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Radiohead’s Thom Yorke in 1993: Bowie and Queen’s ‘Under Pressure’ is ‘the perfect pop song’
12:08 pm


David Bowie
Thom Yorke

One of the more startling musical transformations in our era was the one that Radiohead pulled off between their 1993 debut album Pablo Honey and their 1995 follow-up The Bends.

It wasn’t just Thom Yorke’s blond locks that cause quite a few critics to liken Pablo Honey to watered-down Nirvana. Pablo Honey got generally lukewarm-to-good reviews at the time—3 stars out of 5 from Rolling Stone, which is the same rating it currently receives at (it must be admitted that Stephen Thomas Erlewine’s brief review is far more charitable than that rating suggests). And Radiohead’s later successes haven’t shielded the album from vitriol. At Pitchfork, notoriously one of Radiohead’s most unshakable defenders, Scott Plagenhoef gave it a piddling 5.4 out of 10 as late as 2009.

Even that tepid Rolling Stone review ended with the words “Radiohead warrant watching,” but if you had said in 1993 that in less than a decade, Radiohead would be doing arenas with a highly worshipful following and the most ironclad critical reputation in all of rock music, that possibility would have seemed remote indeed. The Bends and OK Computer in 1997 were the astounding one-two punch that few saw coming and set Radiohead up to be the top rock band of the 2000s.

So when I come across a piece of Radiohead press from 1993, I’m inclined to pay attention. I was at the Library and Archives of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland recently, thumbing through a stack of old copies of Ray Gun magazine from the 1990s, something you can only do at a place like that. One of the 1993 issues had a little piece on Radiohead that was inexplicably formatted in an actually readable typeface (rare for that magazine). Here it is (if you click on it, the image will get quite large):

The last bit of the piece reports Yorke’s feelings on whether Radiohead qualifies as “pop” thus:

“Yesss,” he says slowly. “My definition of pop is tapping into something…. my ideal pop song is one that says something people want to hear lyrically and that grabs them by the neck musically. And one that has some sort of depth that moves it beyond a happy tune that you whistle at work. Songs like ‘Under Pressure,’ something that makes you want to fall down on your knees. That to me is the perfect pop song.”

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘It’s fun to smoke dust!’ Satanic panic preacher gets mashed-up with Queen
08:53 am


backward masking
Gary Greenwald

From renown mashup artist, DJ Lobsterdust, comes this brilliant ode to 1980s Satanic Panic hysteria over “backward masking,” a process which many preachers insisted was being used to brainwash young music consumers into devil-worship and committing various other sins. These preachers claimed that backward subliminal messages were placed in rock songs, either by the design of the artists, or perhaps, demonically in order to seduce young people with Satan’s spell.

One so-called expert on backward masking in the ‘80s claimed that Richard “The Nightstalker” Ramirez was driven to commit murder from hearing the backward messages “I’m the law,” “my name is Lucifer,” and “she belongs in Hell” on the AC/DC album Highway to Hell. In 1990 Judas Priest was taken to court by families who claimed that two young men in Nevada had formed a suicide pact after hearing hidden messages in the song “Better By You, Better Than Me.” The case was dismissed by the judge for insufficient evidence.

I remember being in Catholic school in the 80’s and hearing constantly about backward masking. A song which was touted as one of the “clearest examples” of backward messages being placed into popular music was “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. It was claimed that playing the chorus backwards gave you the hidden message “It’s fun to smoke marijuana.” To be honest, if you use your imagination just a bit, it does kiiiinda sound like Freddie Mercury is saying that… but really only if you’d ALREADY BEEN SMOKING marijuana.

A great deal of the backward masking hysteria was spread by cable TV evangelist Gary Greenwald, who hosted a religious television program called The Eagle’s Nest. Greenwald crusaded against rock music, both on his program and through a series of popular audio tapes (which were the subject of great deal of sampling and laughing at by punks and metalheads in the ‘80s). Greenwald claimed most rock music contained demonically-inspired backward masking. He has also railed against action figures and Saturday morning cartoons, which he believed were influenced by the occult.

