Interview? .........Oh don't be ridiculous.

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Postby DELETED » Sat Mar 05, 2005 10:06 am


It was clear for all to see that Queen's Freddie Mercury wasn't in the best of health. His hair lacked the recent attention of heated curling tongs; a cold sore was erupting above his upper lip; and horror - seems he'd not been able to summon enough strength to apply Biba black nail polish to more than one hand.

Mercury was worried as the camera lens zoomed in on him. He beseeched us to "touch up the picture to remove the cold sore if you can."

I know it sounds like we're setting the guy up, but he takes it all in good heart. Why, last time we met he stated he was "gay as a daffodil" - and here he was, willingly holding a daffodil in hand, outside Buckingham Palace. He posed regally, shirt temporarily coming unhitched from his trousers, revealing a hairy chest.

The British tour sapped most of the Mercury energy. Bedridden with laryngitis when it finished, he had just a few free days to repair any mental or physical damage before Queen joined Mott The Hoople on their two-month tour of America.

He is, in short pretty knackered - and if the American tour seems to be happening too soon after Britain, there's no way he can change things.

I'd like a couple of weeks off, but you've got to push yourself. But we're at a stage in our careers, my dear, where it's just got to be done. I shall be resting on my laurels soon…"

He stops, considers the last remark and realises he may have said the wrong thing. Hurriedly he comes in with, "To put it another way, I shall try and reap my profits. I've worked my ass off these past few months. I've worked till I've dropped and after a while you physically can't do it."

Didn't he think the British tour was a bit too busy, what with so many gigs included. "Yes it was a heavy tour, but it put us in a different bracket overnight. It's a tour we had to do and I think now we've done it we can do the next British tour on our own terms, exactly how we like.

"With this tour we were booked in well beforehand at semi-big venues and, by the time we came to doing them, we had the album out, we'd got a bit of TV exposure and everything escalated. I think if we'd waited we could have done all the big venues - it's just a matter of timing. But I'm glad we did the tour when we did. Even though there was a lot of physical and mental strain - so many things to worry about other than the music."

A situation not improved by the fact that all members of Queen are, according to Mercury, "very highly strung". Add to that his admitted bad temper. "I'm very emotional. Whereas before, I was given time to make my decisions, now nearly all of us are so highly strung we just snap. We always argue but I think it's a healthy sign because we get to the root of the matter and squeeze the best out. But lately so much is happening, it's escalating so fast that everybody wants to know almost instantly, and I certainly get very temperamental."

"You've got to know where to draw the line. But the public always come first - it's a corny thing to say but I mean it. Lately I've been throwing things around which is very unlike me. I threw a glass at someone the other day. I think I'm going to go mad in a few years time; I'm going to be one of those insane musicians."

It's at this point that I begin to wonder about Mercury. On stage he lords it around like some old slag. Offstage, he's vain, camp - yet a nice enough dude.

He just has an unfortunate way with him during interviews, coming out with quotes and stories that are bound to be misconstrued or lay him wide open to mickey-taking. This could well account for some of the unkind press the band have received.

"I think, to an extent, we are a sitting target because we gained popularity quicker than most bands and we've been talked about more than any other band in the last month, so it's inevitable. Briefly, I'd be the first one to accept fair criticism. I think it would be wrong if all we got were good reviews - but it's when you get unfair, dishonest reviews where people haven't done their homework that I get annoyed." Unlike many British bands, they've waited until the time was right and are appearing on the same bill as Mott, who will assuredly pull in large crowds.

So the present and the future seem well assured I enquire about the past - like, what kind of family background does a guy like Mercury have?

"Middle-class. Musicians aren't social rejects any more. If you mean; Have I got upper class parents who put a lot of money into me? Was I spoilt? - no. My parents were very strict. I wasn't the only one, I've got a sister, I was at boarding school for nine years so I didn't see my parents that often. That background helped me a lot because it taught me to fend for myself."

Boarding school… if we are to believe stories that circulate about boarding schools - brutish behaviour, homosexual goings-on - well, the mind positively boggles in Freddie Mercury's case.

I broach the subject…

"it's stupid to say there is no such thing in boarding schools. All the things they say about them are more or less true. All the bullying and everything else. I've had the odd schoolmaster chasing me. It didn't shock me because somehow boarding schools… you're not confronted by it, you are just slowly aware of it. It's going through life."

So was he the pretty boy who everyone wanted to lay?

"Funnily enough, yes. Anybody goes through that. I was considered the arch poof."

So how about being bent?

"You're a crafty cow. Let's put it this way, there were times when I was young and green. It's a thing schoolboys go through. I've had my share of schoolboy pranks. I'm not going to elaborate further."

Oh dear. And just when we were doing so well.

Postby DELETED » Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:17 am

Jim Ladd "Innerview" with Roger Taylor. Series 29. Show 9. 1984

Jim Ladd: Good evening everybody. Tonight we bring you yet another shy, polite and mild mannered Englishman. he's Queen's drummer by trade and for the second time he's off on a solo venture exploring strange frontiers. But I have to tell you, it wasn't easy getting our guest to open up. But, eventually the real Roger Taylor began to surface. England's music scene...

Roger Taylor: It's so fashion and trend conscious. It's definitely a case of this weeks thing, always, which is a bit depressing in a way because people tend to lose sight of what's actually good - that they're judgement and real objectivity on what is good, just disappears and it becomes submerged in what's this weeks thing. And that's why I think a lot of the things that are coming out are rubbish and very whimsical and they mean nothing really. I mean they do come out, but so many things come out and there's bound to be some good stuff, which is why so much new stuff does come out. I think very little of it sticks in the long run.

Jim Ladd: The English music press;

Roger Taylor: The English music press breeds a lot of paranoia in musicians actually. It's very difficult, it's almost impossible in England. In fact, I'd say it's impossible to be totally honest and just go out and do things there now. You have to be of what's this weeks thing and there's no way I'm going to be this weeks thing or Queen's going to be this weeks thing, because we've been successful now for twelve years or whatever. And it's impossible, so you have to go 'Hey screw them' I'm a musician and I want to say what i want to say.

Jim Ladd: Absolutely

Roger Taylor: After being this long in a band, you know and just reading stuff about yourself and how much stuff is misquoted or totally wrong or non-factual. I mean, at least you know what's right and what's wrong.

Jim Ladd: Yeah.

Roger Taylor: You can't believe the amount of stuff that is totally wrong, and a lot of what you read in the press simply isn't true, especially, I speak really for England because that's where I really know.

Jim Ladd: Aww come on now...

Roger Taylor: There's absolutely nothing that is absolutely right. They usually get the facts wrong or it's fabricated or whatever and it really is true.

Jim Ladd: And finally, our guest talked about his newest album "Strange Frontier".

Roger Taylor: I wanted to just say things that I felt strongly about and in an honest way, without trying to be too precious and people don't tend to say anything these days. They just seem to write songs for a market. I thought I don't need to do that because I don't need the money. And why don't I just say what i feel, and that's what I've tried to do.

Jim Ladd: Welcome to an Innerview with Roger Taylor of Queen.

Jim Ladd: For a second solo album "Strange Frontier", Roger Taylor has essentially assembled members of Queen to back him up. But for the most parts, Roger does it all himself. Which of course he plays the drums! But he also handles all the vocals and most of the guitar parts too.

Roger Taylor: The idea of "Strange Frontier" the whole title really, is supposed to be a point in time that we've supposed to have reached - that which is a point of self annihilation that we've never been capable of before, that's the idea. It's a part of 'temple frontier' really.

Jim Ladd: Have you ever been er, maybe in your youth or maybe are today, have you ever been involved in the 'No Nukes' movement?

Roger Taylor: Yeah, I'm involved in the English version, that's not called that, it's called the C.N.D. And I'm a member of it and I contribute and I believe what they're doing is right. And basically, a lot of the songs on this album are directly or undirectly about that.

Jim Ladd: Yes

Roger Taylor: Because I think that's the most important issue of the age, and that's what I wanted to write about.

Jim Ladd: I would like to quote some of the lines if you don't mind, because I think this one is particularly good. 'Freedom fighters come and go, bloody righteous and mentally slow'. Did you write that?

Roger Taylor: Yes (laughs)

Jim Ladd: That's a great line. It reminded me of some friends who are in the movement. Who are just too fanatical.

Roger Taylor: Yes it's the fanatics, exactly, that's the anti-fanatics, any fanatics. You know there's all these different causes that really don't amount. That really don't amount to anything. Because if there's one, you know, religious fanatics or whatever. There's the terrible need to become fanatical about something you know. This is the only path or something...

Jim Ladd: It's interesting, because we're also going through a big conservative time, both in your country and in here.

Roger Taylor: Yes, that's right.

Jim Ladd: Of conservative leadership and er... You know, I'll tell you something that's real scary or at least to me that's real hard for me to understand is erm... Someone who got into Rock & Roll in the 60's and has been on the radio almost ever since. I did a... rap thing the other night about Ronald Reagan and I got, mini phone calls from young people listening to Rock & Roll music. Who were offended that I would attack the President of these United States.

Roger Taylor: Hmmm...what a shame...

Jim Ladd: I was, I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe it!

Roger Taylor: There's a great new conservatism amongst young people that seems to be, and I can't understand it. Where's all the truth and er rebellious spirits gone?

Jim Ladd: Amen!

Roger Taylor: It seems that people, a lot of teens today are incredibly conservative.

Jim Ladd: Yes.

Roger Taylor: And I find that a bit disappointing , you know.

Jim Ladd: If you had to give percentages to if we're going to come through this alive, what would you say?

Roger Taylor: I'd say in the long run, no. Unless something is done about it. Who knows when this will happen? But I think it's inevitable, unless something is done about it. Unless there's some curb on the race, the arms movement, continued escalation, people, countries and nationalism etc. Seems it's basically aggressive.

Jim Ladd: So you think that we're just on erm, the road to ruin here?

Roger Taylor: Unless something's done about it, and I think things like the 'No Nukes' and the 'Greenpeace' people, I think they're doing fantastic things. They're very brave people. Unless other people have the courage to think clearly about it and what really counts in the world. Yeah, I think we're on the wrong path.

Jim Ladd: Our Innerview with Roger Taylor will continue in a moment, right after these messages.


Jim Ladd: I'm Jim Ladd. We're back now with Roger Taylor as the conversation turns to another track on his solo venture: Strange Frontier. Now "Beautiful Dreams" which I was listening to, what I got out of this was almost a song about going back to the children aspect...

Roger Taylor: Yeah, exactly, yes. It's a sort of, I dunno... It starts off as like an innocent dream like you have as children. Just nice, innocent uncoloured dreams. And then the second verse goes on to growing up a bit and of course...personal experience, going through some drug things and finding...

Jim Ladd: Chemical dreams?

Roger Taylor: Chemical dreams you know, and then the third verse is back to the nuclear nightmare dreams. I used to have a lot of these. if I used to have a bad dream, it was usually about being involved in a holocaust and trying to grab everybody I cared about and erm...

Jim Ladd: Literally, you used to have them like that?

Roger Taylor: Oh yeah, I used to regularly, and that's where that came from.

Jim Ladd: How old were you then?

Roger Taylor: Oh that's recently, it's been over the last ten years I should think.

Jim Ladd: Hmmmmm.......

Roger Taylor: Every so often, I'd have a horrible one like that.

Jim Ladd: The line in there which may have cut my ear about the chemical dreams. When I began to have chemical dreams, the reasons for them were much different to what they are now. They had to do with expanding ones consciousness.

Roger Taylor: Yeah, that's what people were told (sniggers).

Jim Ladd: It seems that that's completely non existent anymore and it's just getting high and party.

Roger Taylor: It's just to have a good time now, and it's a very different idea. I think it's a good point actually. I don't know why, but I think something like the dream, like John Lennon said 'The dream is over'. I mean he was referring to something else with The Beatles, but the dream is over. Everybody was sort of optimistic at that point and I think there was a sort of mass realization that, 'Oh we're never gonna change the world'. It's just not going to change like that, and it didn't and all the bad things came out of that like; Altermont and all that. Those things like Manson I suppose. So people realized and rejected that optimistic philosophy. I dunno, that's what I think anyway.

Jim Ladd: It's interesting because a lot of good things that have come out of that even during the 70's, which took the tend of form the committee - fill out the forms - make an organization for women's rights, or... I think all of that also came out of the 60's, but it took a long time to get the dull boring work to change the laws and all that stuff.

Roger Taylor: Yeah, I suppose that's the realistic method of change. You have to go through all that red tape and stuff.

Jim Ladd: Great, right, once you dream it - you've gotta do it.

Roger Taylor: Yeah, that's right and that's the hardest part isn't it?

Jim Ladd: Uh-huh.

Jim Ladd: The second half of this Innerview with Roger Taylor will continue, right after this break.


Jim Ladd: Are you going to tour with this, as a solo artist?

Roger Taylor: Erm, I'd like to, but it's a huge project to put together a band etc, etc... We have a big tour with Queen coming up in Europe and hopefully going onto everywhere else. So at the moment I can't. Possibly next year I might put something together if we get the time. But I've just heard that our English concerts have sold out within an hour. All of them, which is great news, so...

Jim Ladd: Good for you!

Roger Taylor: We're really looking forward to getting back on the stage, as it's been two years. The English concerts just went on sale this morning and I've just heard that they've all gone.

Jim Ladd: That's great.

Roger Taylor: That's...great, I'm really pleased.

Jim Ladd: I do hear from a lot of bands that have made it, that are from England. That when they make it in America, sometimes they're English audiences turn on them.

Roger Taylor: I think, yes, that has happened a lot. It's never happened to us, we've never lost our English audience, they've been incredibly loyal. I mean the ones that like us, and they've stuck with us for a long time, really.

Jim Ladd: Yes, you guys kind of been the exception to that rule.

Roger Taylor: Yeah, well let's face it, we've been incredibly lucky, we've had a wonderful career. I mean we can't complain about anything really. I know we moan a bit at times but it's been very good. We've been all around the world and we've had a great time.

Jim Ladd: The last Queen album that came out. A lot of people were kind of like '...ok, they're back...' you know.

Roger Taylor: Yeah (laughs)

Jim Ladd: And I think the reasons for that, at least in my perception of the band. Was because you were starting to say things, the songs had more meat to them. Was that part of your decision? I know you wrote "Radio Ga Ga" which every Jock in the world thanks you for.

Roger Taylor: (Laughs) They didn't thank me too much in the U.S.

Jim Ladd: Hey, I played the hell out of it.

Roger Taylor: Oh thanks a lot. It's a praise of radio really. A lot of people took it the wrong way. I think we were just trying to get back to what we felt people wanted of us and you have to make a living... We had an album "Hot Space", which we thought was a sort of step in a direction. I think it was a step in the wrong direction! It was, I thought, not one of our most enjoyable albums for me. And it's our least successful album ever I think.

Jim Ladd: What? The album before the last one?

Roger Taylor: Yeah, that was "Hot Space" yeah, but I mean with "The Works", we came a lot in the U.S. I think, and completely in Europe.

Jim Ladd: I want to ask you one more thing about "Radio Ga Ga", the video on that. Did you know that you looked exactly like Flash Gordon before you did this video or...?

Roger Taylor: (Laughs) No, hehe, it hadn't occurred to me actually. Ahem, yes it's strange, I enjoyed that video. I thought it was one of our better video's and was one of the best we've ever done. And was great to have the opportunity to work with the "Metropolis" footage, which had been a favourite of mine for years. I had a copy at home, and eventually we found out we had the chance to get our hands on some of the footage. So we tried to fit ourselves in. It's a sci-fi classic. it's directed by Fritz Lang, a German director who was inspired by his first visit to New York. it was made in 1926 believe it or not and it all came about from there.

Jim Ladd: I thought that was...I'm not acquainted with that one, but I loved those old movies and there was one called "Things To Come".

Roger Taylor: Yes, yes.

Jim Ladd: That's where I thought you've got it from.

Roger Taylor: No, actually "Metropolis" came out before "Things To Come".

Jim Ladd: Is that right?

Roger Taylor: Yeah, it's still a masterpiece. Giorgio Meoroder is bringing it out. he's re-releasing it and he's actually found footage which has never been seen. With a complete soundtrack and he's coloured certain scenes and that's being released pretty soon I think, and Freddie has a song on it.

Jim Ladd: So many of the stuff nowadays, maybe because of the media is young, is erm, pathetic.

Roger Taylor: What, videos?

Jim Ladd: Yeah, videos.

Roger Taylor: Yes, absolutely - I totally agree with you there. And you see so many visual clichés just being trotted out again and again, usually with nothing to do with the song. I mean there are some good videos...

Jim Ladd: Sure.

Roger Taylor: ...that help, but a lot of songs really don't need a visual accompaniment. But unfortunately we're in a sort of trap now, that if you release a single, you're almost forced by the market and rules of the business to make a video. And some of our videos have been good and some have been bad. But some of them haven't been necessary.


Jim Ladd: I love the song "Machines" on there, the one about the machines.

Roger Taylor: Oh great, I enjoyed that. I wrote that one with Brian in fact.

Jim Ladd: Great song.

Roger Taylor: It's a subject that's been much sort of tried, but I mean it's a sort of obvious thing. Brian wanted to make it a battle between the human side by using the real drums and guitars etc, and a totally synthetic side, the machines you know. The drum machines and the synthesizers and the Fairlights. So the thing is meant to be a battle between the two, with the idea of basically going back to humans.

Jim Ladd: What was it that got you guys off into disco-land, so far at the time?

Roger Taylor: I think really, looking back at what it was. It was...John's always been R & B orientated, our bass player. Who wrote "Another One Bites The Dust" which I never thought would be a hit, which turned out to be the biggest selling record of the year. And I think that was the song that catapulted us into taking that road. I think we went too far and did too much.

Jim Ladd: So it was John and not Freddie then?

Roger Taylor: Yeah, it was really John, yeah. But I think really that's what started us with that, and we went too far in that direction no doubt about it. Everybody in the band feels that way now.

Jim Ladd: That was amazing because I would never picked that song to be the hit that it was. it was played at football games...

Roger Taylor: Incredible. I tell you the guy that picked the song for the single was Michael Jackson. He came along to the Forum and er...

