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Freddie Mercury breaks free onstage with The Royal Ballet in 1979
08.06.2018
07:29 am
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A photo of Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury (pictured center) training with members of The Royal Ballet (London) in 1979.
 

“They (The Royal Ballet) asked me. They actually thought I could dance. So they asked me to do this charity concert. Then I realized, how I could dance.  I appreciate their discipline and dedication a hell of a lot. I mean, it’s a different kind of dedication than you have to apply to what I’m doing. I don’t think I could ever do it because it’s like learning someone else’s steps. I do things that I want to do and it’s all very free-form.”

—Freddie Mercury on his collaboration with The Royal Ballet in 1979.

In 1979, encouraged by his friend Wayne Eagling a choreographer and principal dancer for The Royal Ballet, Freddie Mercury began training with members of the company for a charity performance to be held at the London Coliseum to raise money for mentally handicapped children. But before we get to the details on this bit of Freddie Mercury mythology, there is yet another fascinating bit of backstory to how this all came to be. Laura Jackson, author of Freddie Mercury: The Biography, met with Wayne Eagling to discuss Mercury’s epic performance with TRB. In the book, Eagling recalls going to the treasurer of the ballet, Joseph Lockwood, as he once held a high ranking job at EMI in the hope he might be able to persuade Kate Bush to guest star in the charity performance. Bush, still in her teens, had just been signed by the label by one of the music industry’s biggest titans, Bob Mercer. According to Mercer, he was “almost certain” Bush had been asked to don a pair of ballerina slippers before Mercury was. Kate’s manager put the kibosh on the idea, and Lockwood told Eagling to talk to his friend Freddie instead.

What isn’t up for dispute is the undeniable energy which exuded from Freddie Mercury like some sort of sonic communication from another planet. Queen’s live shows required high levels of physical endurance by its members, and this was especially true for Mercury. But could he dance? As unbelievable as it sounds, not really. However, there is no denying the man had moves for days and, allegedly, he had always wanted to “try” to dance ballet. Mercury took his training and rehearsals seriously, though he described the experience as “agonizing.” Here’s more from Freddie on becoming a ballet dancer:

“They had me practicing at the barre and all that, stretching my legs… trying to do things in a week that they’d been doing for years. It was murder. After two days I was in agony. It was hurting me in places I didn’t know I had, dear.”

As I’m sure you can imagine, Mercury’s performance was highly praised and even impressed the stuffy ballet regulars at the sold-out event. Of course, Mercury didn’t just dance with the members of The Royal Ballet, he also sang adapted versions of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” while he was being hurled around the stage never missing a note, beat, or pose. Queen drummer Roger Taylor bore witness to Freddie’s debut calling it “brave and hilarious.” The experience made an impact on Mercury, and he, Eagling and other TRB dancers would collaborate once again for the “I Want To Break Free” video in 1984, which Eagling helped to choreograph. In part, the video is based on the ballet L’après-midi d’un faune (Afternoon of a Faun) with an un-mustachioed Mercury mimicking the star of the original 1912 production, famous dancer/choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Zowie.

So, with yet another Queen history lesson under our belts, let’s take a look at some of the remarkable photos captured during Mercury’s time with The Royal Ballet as well as video footage of Freddy live on stage for one night with The Royal Ballet on October 7th, 1979.
 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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08.06.2018
07:29 am
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Rob Halford of Judas Priest handcuffs himself to Andy Warhol, 1979
04.10.2018
10:30 am
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One of the greatest photos ever taken (in my estimation anyway) shows Judas Priest hanging out with Andy Warhol in the band’s dressing room in 1979.
 
After playing a gig in 1979 at the Palladium in New York, Judas Priest would meet Andy Warhol after a second late-night show at the Mudd Club. According to Halford’s recollection of the evening now nearly 40 years ago, Warhol came backstage after the band had finished their set. Halford engaged the artist in conversation, or so he thought noting that it seemed that Warhol was fond of responding to his queries with only two words; “Oh?” and “Really?” This prompted Halford to have a little fun with Andy by removing his famous handcuffs from his belt and clasping one of them onto Warhol’s wrist and the other to his. Then Harford broke the “bad news” to Andy that he didn’t know where the keys for his handcuffs were to which Warhol coyly replied, “Oh really?”

If the words about this story had not come from the lips of Halford himself, I would have thought it was a heavy metal fever dream I conjured up after listening to British Steel all night in reverse. Halford told the story during his “Town Hall” interview on SiriusXM Radio with David Fricke of Rolling Stone recently, and after watching it I found a newspaper article with a short interview with Halford telling the story in a bit more detail:

I got Andy Warhol handcuffed to me in the dressing room. He was there as we were playing, he was taking pictures. Andy came backstage and I was messing around with chains and handcuffs and I go “I’m going to put these handcuffs on you, Andy.” And he goes, “Oh really?” And all about Andy would say was “Oh really?” about anything. And I put them on and we are both handcuffed together. And I thought, “This is really cool. I’m handcuffed to Andy Warhol. Somebody, please take a photo.” And the label photographer took a couple of photos. And then I said, “I’ve got bad news, Andy. I’ve lost the key.” Those were in my drinking days as well, so I said: “Looks like we are handcuffed together for the night!”

