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.
A Queen Fan Club message sent during the band’s first visit to Japan in 1975.
Mercury and Roger Taylor in Japan, 1975.
Brian May and a Geisha having tea in Japan, 1975.
Queen hanging out with a couple of Sumo wrestlers in Japan, 1976.
Queen likely enjoying some Sake during their trip to Japan in 1976.
A magazine centerfold taken of Queen during one of their early trips to Japan.
MORE SAKE! 1976.
A ticket stub from Queen’s first gig in Japan in April of 1975.
Footage of Queen’s first trip to Japan including their arrival at the airport, a press conference and a ceremony on the grass in front of the Tokyo Tower in 1975.
Insane footage of Queen performing ‘Now I’m Here’ at their first gig in Japan at Budokan in 1975.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Freddie Mercury and David Bowie: Listen to the isolated vocal track for ‘Under Pressure’