Listen, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Freddie Mercury & Queen kick ass in ‘The Queen Special’: A seldom-seen pay-TV show from 1980
10:37 am


The Queen Show

So today I have for you something that I quite frankly live for when it comes to rock and roll nostalgia—a one-off pay-TV special that aired in 1980 featuring the mighty Queen and their fearless frontman Freddie Mercury—sans-stache—sounding and looking god-like.

The Queen Special featured live footage during its 50 minute broadcast which was apparently shot at the last show of Queen’s “Crazy Tour” at the end of December in 1979. It also contains other material, including their electrifying performance during the Rock For Kampuchea concert (that also aired on television in 1980) and brief campy appearances from various celebrities such as Twiggy, John Cleese, Ringo Starr and his wife Bond girl Barbara Bach, and veteran British actor Roy Kinnear that you will most likely remember from his role as “Henry Salt” in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

And since I’m a bit of a Queen nerd I feel compelled to also talk about the appearance of Queen’s legendary gigantic stage lighting rig called the “Pizza Oven” in this vintage footage.

The Pizza Oven utilized 320 blindingly hot lights on its main truss. The audience couldn’t really see the huge lighting apparatus until the show started at which time it would slowly ascend amid high volumes of the rock and roll staples, dry ice and smoke. At the conclusion of the gig the Pizza Oven would come out somewhat over the stage illuminating the band as they bid their farewells. If you need a further visual for that, just take a look at the cover of Queen’s 1977 album Live Killers and you’ll see what I’m jawing about. I’d also like to point out since I mentioned at the beginning of this post that Mercury isn’t sporting his famous mustache, owever you will see said ‘stache in a segment for the show that features the band performing “Flash’s Theme” from Queen’s ninth-studio record, the original soundtrack for the 1980 film Flash Gordon. Here Freddie’s famous facial hair is intact. While confusing, if you do the math Mercury’s mustache officially made its return to his mug during the recording of the Flash score and the clip ended up making its way into The Queen Special to help further promote that (recent) release.

Watch ‘The Queen Special’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Literal lyrics of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ provide basis for gripping four-minute crime movie
02:09 pm



Mike Myers, Penelope Spheeris and company weren’t the first people to capitalize on the out-there strangeness of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which as a six-minute song incorporating plentiful operatic elements and an incomprehensible melodramatic narrative of sorts, was not exactly the template of a chart-topping pop hit, which it was twice, once after Queen released it on Halloween 1975 and then again after Wayne’s World used it in a signature bit in 1991.

The song’s lyrics lay it all out there emotionally—“Mama, Didn’t mean to make you cry, If I’m not back again this time tomorrow, Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters, I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all,” etc.—and in one of rock music’s most memorable bridges, sprinkles in a bunch of European keywords for spice: “Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango? Galileo Figaro Magnifico-o-o-o….”

Who knows what it all is supposed to mean, but it’s a catchy brew by any standard. Corridor Digital have just released “Literal Bohemian Rhapsody,” a short film in which 100% of the dialogue is simply the lyrics of the movie spoken without music, in order; you can do it if you conceive of the situation as an R-rated crime drama that is just a tad absurd.

Check it out. 

via Daily Dot

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Drunk guy sings ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ in the back of a police car
Little day-glo robots singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
John Deacon of Queen gets his palm read by a Japanese fortune-teller in 1977

Getting to know John Deacon with the help of Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasou in Music Life magazine (Japan), 1977. Larger resolution can be seen here.

“Since the left hand of the index finger is longer than the ring finger, will be successful and to work standing on top of the people.”

—Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasuo deciphering the hidden messages of John Deacon’s palm

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Japanese magazine Music Life and since that time I’ve continued to uncover some cool artifacts from the wildly popular vintage magazine such as this curious bit of strangeness—a somewhat clinical sounding dissection of Queen bassist John Deacon’s palm by a person the publication notes to be Japanese fortune-teller Kiyoshibo Yasou. A mysterious individual that I can find no reference for anywhere on the Internet outside of this odd little article from 1977.

Yasuo breaks down Deacon using an Astrological analysis, the process of Physiognomy (in which the evaluation of a person’s facial features is used to determine their personality type), a handwriting analysis and finally a deep-dive into Deacon’s palm to reveal his most innermost secrets. Of course when the excerpt from the magazine was translated into English using Google it produced a number of amusing, poorly translated revelations about the notoriously private Deacon that were strangely not terribly far from the truth. Such as this part of Deacon’s (a Leo by the way) astrological analysis:

Early success in life, is a lifetime of happiness. Romantic relationship too because it is (of his) masculine personality. Mote to women.

So because I’m deeply fascinated by this piece of rock and roll ephemera and a huge fan of the musical genius that is John Deacon I can tell you that Yasuo’s big reveal wasn’t that far off from reality. Deacon joined Queen when he was only nineteen-years-old which clearly equals “early success in life” by any reasonable standards. By the time he was 24 in 1975 he was already married to Veronica Tetzlaff and about to become a father for the first time after the devout Catholic become pregnant shortly after meeting Deacon at a disco. The couple has been married for 41 years have six children together which to many would be reflective of a “lifetime of happiness.”

I must say that overall I found Deacon’s amusing palm reading revealing as well as silly at times. Especially when it comes to the state of his gastrointestinal health and the skill of “standing on top of people” (included in the assessment of “Figure A” at the top of this post). Stay with me because here we go!

Figure B: the index finger and intelligence lines between the middle finger has stretched. This sweeping is the proof of good head.

Figure C: The horizontal line often is the lonely shop.

Figure D: Emotion line is divided for many present, one of them has been elongated. This is the person who sweeping have easy element becomes emotional. *(Analysis had been resting on another issue) * It does not have much thickness of the overall hand. Internal organs, care must be taken so easy especially break the gastrointestinal. It is not fatally bad phase, but as many fortune of something to struggling unfortunately.

More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Stunning images & footage of Queen’s first visit to Japan in 1975 & their triumphant return in 1976
10:28 am



In the spring of 1975 Queen set foot as a band for the first time in Japan much to the delight of their legions of fans there. The band played their first of many gigs at Budokan after the release of 1974’s Sheer Heart Attack and the footage from the show is truly something to behold as are the images of the then 29-year-old Mercury sitting along with his bandmates and a few lovely geishas at a formal ceremony on the grass in front of the Tokyo Tower.

Queen would return the very next year to Tokyo in support of their 1976 album A Day at the Races and were photographed hanging out with Sumo wrestlers, drinking sake and greeting a group of fascinated Japanese children who likely had no idea what to make of Freddie Mercury dressed in a multi-colored knit coat sporting long hair and dark sunglasses. The photos are as charming as they are gorgeous to look at. I’ve also included fantastic footage from Queen’s very first press conference in Tokyo (that includes lots of other footage such as their arrival at the airport and the ceremony in front of the Tokyo Tower) as well as a stellar performance of the single from Sheer Heart Attack “Now I’m Here” from the band’s debut show at Budokan that is going to blow your socks off.

Queen’s inaugural performance at Budokan was of course bootlegged and can be tracked down on various Internet sites but as a huge fan I remain hopeful that the performance will get a proper official release as did Queen’s legendary show at the Odeon in London on Christmas Eve in 1975 Queen- A Night At the Odeon (which just so happens to include a bit of footage from Queen’s Budokan gig—three songs specifically “Now I’m Here,” “Killer Queen,” and “In The Lap Of The Gods… Revisited”). On September 5th—or what would have been Freddie’s 70th birthday this past Monday—guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May announced that an asteroid formerly known as “Asteroid 17473” had been re-named “Freddiemercury” in Mercury’s honor. May had his own asteroid named after him, “Brianmay” (formerly “Asteroid 52665”) back in 2008. Awww.