Jim Ladd: You mean THE?

Roger Taylor: The Los Angeles Forum, and after the show, he said because he liked the record and he liked a lot of our old songs as well. Why didn't you release it as the first one you know. We didn't think it would ever be a hit! Eventually we did release it and obviously, you know it was a hit.

Jim Ladd: You four guys as a band, have long surpassed this weeks thing because you've got the talent to do it. I mean that's what it comes down to me. Some of your stuff I love, some of your stuff I can't listen to...

Roger Taylor: Yeah, same here.

Jim Ladd: Yeah, but you can't deny, you gotta look beyond that because they're a lot of people who may love a song that I hate. But the talent of the musicians, the four of you, is undeniable.

Roger Taylor: Oh, thank you.

Jim Ladd: I mean, you can't be knocked on that level, right?

Roger Taylor: No, absolutely and I feel erm, yes I hope that will come out. I mean I don't like some of the things we've done, some of it I don't like at all. And some of it I'm proud of you know. But, at least we're still here, stronger than ever and still doing it, so it must prove something I'm not quite sure what.

Jim Ladd: You also still be interested in the quality of your work, again I'm not judging personal tastes here, but the records are always very quality, the music is quality, the production is at a point...
Roger Taylor: Yeah, but by this time if we haven't learnt how to make a decent record then we should have given up. But we have found that when we haven't tried so hard, it hasn't turned out so good. So you've got to bust you're whatever every time, you gotta really push yourself every time.

Jim Ladd: Yeah.

Roger Taylor: For success, it's difficult because there's people a lot younger than us now coming up every week. Almost a generation younger now!

Postby DELETED » Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:33 am

The Mercury that's rising in Rock is Freddie the satiny seductor of 'Queen'
PEOPLE December 5, 1977

The British are strong minded, out-spoken people who are ambivalent about very little except possibly the monarchy and sex. So it was inevitable that out of the rock rebellion would come a group with the exploitative impudence to crown themselves Queen.

"The whole point," says androgynous co-founder Freddie Mercury, "was to be pompous and provocative, to prompt speculation and controversy."

But that was seven long years ago, and now at a time of preternaturally primitive punks like the Sex Pistols, Queen has entered the Establishment, and Mercury has himself, at 31, emerged from the closet. The bloke, it turns out, is a mere heterosexual.

"If I told you," the King of Queen used to dissemble, "it would destroy the mystery." But this month, as the group launched an SRO, 22-city tour of the U.S., Freddie acknowledged there was a bird in hand. She is Mary Austin, 26, a former shop girl turned Mercury's bookkeeper/major domo and quiet live-in lovely for seven years. Mary admits to being "a bit puzzled" by her relationship with a simulated bisexual, but apologizes for him: "He's mentally all over the place." Physically it's the same - onstage anyway, as Freddie stretches to the frightening outer limits of both his spandex jumpsuits and good taste. Behind the outrageous costuming and choreography, however, the rock is diamond-hard and highbrow and, as on the new (and sixth straight gold) LP News Of The World, definitely for sophisticated fans who think Kiss is death. For that, at least, much of the credit owes to the rest of the quartet and, in the past, their meticulous, 4 1/2-month marathons in studio that left them, says Mercury, wasted like "zombies and mad professors." Queen is open to the latter label anyway. Mercury's band-mates among them hold degrees in biology, infrared astronomy and electronics. Yet they suppress any private resentment at playing in the swaggering shadow of a poseur-composer who is, by comparison, a musical illiterate.

"It's the natural thing with his being the singer," says drummer Roger Taylor, who does allow that Mercury lets "small annoyances build into violent rages: he'll throw bottles, glasses, mirrors." But the primadonnaism doesn't hurt the group's box office. "I imagine we come across as being cocky and arrogant," says Mercury, using the queenly "we". "But that's not condescending - it's theatre." Mercury's own background, the most exotic (unless Bianca Jagger retired the adjective) in rock, is pure Kipling. Of Persian parentage, he was born Frederick Bulsara in Zanzibar where his accountant dad served with the British Colonial Office. Freddie was shipped off to a boarding school near Bombay at 7, where, besides being the school's star jock, he first began to pound at a keyboard with a group called Hectics. By age of 18, he was off to London's Ealing College of Art an into illustrating, but Mercury quickly found his "mind wasn't on it." So after trying out a number of groups, he helped discover Queen. "Nobody took him seriously," says Taylor, though they admired how "he just forced himself to learn." Never having had a singing lesson, Freddie has the rawest vocal-cord nodules this side of Stevie Nicks. To spare him and get the tour on the road, the group zipped through the current LP in half the usual time, leaving Mercury free for tennis and for "getting a buzz by outbidding dealers at Sotheby's" art auctions, where he finds the Oriental antiques that fill his London maisonette. Last summer he also had the time for another buzz he is phobic about - the dentist's drill, which he had avoided for 15 straight years. Remarkably, he had only one cavity but a serious gum problem. "I'm not worried about the look," he says, "but only whether they're going to fall out." Would he settle down with Mary should he lose his snaggle toothed charm? "I'm not the marrying type," says Freddie. "But maybe later," he adds, "when I've burnt up enough energy. That is not yet. Queen's new single anthem is We Are The Champions, but Mercury concedes, "We're still grasping and have a lot more to do musically." He keeps his own future options open: There's the business side or a possible solo career. "I won't be parading around for more than another few years," says the singer-pianist who can't sight-read. "I'll just play it by ear."

Postby DELETED » Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:02 am

Roger Taylor
TFI FRIDAY Friday 9 October 1998

CHRIS EVANS: What's your name, pal?

BILLY HUNT: Billy Hunt.

CE: Now Billy why are you here today?

BH: Because on your radio station I rang up to see whether I could play on your show.

CE: Yeah and you played the guitar down the telephone this morning.

BH: Yeah.

CE: And you played the ding dinga ding ding ding so well that I said "Come and play it tonight". So you took the day off school, and you've been here all day and when Roger Taylor from Queen, right, comes on, you're gonna do the thing.

BH: Yeah

CE: Are you rockin and rollin?

BH: Yeah

CE: Are you nervous?

BH: Yeah

CE: So am I (audience laughter) - that doesn't often happen. See how he does now - cummon let's get behind him. This is for Billy Boy, Billy Boy - 11 years old.

Plays guitar intro.

CE: Please welcome Roger Taylor!!!!! (clapping, cheering)

CE: Hi Rog - welcome to the show. Meet Billy, Roger.

ROGER TAYLOR: Well played.

CE: That was very good Billy. (more cheering) Do you wanna carry on for a bit, or…. No - you gotta go actually, we're over time (audience:: oh) but thanks a lot though. Thanks that was brilliant, well done my friend. So Rog, its nice to see the kids do the thing, isn't it.

RT: Absolutely, yeah.

CE: When did you start, you started early, didn't you?

RT: Yeah. I don't think he remembers, us starting, no.

CE: When did you actually start?

RT: What, playing?

CE: Yeah, just playing instruments.

RT: Er I don't know, I suppose I started drums about 12, but I sort of tried to play the ukulele at about 8 or something.

CE: That was your first instrument - the ukulele?

RT: Sort of.

CE: If only we had a ukulele here tonight - Roger laughs - and we have. Can you give us a burst on it - can you still do it?

RT: Well you see this - my own technique, which didn't involve knowing what chords were.

CE: Alright.

RT: So I used to…….(plinks away a little tune) - not too much in tune. That's it!! (audience laughter)

CE: And you too could be a rock star. (laughter)

RT: Takes that much talent.

CE: So you are a rock star, aren't you?

RT: Oh not really - no.

CE: Yes you are - you're a world-wide rock star. What's it like?

RT: (laughs) I thought the easy ones were gonna come later - on it was difficult. I don't know how to answer that really - I'm just a musician.

CE: Okay - let's put you in the mood - let's look at Roger being a rock star - a proper rock star...

Film/audio Extracts: Another One Bites The Dust, Killer Queen, Hard Life, Break Free, It's a Kind Of Magic. (Cheering, clapping)

CE: Which was, which was your favourite look, out of all the looks over the years?

RT: I like the one washing the dishes!!

CE: Yeah - you like that one - and what kind of ticket does it buy you, being a rock star?

RT: Um (laughs) - a ticket?

CE: Yeah

RT: Um - I don't know - it's just, its a good living - we scraped by.

CE: I mean - what's the best bit? Is it the work? Is it the life? Is it the girls? Is it the cars? Is it the houses? What is it?

RT: All of that!

CE: Yeah? (laughter) And out of all of you - who was it rocked it up most? Cos I think it's a toss between you and Freddie

RT: I think you're probably right - we were the absolute shockers.

CE: Yeah

RT: And er, but I think we went in sort of slightly different ways (laughter). But, er, we'd usually meet at the end of the evening. (more laughter).

CE: Okay - I know what you're saying, er, let, let, well I don't know what you say, but I can guess. Let's, let's, let's ask you are these true - some facts about you - I've been reading all the stuff all week? You were the first major rock group to tour South America and the response was tremendous, but your single Under Pressure was Number 1 in Argentina throughout the Falklands War?

RT: I think that's right actually. We'd just come back from there you see, and they started the war conveniently the week after.

CE: After you, you came back.

RT: Yeah. It was very good of them.

CE: You didn't have anything to do with starting it, I hope, did you?

RT: (laughs) Probably didn't help.

CE: Uhm - what's this about er, your parties? Queen's parties were notorious. True or False? Stories of strippers?

RT: (intake of breath)

CE: Yes. Okay. Transvestites?

RT: Ohrrh - yea.

CE: Now what - snake charmers? At your parties?

RT: Yeah

CE: Okay. (whispers something "****ers")

RT: N'yeah

CE: Okay - alright then

RT: And does it say about the man who used to move under meat for a living?

CE: Move under meat?

RT: Yeah - he used ..

CE: No it doesn't.

RT: Well - never mind then.

CE: Okay alright then. What does that mean? And at one photo shoot 60 women riding naked on bicycles around Wimbledon?

RT: Um - yeah.

CE: All that's true?

RT: Yeah, yeah. Well I actually wasn't there at that one - that's to my great regret, Um.

CE: Is life dull now then or do you still do, you know, get up to mischief?

RT: Nah - I dunno about that, bit old for that, but um no life's very full.

CE: Yeah

RT: Very enjoyable.

CE: I went to your house recently - thank you very much for inviting me - and I said "What's the most fun you've had here?" and you said "I can't tell ya." (laughter)

RT: I'm certainly not going to now then. (laughing)

CE: Was it to do with - was it cos its private or cos its sexual, or illegal?

RT: Probably.

CE: All those things.

RT: Yup.

CE: And at your house, yeah, you have your recording studio.

RT: Yes I do.

CE: And what, and and, is that where the Queen songs were recorded?

RT: Er - no - actually we recorded some of the last thing there - the Made In Heaven album. Some of that was done there. Um but it was built mainly after Freddie's er death, so, er, we we used to record anywhere really, anywhere we found handy or we liked the look of, you know.

CE: To be a real rock star, is it true that you have nearly have blown it - or have blown it?

RT: I hate that phrase "rock star".

CE: I know…well

RT: Well you gotta be on the edge of sort of really being pathetic all the time - yeah.

CE: What what's the closest you, you came to it?

RT: Oh - just the usual pitfalls I think - you know you fall into the er all those usual dangers that some people just go over the edge and can't get back and …

CE: Was there ever a time you thought maybe I've gone too far this time, I don't know any way back here.

RT: Most mornings, actually.

CE: Fantastic. So who's the best rock star you've ever met - was Freddie the best do you think?

RT: Well, I'm a bit biased, I mean - yeah, I mean I loved him dearly, but uh - I'd say one of the most impressive people is probably David Bowie actually.

CE: Is he good at it?

RT: Yeah. He's good.

CE: Good at the life. Can do it.

RT: Yeah, he's good. ……………..

CE: Doesn't phase him.

RT: Makes you sick, actually.

CE: No er -Queen weren't a bad band were they, really?

RT: I think we were, we were okay.

CE: Yeah. And er….

RT: Barmitsvahs

CE: ..obviously, you know, you're renowned as the drummer in Queen. If you could've been the drummer in the Beatles or the Stones -

RT: Ah!!

CE: ..which one would you have chosen?

RT: Well, I mean, the obvious thing to say is the Stones, but I think the Beatles recorded legacy is is just so much, so impressive - even the Stones wouldn't touch that - although they're a great live act - you know.

CE: And when you were together with the band I heard there were many rows. Is that true? Is that a fact?

RT: Yeah yeah - I think I think that's an important part of being a band you know.

CE: Having really big rows. Were they fist fights, fights?

RT: Well almost - yeah - I mean tension sort of made all the best stuff, came out of tension.

CE: And who were the main protagonists? Who were the big fighters? Was it you and Fred - cos I can't imagine Brian May getting his…

RT: You'd be surprised. (audience laughter)

CE: Well I would be surprised. I mean, I mean, who had the tantrums - was it you and Fred?

RT: Well we had the tantrums but Brian fought a good war of attrition.

CE: Yeah. Just broke you down - grinded you down.

RT: No, oh no.

CE: And what was the biggest misconception about Queen?

RT: Um

CE: If there was one.

RT: Yeah I really don't know actually - no - I couldn't answer that.

CE: What was the best moment?

RT: Best moment - well one of the best moments was definitely Live Aid, I think, and er, the stuff in South America sticks out, yeah.

CE: (to audience) Would you say they were number one band on Live Aid - I would have said that, wouldn't you?


CE: Completely. And er as far um as your music now is concerned, you've got this song called "Nation Of Haircuts", which I've seen you do. (Roger laughs) Now just give us some of the lyrics out of "Nation Of Haircuts".

RT: Ere - oh dear - what's that - "We don't make ships and we don't make cars."

CE: Yeah

RT: "We look real good hanging out in bars."

CE: Yeah. So what I'm worried about - you've seen the show and it's the Nation of Haircuts is about the people in the bar here every Friday. (laughter)

RT: Not this bar. There's a bar down in Notting Hill Gate….. No… (laughs)

CE: Are we that bad, do you think? Have we become a Nation of Haircuts?

RT: I think we've been in danger for about 30 years.

CE: (laughing) That's what the song says.

RT: It, it's a very light light observ…. sort of amusing observation.

CE: And you sang it with a gnarl when I saw you sing it.

(Demonstrates "HAIRCUTS")

RT: Oh dear, did I mean it.

CE: Look, look - Freddie's watching tonight.

RT: Yeah - maybe. I feel he's always there somewhere actually.

CE: Yeah, yeah. What would you say to him?

RT: I'd say "Whaddya think?"

CE: Yeah. Alright. Who will he be hanging out with?

RT: Uh, God, I know who he'd like to be hanging out with?

CE: Who?

RT: He'd like to be hanging out with Jimi and er - yeah - no the others aren't dead yet. Um - (audience laughter).

CE: Jimi Hendrix

RT: Yeah I think Jimi Hendrix and er John Lennon I think.

CE: So there'll be some band they've got going up there.

RT: Yes there would actually, wouldn't there.

CE: Okay. Do you want to fall down the stairs?

RT: I just, I was just waiting for you to ask.

CE: Okay er Roger Taylor's gonna fall down the stairs. (Applause)

(RT goes off and closes door - lots of loud thumping. Comes back in with glasses askew) (Audience: Laugher "Hooray")

CE: It's not as easy as it looks, is it Rog?

RT: Easy

CE: Something very special's … for now - you wrote the song "Radio Gaga"?

RT: Yeah yeah.

CE: Okay - Roger wrote "Radio Ga Ga". He's now gonna sing "Radio Ga Ga", folks. (Cheering)

CE: "Radio Ga Ga" - a special treat!!!

(Band strikes up and RT makes his way downstairs to the stage. Sings "Radio Ga Ga". Huge cheering)

CE: Oh. Oh - so good - One more time……

(Encore) More huge cheering.

CE: Enough, cool - and we'll be horing - hearing, hearing not horing, we'll never whore, we might hear, no we'll be horing as well - what the heck - we're gonna be horing and hearing (laughter) hearing and horing but not snoring, that's for sure, from Roger later on in the show. Now…………

But now with another rocking time please welcome- see you in a bit Sam - please welcome back Roger Taylor, from his brand new album here we are "No More Fun" - Mr Roger Taylor. He's very good - cummon …………

(Clapping, cheering - band strikes up )

(RT sings "No More Fun" - live.)

Postby Loretta » Tue Mar 08, 2005 11:39 am

fairydandy wrote:
He posed regally, shirt temporarily coming unhitched from his trousers, revealing a hairy chest.

Is it just me, or is there something anatomically odd about that statement? :lol:
User avatar
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Postby DELETED » Wed Mar 09, 2005 2:58 pm

Friller! – Queen get into fancy dress to make an over-the-top video

The first girl past out at about 11pm. As she was carried over the crowd towards the fresh air, one white foot trailing over an arm, director Tim Pope shouted: "Where’s the Virgin?"

"She’s what? Oh Christ. I suppose I might as well go home, too……"

Outside, seventeen year old schoolgirl Tania Fuss was recovering and worrying that her white brocade gown might be dirty.

The strain of a day that had started sixteen hours earlier showed even through the white greasepaint and glitter, set with sticky hairspray that covered her face and body.


The temperature in the studio must have been well over 100 degrees. But when Queen make a video they really go to town.

No expense- and no one – is spared

The video for their aptly titled ‘It’s A Hard Life’ was shot over two gruelling days in Munich, South Germany, where Freddie Mercury is recording his own solo album.

"It’s what you might call a typical Queen production," Says drummer Roger Taylor, loosening the ruff on his black and white Elizabethan costume. "If it’s worth doing it’s worth OVERDOING."

Guitarist Brian May feels somewhat foolish in his black and gold Tudor get-up, while the flamboyant Freddie flounces around his arms around the other two stars of the show.

These are a German friend called Kurt, who is plastered in make-up and looking rather fetching in a ballerina’s black tutu, and the overblown Barbara Valentin-A sort of German Diana Dors.

"I find it pretty depressing," says Brian quietly. "It’s not rock ‘n’ roll it’s not glamorous. If you’re honest, it’s just like being an extra in Ben Hur."

