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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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Freddie Mercury’s flamboyant birthday party drag ball
06.20.2018
08:56 am
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Freddie Mercury celebrating his 39th birthday at the Henderson nightclub in Munich, Germany in 1985.
 
It all started with a beyond flamboyant throw-down in Munich, Germany where Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury and a few hundred of his famous friends gathered together for Mercury’s “black and white” themed 39th birthday at the Henderson club. The Henderson was also used by Mercury to shoot the video for his 1985 solo single “Living on My Own” which includes footage shot at Freddie’s extravagant birthday shebang. Two months prior, Queen and Mercury set the world on fire with their set at Live Aid forever setting the rock and roll bar for greatness at a level so high it will likely forever stand as the single greatest live performance by a rock band ever. When Mercury sent out the invitations for his birthday, he requested attendees dress in drag and only in black and white. Mercury, of course, came as himself, because of course he did. I’ll leave you to think about that for a hot minute before we get to a few pieces of folklore about Freddie/Queen’s party habits as well as his follow-up birthday celebration in 1987 on the island of Ibiza.

If you know anything about Mercury, you know the man liked to enjoy himself, and took on the task of orchestrating nearly every detail of Queen’s debaucherous shindigs, such as the time in 1978 when Freddie booked-up the Fairmont Hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter for the band and 500 of their guests to celebrate their upcoming record, Jazz. Dwarves were hired to walk around the party with trays of Bolivian coke and cocktail services were provided by nude waiters and waitresses. In the 2012 biography by Lesley-Ann Jones, Mercury: An Intimate Biography of Freddie Mercury, Elton John was quoted saying that Mercury could “out-party” him any day. In 1981 when Queen and David Bowie got together to record “Under Pressure,” they powered through the day-long session with coke and booze. For his party in Ibiza, Mercury flew 700 of his pals to the island off the coast of Spain. To this day Mercury’s birthday is still celebrated at the Ibiza Rocks House (formerly the infamous Pikes Hotel where Mercury held his 1987 gathering). 

As unhinged as Mercury’s behavior could be behind-the-scenes there isn’t much evidence to cite his zealous pursuit of good times altering his ability to slay with his four-octave vocal range and commanding stage presence. To say nothing of the stone cold fact, Mercury knew how to party—something I’m sure you’ll be in agreement with after checking out the photos of Freddie partying like a pro as well as high-quality footage shot at the party to end all parties, below.
 

The invitation for Freddie Mercury’s birthday drag ball at Hendersons in Munich, Germany 1985.
 

Freddie’s black and white-themed birthday bash at the Henderson nightclub in Munich, Germany.
 
More Freddie after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.20.2018
08:56 am
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Vintage photos of Freddie Mercury & Queen playing tennis in bellbottoms


Queen hanging out on the tennis court at Ridge Farm with a couple of gal pals in 1975.
 
Prior to heading into the studio to record their fourth album, A Night at the Opera, in 1975, Queen would spend time at Ridge Farm rehearsing in a barn. The band was there for around a month, and according to drummer Roger Taylor, they would spend their downtime swimming in the pool on the property, playing tennis and billiards, as well as hitting up The Royal Oak Pub down the road. During their time in the barn, as Taylor recalls, they started to lay the groundwork for their future titanic hit, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” No wonder the barn was quickly converted into an actual working studio later that year—it had been blessed with magical Queen dust.

Frank Andrews, a lighting technician who toured extensively with Queen and The Rolling Stones saw the writing on the wall, so he took on the task of converting the barn (which resided on property owned by his parents) into a studio. Here’s Andrews remembering the summer of 1975 he spent with Queen:

“Queen came here in our first year, as I had toured with them in Europe and Scandinavia. They were relatively unknown at that stage, and that was just at the point where it took off for them. They liked it here as they could all focus on what they were doing, and all live together. There was a family atmosphere, and the band would stroll around and play with the dog we had at the time. Queen played a lot of tennis too, and I remember Freddie, in particular, was very good.”

