Rhapsody in black

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

The Scotsman has a timely piece about the 40th anniversary of one of the most significant pieces of pop music of all time:

Why Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody endures 40 years on

It’s difficult to imagine Queen, one of the biggest-selling, most widely known bands ever, struggling with their career.

But, as drummer Roger Taylor recalls, in 1974, three albums in to their career, the band were broke and having problems with their manager, who wasn’t passing on any of the cash they were making.

“We felt like this was make or break, really,” he says, referring to fourth album A Night At The Opera. “This was a last big shot at it.”

Cue John Reid stepping in. He was Elton John’s manager at the time, and freed them of previous commitments to management and record labels, reassuring them they could do whatever they wanted.

“He said, ‘Go away and make the best record you’ve ever made and I will sort out the money side’,” says guitarist Brian May. “I seem to recall he put us on 30 quid a week instead of 20 – and we were made.”

Of course, there’s a little bit more to it than that. The album they went on to make, named after the Marx Brothers film, was indeed the best album of their career, while one of its songs, Bohemian Rhapsody, changed their lives, and popular music forever.

The song is 40 years old this week, although frontman Freddie Mercury had been working on it for much longer.

It seems like yesterday, I heard it for the first time, and remember seeing the video promotion. Wonderful music, and wonderful memories.

Read the whole piece, here.

Watch and listen to the track, here.

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Great turning points in musical history

The current issue (June 2013) of Q magazine, has an interview with my heroes, Sparks. It includes the following snippet of modern musical history:

Question: Is it true that in 1974 you approached Brian May to be your touring guitarist?

Russell Mael: It’s absolutely true. We met with him and it was a period where I assume he wasn’t sure where Queen was headed. I remember something about their American tour having not lived up to their expectations. We met with Brian and proposed he join Sparks and for a short spell it was being bandied about. But he obviously decided to stick with Queen.

Wow. What could have been? What would have been?

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