It is hard to imagine two more different characters. Freddie is arrogant and flashy, with a string of nervy-looking aides ready to jump whenever he snaps his fingers.


Brian, in contrast, is content to sit outside on his own, drinking beer.

Quiet and charming, he says the variety of characters within the group are what keep it going after 10 years, even if does sometimes erupt in fireworks.

"A band is like a marriage" he says. "There are wonderful moments, great communication and energy. But at the same time there are points when you want to destroy each other."

Apart from the new single to be released later this month, Queen are planning a major tour in the autumn, beginning with six weeks of dates around Europe.

Like the other members of Queen -Freddie, Roger and John Deacon – Brian need never make another record.

But he chooses to keep working, even though it separates him his wife and two children, Jim, six and Louisa, three.

"My family are the best part of my life," he says. " It doesn’t mean anything in my house how famous I am, how rich I am. All the problems always get left on the doorstep"

Camera crew, technicians, make-up artists and extras and extras mill around the vast studio, waiting for their cues.

"It’s amazing to watch these things come together," says Michael Baldwin, who designed Freddie’s elaborate scarlet costume decorated with plastic "eyeballs" and ostrich feathers.

"I flew over, had three costumes and a wig made up for Freddie in London, hunted out 30 more for the extras and the band flew back again all in the space of three days."

The set was designed and built in two days. Then artists Robin Beers and Richard Watkinson painted for 69 hours, turning the plain chipboard walls into a medieval banquet hall, complete with marble pillars, balcony and golden trelliswork. Queen’s last video cost £120,000 and this one is bound to cost more – for about 4 minutes of film.

It seems wildly extravagant. But with a band who make as much money as Queen – each member earns more than £1Million per year - £120,000 might as well be 75p.

The call comes for another shot. Freddie appears howling with laughter in a Mae West blue sequined evening dress with a wide-brimmed hat and a feather boa.

Everyone shifts about uneasily, then they laugh, too.


Chief make-up artist Carolyn Cowan drops her kit on to a chair with a sigh of relief. Evening is coming on and the place is cooling down.

The heat makes the greasepaint run and she’s lost count of how many times she’s had to touch up the faces.

"It’s not that bad," she says with a smile . "We all end up with sore feet and headaches but the end result makes it all worth it. These are the best jobs for all of us to do. Basically It’s people paying you to go mad!"

Postby DELETED » Thu Mar 10, 2005 2:12 pm

(Record Collector- January 1996)

Many of this year's anniversaries - Lennon, Hendrix, Joplin - are commemorative, so it's a relief to learn that 1990 can also give us something to celebrate, as it marks Queen's 20th year in music business. With the band currently working on their untitled 17th LP, we must assume that the enormous party thrown when they won the 'Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music' at this year's BRITS ceremony is the nearest they'll get to a formal recognition of the anniversary. We've decided to pay our own tribute by continuing our look at the band's live work; this examination of Queen live in the 1980s follows on from where we left off in issue 118, which covered the '70s concerts.

1980 kicked off on a high note with a huge tour, two hit albums in the space of six months, and a fine run of four hit singles in Britain alone. But all this was overshadowed by the impact the band was making in the States, with two No. 1 singles and a chart-topping album in "The Game": a wave of success that repeated itself in Canada, Israel, Europe and South America.

"The Game" tour began in North America with Queen performing numbers from the album alongside the usual mix of hits and classics. These gigs were the first to feature the huge 'Star Wars'-style lighting rig, and a similar show was captured on 1984's "We Will Rock You" video, now available at budget price. Noticeable absentees on this officially-sanctioned videotape were "Rock It", "Need Your Loving Tonight", "Mustapha", "Jailhouse Rock" and the raunchy "Fat Bottomed Girls".

By the time the tour arrived in Europe, Queen were about to release their "Flash Gordon" soundtrack, and so "Flash" and "The Hero" were added to the set. The British shows during December found the band in sparkling form and the set varied each night. On one notable night, 9th December, the group played "Imagine" as a special tribute to John Lennon who'd been tragically slain the day before. Tapes of this tour are not too easy to come by, but they're well worth seeking out.

Tour highlights included the piano version of "Play The Game", featuring a glorious guitar break from Brian May, but it was the newer songs which gave real sparkle to the shows. "Save Me" was transformed in concert with Brian switching to piano, leaving Freddie Mercury free to turn in a fine vocal performance; "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", with Freddie on 12-string acoustic, Brian on Fender and Fred Mandel sitting in on piano, was given a heavier, looser treatment; and fans were treated to live renditions of "Another One Bites The Dust", "Need Your Loving Tonight" and "Dragon Attack" for the first time in Britain.

After the European dates Queen relaxed until the next leg took them to Japan in February 1981. Tapes of these shows are virtually non-existent but there is a Japanese picture book, "The Miracle", which documents the tour. The set was virtually identical to the British shows with the exception that "Rock It" was added and "Somebody To Love" - absent from the U.K. dates - reappeared in the opening medley. Spring 1981 saw Queen achieve a major first by touring South America. In addition to the millions who packed out the continent's huge stadiums can be counted the regulars at the annual Queen Convention where several of these shows have been screened. The set was practically identical to the Japanese repertoire and captured well on tapes like "Rocking The Falklands", and on the "Magic Years" and "Rare Live" video releases.

The band played three dates at the end of 1981 in Montreal in order to shoot the "We Will Rock You" video, which isn't wholly indicative of the live peaks attained by the group elsewhere. That said, the video captures the band in the process of change, with "Under Pressure" and a reworking of old favourite "Keep Yourself Alive" both indicative of a funkier approach. The release of "Hot Space" and its first single, "Body Language", in early summer 1982 provoked controversy because of the apparent shift towards a more disco- or at least funk-based sound. Some stunning shows during that year's tour soon silenced the knockers' hasty, ill-informed judgements, though. Kicking off in Europe, the live shows included just four songs from the latest LP, one of which, "Action This Day", was much faster and heavier than the album version with Freddie pulling out all the stops.

The British dates were particularly memorable, Brian May actually citing the Leeds date as one of the band's finest ever. That night, the band played a blistering "Get Down Make Love", "Play The Game" and "Somebody To Love", with only "Staying Power" retaining a funk edge. On this occasion the encores included a beefed-up "Another One Bites The Dust" and a frantic "Sheer Heart Attack" before the usual show closers, "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions". The Milton Keynes gig was filmed by Channel 4 and broadcast in January 1983. Since then, excerpts from it have appeared on "Rare Live", though the show certainly deserves an official release in its entirety. There are some excellent stereo tapes in circulation from this tour, including some of the European shows - Zurich, Vienna (which was filmed) and Frankfurt (broadcast on German TV). One sad note: the "Hot Space" tour did not find room for Roger Taylor's "I'm In Love With My Car" or, more surprisingly, "Killer Queen".

After a short break the tour reconvened in North America where Queen unveiled a totally reconstituted set list. Both the big hit "Body Language" and the follow-up "Calling All Girls" were added, along with "Put Out The Fire", apparently a highlight in many of these shows. "Rock It" was also reinstated and placed early on in the set. Tapes from these dates are fairly rare but an excellent U.S. radio broadcast was issued as a three-disc radio promo set and commands a high price when it makes a rare appearance on the market. Fans will find that recordings from the final leg of the tour, in Japan, are easier to locate; there was also a Japan-only official video release of the Osaka show. Tapes of these Japanese concert are highly recommended for the great versions of "Teo Torriatte" (with Brian May on piano), "Action This Day" and "Calling All Girls" they contain. At one show, Freddie performed a wonderful solo rendition of "Spread Your Wings" on piano, ruined only when he forgot some of the lyrics! The tour ended in November, marking a watershed in the band's career: they've not returned to the U.S. since, and their tour schedules have become noticably shorter.

Queen sat back during 1983, even cancelling a return visit to South America, before breaking the silence by appearing at the San Remo festival in Italy the following year. A full European tour followed in late summer, lasting - with breaks - well into 1985. The huge success of "The Works" LP and a total of four hit singles meant that the dates were quickly old out. Some forty songs were rehearsed, and for the first time in nearly five years, Queen revived songs from their early years, old favourites like "Liar", "The Seven Seas Of Rhye", "Stone Cold Crazy" and "Great King Rat". The set opened with "Machines" before steam-rolling through "Tear It Up", "Tie Your Mother Down" and a surprisingly short "Under Pressure". Dropping many songs from "The Game" and "Hot Space", the new set was instead built around new material like "It's A Hard Life" plus old favourites "Killer Queen", Now I'm Here", "Somebody To Love", and of course "Bohemian Rhapsody".

Nothing was on offer from the "Jazz" album and only "Staying Power" remained from "Hot Space". There was a truly fine "Hammer To Fall" on which May was joined by Spike Edney playing additional guitar and keyboards. The shows closed with the remarkable "Radio Ga Ga" (complete with mass audience participation) before the band returned for a camp "I Want To Break Free", an electrifying "Jailhouse Rock", and the traditional finale of "We Will Rock You"/"We Are The Champions". At several British concerts Queen added "Saturday Night's Alright", and at the September 5th show, Freddie sang an impromptu "Not Fade Away" before launching into "Crazy Little Thing Called Love". The U.K. dates were recorded by the band but not released: however, there are some superb stereo tapes in circulation dating from this time. "The Works" tour next moved to South Africa, which seemed to many observer a completely irresponsible thing to do. Queen paid heavily for their insensitivity with a huge fine and the threat of expulsion from the Musicians Union. The tour itself was far from successful with Freddie developing throat trouble and several dates having to be cancelled. Nevertheless, the accusations aimed at Queen by the press, who felt they were breaking the boycott for financial or even racist reasons, were unfair. Many of the band's songs deal with freedom - "White Man", "I Want To Break Free" and "Is This The World We Created?" - and the chief motivation seems to have been the naive belief that change could be brought about through music.

Having stopped off in Munich to record "Thank God It's Christmas", Queen took the world stage yet again in January 1985, headlining both nights at the massive Rock In Rio festival in Argentina. With Brian suffering with flu and Freddie still full of Xmas puddings, the band were clearly not on top form, as evidenced on the video release. But if you want to catch Freddie forgetting his words on "It' A Hard Life", "Live In Rio" (issued in 1985) is the place to go. After the festival Queen returned to the U.K., Freddie to finish off his solo album, the group to rehearse for the forthcoming tour of Japan and Australia. They had found their form again by the time the Japanese dates were filmed, performing "The Works" set in all its glory. The unofficial film in circulation also captures excellent versions of "Tie Your Mother Down", "Under Pressure" and "Another One Bites The Dust"; while a good stereo tape recording, "Live In Tokyo", comes highly recommended. The Australian dates - the band' first there in nine years - were filmed by the local television network, and an excerpt of "Radio Ga Ga" featured on the second volume of the three-video "Magic Years" series.

Queen returned to Britain after the Far East tour intending to take a breather. May saw Freddie's solo album charting well, while his second solo single, "I Was Born To Love You", reached No. 11. The resting period was cut short when the band announced their intention to appear at the Live Aid concert in July. To prepare, they rehearsed solidly for three weeks in order to condense the set into just 20 minutes. With no soundcheck and on a bare stage, Queen's performance became an instant legend; and sales of "Greatest Hits" rocketed. More than that, the appearance seemed to revitalise the group and they quickly re-entered the studio to record the "One Vision" single and,
later, the "A Kind Of Magic" LP.

The disc went straight to No. 1 in Britain and a major European tour was announced for the summer, again taking in Wembley Stadium. These shows were on a massive scale, the stage set was huge, and the music drawn from all parts of their career: but there were big surprises with some strange omissions from the set list. The shows began with "One Vision", followed by "Tie Your Mother Down" and a superb reworking of "Lap Of The Gods (Revisited)", kicking off a medley of "The Seven Seas Of Rhye", "Tear It Up" and a stunning "A Kind Of Magic". "Under Pressure" followed, then a brilliant version of "Who Wants To Live Forever" (criminally left off the "Live Magic" LP), with Freddie's vocals soaring majestically. The pace was varied with "Another One Bites The Dust", a drastically remodelled version with a great driving rhythm supplied by John Deacon and Roger Taylor. Next up was an intriguing jazz instrumental featuring Freddie on piano and some delicate guitar-work from May. Sadly, this was not featured on either the live album or the official video release.

An old stage favourite, "Now I'm Here", was revamped becoming much harder and faster than the version on "Live Killers": Brian's guitar break was longer and the lighting rig was used to great effect. Leading into "Brighton Rock", the band then played a surprisingly extended acoustic set with "Is This The World We Created?" and "Love Of My Live", followed by a string of 50s and 60s songs like "Hello Mary Lou" and "Tutti Frutti", to which they added an electric ending best captured on the "Live In Budapest" video. The Wembley dates were filmed by Channel 4 and broadcast on TV and stereo radio later in the year as "Real Magic". "Bohemian Rhapsody" still retained the tape segment and "I Want To Break Free" was now a sing-along number with the crowd supplying the chorus and the verses sung by Freddie. This is featured in edited form on "Live Magic". The shows ended in great style with a glorious "Hammer To Fall" (with Brian May letting rip), and an extended "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", mysteriously left off "Live Magic". The band returned to encore with "Radio Ga Ga", prefacing this with "Hey Big Spender" at the second Wembley show. A second encore featured the slow version of "We Will Rock You", while "Friends Will Be Friends" led into the closing "We Are The Champions".

While covering all aspects of Queen's career, the omission of songs like "Somebody To Love", "Save Me", "Play The Game", "It's A Hard Life", much of the hugely successful "A Kind Of Magic" LP and all of the "Queen" debut, was felt. The long acoustic set was fun but seemed out of place in what has turned out to be the band's last tour of Britain and Europe in the 1980s. The release of the heavily edited "Live Magic" proved pretty pointless, as both the official video "Live In Budapest" (1987) and "Real Magic" broadcast were more complete as tour documents. The "Live Magic" CD is marginally longer than the vinyl release, but still no substitute for the full, unedited concert.

The 'Magic' tour ended at Knebworth on August 18th before a crowd over 150,000. Tapes of these shows are worth seeking out for Brian May' performance alone - possibly his best-ever show - where he attacked his cherry red guitar, wrenching out some truly amazing effects. It was an amazing show, but was sadly marred by the violence of a few, and the tragic death of one fan. This was particularly out-of-character because Queen concerts are generally extremely good-natured affairs.

Knebworth proved to be the final Queen show of the decade. It was not till May 1989 that they returned with the brilliantly stylish "The Miracle" album which soon became a huge worldwide
hit. Despite this success, Queen are unlikely to tour in the near future, as Freddie has maintained his resolution not to appear live against the wishes of the rest of the band.

1987 saw the formation of Roger Taylor's band the Cross, featuring Spike Edney on keyboards. This outfit released its first single, "Cowboys And Indians", on Virgin in October, and made its live debut at Thames Television studios for the "Meltdown" show. They played a superb set lasting an hour, showcasing songs from the forthcoming "Shove It" album, and with Roger handling the vocals with great style. Particularly good were "Strange Frontier" and the marvellous encore of "I'm In Love With My Car".

The show was broadcast that December and, while the omission of "Strange Frontier" was inexcusable, for a debut show was damn near perfect! "Shove It" appeared in 1988 and the group supported both album and single with a tour of Britain's smaller venues. The set of classic heavy rock also drew from Roger's pair of under-rated solo albums as well as the new Cross album. Alongside "Love Lies Bleeding", "Cowboys And Indians" and "Heaven For Everyone" (with Roger confidently handling Freddie's lines) were the show's highlights, a fierce "Man On Fire" (with some tremendous drumming by Joshua and a great vocal from Roger), "Strange Frontier" and "Laugh Or Cry" from "Fun In Space", featuring some fine acoustic guitar playing by Clayton.

Later shows saw the Cross visibly growing confidence and adding a great version of "It's An Illusion" to the wet. Meanwhile, many of the songs from "Shove It" were being transformed: "Love On A Tightrope" became a real showstopper, "Shove It" a powerhouse song. The shows climaxed with some raw vocals from Clayton on "Manipulator" before the group's version of "I'm In Love With My Car". The final British date at the Town & Country Club, London, saw one of the finest performances, and tapes of this show are well worth locating. The group then went on to Germany taking with them a sizeable number of their British fans.

A historic event took place in December 1988 when Queen fans gathered at London's Hammersmith Palais for a special Christmas party. The Cross played a short-but-incredible set of
their first three singles and some choice album cuts, being joined by John and Brian for encore. The trio, along with Cross keyboard player Mike Moran ran through some blues standards, rounding off with a raw "I'm In Love With My Car". The band members later mingled with the crowd signing autographs and chatting to the hordes of enthusiasts.

The April 1989 Queen convention previewed the new album but a terse statement from Freddie was posted on the walls informing fans that he did not want to tour to promote the record. This was a crushing blow to the hopes of those who thought he may change his mind, particularly in the light of the album and single's success. The press, meanwhile, took delight in prophesying the demise of Queen.

Although welcoming the news that a new album is on the way, few Queen fans are expecting much in the way of concert performances to promote its eventual release. Video releases cannot replace the intimacy or the excitement of a live concert, so fans' hopes are pinned on Freddie Mercury having a change of heart. As the Stones and Paul McCartney have recently showed, demand to see the elder statesmen of rock is still at a premium and, arguably, the return of Queen to the stage could result in this marvellous quartet outselling them all.

Perhaps the waiting game could be eased with the release of a live retrospective in the mould of Bruce Springsteen's five LP/three CD concert anthology. There is certainly enough material in the vaults and such a celebration would be instantly preferable to another "Greatest Hits" set. Rarities such as "See What A Fool I've Been" (1975) , "Jailhouse Rock", "Hangman" (1973) , plus previously unissued concert recordings of classics such as "Liar", "Lap Of The Gods", "Father To Son", "Somebody To Love", "Save Me", "Play The Game", "It's A Hard Life", "Flash", "The Hero", "Who Wants To Live Forever" and even "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", would be more than welcome. At the time of this writing, there are no plans to release such a set, nor indeed a retrospective similar to that which celebrated 20 years of Jethro Tull. Perhaps the most we can hope for is the hasty arrival of the new album, although sources close to the group insist that, as yet, there is no projected title and certainly no release date. It looks as if fans will be celebrating 20 years of Queen in private.

