John Ingham

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!

IMG_0320

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?”

IMG_0321

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.

IMG_0324

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 Lynyrd Skynyrd FROM SOUNDS, October 25, 1975

After a very hectic period when I needed a break from all this blogging, I am trying to continue my project with this article. I hope you missed me! 😉

IMG_3574

Lynyrd skynful

Concert review by John Ingham

The correct term is schnapps; guitarist Gary Rossington calls it `snaps`. It was the catalyst for a group fight that left singer Ronnie Van Zandt with a broken hand and bruised windpipe and Rossington with two slashed wrists. The next night they played the first concert of their European tour.
This review is hopelessly entwined in comments and arguments heard after the gig. Early on Peter Rudge had commented that Skynyrd are either brilliant or abominable, never in between. Afterwards he commented that it wasn`t worth coming 3,000 miles to see, and Van Zandt continued the theme until the early hours of the morning. Perhaps it was disgust because their sorry condition was self inflicted…
Because from this unbiased viewpoint, never having seen them before, they were pretty good, especially considering the condition of Rossington. (He said afterwards that it felt as though his hands were being knifed the entire time). Not inspiring, certainly, and not without sound problems, but hardly of the magnitude and ear-splitting volume that Van Zandt insisted had been the case.
Their repertoire consisted of oldies – `Saturday Night Special`, `Give Me Three Steps` and the obligatory `Free Bird` – as well as numbers that will be on the new Tom Dowd-produced album. Like most boogie bands their forte isn`t virtuosity, but unlike most others, they fill the space with riffs and rhythms that lift and exhilerate and are never boring. Pianist Billy Powell, especially, was knocking out fiery runs whenever he could be heard, and the interaction between Rossington and other guitarist Allen Collins, on a good night, would have been awesome.
So if what they think is bad is in reality quite good, think what they`ll be like on a good night. Barring any more rounds of schnapps, of course.

Lyn

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 FANNY FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, November 30, 1974

One of the first all-girl rock bands I knew about were The Runaways. They were cool and I liked them just as much for their music as much as I had certain…ahem…fantasies about some of the members of the band.
What I didn`t know at the time was that there were another all-girl band way before The Runaways called Fanny. Formed as early as in 1969, they had a name that invited you to speculate and wonder if these girls were even more outrageous and sexy than Cherie Currie singing “Cherry Bomb”. The problem was that in a time before the Internet there was no concert videos to see, and because they disbanded as early as in 1975, there were no records to be bought from this band, when I discovered them 10 years later, in my local record store.
So, this article are for all of you nerdy people who know about these bands from the darkest depths of rock`n`roll history. Me, you and David Bowie (who is a fan) can, to our luck, check them out on YouTube these days. Enjoy!

IMG_0725

Unnnghhh! Grunt, slurp…

…goes John Ingham. Fanny just smile sweetly and go on rockin`…

Let`s be sexist for a coupla paragraphs.
You take a look at the cover of Fanny`s new album, “Rock and Roll Survivors”, and there`s Jean Millington looking very come-hither, and memories well up of when Fanny were second on the bill at the Whiskey A-Go Go and she used to prop that bass in her crotch and make it talk, and the dreams and desires would stand at attention.
Then you take an eyeful of new guitarist Patti Quatro, and…well, kids, that`s a face and pair of legs whose promises are only fulfilled in fantasies. It`s like rock and roll`s initial thrill made corporate before your gonads; true D.O.M. heaven; a breathtaking reason to forget being jaded; the—— Down, rover; give us some straight facts.
Like, if Nickey Barclay (tinkler of ivories) is leaving the group, why do a UK tour with Jethro Tull?
Over to you, Jean, in Birmingham.

“Well, Ian (Anderson) was over for dinner one night when we just had the new album, and we played it for him and he really freaked. He just stood there and played it over and over and out of that we got the tour.”
Nickey, of course, had already left in July to pursue a solo career, so rather than try and (a) find a new member fast (not the easiest task, given genetic limitations) and (b) teach her the ropes, the band asked her to return for this tour. The result, naturally, is a less than unified band, not helped by the fact that 90 per cent of the time you can`t hear the keyboards. In the middle is the diminutive Cam Davis, former Press Officer`s assistant. To either side stand Ms. Millington and Ms. Quatro,
initially in black cloaks that hide all but face and arms.
When they are dropped…ah! Jean is wearing a red skirt that is cut in an arc across the front, revealing a delectable turn of thigh. Patti`s legs never end; her costume seems to be rags held together by perspiration. Men all over the auditorium rise in appreciation.

The music is frenetic; Cam sounding like a juggernaut coming through Dover, Jean unloading great dollops of oomph in all the right holes, Patti unleashing savage steamrollers of noise and then throwing in a flurry of precise, clear notes to float on top, moving across to Jean in a guitar duel, riding her axe, stomping her feet. When this band is complete it`s going to pulverise a lot of heads.
But is there still a hangup, in these enlightened mid-70s, of you being a…”chick group”?
“It`s hard to tell,” purrs Jean. “We`ve never been men.”
Patti maintains they all took sex change operations in search of an original gimmick. Turning the other cheek: “It`s harder to get people to take what you`re doing seriously, especially if you give off that vibe. But if you`re really working and putting out, they aren`t going to say, `Oh, you play good for a chick`.”
“People thought they were giving us compliments by saying that,” interjects Jean. “But starting two years ago the papers in L.A. stopped talking about us as a female group and just reviewed us as Fanny. It will probably stop completely when we get a hit record and headline tours.”

IMG_0734

But couldn`t you use your feminity as an “easy” ride to rock heaven?
Jean: “We don`t really think about it, to tell you the truth. We just concentrate on the music, because if that isn`t good it doesn`t mean shit. If you can`t cut the mustard, being the prettiest girl in the world won`t help.”
Patti: “But on the other hand, we don`t hide it. A lot of women would go up there in jeans and feel ashamed and think, `Oh, they`re not going to take me seriously.` If you`ve got the confidence, you should be able to go up there nude and it shouldn`t make any difference. When I go on I want to feel like I look good, and if it`s a skirt then it`s a skirt.
“And when you sweat a lot, you don`t want to be completely covered in pants…But you don`t want to hear that…It`s all so sordid, my dear.”
No, really girls, it sounds quite clean to me.
“Oh, we`re a clean group. We come off stage smelling like a perfume bath.”

But before we leave these dabblings into matters of gender, how about groupies, especially in a country where it seems even Bryan Ferry can`t score.
“Oh, there was a boy of about 14 outside the stage door last night, who asked for a kiss,” says Jean. “And I couldn`t think of a good reason to say no, so I gave him a little kiss and he was waiting for a French one and he said (plaintive voice), `Is that all?`”
It rapidly transpires that Fanny have no trouble in the organic electric blanket department, though, Patti says, “They don`t have the nerve to say, `You want to screw,` so it`s all in terms of `Would you like a drink`.” She smiles innocently.
How about other females?
“They`re more like truck drivers,” grimaces Jean. “But we do get a lot of girls in out of the way places who have been inspired to form groups because of us. It makes you feel very responsible.”

IMG_0736

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 New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Elton John, The Crystals, Yes, John Sebastian, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Rod Stewart, Johnny Winter, Frank Zappa, Magna Carta, Ray Shulman (Gentle Giant).

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).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.