toy with the music business.
“No, we`re not just playing with the music scene. It`s just the way things happened. We went to college but we were also musicians doing it part-time and we thought it would be a nice idea to take it seriously for once.

The British charts

The British charts

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Stevie Wonder, Alvin Lee, Elkie Brooks, The Beatles, Golden Earring, Genesis, Christopher Lee.

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

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