Fabulous! :)

Postby DELETED » Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:41 pm

Queen's own tale of success

'A Day At The Races' is a self-made masterpiece
"The new Queen album is called A Day At The Races," laughs lead singer Freddie Mercury, "and not Horse Feathers!"

It was some weeks back, and Europe's biggest rock band had four months' studio time behind them, and two weeks ahead. "It feels like we've been working forever," Freddie sighs, "and I'll be glad to see the end of it. I think we all will, although everything's been going fine. We've even got release dates set up," he adds, optimistically.

Later, sitting comfortably on the finished product, Queen's animated lead singer takes time out to talk about the carefully delayed album. A Day At The Races (Asylum), Queen's fifth, is the band's first self-produced record. "We finally got that organized," Freddie nods, to explain the absence of veteran Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker: "We just felt that, for this one, we needed a bit of a change. We were quite confident in doing it ourselves. The other albums we really co-produced, actually we always took a very keen interest."

"It was all very amicable," drummer Roger Taylor is quick to explain. "Roy's been in and out of the country. He's heard some rough mixes. Who knows? Maybe he'll be back producing the next one! It's been tremendous pressure recording this album." Mercury, meanwhile, is quite happy with Queen's first attempt at studio self-sufficiency. "I think it turned out for the better," he insists. "Taking more responsibility has been good for us. Roy's been great, but it's a progression. really - another step in our career. We simply felt that it was now or never."

Queen fiends needn't despair, however. "There are definitely different sounds and a few surprises on the album" Freddie promises, "but we've still maintained the basic Queen sound." A Day At The Races features four songs from Mercury, four from guitar-phenomenon Brian May, and one each from Taylor and bassist John Deacon. "I feel this time that we've got quite a few strong singles," says Freddie. "It was a very hard choice, to be honest. Picking the first single is a matter of taste. We settled on `Somebody To Love' to start things rolling. It's one of my tracks," Mercury adds, modestly.

" `Somebody To Love' is Aretha Franklin-influenced," Taylor says. "Freddie's very much into that. We tried to keep the track in a loose, gospel-type feel. I think it's the loosest track we've ever done."

"It's new, it's slightly different," Freddie agrees "but it still sounds like the Queen that used to be. A Day At The Races is definitely a follow-up to A Night At The Opera. Hence the title. We learned a lot from A Night At The Opera about studio technique." "This time out we missed Roy's cheerfulness," Taylor says. "He contributed a lot technically, and we've capitalized on it."

Each time we go into the studios, it gets that much more difficult," Freddie explains, "because we're trying to progress, to write songs that sound different from the past. The first album is easy, because you've always got a lot in your head that you're anxious to put down. As the albums go by, you think, `They'll say I'm repeating a formula.' I'm very conscious of that."

Taylor confirms their constant testing: "We took a break in the midst of it to play three gigs. It was great to get away from the studio for a bit, and it was great playing live, again-that's a much more immediate satisfaction."

"It was difficult trying to maintain the Queen idiom," Mercury elaborates, "and, at the same time, come up with songs that were different and more interesting." Freddie Mercury offers his own track-by-track rundown on Races:

"We start off with a track from Brian called `Tie Your Mother Down' which we've recently put in the live act. In fact, we played it at Hyde Park before we recorded it. I was able to come to grips with the song in front of an audience before I had to cut the vocal. Being a very raucous track, it worked well for me.

" `You Take My Breath Away' is a slow ballad with a new twist. That's another track I did at Hyde Park, with just me on the piano. It was very nerve-wracking playing all by myself in front of 200,000 people. I didn't think my voice would come through," Freddie jokes, half-serious, "It's a very emotional, laid-back number.

" `Long Away' is a twelve-string thing written by Brian...very interesting harmonies.

" `The Millionaire Waltz' is quite outlandish, really. It's the kind of track I like to put on every album," Freddie teases. "Something way outside Queen's format."

"It's comparable to `Bohemian Rhapsody'," Roger Taylor explains, "in the sense that it's an arranged, intricate number. There are several time-signature changes," the drummer adds, "'though not quite so many vocal overdubs."

"Brian has orchestrated it fully with guitars," Freddie says, "like he's never done before. He goes from tubas to piccolos to cellos. It's taken weeks. Brian's very finicky. Anyway, this track is something that Queen has never done before-a Strauss waltz!

" `You And I' is John Deacon's track. It's very John Deacon, with more raucous guitars. After I'd done the vocals, John put all these guitars in, and the mood has changed. I think it's his strongest song to date."

Unlike the concept-ized Queen II with its Side White and Side Black, A Day At The Races plays, in Freddie's words, "as a unit. Side Two opens with `Somebody To Love,' the single. We're not going to settle for less than Number One in America. We were a bit disappointed in `Rhapsody'." Disappointed? "I suppose we're spoiled," Freddie concedes, light-hearted. " `Rhapsody' was a strong song, and a mammoth hit on Continent. This time, we won't be second best.

" `White Man' is the B side. It's Brian's song, a very bluesy track. Gave me the opportunity to do raucous vocals. I think it'll be a great stage number.

"'Good Old-Fashioned Loverboy' is one of my vaudeville numbers. I always do a vaudeville track, 'though `Loverboy' is more straightforward than `Seaside Rendezvous', for instance. It's quite simple piano-vocals with a catchy beat; the album needs it to sort of ease off.

" `Drowse' is a very interesting song of Roger's. Roger is very rock and roll. It's got great slide guitar from Brian and Roger's done octave vocals. It's a very hum-able tune, actually, I sing it all the time.

"The album ends with a Japanese thing, a track from Brian called `Teo Torriatte,' which means `let us cling together.' It's a very emotional track, one of his best. Brian plays harmonium and some lovely guitar. It's a nice song to close the side."

To graphically emphasize Races' connection with its predecessor, the new LP features inverse-Opera artwork, a black motif with a subtly revised insignia. Freddie envisions a repackaged re-release of the two albums "at some future date. But we'll have to get out of this Marx Brothers thing sooner or later."

Pre-package or not, Roger Taylor considers the new album a distinct improvement over A Night At The Opera. "The new songs are stronger," he asserts, "and the playing is quite possibly better. The writing's better, too."

For Taylor, A Day At The Races represents "a step ahead of our previous work. We tried to avoid over complication, sterility-we tried to get a more basic feel in."

Is Queen living down its reputation for studio fussiness? "Not at all," Taylor answers, "I think it's good to be fussy. You might as well make it as good as you can if you've got all the studio devices at your command. As long as the end result isn't clinical; as long as you maintain the feel of the music."

If Mercury and May have loosened up in the studio, they've failed to tighten up their legendary recording budget. Endless vocal and guitar overdubs account for the five-month sessions and staggering expense. "I'm afraid this one cost as much as the last one," Taylor admits, chagrined.

According to the British press, A Night At The Opera came in at forty thousand pounds.

Freddie Mercury, drained and despairing after months of painstaking overdubs, has a bright idea. "I really feel that, on the next album, we're going to get it orchestrated by an orchestra," he says. "I think we've really done as much as we can with guitars."

Does Brian concur? "I think he does," Freddie chuckles. "We always did it ourselves, and it was rewarding. But now, we've done it, and it's time to move on." Is Queen still staunchly opposed to synthesizers? "We've built up a terrible aversion to them," Freddie concedes, "but you never know. To me, Brian always sounds better than a synthesizer."

Finally, does Queen reign supreme in the U.K.?

"That's an awkward question," Roger laughs. "I'm thinking about it." Roger's synapses silently arrange the electrical impulses of two words: Led and Zeppelin. "Yes, I suppose we are," he concludes. "It feels good in terms of radio response and fan letters, that sort of thing. In the studio, nothing feels quite real. You lose contact with things on the street. We don't see much daylight at all."

Beginning mid-January, the band should be seeing plenty of daylight. "I've just been handed a list of tour dates," Freddie says, "and, oh my god, it's going to be two-and-a-half months in the States. I'm just hoping my voice will hold out."

Will the ultra-theatrical Queen mount its American onslaught with a whole new show? "A whole new show?" Freddie chuckles. "Bloody hell yes!"

by Wesley Strick, Circus, 31 January 1977, p 30-35

Postby DELETED » Sat Mar 12, 2005 7:35 am

Roger Taylor - Electric Fire
SGR Colchester, 21/3/99 - Retro countdown
Interviewer: Mark Dennison

M: Good evening squire

RT: Good evening Mark

M: How are you? Good to see you after all this time. We thought you had disappeared

RT: Oh? I had disappeared really.

M: But you have come back

RT: Yes and here I am again.

M: Nice of you to do so.

(Song Breakthru)

M: I want to go back, like right back if that is alright with you.

RT: Sure. Well you know me memory is getting a bit dicky but er

M: Yeah I can understand that. We are not going to go too far back. (Roger laughs) um. Queen of course we know the amazing success that Queen had world-wide. How did all the members of Queen get together. By accident or..

RT: well I suppose it was a series of accidents but um we were all basically all at London university at different colleges, and I just sort of came up to London and a friend of mine, flatmate, saw er .something on the notice board in Imperial college which Brian had put up. And er Brian May and um we sort of got together in the students union bar, found we liked the same things then we sort of .. it's a long story but er we we formed a band with another guy from art college and um that didn't really work out. But in the mean time we made great friends with Freddie, Mercury, well he was Freddie somebody else then.

M: Yeah

RT: And er so the three of us then formed the sort of core and went through about six bass players before we found John Deacon who was at Chelsea college.

M: Right

RT: Er doing another kind of degree. And er then that was it, and we never changed since.

M: What was your degree in by the way?

RT: Mine well I (chuckling) started off in Dentistry and changed to Biology.

M: As you do (laughing ) and you are now a Rock star?

RT: Well. Whatever you want to call it.

M: How useful is your Biology degree these days then Roger?

RT: Well surprisingly enough it is actually quite useful.

M: I bet (laughing)

RT: Yeah I just. you know, you just tend to understand a little bit about um if you are not too well or if your friends aren't feeling well you might .. Know a little bit more.

M: Sure. The practical side of it I suppose is quite handy as well

RT: (laughing)

M: All those experiments in classrooms

RT: No comment!!

M: No ok fair enough!! just provide diagrams later. Er so I mean. ok you got together at college and university. How did the big success come about then? Was it was it a real. the usual hard slog of making demos, sending them off see what happens then eventually Bang!

RT: Well essentially yes. I mean we made the demos etc and then sort of Fred and I slogged round every record company in. that we could find. Um. We had a few offers, were turned down by few, and it was really about three years of hard slog before we actually had a record out. And er even then it didn't do that great. But it sort of. just got the toe in the door, and then our second album was a lot more successful and we had a hit single etc. etc. etc. and its.. its. its.. a sort of classical rise.

(Song Killer Queen)

M: We were just talking about the Queen Early days there. I mean early early early days. We were talking like 70's really with that then aren't we?

RT: Oh Yeah oh yeah. I mean the first half of the 70's really.

M: Bohemian rhapsody is one of those songs whenever you do a listener chart or anything like that , it always comes out as number one. Or at least in the top five. I mean for a song that was first out in like 1975, that is amazing isn't it?

RT: Yeah I mean ...I still you know I am very proud of being involved with it. But it never ceases to amaze me that the sort of legs of the song. People still really hold it with a great deal of affection.

M: And because it is so darn long as well that is the thing.

RT: Yeah (laughs)

M: It is memorable for that. The video the video was .at the time I mean immensely innovative.

RT: Yeah er.. Well it was.. Videos were weren't really around, we just happened to be managed by a company that had an outside broadcast facility, which was mainly sort of leased to ITV for sports coverage.

M: Right.

RT: And er.. we sort of had the bright idea of using it to film or video, tape our.. the end of our rehearsal for the Night at the Opera tour. And I suppose that really became apparent after it was on Top of the Pops etc when we were on tour, that it was a really incredible marketing tool a way of getting to people.

(Song Bohemian Rhapsody)

M: This is the Retro countdown, Sunday night, talking to Roger Taylor about Queen. We are going to move on to the new stuff .. You are ok for refreshments there I see.

RT: Well I might just top up my wine glass.

M: yeah why not (Laughs) it should be an interesting interview as the night goes on. How did.. how did.. all of you feel as a band about that with the video? Cause you hear some some pop and rock stars for want of a better word saying "Ohhh videos, they take quite a bit away from the music." But other people say "Well it is an art form in itself and the two complement each other". Where do you sit on this particular issue Mr Taylor?

RT: Ha Ha!! Well I think I have changed over the years. I mean er.. at first it just seemed ... it did add, it added another dimension but then as as the video industry itself blossomed, the budgets, for the videos became ten times those for the actual r making the record. Now they seem very, very much er secondary. Er where as say in the early 80's I would say there "well have you seen the Video?" You know. It was a very important part of the the whole thing then. I think it is much less so now.

M: Your song writing career was I mean I knew you had written a few songs. I didn't know you were behind like Radio Ga Ga!!

RT: Yeah no I wrote a few for the band! In fact we were quite unusual cause all four members of the band wrote um quite big hits you know. So at the end we had the last ten years really we, we just split everything equally because that that way at a stroke you get rid of any arguments and you just judge things on merit or perceived merit and er it just made life a lot easier. Um all round and er.. Yeah! We were lucky there as because we could all contribute um at the end certainly in the last half of our career fairly equally in the writing department.

M: Radio Ga Ga. Lets just go back to that. (Radio Ga Ga starts playing in Background). Was What 84??

RT: Er.. 84 yeah.

M: What made you want to write a song about Radio Ga Ga. ( Roger laughs) Now be careful there because you are on the Wireless!!

RT: (laughs) well maybe I shouldn't answer!! Er no I er (laughs) I wrote it in America actually in Los Angeles and I think.. and I had a young son and er er he just turned around one day and said "Radio Ca Ca (sounds like Car Car!!) cause he ha is actually half French and er

M: Yeah

RT: And I think I know what that means!! And er (Mark laughs) and I think that was his early comment on the Los Angeles radio. And um I just thought that was a nice line. So we just sort of changed it a little into.

M: Ga Ga.

RT: Yeah. I tell you what to be honest, we never did really change it we just changed the written title. If you actually listen to it we actually singing Ca Ca

M: (laughing) "All we hear is Radio Ca Ca"

RT: Ah if you listen that is the truth!!

M: Excellent!

RT: Its been very good with me.

(Song Radio Ca Ca!!!!)

M: We are talking toooo Roger Taylor Tonight. On the Retro Countdown playing some of Queens er Classic songs as well. We are gonna be talking about and playing some of the new material as well. That was something I was gonna ask about actually because when you've got a band that is fronted by someone as flamboyant and as immensely famous as Freddie Mercury

RT: Yeah.

M: How how did the rest of you feel about that? Was there any jealousy at all?

RT: N ah I can honestly say there was absolutely none, certainly form my point of view and I don't think form the others um I mean that was his job. His job was to be famous, his job was to be the visual er focus and and the ... main talking point of the band. That is the singers job really and is very hard for anybody else to do that job, and er he did it so well. And of course in the first formative years of the band he was an incredibly strong writer as well

M: Yeah

RT: I I mean the strongest. And um it was only later that I think we everybody developed um er later especially John and myself, we sort of developed our song writing a lot later. I think Brian and Freddie were more to the fore at the beginning and especially Freddie.

M: I mean Freddie Mercury, such a sad loss, and a great loss to the music industry, the whole entertainment business as well. That must have been a devastating blow when when Freddie died.

RT: Yeah it was. It was .. we were devastated and and we were amazed at how devastated we were cause we had been expecting it for a while. Er and it was this awful thing that we knew was gonna happen. So er.. iii but it was still you know, even if you know something coming you still get quite er.. quite knocked down when it actually happens. Yeah.

M: Absolutely. Um.. Who else did you really admire musically through the 80's then as a decade.

RT: The 80's as a decade. I would say more than anybody David Bowie I would say. I think that was his very strong decade. Um he was really er artistically at the height of his powers then I think. And he was quite formidable um..person. um Yeah, yeah.

M: He was another what I mean he IS another one very flamboyant on stage, I mean he is pretty much , I know he has got various er backing bands that he has used, but he he's Mr Mr Flamboyant isn't he on stage?

RT: Yeah he tremendous charisma, tremendous er drama um (Laughs) he goes a bit over the top sometimes!!! Er but er no great er David is such a clever guy I I I I like him immensely!

M: Talking tooo Roger Taylor Formally of Queen of course on tonight's show well have more in just a moment.


Keep listening cause because before 10:00 your correct answer to a dead easy question could get you off to see Roger Taylor play Live!

M: We are talking to Roger Taylor. We have been talking about er Queen's er earlier material, through the 70's and 80's as well. Er what happened then? I mean obviously we we know um what happened with with with the sad news about Freddie Mercury and whatever. Then we had the Queen Tribute Concert. What was decided as a band then? Did you just decide between the remaining members that you couldn't or shouldn't go on? I mean what how was that decision made?

RT: Well it was sort of a mutual understanding I think. We just thought, especially at the time, at er not a lot of point in continuing without Freddie. I think people, there would have been such a glaring um sort of Black hole at the you know at the front. But we do still play very well together, you know on the few occasions we have actually got together and played since then and you know it just clicks in like a well oiled machine but I you know whether we will do anything in the future (The Show Must go on starts playing) I I really don't know. um I I really don't know it's difficult.

M: You know it would have to be the right occasion the right song and everything.

RT: Yeah! And I thing we felt that that at the time was a sort of a literally a natural end to a sort of era and er you know we have all got on with our lives ever since.

(Song The Show must go on)

M: Talking to Roger Taylor tonight. Before we go on the the newer material talk about Live Aid!

RT: Oh Yeah!

M: Cause Queen was very very very much a part of that day. How did that come about? Cause we talked to er Nick Kershaw a couple of weeks ago. He said that he was asked by er Bob Geldof at Heathrow Airport at the check-in desk or something. I thought yeah that is showbiz! How were you asked to be a part of this Massive event?

RT: Well same again. Bob it was actually he actually became a great friend of mine in the last couple of years, but er he as I remember he asked um a couple of us, I think it was Brian and myself, at some awards thing in the Grosvena house (not too sure of name. Something house!) I think it was, er and he said "Oh persuade that that old Queen to do " (laughing ) "you know you guys should do it". So we had a word with Freddie who wasn't that keen on on touring at the time, I think we had just finished a big tour.