Queen hanging out on the grass in front of the Tokyo Tower during their first visit to Japan in 1975.


Mercury greeting a group of Japanese children in 1976.
More Queen in Japan after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Rare photos of David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa & more from Japanese magazine ‘Music Life’

A beaming Hoshika Rumiko with The Beatles on the cover of issue number eight of ‘Music Life,’ 1965.
According to fans the Japanese magazine Music Life (published by Shinko Music Entertainment) is considered the greatest music publication in Japan. The magazine got its real start sometime in 1951 after a failed launch five-years earlier in 1946. When a former member of the magazine’s editorial staff, Hoshika Rumiko, took over as the magazine’s editor in 1964, she also became the first Japanese journalist to interview The Beatles in London and then once again when the band came to Japan in 1966. Rumiko even appeared on the cover of Music Life in 1965 along with John, Paul, George and Ringo dressed in traditional Japanese attire. When her interview with the Fab Four was published the magazine sold 250,000 copies—a far cry from their usual distribution of 50,000-70,000 copies per issue.

Known for its high-quality photographs printed on thick glossy paper Music Life was reportedly one of Japan’s best selling magazines during the 60’s and 70s and featured photos and interviews with EVERYONE that was anyone especially musical acts that were “big in Japan” like David Sylvian (of the band Japan), Queen, The Runways, David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Frank Zappa, and of course KISS. Most of the images I’ve included here I’ve never laid eyes on myself, like one of an eighteen-year-old Peter Frampton with a brown Beatle-esque haircut from 1968 and another of Iron Maiden posing the cover of Music Life in 1981 with a heavy metal-looking Kabuki entertainer instead of their faithful mascot Eddie.

The magazine called it a day in 1998 and Rumiko is currently working to complete her biography detailing her life as a pioneering female journalist in Japan (something I will absolutely be reading when it comes out in English) sometime late this year. As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers enjoy collecting vintage music magazines, copies of Music Life are fairly easy to come by and will run you anywhere from $20 to about $75 bucks an issue on eBay. If you dig what you see in this post, you can also see more of the magazine’s cool covers that date back to 1968 at this archival site.

Marc Bolan of T.Rex on the cover of issue number twelve of ‘Music Life,’ 1972.

Adam Ant, 1981.

Frank Zappa, 1969.

Much more ‘Music Life’ after the jump…

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‘I Have Come to Kill You:’ Henry Rollins parodies Queen
11:59 am


Henry Rollins

In 1987, Henry Rollins, fresh from Black Flag’s breakup, released his first two solo records, Hot Animal Machine under his own name, and the six-song EP Drive By Shooting under the name “Henrietta Collins and the Wife Beating Child Haters.” I should probably specify that these were his first musical solo records—he’d already released two spoken word albums by then.

Both were recorded during the same month with the same backup band, but Drive By Shooting is by far the goofier record. It opens with the title song, a ridiculous travesty of surf-rock tropes. It’s not ALL silly—the album also boasts a great cover of Wire’s “Ex-Lion Tamer.” But then there’s “I Have Come to Kill You,” a send-up of Queen’s distinctive hit “We Will Rock You.” The EP, by the way, isn’t particularly rare, and the original vinyl can be found online at quite reasonable prices. It’s also included with the CD version of Hot Animal Machine

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ video without the music is comedy gold!
12:39 pm



I never really cared much for The Prodigy or their song “Firestarter,” but this tinkered with, musicless video by YouTuber Mario Wienerroither had me in stitches. Totally ridiculous and yet… hypnotic.

I also included another one done by Wienerroither: Queen’s “I Want To Break Free.”