During its 25-year history, Ridge Farm Studio attracted groups and artists like Thin Lizzy, The Slits, Roxy Music, Peter Gabriel, Echo & the Bunnymen, and The Smiths. Before its next transformation which turned it into a popular wedding venue (as it is to this day), the Joe Jackson Band would be the very last to record material for their 2003 album Volume 4 in the former barn. Now that we have our musical history lesson out of the way for today, let’s get to checking out images of Queen hanging out playing tennis in their bellbottoms and shooting pool at a place which sounds like a summer camp for rock stars. Taylor’s fond memories of Ridge Farm sound a bit like he’s reminiscing about summer camp, doesn’t it? I mean, aside from the trips to the local pub and the lack of a lame archery range, you’d almost expect the boys to be writing home to mum requesting she forward some proper tea and biscuits along with her next letter. Awww. As a bonus, I’ve also slipped in some choice shots of a shirtless Freddie Mercury playing tennis in Ibiza—a place which was like a second home to him during the last decade of his life. Enjoy.
 

Brian May on the tennis court at Ridge Farm in his bellbottoms.
 

Roger Taylor strutting around the court in his bellbottoms.
 

John Deacon looking happy to be on the tennis court in his bellbottoms.
 
Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.16.2018
12:56 pm
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Rob Halford of Judas Priest challenges his hero Freddie Mercury to a motorbike race, 1980


Rob Halford and Freddie Mercury.
 

“I’ve always found it ironic that a certain aspect of gay culture has also chosen to dress this way. I’m not into that kind of thing though. I guess it’s whatever floats your boat y’know? I’m what you’d call a very vanilla kind of gay guy.”


—Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford on his fashion choices.

Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford is known for many things. Aside from being one of the greatest metal vocalists of all time, Halford’s cultivated image of head-to-toe leather and spikes is synonymous with heavy metal itself. In fact, when the band performed on Top of the Pops on January 25th, 1979, Halford’s badass bondage-style getup spread like wildfire across the world and would soon become the go-to look for headbangers. Another thing Halford is widely known for is his love of motorcycles and if you’ve seen Priest live, then perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see Halford ride out on stage on one. Which brings me to another mythical story involving Halford and a man he refers to as his “ultimate hero,” Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury.
 

Rob Halford circa 1979/1980.
 
The year was 1980 and Queen had just released their eighth record The Game in June. Audiences went completely bananas for the album and showed a particular affinity for two songs you likely know all the words to, “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” The band would later earn a reputation for releasing unique videos for their songs, and the video for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is no exception. In the video, Mercury is dressed up like an outlaw biker in a stage production of the 1961 film West Side Story complete with an authentic but stationary motorcycle which Mercury straddles along with his blonde video girlfriend. And Rob Halford was having none of it.

According to Halford, after he saw the video he went on BBC Radio 1 and challenged Mercury to a real “motorbike race.” I know I’m not going out on a limb saying if the event had actually transpired, it would have been one of the greatest moments in TV history. Sadly, Mercury never responded to Rob’s challenge. Here’s more from the Metal God who walks among us on that:

“I never heard back from him. Freddie is my ultimate hero. The closest I ever got to Freddie was in a gay bar in Athens on the way to Mykonos with some friends from London. We kind of glared at each other across the bar, in a kind of smiling, winking way. When we got to Mykonos, I was determined to track him down, but I couldn’t because he’d rented this huge yacht. It was festooned in pink balloons and it just kept sailing around the island.”

More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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01.09.2018
10:17 am
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Rod Stewart, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John wanted to form a supergroup called Nose, Teeth & Hair
10.23.2017
01:03 pm
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Ah, to be a rock star. Reading Rod Stewart’s autobiography, aptly titled Rod: The Autobiography, it’s clear that he and Elton John are close. They twit each other, as friends everywhere do, only with the budgets of fabulously wealthy rock stars. There’s a passage recounting their playful war of Christmas gifts. One year Rod hit upon the perfect gift, a novelty portable refrigerator: “You plug it in and press the button and its door opened automatically, and it lit up and a bottle of rose out of it in a cloud of vapor.”

That year Elton made Rod a gift of an original Rembrandt drawing. As Rod writes,
 

A fucking Rembrandt! I felt pretty small-–although not as small as Elton presumably wanted me to feel when he later referred tartly to my present as “an ice bucket.” It was not an ice bucket. It was a novelty portable fridge.