M: Right.

RT: And er we we sort of talked him round, and cause it did seem like a good idea and er all I remember now is that is was just a Fantastic day all round. The atmosphere, London was quite a magical place to be I remember going back to my house after the opening of the day, um and just the streets were empty and windows were open, it was a beautiful day, and er the sound of the concert was coming out from every window and um and then we went back and and you know (We Will Rock You starts playing) and we were received very well and it was just a good day I just had nothing but good memories about it all. I just remember Live Aid as being the probably the defining moment really.

(Song We will rock you)


M: Sunday night, our guest is Roger Taylor. We are going to move onto the newer stuff now fairly soon. You mentioned that er the the remaining members of Queen you do still keep in touch?

RT: Absolutely yeah!

M: I mean you must be pretty good mates after all that time?

RT: Yeah I mean and lets face it that Queen as a sort of, there is the catalogue and all this stuff, to be, it just keeps going and er so there is a certain amount of sort of business to be to be run, which we we do, we meet, and we're still er good friends so er you know. um

M: I mean so many people through the er the 70's and 80's musicians I mean, if you ask them who their influences would be they would say "oh yeah, Queen "Who who were your influences at the time?

RT: Oh I would definitely say and I could. the band felt pretty much the same on on this I would definitely say Hendrix, Lennon, and for me, probably more than the others Dillon as well, cause I I just love Bob Dylan's er mid period and er early period.

M: We talked about er Freddie Mercury and his er immense showmanship, he was obviously, he had a lot of influence form the shows didn't he. I mean he had his classical influences and all sorts. Did that spread through the rest of the band or was that mainly Freddie?

RT: No it.. did, only, it spread through to a certain extent. He took it too far once, he dragged me along to the ballet. (laughs) In fact he even appeared in it once!! Um (laughs) er and er yes he was he had a very infectious with him you know and but we all sort of got in, we all went along for the ride, on certain occasions, um I am not a particular ballet fan myself but I certainly wouldn't be as as sort of cynical about it now having sort of seen that and as I as I would have been probably otherwise had I not seen that kind of thing.

M: Yeah.

RT: You know, I mean that (laughs) Sid vicious coming in from "BRINGING BALLET TO THE MASSES ARE YOU FRED!"

M: (laughing )

RT: And Fred just turned around and said "Well we're trying Dear!". (Laughing)

(Song A Kind Of Magic)

M: Talking to Roger Taylor tonight. The 90's e has brought about er quite a few changes with regard to British Music in particular. What what do you make about er the sort of contemporary songwriters.

RT: I think you have to think about I mean if you take somebody like Oasis, I think their writing er Noel er Gallager is writing in a very um established way really. There is , I mean I think he does write some good songs er but they are written in quite an old fashioned way in a way.

M: Yeah.

RT: Um. but then if you take somebody like Underworld, or something, that is a new way or Massive attack or something, that is a new way of writing, and I I find it very interesting some of the stuff they do. I think there is that. but it is a different way of writing and a lot of it is based on repetition etc, and but a lot of light and shade dynamics, and I thing it is very interesting with all the new technology, some great actual sounds. Some of the Fatboy Slim stuff you know the the those machine sample drums they sound fantastic.

M: You must have seen some er quite remarkable changes over over the years. I I am not sort of being personal about your age or anything (Roger Laughs) Obviously you must have seen some technological changes and also the way that bands and artists are marketed as well.

RT: Well I used to use Saucepans!! (laughs!) Saucepans and Knitting needles! Er no no but true I mean but basically it is all the same old hype, you know to er, you know I think er for bands to make it and you know we are still a little too fashion obsessed in in the UK. I think it is too I don't know there is a sort of vain of silliness which I suppose might be good in some ways but it is also a little superficial in others. And it had become so fleeting, I mean people are in and out of the chart you know before you can blink an eye and er its just too fleeting and superficial in some ways I think. But the great records still come through.

M: You've got some new stuff out. Tell me about it.

RT: Yes Mark.

M: The new Album. Electric Fire.

RT: Yes, its er, I spend quite a long time really er just coming up with the odd song here and there and then all of a sudden there it was. Er an album. An album full. And it is very diverse I think. And er of my solo work I think it is the best I have done so far so er you know see if . I hope people like it!

M: I was gonna say you cause I think you I would be right in saying that you you kind of use your music sometime to channel um er. messages to kind of too. er you know is that the right way of putting it??? but you.. there is certainly a message a lot of the songs you write.

RT: Well I like to think there is some meaning in some of them yeah! And I think if you do have an opinion you know why not um state it as long as you are not preaching at people or boring them I think um I think.. you are not a full, a whole person unless you have some um points of view. on life and what's around you yeah.

M: I mean looking through er some of the kind of stories behind the the songs on the the album, there are quite a few things there that I am sure people can identify with. er "Space wasting journalists, bosses and lawyers ".

RT: (laughs)

M: Don't like lawyers!

RT: Lawyers with fees I think.

M: Yeah that's right. Lawyers with fees

RT: More the fees than the Lawyers. Some of the lawyers are charming!

M: (laughs)

RT: Um yeah. No I don't know they are just just stuff. That that's the sort of um... oh which one is that? Oh yeah that's er

M: "Believe in Yourself"

RT: Yeah Believe in Yourself, yeah yeah. Oh that is just sort of saying Believe in Yourself really. It is a very simple message on that one.

M: Er, tell me about the new single. Because er that is out pretty soon, its its called Surrender.

RT: Yeah.

M: Ah.its also like I say from the the ah album Electric Fire. what is surrender all about then?

RT: Surrender is all about domestic Violence. And its er its really sung from the the woman's point of view, the sort of point of view of the sort of er I suppose the er battered wife or girlfriend you know really. Which is quite a sort of poignant point of view. And I suppose its quite depressing really!! But um its just. I think it's a subject which is hardly touched um and it is a subject which does affect a lot of people er in in the country and well all over the world. And its is a subject which is rarely talked about and is very hard to deal with.

M: Listen Roger Taylor, its been an absolute pleasure talking to you.

RT: Likewise.

M: And I wish you the BEST of success with the album and also the tour as well. I know you are getting really. er prepared for that cause its going to be a very very busy few weeks I wish you luck with it. Thanks for talking to us tonight.

RT: Thank you Mark been a pleasure!

Postby DELETED » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:19 pm

"Howard Stern wants to be Brian May!!"
Brian May interview by Howard Stern
"The Howard Stern Show - broadcast in 1993

HOWARD STERN: Alright... let's bring in Brian May of Queen.... formerly of Queen. Freddie Mercury is gone now, so there's no more Queen. But maybe they'll get a different guy to front the band. (Brian enters) Alright !!! There you are, dude !! (clapping) Let me see if you really look like me. Well... you've got the same sort of.... well.... let me see. Let me look at you.

BRIAN MAY: Same kind of....

ROBIN QUIVERS: Yeah.. he wears the same kind of clothes.

HS: Yeah.. you dress like me. Just like me on my E! show. I even have that guitar pin that you're wearing.

BM: You have one of these jackets?

HS: I have one of those jackets. (Robin laughs)

BM: It follows me around.

HS: I saw Brian May backstage at the MTV Awards, but he was giving me some kind of rock-star attitude.

RQ: No..... I don't think so...

HS: Yeah... in a way. He just said 'hello', and it was just like....

BM: I was just being friendly.

HS: He had a whole entourage with him.

BM: (laughing) Yeah... really...

HS: You outta blow your hair straight like I'm doing now. See what I'm doing?

BM: (laughing) I'm not so cool as you, see.

HS: Yeah, I'm a pretty cool guy... (laughing) I'm real cool.

RQ: It's hard to be that cool.

BM: They told me about you Howard.

HS: Brian's got a better body than me... right, Robin??

RQ: Well... he's thin and lanky... just like you are.

BM: I just don't show as much of it as you do.

HS: Yeah... but he's got bigger shoulders.

RQ: You think so? I don't think so. I think you've got the same build. (guitar wails)

HS: Who do you think is better looking... me or Brian? (guitar wails louder) He's got a nicer.... he's got a nicer nose.

RQ: His nose is still very prominent. (laughs)

HS: You know... you know... you could almost be, like, my brother or something.

BM: Hello, Miss Robin. How are you doing?

RQ: Hello. How are you?

BM: I'm very well, thank you.

HS: Does it disturb you that you look like me? It's got to.

BM: It's been... it's... I never... umm... realised... (flustered, nervously laughing, Stern crew hysterical)

RQ: Does it disturb you? (laughing)

MAY: Let's get straight in there. Yeah.. it probably does.

HS: I don't blame you.

BM: It's interesting, because like, you have your own kind of territory, you know. And I remember the first time someone said 'Hey! Howard Stern?'

HS: (laughing) 'Hey... you're Howard Stern' and you went 'no'. Well... There's something wrong with me. At least Brian's a rock star. I go around looking like a rock star, and I'm not a rock star.

RQ: Yeah... at least he can play the guitar.

HS: Yeah... at least he can do something. I don't know what my problem is.

BM: On a good day I can play.

HS: I'm like the MTV-VJ's. The all dress like rock stars and try to look like rock stars... and none of them do anything. Like... what's our problem? What's going on there? But.. uh....

RQ: Well, I'll tell you one thing... you sure don't want to look like a DJ. That's one thing for sure.

HS: Yeah. So Brian... like you would walk around sometimes and people would say 'hey Howard Stern'??

BM: It only happened.. it happened, I guess, a couple of years ago. Most of.. I mean.... for the rest of my life I walked around and people just thought it was me... so...

HS: Right. So it had to be pretty upsetting. (laughs)

RQ: Yeah. That's a shock.

BM: So, actually.. I.... yes, that's right. So gradually I became aware of you, you know, and some people said 'he's a terrible guy, you know....'

HS: I'm a good guy.

BM: And some people said 'No... he's big. He' great. He's famous.' So then then I found out who you were and stuff.

HS: It makes you more controversial.

BM: It... well, yeah... in a way. And then eventually, you know, they came up and said 'you should do his show'. So I sort of said it seems our paths were meant to cross. I mean, they did cross idly at MTV when your arse was hanging out of your pants.

HS: I guess maybe that's why he didn't want to be seen with me.

RQ: You don't stop and talk to a person at that time. (laughs)

BM: That distracted me immediately.

HS: I said 'Hey Brian, how are you doing?' Meanwhile, I'm dressed as Fart Man, with a big cut-out in my ass.... and my cheeks hanging out. But I mean.. come on.... you know....

BM: You were flying around the building like a fairy. It was wonderful.

HS: I know. It was unbelievable. Well, it really wasn't, cause I really almost died that night. I was really scared.

RQ: He didn't take to flight that well.

HS: Oh man! Flight and me... this body is not meant to be in the air. I'm messed up from it.

RQ: This is definitely a grounded kind of person.

BM: I was impressed, Howard.

HS: That was a strange night.

BM: It was good, actually.

HS: And you were there actually getting a special award, right? For Queen and the whole thing.

BM: That's right.

HS: Isn't it weird now how everybody... like... all of a sudden....

RQ: ... now recognises....

HS: Yeah... recognises Queen. It took Freddie Mercury's death for everybody to sort of...

RQ: .... acknowledge these guys are great.

BM: Yes, it is very strange, cause there was a time when we couldn't do anything wrong in this country. You know... sort of "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing"-time. And then various things happened, you know. It's a long story, really.

HS: What did happen though?

BM: Well basically.... well, I think.... um.... well basically we headed towards a time when we couldn't get arrested in this country. And I think there were a number of reasons, really. I think there was image things... and I think there was a sort of....

HS: You think cause Freddy-was-gay-kind of thing.

BM: I think there was a moment when people suddenly went 'Oh my God!! Could he actually be gay??'

HS: And guys couldn't relate to Freddie Mercury.

RQ: Yeah. All of a sudden...

BM: I think there's a fear. I think there was. I don't know if it's still true in this country; but I think there was a kind of fear of that kind of thing.

HS: I know what you're saying. If a guy goes to a Queen concert... it's like.. hey... you know.. all of my friends are going to think I'm... like.... a queen. You know what I mean? Maybe that was it.

BM: I think there was a moment.... and there was a moment when we all dressed up in girl's clothes... which, you see.... in England that was viewed as....

HS: See.... I always thought you were gay.

RQ: (very surprised) Really!?!

BM: Well....

HS: You're not gay though... right?

BM: No, no, no...

HS: You get lots of girls. That's probably why you don't mind looking like me. Cause you probably think that's a good look. Cause you can get lots of girls with it. Right? That's exactly it.

BM: I'm past it. I'm too old for all that, Howard.

HS: But Freddie never said he was gay. He always kept it...

BM: Freddie actually didn't give a toss which way people thought he was; and he had no problem with it... you know. He was what he was. And he was actually a number of things... you know.

HS: Right. More than just being gay. But.. uh... what do you call it... when I was on in Detroit, when I used to do radio in Detroit.. this hairdresser called me up ... that he had an affair with Freddie.

BM: Oh yeah?

HS: And he said that Freddie was the best he'd ever had. (crew clapping)

RQ: Really !?!

HS: Yeah. He gave me every dirty detail. It's pretty wild.... I'll tell you.

BM: It's very strange... cause Freddie's life... and his death... has made a huge difference in the way people view all that stuff. I mean... certainly in England. I don't know how much in this country.

HS: Let me tell you something. It never bothered me that Freddie was gay. (crew clapping) I loved Queen. And I was never afraid to say it. Right Robin? Tell him. Tell Brian.

RQ: (laughing) I don't remember this....

HS: You don't? (under his breath, to Robin) Just act like it. Why do you always have to... What's with you?

RQ: I'm a news person....

HS: I was always a Queen fan.

RQ: You were a Queen fan. That's true.

BM And he's very straight. But going back to your question... it is strange because... you know... there was always a time when we couldn't actually do anything in this country. Every place else in the world we were playing football stadiums... when in this country... it was really hard.

HS: And that hurts, because everyone wants to be popular in America.

BM: It hurts.. yeah.... because also, we sort of grew up in this country... you know. This is where we became a band. And this is really, I suppose, in our minds, still the centre of rock and roll... you know. It's where it started.

HS: Where did you meet? Like.. how did you guys hook up? It must have been... like... you and Freddie were really the band. The rest of the guys you could have done without. Right?

CREW: Ohhh jeez....!!

HS: They weren't really that talented compared to you and Freddie. And you and Freddie wrote all the songs.

BM: You think so?? (laughs) No, no... it was very much...

HS: Come on. Be honest. Why don't you admit that you and Freddie really were the band?

BM: No, I wont. Because.. um....

HS: Because you're a gentleman.

BM: No.. because the biggest hit we ever had was "Another One Bites The Dust", which John wrote.

HS: Oh. He did??

BM: And "Radio Ga Ga", in most of the world, was probably.. like.... the second biggest hit we ever had... which was written by Roger. You know.. it was very.... No. I'd tell you the truth if it was true.

HS: But who wrote "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

BM: Fred wrote "Bohemian Rhapsody".

HS: With you.

BM: Mmmmm... not so much with me.

HS: The other guys were like Ringo.

CREW: Ohhh!! Noooo!! Jeez!!

HS: Let me tell you something. I'm telling you... Brian is much too.... uh....

RQ: ...self-effacing.

HS: Right. He is a very nice... let me talk here for a second. He's a gentleman.

BM: Who's show is this?

HS: It's my show!! (all laughing) He's a gentleman and he doesn't want to say anything.... (guitar wails) .... to hurt the other guys' feelings, cause he still has to...

RQ: Aren't they in England? They can't hear.

HS: They can't hear this.

BM: No, no, no. It's not true.

HS: Why don't you brag a little?

BM: I mean.. you shouldn't knock Ringo either.... because anyone who understands the mechanics of a group understands that everybody is totally important. If it's a.....

HS: Ringo!! Ringo?? Ringo's the drummer!!

RQ: Ringo's that little... (laughing) ... shrunken conductor on a TV show.

HS: (laughing) Yeah. Oh come on.... Ringo....

BM: No.. I'm not with you because....

HS: Pete Best could have been in the Beatles.

BM: If you get a rare.... a rare situation where it's a real group, everybody in the group matters totally. And... without Ringo, they wouldn't have been a lot of what they were. I'm totally convinced of that.

HS: So.... you married now?

BM: But even more so..... I'm boring you.

HS: No. I can change topics rapidly. I'm not buying your Ringo rap.

RQ: (clapping) If we stay on Ringo too long, we lose audience.

HS: I saw Ringo the other day. He was taking a bus. No-one even bothered him. (crew hysterical) It was... like.. 'there's Ringo'.....

BM: Did you bother him? (laughs)

HS: No-one bothered him. You married now?

BM: No... I... uh.... well, technically... I am still; but I've been separated for a long time.

RQ: Ohhh. You're dis-engaging.

HS: Because... I know what happened. You probably met a woman when you were at the height of your success. When did you get married? How many years ago?

BM: It's a longer story than that, really. I was married for about 15 years or know... but it was like... uh...

HS: You must have met her when she was.. like.. a model... up-and-coming model. Something like that.

BM: No. She was a student and I was a student.

HS: Oh really?! You mean you met her before you got famous.

BM: Yeah.

HS: Oh.. no kidding. Oh... no wonder you got to get a divorce. (Brian laughs) Are you kidding? Oh... absolutely!!

BM: I think we grew apart.

HS: You grew apart. That's it. That's it. Grew apart. That's what you've got to say.

BM: I don't know if it was ever....

HS: Chuck Norris was saying... I was at dinner the other day.... Chuck Norris says him and his wife grew apart, too.

RQ: The had a successful marriage for....?

HS: ... twenty years. Successful marriage.

BM: You married?

HS: Yeah. I'm married. Oh... I'm with my college sweetheart.

BM: How long for? Oh.... a long time then.

HS: Oh.. I'm married 20 years. How many years am I married, Robin?

RQ: Yeah.... 17... 18 years. Something like that.

HS: Some ridiculous number. I haven't slept... I'm going to be honestwith you, Brian. And you can find this hard to believe.