Via Boing Boing

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Freddie Mercury’s home videos
06:54 pm


Freddie Mercury
Jim Hutton

Behind-the-scenes footage of Queen filming their second last video for “I’m Going Slightly Mad.” This footage has been posted along with a mixed selection’s of Freddie Mercury’s home video footage, which includes a brief tour of Freddie’s home Garden Lodge, a group of his friends chatting in the kitchen (including his personal assistant Peter Freestone, the singer and actor Peter Straeker, and cook Joe Fanelli), some of Freddie’s cats playing, and the morning after Christmas.

However, it is the footage for “I’m Going Slightly Mad” which has more pop cultural importance as we see (after some filming with penguins) how much effort Freddie puts into shooting just one scene from the video, even though he was very ill.

As for the home video footage, well, over a decade ago, I met and interviewed Freddie’s partner Jim Hutton for a documentary I was then producing. Jim had written a personal memoir about his relationship with Freddie called Mercury and Me, and I wanted to talk to him about that and his relationship with Freddie. I traveled to Ireland, where Jim was living. His home had a few possessions from his time with Freddie at Garden Lodge: a dining table and chairs, a glass cabinet, photographs, assorted mementoes. Jim was a handsome man, with a soft Irish lilt. He was charming, unassuming, direct and genuinely kind-hearted. We spent the afternoon talking and looking through his photographic albums, which were piled in a corner, still in a remover’s box. Inside were hundreds of large glossy color photographs of Jim and Freddie in Japan, at home, at Christmas, at a garden party together. The pictures revealed glimpses of their shared private world. Jim then opened another box filled with Hi-8 video cassettes, which contained various home movies, clips of which have made their way onto YouTube since Jim’s death in 2010. The quality is not great, but for the time (late eighties-early nineties), that’s to be expected.

More of Freddie’s home videos, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Freddie Mercury presents Queen’s first LP to a less than enthusiastic public
12:17 pm


Freddie Mercury
Danny Baker

During the early 1970s, the One Stop record shop was “London’s number one coolest record shop for those in the know in the contemporary music scene.” The store was crammed with a rich and diverse selection of stock from Zappa and Beefheart to US Funk and Soul imports. It was here you would regularly find Elton John rummaging through the boxes of 45s, Marc Bolan calling everyone “babes,” Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart and David Bowie buying LPs, and an often drunk Vivian Stanshall offering to buy the entire stock for four pence (“New pence, no rubbish.”)

It was also here that an as yet unknown and undiscovered fifteen-year-old Danny Baker worked behind the till. As some of you will know, Baker had yet to make his name producing the Punk magazine Sniffin’ Glue with Mark Perry, before starting his career as an NME journalist and becoming the lovable star of TV and radio, we know today.

So, one afternoon, Queen came “tumbling into the shop, excited, babbling, and I think a little drunk,” as Baker recalled in his highly entertaining first volume of autobiography, Going to Sea in a Sieve. Queen carried with them advance test pressings of their eponymous-titled first LP, with which an imperious Freddie Mercury announced to Baker.

“We want you to play our record in your shop. Constantly! You can be the first!”

Two thick, white label acetates were then thrust into Baker’s hands. It was at that moment the shop’s manager, John Gillespie “drifted out from his office area and cut through the party with a loaded, “I’m sorry, can we help you?”

“Yes, you can,” briskly responded my presumed Freddie.

“You can fucking play this and nothing else for the next six weeks. We’re Queen and when it’s released you won’t be able to fucking stock enough of this.”

“Really?” John drawled back in a tone plainly designed to hose down their raging brio. “Can I hear it?”

Gillespie took one disc, placed it on a turntable “and rather archly put the needle on to track one of this allegedly momentous debut.” That track would be “Keep Yourself Alive,” incidentally)

He let it play for about a minute, all the time intently staring at the floor as if in solemn judgement. Freddie Mercury lustily sang to his own vocal in an attempt to clinch the decision. Then John calmly took the player’s arm back off the disc.

“Hate it,” he said, putting lots of breath into the H.

“You’re fucking joking!” said Freddie, or possibly Brian May.