Halford would finally fess up to Andy that he had the keys for the cuffs and uncuffed Warhol before the pair took off for a night of partying at Studio 54. According to Halford, he never saw Andy again. If Rob Halford wasn’t already one of my heroes, this bit of mythology would change all that. It’s a good thing I have a long tradition of choosing my idols wisely. Photos of Andy and Rob looking like an alternate universe version of the Odd Couple follow.
 

A newspaper photo of Rob Halford handcuffing himself to Andy Warhol while guitarist Glenn Tipton looks on.
 

Rob Halford and Andy Warhol in the dressing room of the Mudd Club.
 

Another action shot of Halford and Warhol handcuffed together in the dressing room of the Mudd Club in 1979.
 

A short clip from David Fricke’s SiriusXM “Town Hall” interview with Judas Priest.
 
HT: SiriusXM Radio

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Metal Gods: Rob Halford of Judas Priest fronts Black Sabbath in 1992
Rob Halford of Judas Priest challenges his hero Freddie Mercury to a motorbike race, 1980
The time that Judas Priest looked like a hippie band back in 1975 (Rob Halford had HAIR. Lots of it)
Judas Priest’s racy photoshoot with a Penthouse Pet
Could this be the earliest live concert footage ever shot of Judas Priest?

Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.10.2018
10:30 am
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Three Imaginary Boys: The Cure back in the 1970s when they were still teenagers
11.14.2016
12:21 pm
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An early shot of The Cure (L to R: Lol Tolhurst, Michael Dempsey and Robert Smith) hanging on the railroad tracks. This photo was likely taken around 1976/1977.
 
I spent a fair amount of time recently pouring through nostalgic images and musical performances by The Cure while pulling my post about the band’s first show in Boston in 1980. The Internet will often reward you with great things. Such is the case with these magical photos of Robert Smith and his bandmates, some taken as early as 1976.

If my math is correct (numbers and Cherrybomb don’t go well together) Robert Smith and drummer Lol Tolhurst were just seventeen. Bassist Michael Dempsey probably bought booze for them as he was eighteen in 1976. After you let it sink in that members of The Cure were once teenagers just like all of us, I’ll ask you to come to the realization that unlike most of us they were already on a pretty clear trajectory for greatness.

When they weren’t in school together they were already busy writing songs and by 1977 were playing gigs to a fast-growing fan base. All this noise got the teenage Smith, Dempsey and Tolhurst signed to Fiction Records (run by Chris Parry who was also an early champion of The Jam and Siouxsie and the Banshees). By the time 1979 rolled around The Cure were ready to release their stellar first album Three Imaginary Boys and a couple of follow-up singles you may have heard before “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” So strap in and get ready for a trip to a time before Robert Smith’s signature electrified goth hair and lipstick was a thing and see The Cure looking more like the images from your old high school yearbook.
 

Michael Dempsey, Marc Ceccagno, Robert Smith, Allan Hill, and Lol Tolhurst taken sometime between 1976 and 1978.
 

Three Imaginary Boys, likely circa 1976/77.
 
More Cure after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.14.2016
12:21 pm
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Divine & Holly Woodlawn discuss ‘The Neon Woman’, 1979

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Here’s something to make up for that Divine interview on The Tube I posted on Monday - a whole thirty minutes of Genn Harris Milstead discussing Divine’s role in the 1979 theater production of The Neon Woman.

The interview is hosted by TV personality Tom Snyder, and also on hand are The Neon Woman‘s director Ron Link and Divine’s co-star (and another stone cold legend of drag/gender-bending and Warhol’s Factory scene) Holly Woodlawn.

There’s still a bit of a naff “wtf?” tone to Snyder’s questioning, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Muriel Grey’s Divine inquisition on The Tube. In fact, Snyder does a decent enough job of eventually getting past his own preconceptions and treating Divine and Woodlawn not as freaks, but as human beings with something interesting and intelligent to say.

This interview was taped for NBC’s Tomorrow show in 1979, and appears on YouTube in three parts. The quality isn’t immaculate, but it’s not terrible either, and it’s just a joy to see these people in the same room together hanging out and shooting the shit:

Divine and Holly Woodlawn on Tomorrow, 1979, part one:
 

 
After the jump, parts two and three…
 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
 
Divine in highlights form ‘The Neon Woman’ from 1978
 
Awkward interview with Divine on ‘The Tube’, 1983
 

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Posted by Niall O'Conghaile
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09.19.2012
10:10 am
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