BM: Is this Howard Stern revelations time?

HS: Yes. I have not slept with another woman.... not had any type of sexual satisfaction from another woman besides my wife....

BM: Is this going to be in the papers tomorrow?

HS: .... for the last 20 years.

BM: That's great.

HS: That's great ?!?

BM: You're a darling.

HS: I'm ready to smack my head against the wall. (Brian laughs) Because you know, once you achieve a certain degree of fame, women come on to you that normally wouldn't. True?

BM: Uh.... when I get famous, I'll tell you, Howard.

HS: Yeah? No. You're very famous. And the point is what happened with you and your wife is you tried to be faithful and all these things; but what happened was... the temptation of life on the Road. You probably have 18... 19 year old aerobics instructors coming on to you. (all laughing) Come on. Let's be honest.

BM: Well.....

HS: You're a good person, but you couldn't resist temptation. True?

BM: Yeah... but also there was something underneath it. There was also the fact that, actually, I hadn't married the right woman.

HS: Oh... well...

RQ: Of course !! She couldn't be right !!

BM: And you.... and you just gradually find that out over the years... you know. She's a nice person; but it actually wasn't right.

HS: She would have been the right person if you were an accountant... I'm telling you.

BM:'s possible. But I'm not an accountant.

HS: You just had too many women coming on to you.

BM: No, no. It was a feeling like the world....

RQ: Who would be the right person?

HS: (laughing) Bo Derrick.

BM: No.... I have...

HS: Do you have a girlfriend now?

BM: I have the right woman now.

HS: Oh... you do?

BM: Umm....

HS: How old is she?

BM: She's.... uh.... just a little younger than I am.

HS: About 16? (crew laughing and clapping)

BM: No, no, no..... ummm... yeah!

HS: Robin was hoping you'd say she was the right woman.

BM: No, no. She's... she's almost my age.... but it doesn't look it.

HS: What does she do for a living? Is she an aerobics instructor?

BM: She's a very famous actress in England.

HS: Oh really?!? Vanessa Redgrave?

RQ: Ooh... who is it?

BM: Nnnn..not that one.

HS: Lord-Lady-Window-Smear? (all laughing) Hmmm? Hmmm?

RQ: Joan Plowright.

HS: Joan Plowright?

BM: She's also known.... she's known to the people who watch East Enders in this country.... because East Enders was.. like... the biggest thing that ever happened in England. Ummm... and she...

HS: What is her name. Reveal her name.

BM: She's Anita Dobson.

HS: Ohhh... Anita Dobson.

BM: (mimics Howard) Anita Daaaahb-son.

HS: Oh... she's probably a fox.

RQ: Well, sure. She was a TV actress.

HS: Oh yeah. Are you kidding?

BM: She's a TV idol. She's...

HS: And believe me.... you will not marry again. True or false.

BM: Uh, yeah. I will marry again.

HS: You will? You think you'll marry Anita Dobson?

BM: Well, I'm hoping so.... if she'll have me.

HS: Hold out for an aerobics instructor. (Brian laughs) I'm telling you... she's probably one of Murdock's page-2 girls. I'm telling you... must be hubba-hubba.

RQ: How do you know she's the right woman? What were her qualifications?

HS: Yeah. Now why is she the right woman and your ex-wife is the wrong woman?

BM: (long silence, then laughs) Big, long silence. You just know after a while, I suppose.

HS: You do? It's just a thing that you know?

BM: Well.... don't you feel that? Didn't you gradually find that out... that you're married to the right woman?

HS: (laughing) I'm still.... I don't know...

RQ: He's still questioning that.

HS: Although, if one with bigger cans came along, I might have to leave her. (crew groans and laughs) You know what it is? I have tremendous temptations in life, as you do Brian.... and you, though, on a much larger scale, because you are internationally known.... and you're a very wealthy
man. Are you worth $30 million? Excuse me... what are you? You are worth $50 million dollars. Are you not?

BM: Uh... uh... I can't remember....but...

HS: You don't even know what you're worth?

BM: Uh... not that much. It's easier to get rich in this country.

HS: Oh please. I know guys who have had one hit song.....

BM: Yeah... but this is the States. In England, it's a lot harder.

RQ: But you had hits here.

BM: Yeah.... we had hits here. But we pay taxes in England, love.

RQ: Ohhh...

HS: Oh, you did? Is it true it was 85%?

BM: Well... at the worst it was 98. We paid 98%.

RQ: My God!!

HS: Wait a second.... let me get this straight.

BM: Which is pretty funny, isn't it?

RQ: Wait a minute, Howard. Break that down to me in real numbers.

HS: Alright... that means if you made a million dollars, you got (laughing) two dollars?? (all laughing) No... you would get... like... $200,000 dollars or something.... or $100,000. You wouldn't even get 10%?!

BM: It was on a certain section of income.

RQ: It's like $20,000....

HS: No, no, no.... this can't be right. What do you mean... 98%?

BM: It was right. 98% was the top whack you could play.... you could pay... on un-earned income... you know. You would pay various levels on various parts of your...

HS: Oh.... un-earned....

BM: But on the stuff that came back... like from your investments.... you
would pay 98.

HS: Oh my God!! So in other words, if you made a million dollars... and you invested it... you would pay 98% of the return on that...?

BM: That's right... yeah.

HS: And you remained in England? Even with that?

RQ: So why would you even invest? Stuff it in a mattress.

BM: Well, that's right.... yeah. We remained for a while... but we had a cut in the... in the end when we were..... um.... when we were getting really canned.... we took two years out of England. I made a home in LA, and... uh... Freddie made a home here, strangely enough.

HS: Of course!! Yeah... I can't stand that England anyway, to tell you the truth. No offense to you.

BM: It rains too much and it gets too depressing.

HS: You're not kidding.... I mean... you need nice weather. Poor Brian!! You get pasty-looking you hang out there. You grew up there in that England?

BM: I did, yeah.

HS: It must have been awful. I feel bad for you. (clapping) 98 percent tax.... to be in the fog, no less. You'd think.... I could see if I was in Aruba or something... I'd pay 98%.

RQ: If you had good weather maybe....

HS: That England is a terrible, terrible country.

BM: There's a guy holding up a little thing that says 'spots' here.... and I
didn't think I had any this morning.

HS: No.. you don't have any spots. (crew laughs) You look very good. Alright. Brian is here. Brian May. He has a solo album out. We're going to listen to some of this. Do you sing on this?

BM: I do sing, yes. That's what I enjoy doing these days, yeah.

HS: Oh.. you do? Alright... good. Because we will evaluate this album. Also, Brian has his guitar with him. And one thing Brian loves to do is play along with his own records.

RQ: You're kidding!! I didn't know that.

BM: It has been known. I'm not doing it so much anymore. I sort of did a trip around the United States a year and a half ago doing it. But now, I find it to be.... I'll do it for you..... cause you're wonderful... see. And we love you so much... but..... but normally... I like to do what I do now, which is actually sing.

RQ: Well, we'll let you do that, too.

BM: Nooo... I ain't going to sing for you here. (crew moans 'awwww')

HS: If I tell you you're going to sing... you're going to sing.... or I'll throw you right outta here.

RQ: Twist his arm.

HS What is that? And believe me... I could kick your ass. You look like a guy I could... I could beat. (all laughing) You don't know karate or anything.... do you?

BM: (laughs) You don't know what I know.

HS: No.. of course not. Alright, now. Let me ask you something. These coins you play with. These are.... this is English money?

BM: This is an English sixpence, which is no longer legal currency.

RQ: (laughing) This is what he made a couple of years ago.

HS: Is that how you get that unbelievable, unique sound out of your guitar? By playing with a piece of metal?

BM: It's.... well.... it's part of it.. yeah. The guitar is actually unique anyway, because it's a totally home-made job. This is what I made with my dad about 20 years ago.

HS You made that guitar?

BM: Yeah.. we made it together.

HS: And that's the guitar you used when you played... uh.... give me the most famous riff... which of course is.... uh.....

BM: (laughing) Why should I rescue you, Howard? (crew hysterical)

HS: No, no, no... (all laughing)... do that... do that most famous riff... the... the one....

BM: Do I have this on? (guitar wails loudly)

HS: Do the part (singing) 'it's a killer queen, dee-dee-dee....' ...that one

BM: I don't know if I can do that one. I can do.... (plays end of "We Will Rock You").

HS: Yes.. yes... that's what I wanted to hear.

BM: Well... we did that.... I can go now? (crew laughs)

HS: No, no... sit right there. (guitar continues) I'm not done hearing about your new girlfriend.

BM: I'll tell you what.... I'll tune up, as well.

HS: Alright... you tune up and I'll have you back here right after these words.....

Announcer: And we're back with the Howard Stern Show....

HS: yeah! And of course, Brian May, our special guest. And we're about 20 minutes away from speaking with Richard Pryor. What a show today. It's like the whole Merv Griffin Show. (clapping) You're hip to Richard Pryor, right?

BM: Yeah, of course.

HS: Yeah... you know him, right? They gave me sample questions to ask when I'm on the phone with him.

RQ: What are the sample questions?

HS: See.. with Brian, they didn't give me any sample questions.

BM: (Heh, heh, heh.)

HS: Are you ready for some sample questions? Hey... maybe I'll ask Brian these questions. 'People have seen you on TV. You look pretty frail. Can you still get up on stage and do it with MS?' (laughs) What a question!! What's he going to say? No? He's promoting a concert. (guitar wails)
You know what I want to ask him? I read that now for sex he has to pay prostitutes to come to his house every day.

BM: (guitar playing as a backdrop)

RQ: Yeah... I hear he lays in bed all day.... pays women to come in and have sex.

HS: That's what I want to know about.

RQ: But I thought he couldn't get it up. That's what he says in... uh.. his show.

HS: Let's ask Brian if he can get it up. (laughing) Brian... can you get it up?

BM: (laughing) It depends on what you're talking about.

HS: No problem there, huh? (guitar wails)

RQ: Also, in one of the tabloids...

BM: (guitar louder, comment unintelligible... in reference to "the

HS: In one of the tabloids what?

RQ: In one of the tabloids this week they said that Ringo... speaking of Ringo... came to Richard Pryor's house and took him out to an AA meeting.

HS: Oh really!? Wouldn't you think it's a little late for that? Why don't they let Richard Pryor enjoy a couple of drinks? You really think Richard's going to stop drinking? We've got a lot to ask Richard Pryor about. But of course, we have Brian May right now. Of course.... umm... Brian...uh... formerly of Queen, cause Queen is no longer together. That's it. Queen's over with. But yet... I just got in the mail... like.. a new Queen video, and.... do you know about this?

BM: The... um... the George Michael?

HS: Yeah... with the George Michael thing. What... he's fronting Queen??

BM: No, no, no, no, no.... no. This is what... I suppose this is what I was hoping wasn't going to happen. I always had slight misgivings, but... I mean, I'm happy that George is doing it because it's for charity.. and it's good for him anyway. I mean, he did a great performance at this. It's a performance at the Freddie Mercury Tribute gig, which is, like... a year and a half ago.

HS: Oh... so they're releasing that on video.

BM: So they released that on video, and he released... now... as a single... which is doing phenomenally well as a single...

HS: What song did he release?

BM: It's "Somebody To Love".

HS: Oh... he did do "Somebody To Love".

BM: Yes. See.. George was a huge fan of Freddie, and.....

HS: You'd think Freddie would have liked it in those last couple of years if somebody would have... uh... let him do that again, or something... you know? You know what I'm saying? It's kind of weird....

BM: Well... in a way... except Fred.. like me... wanted to move know... and you get this stuff... you know.... and you get locked into a box.. you know. So I've been just going around this country saying.. like... I'm doing something different now. I'm proud of Queen and what happened; but actually, I'm now Brian May... and I'm now... it's the Brian May Band'... you know. But then suddenly this thing comes out and it.... You just said to me it looks like George is fronting Queen or whatever.. which is not the case. So... in a way... I'm happy that it's happened; but I'm also feeling.. 'Hey, wait a minute... this is holding me into the past'. I don't want to be in the past. I want to live in the future.

HS: Right.. yeah.... but you can still get royalties off the past, right?

BM: Well... we don't get royalties off of this... cause this is... uh... this is all for AIDS... which is as it should be.

HS: No? Oh, shucks!! Can't you get a couple bucks out of that? Jesus... (all laughing)

RQ: You don't want to take money from AIDS, Howard.

HS: But you're set for life.. right Brian? I mean... you don't have to work anymore.

BM: No, money I don't have to worry about.

HS: You don't have to worry about that?

BM: No.

HS: So what do you do.... like invest it and everything? What do you got... like... it all locked up in investments and stuff?

BM: Umm... I have somebody that takes care of it. We have an accountant who's been with us for years... right from the early days.

HS: Keep your eye on him. You see what just happened to... what was it... Jane Seymour or Jayne Alexander... what was it?

BM: Yeah.. a lot of things. Yeah well... you have to trust somebody.

RQ: Oh yeah... the accountant thing.

BM: Yeah well... I trust him and he takes care of it. And a lot of it.... lot has come in over the years... also a lot has gone out over the years. I mean... apart from.......

RQ: What's going to happen with this divorce though?

HS: Yeah... I hope your wife doesn't get all your money. (Brian laughs) Hey.... what's going to go on with that?

BM: That's more or less taken care of.

HS: Oh yeah? You guys worked out a deal?

BM: Yeah.... it's more or less worked out... yeah.

RQ: What.... did you strangle her? (laughs)

HS: Did you kill your ex-wife? (all laugh)

BM: Over long periods.....

HS: Oh man!!

RQ: How do you work that out? (all hysterical)

HS: See that guitar you and your dad made? She's going to get half that guitar.

BM: No... no....

HS: Yeah... the neck is going to her.

BM: No.. that gets buried with me, folks.

HS: No kidding. So... you and your ex-wife are still friends?

BM: I wouldn't say "still" (hysterical laughter)

HS: But, in other words, you came to a reasonable conclusion on all this?

BM: Well... I think we have... just about.. yeah. And it was long and bitter, as I guess everyone's is.

HS: Did you lose 50% of your money?

BM: Uh... no. In England it's not necessarily the case that you lose 50%.

HS: Maybe 30% ?

BM: But it's a lot.. yeah.

HS: Oh man!!

BM: But.. I mean.... it's okay...

HS: But it's okay?!?

RQ: You've got to give her a good piece of the pie.

HS: Oh man!!

BM: I don't even care cause... you know... she can take care of the children and everything.

RQ: How many children?

HS: What do you got? You got a lot of kids?

BM: I have three children.

HS: Oh, yeah... then you've got to give her something. (laughs) How much does it cost to raise three kids?

RQ: Let her live in their house.

BM: Well... but I'm lucky. The stuff that goes on with most people is that they pay the lawyers so much that they don't have anything left for themselves.

HS: So you and your wife worked it out on your own.

BM: No. Like I say... it was long and bitter, and there was many lawyers involved and stuff, and it's been.... It's hell. It's bad.

HS: It is. It's bad.

BM: I mean, we at least got to the point after all that, we..... we agreed to disagree.

RQ: And there's still some left for the new wife.

HS: Yeah. (laughing) Yeah.

BM: I can live... put it that way.

HS: So you had to give up your house, huh?

BM: Uhhh....

HS: What'd you have.... like... a castle or something?

BM: No, no, no... I just moved out and moved on.

HS: (belches loudly)

RQ: Oh Howard!!

HS: Excuse me. I'm trying to do an interview.. and here I am belching. Blaaaaah!! Did you ever go to a castle... blaaaah!!.. (laughing) So you got a condo now or something?

BM: (laughing) I have a little shoebox in the country.

HS: (laughing) He's living in a shoebox. (all hysterical) Let me tell you something....

BM: I'm happy.

HS: It's so ironic. You get this divorce, and you're finally getting a really nice piece... you have to give up a real good piece.

RQ: You know... it costs you. It always costs you.

HS: A piece of the change.

BM: I think everything costs you in life.

HS: Everything costs, man. It's unbelievable.

BM: Everything that's worthwhile costs.

HS: There's got to be a way for... like....

RQ: No... no freebies.

HS: I guess the perfect situation would have been that if your wife went into a coma or got in a car accident or something... right?

BM: (laughing) That's right.

RQ: And couldn't ask for anything.

HS: Yeah... it's like... why couldn't Freddie Mercury still be alive? And then Brian just lose....

RQ: Yeah... him you didn't want to divorce.

HS: Him you liked. (laughing) It's unbelievable. But still, it's the mother of your children. You've got to treat her with respect. You know what I'm saying.

BM: Well, you come around to that in the end.

RQ: So how old are the kids?

HS: Hey listen.. I don't even want to say this.... but Brian lives in a trailer in Suffolk County. (all hysterical)

RQ: He drove his home here today.

HS: (to Robin) Right next to that soap opera guy you used to date. He has the same trailer... same identical thing.

RQ: (laughing) They're room-mates.

HS: It's very, very sad.

RQ: No.... now how old are your children?

BM: Ummm... my children are fourteen, eleven and six.

HS: Oh yeah? They're old enough to fend for themselves.

RQ: Let them get jobs. (laughs)

HS: They really don't need a dad at this point.

BM: Yeah, they're fine.

HS But... I mean... you get to see them and all that kind of stuff?

BM: Yeah, yeah... but that's... none of it's easy. If there's anybody out there going through it now... it is NOT pleasant.

HS: Believe me, there's plenty of people going through it.

BM: You know.. I just can't imagine.....

RQ: What possessed you to get married so young?

BM: Well... I was young. What can I tell you.

HS: He was young. He was like most guys. He wanted to get laid on a regular basis... right? It's very true. If you want to get laid on a regular basis, you figure 'hey.. I'm never going to do any better than this...'

BM: No. I'll tell you a secret.

HS: And you can't believe a woman's willing to marry you... and you're a musician. And you're... like.. 'you want to marry me? I'm going no-where'.

BM: No. I'll tell you what it is. I think we all fulfill the dreams of our parents. And I think that's the major problem in most of ourlives. Our parents, our peers.. everyone says you have to get married at a certain time. So you find someone and you think 'oh, I can lock into this. I can do this. I can play this game. I can live this pattern out." Everyone does it, and that's.....

HS: That's a very good point. My mother..