“Hate. It,” repeated my manager and entered into a sullen stare-off with the group.

Then another thrust.

“You sound like Deep Purple or something. Can’t bear all that.”

Then he turned to me.

“Danny, you like rock. Was that any good?”

Oh, don’t do this to me, John.

“I thought it was, y’know…rocky. Bit like Stray, and I like Stray.”

“Stray!” exploded presumed Freddie. “Stray! Stray are a fucking pub band! We are going to be bigger than fucking Led Zeppelin!”

“Fuck you,” said maybe John Deacon.

“Well, fuck you,” said John the Manager.

Then everyone but me said Fuck you for a bit.

Leaving their record on the counter, the group beat a swift and noisy retreat with one of them—I recall some blond hair here, so let’s say Roger—yanking a handful of sleeves from their racks and letting them spill all over our floor.

In a final gesture, Freddie stood at the door and bellowed out into a bemused South Molton Street, “Attention, shoppers! If you have a scintilla of taste, you will never buy a thing in this dreadful shop!”

Then they were gone.

John, who enjoyed both style and drama, turned to me with a pixie-ish smile lighting up his eyes.

“Did you hear that? I like him. That was funny. Dreadful record though…”

This and many other tales from Mr. Baker’s wonderful life, can be found in Going to Sea in a Sieve, the first volume of his autobiography. Here you’ll also discover that the mysterious “Jungle-face Jake” from Marc Bolan’s hit “Telegram Sam” was not some drug-dealer, or even Mick Jagger but “..a battle-scarred old boxer dog who liked several saveloys at a sitting.” Baker knows this because Bolan told him.

Now, for the love of Freddie, here’s Queen in concert from 1974 at the Rainbow Theater.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Freddie Mercury and David Bowie: Listen to the isolated vocal track for ‘Under Pressure’

Freddie Mercury first met David Bowie in the summer of 1970, when he was trying to sell Bowie a pair of suede boots. Mercury co-managed a stall in Kensington Market, with Roger Taylor, and while Bowie tried on the footwear, Mercury quizzed him about the music business. David was disenchanted and asked Freddie, ‘Why would you want to get into this business?’

Over the next decade, Mercury and Bowie’s paths crossed—Queen hired Mick Rock, the man whose photographs made Bowie an icon, to shoot their equally iconic cover for Queen II—but it would not be until the summer of 1981 that Queen and Bowie worked together.

In his biography of David Bowie, Starman, Paul Trynka described what happened next:

According to Mercury’s personal assistant Peter Freestone,Bowie only realized Queen were in Mountain [recording studios] working on their R&B-flavored album Hot Space by chance. Asked to add backing vocals on the song “Cool Cat,” David stayed for a marathon session in which Queen’s song “Feel Like” was transformed into “Under Pressure.” David contributed the bulk of the lyrics, set over drummer Roger Taylor’s descending chord sequence. By now, Mercury had developed more of an ego than in his market-stall days, and it was Queen’s drummer who was at the heart of the session, interacting with the interloper. ‘Roger and Bowie got on very well,’ according to Freestone, ‘although the lyrics and title idea came from Freddie and David.’


‘It was hard because you had four very precocious boys—and David, who was precocious enough for all of us,’ says Brian May. ’ David took over the song lyrically. |t’s a significant song because of David and its lyrical content—I would have found that hard to admit in the old days—but I can admit now.’ David championed the song, encouraging Freddie, and contributing a classic, swooping melody, as well as one of his own distinctive, reflective middle-eight sections (‘the terror of knowing what this world is all about.’)

Queen were uncertain about the track, even after Bowie and Mercury re-worked their vocals and mixed the recording at The Power Station in New York, a fortnight later—John Deacon’s distinctive bassline was added at the same session, hummed to him by David. Brian was particularly unhappy, recalling the ‘fierce battles around the mix, and his own misgivings about the song’s release as a single; instead it was Queen’s record company, EMI, that pushed the collaboration…

This, of course, is Bowie’s biographer’s take. Queen bassist, John Deacon said in 1984 that the song was primarily Freddie Mercury’s, and developed out of a jam session. Also, the song Trynka quotes as the original “Feel Like,” is a separate track by Roger Taylor. Also, Hot Space was more Disco than R&B.