 
A couple years later, Elton marked the joyous occasion of Rod’s marriage to Rachel Hunter with a Boots voucher worth ten quid and the note “Get yourself something nice for the house.”

You get the idea. Rod and Elton have the kind of expensive fun together that you would hope famous rock stars have together. On one occasion, Rod and Elton spent an evening at a Los Angeles house Queen kept there, hanging out with Freddie Mercury. During what was presumably mirthful conversation, someone hit upon the idea of joining forces for a ridiculous supergroup consisting of the three of them:
 

We traveled together a bit, too, or sought each other out when we were abroad. The band Queen rented a house in Bel Air, Los Angeles, for a while, and Elton and I spent a long evening there with Freddie Mercury, a sweet and funny man whom I really adored, discussing the possibility of the three of us forming a supergroup. The name we had in mind was Nose, Teeth & hair, a tribute to each of our most remarked-upon physical attributes. The general idea was that we could appear dressed like the Beverley Sisters. Somehow this project never came to anything, which is contemporary music’s deep and abiding loss.

 
The detail that makes the anecdote is that last one, about the Beverley Sisters, who were kind of an English version of the Andrews Sisters from the United States. They sang tightly harmonized songs, several of which are Christmas classics in the U.K. Here’s a picture of the Beverley Sisters:
 

 
via That Eric Alper
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Elton John: Hand-Painted Toilet Seat
When Rod Stewart rocked: The Faces’ final concert

Posted by Martin Schneider
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10.23.2017
01:03 pm
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The look of love: Rarely-seen intimate pics of Freddie Mercury and his partner Jim
06.01.2017
09:51 am
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Jim Hutton and Freddie Mercury with Dorothy the cat, Munich 1986.
 
The first time Jim Hutton met Freddie Mercury, he told him to “fuck off.” They were in the Copacabana, a gay club in the basement of a hotel in South Kensington, one weekend in late 1983. Jim was at the bar with his lover, John Alexander, drinking from a can of lager. When John went to the lavatory, Freddie pushed his way through the crowd and offered to buy Jim a drink. Jim, who had almost a full can in his hand, said, “No, thank you.” When Freddie then asked what he was doing that night, Jim told him to “Fuck off.” Freddie quietly wandered back to join his friends.

When John returned, Jim told him someone had just tried to chat him up. John asked, “Who?” Jim pointed him out—a slight figure with a mustache in jeans and a white t-shirt. He wasn’t Jim’s type—he preferred his men “bigger and butcher.” John was dumbfounded. Didn’t he know who that was? “That’s Freddie Mercury,” he said. “Freddie who?” The name meant nothing to Jim, who carried on sipping his beer.

Eighteen months later, on Saturday, March 23rd, 1985, Jim had been out drinking for most of the day. Instead of going home to his rented rooms in Sutton, he decided to spend his last five quid on a night out in Heaven—the large gay nightclub at Charing Cross. Usually, Jim didn’t go to clubs like Heaven. He thought they were too large, anonymous, and noisy. But that night, he wanted to dance. As he stood at the bar, a slight figure slipped in beside him and offered to buy him a drink. It was that bloke from the Copacabana again, Freddie whatsit? Slightly tipsy, Jim’s defenses were down and he offered to buy Freddie a drink. “A large vodka,” came the reply. There went most of Jim’s five quid.

Freddie then asked, “How big’s your dick?” It was his usual opening gambit. Jim ignored him saying something like, “Well, you’ll have to find out,” before telling the singer to drop the phony American accent. “But I don’t have an American accent.” Freddie protested before inviting Jim to join him and his friends.

What Jim didn’t know was that Freddie had spent part of the previous eighteen months checking up on him. He had found out where Jim drank and would send one of his assistants in to see if he was at the bar. Freddie liked men who looked like burly truck drivers. Though Jim didn’t quite fit that bill—he was a hairdresser—he did have the look that Freddie found utterly desirable.

Freddie invited Jim back to his apartment on Stafford Terrace, where they eventually fell drunkenly into bed, cuddling and talking until they fell asleep. When they awoke, they continued talking where they left off. Freddie made Jim tea, then they exchanged phone numbers. It was the start of their relationship that lasted until Freddie’s untimely death in November 1991.