RQ: You're talking yourself into it the whole time.

HS: Yeah well.... you're just like.... 'hey... this is something you ought to do'.

BM: It's... it's pressure from the outside world to conform... you know. And I think that's why a lot of people have a major crisis around forty or so... cause suddenly it comes to the point where you think 'I haven't actually done anything in my life that I wanted to do.'

HS: Of course.... let's face it. We're all horny bastards, us guys. And we need strange broads. (laughing, clapping, whistling from crew) We do. We just need a variety. I've been trying to tell my wife that. My mom forced me to get married.

RQ: If she could only get this concept down. (laughing)

BM: Howard.... I don't think you're understanding me..... (all hysterical)

HS: Believe me, I'm reading between the lines, pal. I understand you like no-one before. After all, you look just like me.

RQ: I think you two should get married. (laughs)

HS: You know... I like you a lot. Believe me, we'd be happy together. I wouldn't take half your money.

BM: You'd take all of it. (all hysterical)

HS: Yeah.. and I'm pretty easy in the sack. So... um.... but I bet there were a lot of reporters and stuff and people who always thought you were gay cause you were in Queen... and Freddie was pretty flamboyant. So there was probably that issue.

BM: Mmmmm.... not really.. no.

HS: And like while you were backstage with groupies and girls and stuff... Freddie would be with guys... right?

BM: Ummm... (long pause) There was a point where that happened... yeah. But, I mean... in... in... for a lot of his life, Freddie was not a promiscuous person anyway. There's a major misconception that goes on here that many people think that's what happened, and that's why he got AIDS. He was actually very... I think you would say serially monogamous. The same as I am.. or you are... you know.

HS: Well, not the way you are. Listen...

RQ: His series is lasting a long time.

HS: Let's not use you as an example of monogamy... okay? Go ahead.... yes?

RQ: Serial monogamy.

BM: Yes... so I think there was a period of time where... umm... you know... Freddie was pretty much private, and... umm... probably hadn't really come to terms with... with what he did want. And finally, he did find it...

HS: He got that horrible disease.

BM: Well... yeah... which we all can do, folks. It only takes one... encounter. It doesn't matter who you screw. It can happen.

RQ: Well, he left most of his money to a woman...right?

HS: Yeah... what was that all about?

BM: Yeah well... Mary was with Freddie from the very early days when we were students and everything... and he always remained close to her and...

HS: Did he leave you any money?

BM: (laughing) I didn't need him to leave me any money.

HS: Oh come on. It would have been nice... a little stipend.

RQ: Didn't he know you were going through a terrible divorce?

HS: Did Freddie know you were divorcing your wife? Couldn't he have made a stipulation? (all laughing)

BM: I'll tell you... it was very strange, because we all go through many kinds of crap, you know. And I think towards the end of Queen's life, we were closer than any of us were to our families because Queen was... like... the longest-standing family that any of us had. So we were pretty close.

HS: Your parents were real dicks to you and everything?

BM: My parents were very good to me... in fact, probably too good to me... which was the problem. I think they had too many expectations.

HS: Oh.. I see.

RQ: That's always a problem. Either they're bad or they're too good.

BM: That's right. You cannot be a good parent.

HS: I know with my kids I'm trying to be a really good parent... but I know they'll be on the psychiatrist's couch talking about what a scuzz-ball I was. I had that stupid radio show and it really embarrassed them and everything. I know it. I know I'll be paying psychiatric bills for years out
of guilt.

BM: You have kids?

HS: I got three girls.

RQ: Oh... Brian thinks that's horrible. (all laughing)

HS: Yeah... it is pretty awful, isn't it.

BM: No. I think that's fine.

HS: Hey... I wonder if you're built just like me. I mean... I wonder if you've got a big weenie. I got a tiny little weenie. (crew groans loudly) You big? I bet you're big.

BM: What.... what...? Is this a kind of..... um....

HS: I bet you're... like... twelve inches. Me? You know how big I am? I'm going to be honest with you. I ain't showing you.. but I'll tell you how I am. (all hysterical)

BM: At least we can be grateful he's not going to show it.

HS: I'm not even an inch.

RQ: Oh... stop it!! That's anatomically impossible. Babies are...

HS: I swear to God. Ask my doctor. I'm like a baby. I'm hung like a baby.

BM: Folks, this could be TV and we could all be REALLY embarrassed.

HS: Okay... let's do something really special here, now that we're coming toward the end of our time, Brian. Because...

BM: You're not going to ask me to play something.

HS: Yeah... that's what I'm going to ask you to do.

BM: No... you're not.

HS: What do you mean? What do you got a guitar with you for then? Are you crazy?

BM: I just make noises with a guitar.

HS: Let me see. What's on this? Let me see what's on your CD.

BM: What am I going to play here?

HS: Play something..... play... (guitar wails)

BM: I'll play you this... (bit of "Bohemian Rhapsody")

HS: Hey... you know the riff from "Under Pressure"..... ?

BM: Yes.

HS: Did you write that? (singing) Doo Doo Doo do-do-do Doo

BM: Ahh... I would say John wrote that. John Deacon, our bass player.

HS: Oh.. he did? Did he get... did you guys get royalties when Vanilla Ice put out that record?

BM: The Vanilla Ice thing? Eventually... yes.

HS: Do that little riff.

BM: Well... it's a....

HS: Even though you don't have a bass.

BM: It's only like... (plays "Under Pressure" riff) That's it, really. Which is totally different from what Vanilla Ice did. Did you see him on his interview? He said 'no, it's totally different, cause ours goes.... (plays "Ice Ice Baby" riff, almost identical to "Under Pressure" riff)

HS: Oh.. yeah.... totally different.

BM: He was right, really. I have no hard feelings because the guy.... uh... settled up. And it's all fine.

HS: Oh, I see. So he had to pay you guys.

BM: Uh.. yeah. But in the end, it was very good for us because a lot of people went 'ah, so that's where that comes from'. So a lot of people who never would have heard of Queen heard of Queen because of that.

HS: Let me hear the riff from.... uh... I know... wait a second. Let me hear the riff from...

BM: (laughing, to Robin) What's he up to?

HS: "Bohemian Rhapsody"

BM: That's what I just did before.

HS: Yeah, I know. Uh... I'm trying to think.

BM: You wanted the... (plays a bit of..) ...that's the "Killer Queen" one... yes. Yes, it's play-the-hits time.

HS: Yeah.. well... you've got to play the hits. Dont be so hostile to your hits. All you guys with your 'awww.. I gotta play the hits...'

RQ: You're locking him into the past, Howard.

BM: What's the.... what's the.. (unintelligible)

HS: 'That's in me past. That's in me past.' What's in me past? That's what's paying the bills.

BM: (begins "Tie Your Mother Down") Remember this one?

HS: (singing) 'Keep yourself alive... keep yourself alive'

BM: It's close.. it's close... it's close. Oh Howard, you fail. I'm sorry. (all hysterical)

HS: Isn't that "Keep Yourself Alive" ?

RQ: No!!

GARY DELL'ABATE (aka BaBa Booey): "Tie Your Mother Down"

BM: This guy knows. This is a number that's been very good to us.

HS: You know I don't know the lyrics to anything. What about (singing) 'biiii-cycle, biiii-cycle'...

BM: (begins "Keep Yourself Alive") That's very nice, except I can't play it.

HS: (singing) 'I like to ride me bicycyle... I like to ride it...'; and what was the one you did in Flash Gordon?

BM: Oh... it was "Flash"... the thing... yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah..... yeah, yeah, yeah. I can't play that either. (crew hysterical) You're expecting me to play... well....

HS: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" ?

BM: Yeah well... you know how that goes.

HS: Do that. (Brian plays) What is that... a tribute to Elvis or something?

BM: Kind of... yeah.

HS: Alright. How about "I'm In Love With My Car". That's a great one.

BM: I can't play that either. It's like that... (plays "... My Car")

HS: Do "Keep Yourself Alive".

BM: That's... that's the first thing.... (plays "...Alive")

HS: That's the best song Queen ever did. Keep going. (singing) 'keep yourself alive...' Fred.. you sing it. Fred.. sing.

FRED NORRIS: (unintelligible)

HS: What?

FN: I can't sing it.

HS: Why?

FN: Because I don't know it that well.

HS: Why don't you know it?

FN: I don't know the lyrics.

HS: Idiot!! Alright... what else you got? What's the best song on your new album?

BM: Play some music... "Resurrection". Play me "Resurrection".

HS: What track is that? Do you know?

BM: Umm.... four?

HS: Four... okay.

BM: Three? I don't know.

HS: What is this "Resurrection"? Is it about Jesus? Everyone with Jesus! Is it about Jesus?

BM: (laughing... then serious) It's more about a personal thing, really. It's more about personal things, I should say.

HS: Is this when you broke up with your wife?

BM: No.. this is like looking for something....

HS: New! It's about your new girlfriend.

BM: No. Well, it's about a lot of stuff...

RQ: (to Howard) Will you stop yelling out !? (laughing)

HS: Well, he wont tell me what it's about!!

BM: Songs are about a lot of things.

HS: Is it about Freddie?

BM: Mmmm.... Freddie's in there somewhere.

HS: Freddie sort of coming back...

BM: Freddie's in there. Freddie's in there. And.. uh... I think my dad's in there. There's a lot of things there. And I was, at the beginning of making this album, I was seriously... like.... hopelessly depressed. And by the time I got to the point where I could write "Resurrection", I felt like I could see a little glimmer of....

HS: Now.. who is being resurrected in this song? Freddie?

RQ: (referring to Brian) He is!!

BM: Uh....

HS: Oh... Brian is?

BM: No... no... it's a song for everybody to feel like their own spirit is...

HS: Re-birth? Alright, alright... dragging it out of him.... it's like pulling teeth.

RQ: No... he said he was depressed and he had a glimmer of hope...

BM: If I could explain it, I wouldn't have written the song.

HS: Let me hear if I get out of my depression when I hear this song... cause I'm always depressed. (all laughing) I haven't gotten out of my depression yet.

RQ: He's never had a glimmer.

BM: It may work. Let's try it.

HS: Okay, let me hear this. You're talking too much, Brian. I can't hear this.

BM: We can talk over the intro. We've got a little cosmic stuff going on.

HS: How long is this happening for?

BM: This is only about 15 seconds. Are we there? Do we have this? Yeah... this is a little journey.

HS: If this song makes money, you'll get plenty un-depressed.. let me tell you that. You'll be happy all of a sudden. "Resurrection". Ladies and gentlemen... Brian May. I'll tell you if it's any good. Let me hear this. This part I like. I love this stuff. I love when you do this kind of stuff. (drumming begins) Oooh.. good drums!! I like the drums. I like the guitar. I like that you haven't wimped out. I like that you're rocking. I like this. What do you rate it, Robin?

RQ: It's good!! I give it a ten.

HS: So far... so far it's a ten.

BM: Of course it's damn good!! What do you expect?? (laughing)

HS: So far it's a ten. I've got to wait for the singing part though, to really evaluate it. (singing begins) You sound as good as Freddie. I like that part. That's a hook. It's called a hook.... right, Brian??

BM: It's... uh.. they say the hook is undeniable.

HS: Let me lower the music. I can't hear you. What?

BM: (laughing) Yeah... that's a hook.

HS: Oh.. I think that's great.

BM: A little hook in there.

HS: I'm proud to know you. I want to marry you. Ohhh.... I know what this is about. I got it figured out now. Shhhhhh !! A lot of those young jack-asses can't play as good as you... right? Say it, Brian. A lot of these young guys coming up... they all suck... right?

BM: A lot.... a lot of these young guys coming up are astoundingly brilliant. But I just play how I feel.

HS: Didn't you just play on a whole record with Eddie Van Halen or something?

BM: Yeah... that was a while ago... (refers to drum solo) This is Cozy's bit.

HS: Who is this?

BM: This is Cozy Powell.. who did...

HS: Oh... yeah. I know who that is. Believe me... you don't... I know Cozy Powell. (whispers loudly) Robin!! Who's Cozy Powell?? (Robin laughs) What do you call that... a drum solo?

BM: Something like that.

HS: What the hell is this? This sounds satanic!! I think you're praying to Satan on this part. I'm going to call the PMRC and report him. I like this. That's you singing?

BM: Yeah.

HS: That's you??

BM: (shouting over the music) There's about three-thousand of me singing it... yeah.

HS: (stops music) Wait a second. How'd you get your voice that deep for that part? (Brian laughs) Is that through some kind of equipment. (Howard mimics the singing)

BM: (still laughing) No, no, no, no.... just like you do, Howard. Just like you do. It's alright. So there we go.

HS: Is there secret messages on this... if you play it backwards?

BM: It's not.. no. I don't play secrets.

HS: Someone told me that they played this song... someone told me that they played "Resurrection" backwards and they heard a secret marriage telling your new girlfriend to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. (crew hysterical - Howard in deep-voiced monotone...) 'you will sign a pre-nuptial... you will sign a pre-nuptial' (laughing continues)

BM: You got it. You got it.

HS: Listen to this... listen to this song backwards. Wait a second. Alright. What are you going.... Brian... before you leave... you got the guitar there. Sing some.. do something.

BM: I ain't going to sing to you now.

HS: Why? Why can't...

BM: Unless it's "My Old Man's A Tosser" or something...

HS: Well.... then sing that.

BM: Oh...let me see. What can I sing. Do you know... (singing) 'Don't jump off of the roof, dad'. Do you know that one?

RQ: No. We don't know that one.

HS: What the hell is that?

BM: (singing) ''ll make a hole in the yard. Mother just planted petunias... the weeding and seeding was hard.'

HS: Alright. Do that. Do it with the guitar. Here he is.... Brian May...

BM: (with guitar) 'If you must end it all, dad... wont you please give us a break? Just take a walk to the park, dad. And then you can jump in the lake.'

HS Alright. (claps) I'll take that. I can play that. I think I can play that one.

BM: Yeah, folks!!

HS I want to thank Brian May. Brian May's new record is out. And by the way, you will be going out on tour... true? True or false.

BM: Umm... well... I've just been out on tour.

RQ: You've been in and out, yeah.

HS: No... but he might be doing another tour.

BM: There's a possibility I could come back.... yeah... depending if people buy the damn record or not, you know.

HS: Are people buying the record?

BM: Some of them are... yeah. A couple are.

HS: I'll buy it. Actually... I'm not buying it. I got a free copy. Robin will buy it.

BM: You may see me again. I don't know. It's a possibility. We could do our own tour.

HS: Good.

RQ: Was it good opening for Guns 'n Roses?

BM: It was brilliant opening for Guns 'n Roses. They were great. Theirs were fantastic audiences, as a matter of fact. And it gave me a great feeling of satisfaction being able to get across to them... and the fact that they didn't want us to leave after we'd finished playing.

HS: So you opened for Guns 'n Roses? That had to be cool. You probably saw a lot of cool backstage stuff going on.. huh?

BM: Uhh.. they're backstage is very similar to what ours used to be.

HS: Oh yeah? Party central.

RQ: It must be wild.

BM: It's very variable... you know.. the way it always is.

HS: Those guys having a lot of sex back there.. huh.

BM: Uhh... they're having a lot of crisps and... you know....

HS: They're having a lot of sex... believe me.

BM: A lot of sodas and everything....

HS: You should see what goes on back there. You can't believe what's going on.

BM: I think you're obsessed, Howard Stern.

HS: Did you actually hang with those dudes?

BM: We had a little bit of time together. We did a lot of talking. I mean.. I have a lot of respect for them... a lot of love...

HS: Who's the better guitar player... you or Slash? Who do you think is better?

BM: Uhh.... he probably is.

HS: Aaah... aaah... He doesn't think that at all.

BM: To tell you the truth, you can't really talk about better, cause everybody's different... you know. But the guy... I watched him...

HS: Everybody's a nice guy in show-business.

BM: You don't have to be a nice guy. I actually like him.

HS: Well.... you're a damn good guitar player.

BM: There's people in this business I don't like... but... I'm not going to bring that up... you know. There's a couple...

HS: You don't have to mention my name. (crew claps)

BM: No.. no... not you. No... no.

HS: I want to thank Brian May... who is my twin. As a matter of fact, I'll be going out on the road with him... and we're just going to be having sex with twins the entire tour.

RQ: The twin's tour..

HS: Yeah... cause we're twins... then we get in bed with the girls... and Brian and I are thinking about blowing... blow drying our hair straight today. So.. we got to decide what we're going to do. We're going to dress the same every day, too. (guitar wails) We're like the Double Mint twins. But... uh... I want to thank you for coming in, Brian. You are one of the greatest guitarists that ever lived.

BM: Awww... that's very kind of you. You don't have to say that.

HS: Sure I do. It's written down here on the paper.

BM: But it was very nice meeting you.

HS: It's very nice meeting you, too, Brian.

BM: You can come on my show anytime.

HS: Thank you, Brian. And you're welcome here anytime. Brian May. And his new solo album is out... and I guess the single is "Resurrection".

BM: That's the new single... yeah.

HS: That's the new single. So... umm... you got a video for MTV?

BM: Yes, we do... which I'm very proud of... yeah. These H-Gunn guys did it for me. It's superb.