Yet, it is true that most of the song “Under Pressure” came out of a ‘marathon session,’ which explains Mercury’s incredible, improvised vocals. Open Culture gives a slightly different version of events:

“David came in one night and we were playing other people’s songs for fun, just jamming,” says Queen drummer Roger Taylor in Mark Blake’s book Is This the Real Life?: The Untold Story of Freddie Mercury and Queen. “In the end, David said, ‘This is stupid, why don’t we just write one?’”

And so began a marathon session of nearly 24-hours–fueled, according to Blake, by wine and cocaine. Built around John Deacon’s distinctive bass line, the song was mostly written by Mercury and Bowie. Blake describes the scene, beginning with the recollections of Queen’s guitarist:

‘We felt our way through a backing track all together as an ensemble,’ recalled Brian May. ‘When the backing track was done, David said, “Okay, let’s each of us go in the vocal booth and sing how we think the melody should go–just off the top of our heads–and we’ll compile a vocal out of that.” And that’s what we did.’ Some of these improvisations, including Mercury’s memorable introductory scatting vocal, would endure on the finished track. Bowie also insisted that he and Mercury shouldn’t hear what the other had sung, swapping verses blind, which helped give the song its cut-and-paste feel.

The ‘fierce arguments’ took place during the mix. Queen’s engineer Reinhold Mack is quoted by Blake as saying ‘It didn’t go well.’:

“We spent all day and Bowie was like, ‘Do this, do that.’ In the end, I called Freddie and said, ‘I need help here,’ so Fred came in as a mediator.”

Mercury and Bowie argued. Then Bowie threatened to block the release of the single. It never happened and “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie was released in September 1981. It was Queen’s second number one, making the top of the UK charts on 21 November. In America, it reached number twenty-nine a few weeks later. It is now recognized as a classic song, though Brian May would still like to re-mix it.

This is the Freddie Mercury’s and David Bowie’s isolated vocals from the recording of “Under Pressure.”


Thanks Richard Metzger! Via Open Culture

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Freddie Mercury Chicken Dhansak

One of the things I enjoy most about reading biographies is the little personal details, which reveal much of what a subject liked or disliked. For example, Freddie Mercury liked Quality Street assorted candies; enjoyed Stolichnaya vodka; and had a love of spicy food.

According to Peter Freestone, who worked as Freddie’s personal assistant for more than a decade, Chicken Dhansak was one of the singer’s favorite meals. Peter (aka Phoebe) has now written-up the recipe for this mouth-watering dish over at, where he explains:

Chicken Dhansak

This Indian inspired dish rose up the popularity stakes because it embraced two separate dishes, a dal which for Freddie was always a moistening accompaniment and a ‘curry’ meat dish which often, on its own, tended to be dryer. Living in Earls Court, both Joe [Fanelli] and I had easy access to supermarkets where every spice known to mankind was stocked as a matter of regular principle. The area was such a melting pot of nationalities that for anyone not to have been able to buy fenugreek seeds would be for the property market in the area to plummet in value immediately!

25 gm channa, 25 gm moong, 25gm red and 50 gm toor lentils
125 ml oil
650 gm boneless chicken 2cm cubes
3 med onions
2 cloves garlic
410 gm tinned tomatoes
1 medium aubergine chopped
1 large potato chopped
115 gm spinach (frozen)
100 gm fresh coriander
50 gm fresh mint
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 brown cardamom
5cm cassia bark
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon chilli powder

Wash the lentils thoroughly, making sure you remove all the grit and residual husk. Soak together overnight.
The following day, cook the lentils in twice their volume of water for approx. 30 minutes. While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the meat at a high temperature for 5 – 10 minutes until browned. Remove from the saucepan and keep in a warm place.
Fry the cumin seeds, cardamom, cassia bark and mustard seeds adding the onions, garlic and salt. When they have turned a golden brown, add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 more minutes.
Add the remaining chopped vegetables, mix and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the lentils and roughly mash everything together.
Add the meat and rest of the spices. Mix well and cook gently for a further 40 minutes.
Add the fresh coriander and mint and cook for at least 10 minutes.
Serve with plain boiled rice.