Long before same-sex marriage ceremonies, Freddie called Jim his husband and they exchanged rings. Freddie wore his until the day he died.

I met Jim a few times when I was producing a documentary on Freddie’s friendship with Kenny Everett in 2002. He was a charming, warm-hearted and genuinely kind man. Straightforward, down-to-earth, and instantly likable. It was easy to see why Freddie fell for him. Jim sadly died in 2010.

The following photographs give some idea of the great love Jim and Freddie had for each other. The pictures come mainly from Jim’s personal collection, many of which were included in his memoir about Freddie, Mercury and Me.
 
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The very first time Freddie Mercury took Jim Hutton to see his home Garden Lodge, 1985.
 
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Freddie and Jim at the start of their relationship.
 
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What Jim described as ‘sparring partners’ with Freddie on Queen’s ‘Magic’ tour 1986.
 
More photos of Jim and Freddie, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.01.2017
09:51 am
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Bruce Lee and Freddie Mercury are best friends forever on this bizarre Japanese Twitter account
09.12.2016
08:55 am
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As Boing Boing accurately points out, Bruce Lee and Freddie Mercury probably never have met. I think they might be right. I can’t find anywhere on the Internet where the two were actually friends. That’s why this bizzaro Japanese Twitter account is so inexplicably hilarious. It’s simply images of Bruce Lee and Freddie Mercury action figures having the ultimate bromance. Each tweet tells a different story involving the two. I don’t necessarily know why this exists, but it does, and it’s funny as hell.

Follow Atto Suekichiii on Twitter to fully comprehend what I’m talking about. It’s worth it.


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Tara McGinley
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09.12.2016
08:55 am
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Rock stars with their cats and dogs

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Cool pictures of musicians with their pet dogs and cats, which show how even the most self-obsessed, narcissistic Rock god has a smidgen of humanity to care about someone other than themselves. Though admittedly, Iggy Pop looks like he’s about to eat his pet dog.
 
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Patti Smith and stylist.
 
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This is not a doggy bag, Iggy.
 
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There’s a cat in there somewhere with Joey Ramone.
 
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Tupac Shakur and a future internet meme.
 
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Bjork and a kissing cousin.
 
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O Superdog: Laurie Anderson and friend.
 
More cats and dogs and musicians, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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03.27.2014
04:30 pm
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Freddie Mercury’s home videos
12.19.2013
06:54 pm
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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…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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12.19.2013
06:54 pm
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Freddie Mercury presents Queen’s first LP to a less than enthusiastic public
10.09.2013
12:17 pm
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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
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10.09.2013
12:17 pm
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Freddie Mercury Gorilla statue removed over copyright complaint
07.09.2013
01:16 pm
Topics:
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A Freddie Mercury Gorilla statue, which is part of a Norwich-based charity’s public art trail, had to be removed yesterday because Queen’s manager Jim Beach claimed (on behalf of the Freddie Mercury estate) that “the suit ‘worn’ by the gorilla breached copyright.”

The Freddie Mercury estate contacted Wild in Art, the company that supplied the gorilla glass-fibre canvases, according to director Charlie Langhorne.

snip~

“They just said that they own the copyright on the suit and asked us to change it,” Mr Langhorne said.

snip~

Martin Green of Break, one of two charities that will benefit from the auction of the gorillas once the exhibition is over, said: “It’s a disappointing position they have put us in.

Good news is the gorilla statue will be repainted by an artist and will be back on the streets later this week.

Update: Queen guitarist Brian May says he plans to “find out” why the Freddie Mercury estate complained.
 

 
Via BBC News

Posted by Tara McGinley
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07.09.2013
01:16 pm
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Freddie Mercury and David Bowie: Listen to the isolated vocal track for ‘Under Pressure’

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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
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06.05.2013
05:44 pm
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The Freddie Mercury Chicken Dhansak

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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 FreddieMercury.com, 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
Salt.

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
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02.26.2013
06:18 pm
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Freddie Mercury’s 1974 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce has been put up for sale

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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.
 
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Full details and more pix of Freddie’s Rolls, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.03.2013
10:50 am
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Hijabis sing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’: Though rock ‘n’ roll is banned in Iran, Queen is still king
08.19.2012
10:06 pm
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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.
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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08.19.2012
10:06 pm
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