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…

Posted by Cherrybomb
12:56 pm
John Deacon of Queen gets his palm read by a Japanese fortune-teller in 1977
11:19 am

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
11:19 am
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
05:44 pm
Queen: Rarely seen promotional video for ‘Liar’, from 1973

Even back then, Freddie Mercury looked like a rock star.  Brian May, Roger Taylor and a young John Deacon looked as if they wanted to be rock stars. Almost forty years on, this video of Queen from 1973 is still impressive, and shows why they were so successful.

“Liar” was Queen’s second US single release in 1974, taken from their eponymous 1973 debut album release. Originally titled “Lover”, the song was written by Freddie Mercury in 1970, when he was still Farrokh Bulsara. The track was a favorite of Queen’s early live shows, is noted for its use of Hammond organ and its backing vocals from bass player Deacon.

This footage of Queen was shot at Brewer Street, along with a version of “Keep Yourself Alive” for promotional purposes in 1973, but a different version, shot at BBC studios, was used instead.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Freddie Mercury’s Gorgeous Banana Hair

LEGO Freddie Mercury

Bonus track “Keep Yourself Alive” from same video shoot, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
05:24 pm