It is more than a decade since I met Peter for a documentary I was producing called When Freddie Mercury Met Kenny Everett. Peter had written an insightful and highly enjoyable book on his day-to-day life working for Freddie. I met Peter in Prague, at his city apartment, where we filmed the interview, before taking some walking shots on the Charles Bridge. Peter was charming, delightful company, and if you are interested, you can ask Phoebe questions about his life with Freddie here.



Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Freddie Mercury’s 1974 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce has been put up for sale

Freddie Mercury’s 1974 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce has been put up for sale with auctioneers Coys (founded 1919). The prospectus states:

Estimate: £9,000 - £11,000
Registration Number: WLX293M
Chassis Number: SRH18696

Freddie Mercury is of course best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band “Queen” , and one of the most flamboyant performers in rock history. As a performer, he was legendary for his flamboyant stage persona and powerful vocals over a four-octave range. As a songwriter, Mercury composed many hits for Queen, including the legendary “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Killer Queen”, “Somebody to Love”, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “We Are the Champions”.

In addition to his work with Queen, he had a massively successful solo career, and also occasionally served as a producer and guest musician (piano or vocals) for other artists.

Mercury was noted for his live performances, which were often delivered to stadium audiences around the world. He displayed a highly theatrical style that often evoked a great deal of participation from the crowd. A writer for The Spectator described him as “a performer out to tease, shock and ultimately charm his audience with various extravagant versions of himself”.....

More details here.

I can understand why one might want to buy Freddie Mercury’s piano, but his Rolls-Royce less so. One for the completist, I s’ppose.
Full details and more pix of Freddie’s Rolls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Hijabis sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Though rock ‘n’ roll is banned in Iran, Queen is still king
10:06 pm


Freddie Mercury

While one more rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” might be enough to drive one to Queen overload (as if that is humanly possibly), when we remember that “Western Music” is forbidden in Iran, and homosexuality is punishable by death, the sight of Iranian men and women (badly) singing a Queen song takes on new meaning.

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution spurred a rejection of all things “Western,” and rock ‘n’ roll was one of its causalities. Until the 90’s, all rock music was banned. Today most Iranian rock bands operate underground or flee to other countries to play (like New York’s own The Yellow Dogs). Some rockers skirt the rules by placing traditional Persian poetry over classic rock melodies. Others play instrumental music (metal is big), or write fairly “safe” lyrics in Farsi and submit them for approval from the Ministry of Culture.

So why were the Iranian representatives for the World Choir Games able to perform Queen? Well, Freddie Mercury, also known as Farrokh Bulsara, was Parsi, a Persian ethnic group that commonly practices Zoroastrianism. Growing up in India and Zanzibar, Mercury’s Zoroastrian funeral was noted after his death, but his ethnic identity was never a secret. Illegal Queen bootlegs have been floating around Iran forever, but in 2004, the first legal classic rock album was released, Queen’s Greatest Hits.

There were even translations of the songs in the liner notes, though “Bohemian Rhapsody” already had the Arabic word for God (“Bismillah”) proclaimed by the protagonist in a plea for redemption. Love songs (and presumably “Fat-Bottomed Girls”) were cut, but Mercury’s heritage and underground Queen fans greased the wheels for the Ministry of Culture. With a bisexual frontman and a sound steeped in American rock ‘n’ roll, Queen’s connection to the Persian world has been lauded by Iranian rockers since the beginning.

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