HS: Excellent !! Brian May, everyone

Postby DELETED » Mon Mar 14, 2005 7:40 am

Another two or three weeks and this marathon thread will end... :)

Roger's Drum Masterclass
Music Works - BBC World Service [Radio - not TV] 28/11/93 1030GMT

JS = John Sugar (presenter)
RT = Roger Taylor
PC = Phil Collins
JS: So far in the programmes, we've heard artists explaining and demonstrating on piano, synthesizer and guitar. In today's rhythmic edition, we hear about the drums from two rock superstars, Phil Collins of Genesis and this drummer:

RT: Hi I'm Roger Taylor of Queen. Welcome to the Music Works

[a bit of RT drumming] [a clip of Now I'm Here]

JS: Drums have played an important part in contemporary music and in today's pulsating edition of the music works, RT and PC will explain and demonstrate different rhythms, beats and drum styles from behind their kits. From the African TomTom to the Indian Tabla(?) drums have played a vital role in peoples lives for thousands of years. The modern drum kit, comprising bass drum, tom toms and snare with an assortment of cymbals became an integral part of western music this century. Jazz and the big band era of the 1940s gave the drums a more prominent role in the music and with the advent of Rock 'n' Roll in the mid 1950s, an even greater emphasis was placed on the all important beat. Roger Taylor has been the drummer with the rock band Queen for over 20 years. Ironically, he began his musical career not seated behind the drums at all

RT: Well really I was just an aspiring Rock Musician. I picked up a guitar and found it very difficult and I sort of graduated to drums because I found them very easy - I suppose it was a case of natural aptitude. Mitch Mitchell was my role model at the time, and I still think listening to Mitch Mitchell, especially the early stuff with Hendrix, is just fantastic. This fusion of jazz technique and wonderful riffs but with this rolling ferocious attack on the whole kit, it had lots of jazz influences I think. In fact for me he played the kit like a song, it was just wonderful. Total integration into the song. Not just marking time

[a clip of Hey Joe]

JS: In the late 60s, other drummers like Ginger Baker of Cream and Keith Moon of the Who were playing their kits with an explosive zeal that was familiar to the jazz scene but new to rock music. And Led Zeppelin developed a different approach to recording the drums in the studio. In 1971, the band's Four Symbols album featured the new drum sound typified on the track "When the Levee Breaks" pioneered by the groups larger than life drummer John Bonham

RT: The greatest Rock 'n' Roll drummer of all time was John Bonham who did things that nobody had ever even thought possible before with the drum kit. And also the greatest sound out of his drums - they sounded enormous, and just one bass drum. So fast on it that he did more with one bass drum than most people could do with three, if they could manage them. And he had technique to burn and fantastic power and tremendous feel for rock 'n' roll "When the levee breaks" is the archetypal heavy drum sound - it's never
been bettered - it's like a steamroller, enormous bass drum. Simple but takes feel

[a bit of RT playing the intro]

A very simple pattern, but the sound was everything.

[a clip of When the Levee Breaks]

RT: The interplay between the guitars and drums was wonderful on that. He used to use 4 microphones on the drum kit - quite inexpensive microphones just placed properly, drums tuned properly, played properly sounded great and the first time I saw Led Zeppelin, Bonzo just walked on the stage and just warmed up for about 10 seconds. Freddie and I nearly fell over we just couldn't believe the power and the sound. People are still today trying to imitate Led Zeppelin, America is full of drummers trying to play like John Bonham.

[a clip of Rock 'n 'Roll]

JS: But there's more to being a drummer than hammering the life out of a drum kit. All music has rhythm and a tempo and together they provide the vitality and character of the music. Tempo means speed or time. Most Rock 'n 'Roll for example is in common or 4/4 time. Roger Taylor holds such technical terms in high esteem.

RT: I try and avoid technical terms because they make me go to sleep. Er, 4/4 really as far as most people are concerned is basically different to 3/4 or 6/8. A song like We are the Champions is basically in 3/4 which is 3 beats to the bar which is really waltz time [a bit of RT playing Champions] [a clip of Champions] That's just 3/4 , er hang on a minute... yeah. Whereas the majority of songs are in 4 time, it's very simple 4 beats to the bar

[RT demonstrates 4/4]

[a clip of the Stones. either Brown Sugar or Jumping Jack Flash (dunno which) which is presumably what Roger was playing] [RT demonstrates 4/4]

RT: Almost all beats, the great majority of them, are in 4/4. Anything other than that, you're talking Jazz or an arrangement by Genesis! I had to play one of those the other day and it was very difficult! Turn it on again - very difficult. I think it went 13 time to 3 time to 4 time

[a clip of Turn it on again]

[a large bit about PC talking about In the Air Tonight and Ringo]

JS: Jazz has given contemporary music a wealth of explosive drummers with characters to match, like Art Blakey, Phil Seaman, Gene Crouper and many more. But there's one jazz drummer that sends shivers of delight through both PC and RT

RT: I saw Buddy Rich playing. He was wonderful, fantastic. I would say of just sheer technique he's the best I've ever seen. I remember he did a sort of press roll thing which lasted for about 5 minutes. It started off as a whisper which you could barely hear and it got so it filled the whole room of about 3500 people and it was like thunder, it was all one snare drum - in the manner of this

[RT does crescendo drum roll]

I can't keep it up for 3 minutes, but it just shows unbelievable control of the drum and the sticks

[a clip of Buddy Rich playing something][

[a bit with PC talking about Buddy Rich]

JS: But is it possible that drummers could find themselves replaced by digital technology. Drum machines are featured on many of today's recordings, especially the many dance hits that regularly storm the chart They are small, versatile, keep perfect time and don't need to get paid

RT: Fantastic to write with. They have their place, they're terribly useful to the musician, but they're just another tool. They never will replace a good drummer. A lot of the bands that use them, I call then typewriter bands because basically they program the sample sounds with no real dynamics, and that dynamics is very important. And the records come out sounding very flat and very 2-dimensional whereas something with real dynamics and a good drummer can add another dimension - depth - to the band and that's why bands that play together when they're actually making the record will always sound better

JS: As far as RT is concerned, the human touch us still preferable to a machine A good drummer obviously needs an instinctive feel for the rhythm, and modern dance or funk music requires a different approach

RT: Yes, the difference is subtle. It's really the way you place the beats within the bar. And often you get more going on behind, often it's sharper and snappier

[bit of RT demonstrating]

You might have 16s going on on the high hat

[bit of RT demonstrating]

Unlike something that's straight. Like one of our old things which is as straight as you can get. Another one bites the dust, which is something like

[a bit of RT playing AOBTD intro] [a clip of AOBTD]

JS: So far, we've heard about tempo and technique, the great drum pioneers, dynamics and drum machines. But before I leave you, what about the human qualities? If you've always had a yearning to play drums and are about to go and spent your hard earned cash on that expensive drum kit, how do you know you've got what it takes?

RT: You need a sense of time, a sense of rhythm, a sort of inner clock and that you really need naturally. You have to have aggression and lastly I would say you definitely need stamina. But you do learn tricks, apart from the fact that you develop more stamina, your muscles get more used to what's demanded of them. We used to do a song called Dragon Attack that was very hard on the right wrist, It should have gone

[a bit of RT playing Dragon Attack chorus]

I used to end up going [a bit of RT playing Dragon Attack chorus with half the hits]

You sort of half the work that you're doing with the right hand, and that's just an example. Also there are techniques of being louder and using less energy. For instance, when people start playing the snare drum, they will play the back beat but they'll probably play it like this

[RT hits drum a few times - very clean sound]

when you learn a bit more, you find that virtually every time you hit the snare with the back beat you don't just hit it but do what's called a rim shot. A rim shot is not this

[RT hits rim]

A rim shot is this

[RT hits drum - much more drag]

[RT plays something, don't know what]

That's just a way of accentuating or getting more power out of the drum It's development of technique and I suppose playing the drums more efficiently

JS: Why have drummers got this wild-man reputation?

RT: It's because they're basically far superior to other musicians

JS: You're not biased? Why should drummers always be being deemed the lunatic?

RT: I suppose it's more physical than most of the other things, your adrenalin is pumped more naturally whereas bass players are usually, well... quite often fairly morose, rather like their instruments. There are stereotypes and it is quite amazing how often members of bands seem to follow those stereotypes. Singers are ALL vain. Guitarists are all vain but won't admit it. Bass players are quiet people, and drummers are very exciting people to be with.

JS: You mentioned earlier that one of the qualities a good drummer needs is to be aggressive. Drums are quite antisocial and loud, so that might make the individual antisocial and loud and therefore get noticed

RT: There might well be something in that, and there's something rather nice about spending the evening hitting things

[clip of The Who - the one that sounds like Under a Raging Moon (?won't get fooled again)]

Postby DELETED » Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:35 pm

I have narrowed it down to around ten more interviews and I am going to post them all's time for this to finish!

Here they come...

Brian May
(Guitarist-August 1985)

American guitar makers, Guild have got together with Queen’s Brian May to build a replica of his famous home made guitar

Here’s the battered relic!

Burns pickups I see.

Yeah, Tri-Sonics – they’ve been messed about a bit.

What did you do to them?

I rewound some and filled them up with Araldite, all except the treble one which I should probably do one day. I’m still fiddling. I recently took the treble one out and changed the magnets around to make my favourite combination (treble and middle) humbuck, in phase. It works very well except that I made it whistle more. They settle in and they don’t whistle, but it’s become microphonic.

Such light strings! What gauges are they?

Yeah, very light, they’re 9, 10, 11, 16, 22, 34 I think.

You’ve got an extremely low action. Playing it, I can see how you get your vibrato.

It’s slippery isn’t it?


Did you lacquer the fingerboard yourself?

Yeah, we did everything from scratch.

Have you done any mods to it over the years?

Yes, It had a fuzz box in, to start with. I haven’t done much recently apart from put a bit more screening in it to get rid of the pick up buzz. Mostly, though it’s as it was. Actually the very first pick ups I made myself, completely. They were just Eclipse magnets with a coil around, but they went North, South, North, South across the pole pieces, so when you bent the string across, it made this weird noise. That’s why I put the Burns Pick ups on. It worked out well.

Where did you get the binding from in those days, or is it not proper binding?

No. That stuff was shelf edging. It was about an inch or so by an inch and I made a gig to cut it down – with a blade in. You couldn’t get the real stuff at all , though.

You couldn’t even get proper fret wire……

No, that’s right. I had to make a gig for that as well, to file it down to size, and then make another little gig to curve the wire before I put it in. Yeah, everything was bits and pieces.

So, if you hadn’t made it as a musician, you could have made a respectable guitar builder or repairer!

I don’t know, maybe, yeah.

The tremolo arm is one of those things that are used to hold your saddlebag up on your bag. The knob on the end is made out of a knitting needle! The tremolo springs are from a motorbike – I forget which kind, but a friend of mine had loads of valve springs and we used those.

Do you use the arm much?

Yes, quite a lot really – sometimes unconsciously. Mostly for sort of aeroplane noises and stuff, or little tail-offs of notes and occasionally for open chord work where it’s all sustaining. You just touch it, carry it along with the finger and it just gives everything that little ripple. It blends in with everything, and makes it sound more in tune.

The neck is quite big, isn’t it?

Yeah, I like a big neck. This Guild model is made with a big fat neck as well, but the production ones are a bit thinner because most people don’t seem to like it. I like thick – thick and flat and wide.

How old is the guitar now?

About 20 years, I suppose. I was about 17, I think, when I built it.

I like the way the neck is sculpted into the headstock

I did that with a pen knife and sandpaper blocks. We didn’t have any power tools or anything. I very recently put some new machine heads on. The original set I got from Clifford Essex, which were thirty bob and were great. They lasted ages but eventually the worm just went right through, so we had to take them off. They had a good feel to them though.

Actually I prefer them to the new ones; they’re alright but the old ones used to kind of lock. You’d turn them up and they would be almost immoveable. I find these a bit too free really.

Schallers are the best available though, aren’t they?

That’s what everyone says, yes.

What was the fingerboard made of?

A piece of oak.

Was that the mantelpiece?

No, the fireplace bit was this, the neck, which was a very nice piece of wood. It had some dead worm though, which I filled with bits of matchstick, and stained.

What lacquer did you use on it?

Rustin’s Plastic Coating. There’s tons of it on there, loads on the neck. It’s starting to go now, but it hasn’t been touched in all that time and it’s had so much use. It must be pretty good stuff!

It must worry you that you might drop it, or have it stolen, because it’s absolutely irreplaceable.

Yes it does, very much so. In a way having the Guilds helps because now, at least, I’ve got something to play. I’ve never really got on with Fenders or Gibsons; I can play them at home, but if I get them with my set up on stage, they just don’t do what I want them to.

You seem to prefer single coil pick ups, is that so?

Well yeah, but I’ve been divorced from anything technical for years. I started off being technical but then gradually grew away from it. I’ve got this guy called Jobbie who looks after my guitars and amps and things, so I drifted away from it. Sometimes the further away you get from the technicalities, the better you feel about playing. Recently, when we got going with this guitar, I got back into all that and started looking at what was around. I’ve been dealing with DiMarzio and they make some weird stuff now; humbuckers that sound like single coils, and all sorts of good stuff. I’m not as narrow minded as I was about it all.

I’ve just been writing a piece for Oxford University Press; it’s a guide to guitar teachers and I’ve been doing the rock part, so I’ve been going into all that. Because a lot of it’s in your mind, you never really formalise it so it me ages and ages. I knew what I wanted to say, and I was talking about humbuckers and stuff like that. I think they cut most of it out – I wrote too much really. I think it was kind of concession for them to have the rock guitar thing in there, anyway, but it’s a start and that’s the important thing.

What exactly is it?

Well, Oxford University Press are having a book put together with all the different styles and the guy collating it wrote to ask if I would be interested – I think it was because something I’d written, or an interview or something. He’s got a folk guitar part which, I think, is written by Bert Jansch and then there’s Flamenco written by Paco Pena, which is great. I was very pleased to be involved, but I just didn’t realise how time consuming it would be. Endless time.

How did the Guild thing happen – did they approach you or did you approach them?

They approached me. I was dealing with Fender at the time because they were thinking about doing a Brian May model and their chief designer started making a prototype. He was keen on the idea and was making it exactly like the original, even down to the kind of wood and everything. But then he came back and said that Fender didn’t really didn’t want to get into a ‘signature’ guitar. Apparently they’d tried it early on and it didn’t work. Also they were having problems at the time and I the end it didn’t happen.

So I mentioned this in an interview in Guitar Player and Guild wrote to me and said they’ like to take up the project. So I agreed. Their craftsmanship is really second to none; I hadn’t realised how good they are. I’ve been to the factory a few times now, and it’s all done by hand. It’s all done by Americans, not just sent off to Japan or Korea or wherever with the plans. They are very old fashioned which, in some ways, holds them back commercially. I’ve had endless discussions with them about how the thing should be marketed, because really their idea was to make it and just let it sit there, but I said no. I think, these days, you have to get out and let people know it’s there, but they’re reluctant to do all that stuff. In a sense it’s nice, because all their effort goes into manufacture and they don’t cut any corners. I know the man who’s in charge of the joinery and woodwork and he goes out every year to places where people have saved particular pieces of wood for him. It’s about one in a thousand he’ll take; it’s got to be the right density, the right colour and everything. He goes out and personally chooses his bits. They take such pride in their work, it’s very good.

How does the Guild actually compare to your own guitar?

Well it may be a touch heavier, I don’t know. On the body of my model, the strain is taken by an Oak insert the rest is rubbish! It’s actually veneered block-board, but they built this out of solid Mahogany. It seems to work and it’s obviously a nicer construction job. Actually I was dubious about them making it in Mahogany although, if I’d had a nice piece I would have used it. I was worried though that it might change the sound, but it seems to work quite well. As I say, the neck on that one is similar to mine, but the rest are going to be a little thinner – just a bit.

The neck on the Guild is glued, rather than glued and bolted like yours. Is that right?

No, actually, mine is bolted but I never got around to gluing it. It comes apart easily. I wa going to glue it, but it never needed it – it’s built like a battle ship, that thing.

What do the six switches do?

There’s an on/off switch and a phase reverse for each pick up, and they’re in series rather than parallel, which makes a huge difference. I didn’t discover that till very late on, I just assumed that everyone else had them in series, but apparently they don’t. They are all in parallel and that’s part of my sound as well, because with the pickups being quite fat anyway, if you use two of them in series there’s a lot of power in that range.

I see it’s been fitted with a Kahler.

Yeah, the Kahler people have been very helpful. I’ve been to their place as well and they’ve gone to some trouble to make something which felt a bit more like mine, that is, a bit tighter than normal. It’s quite close; They’ve given me a different cam and some stronger springs to make it feel like mine. We were going to make a copy of my tremolo as it works very well, but it’s very expensive to tool up. The cost of the thing is going to be the big problem!

Have you any ideas to the eventual price?

Well, it’s about $1,000 in the USA which would have been five hundred quid here a few years ago, but it’s now about £1,000

If you build an uncompromising guitar it’s got to be an uncompromising price, hasn’t it?

It has really, and there’s no sort of scaled down version; they’ve all got the DiMarzio pickups and the Kahler. We couldn’t really cut any corners at all. It comes with a string lock as well but I’ve taken mine off, because it changes the feel down the bottom and I’m convinced it changes the sound, because I took it off and put it on a couple of times and I don’t know hat the difference is but it is different. I knew we had it close with the pickups and I knew the body was close, but that one didn’t sing like I wanted it to, so I took this off and it seemed to do the trick. It’s really a good spare now, which is something I’ve never had before. I’m please with it.

What are these pickups like compared to the modified Burns?

Once again very close; we fiddled with those. There are a number of different versions, but I think the one we’ve arrived at is pretty close. They have a little bit more output than mine, which is good, although the pickups aren’t the final ones. Once we got close to the final sound, I got Steve Butcher, the man who actually does the nitty gritty to make a number of different ones with a different number of windings, to see what variation there was. He’s gone to endless trouble.

It’s amazing – I didn’t realise there were so many things you could do with a pickup to change the sound. It’s all new for me; I’m excited about it really.

So many people have asked over the years, where they can get one, and they can’t and there have been a lot of people making them, as well. I’ve got pictures at home of people who’ve made copies – almost exactly – and brought them along. I did the Capitol, Workshop thing, and there was a young guy brought one along which is identical, and sounded very good, too.

How had he got all the details?

Well he’d just taken it from pictures. A couple of them wrote to me and asked how things were done and I wrote back to them. I think there’s about a dozen around the world that people have made. Some of them are very close.

You must have been one of the first truly melodic rock players. How did you develop that feel?

I don’t know where I came from, really. Hank Marvin was a hero of mine at the time of The Shadows and then I went totally over to Eric Clapton and Hendrix, and I think by the time I was playing on record, all that was in there, sort of fused together. But I was always concerned with melodies, yeah.

Are you still using the same AC30 set up?

Yes. I went to see Vox the other day because they’ve been bought out by their directors. They’re on the market again and their amps are great. They are back to the old design actually, except a little updating, but nothing that would change the old tube sound. They’re great I tried out a few and they sounded really good. I would have said so if it wasn’t! I’m very sensitive to how they are, because they went through all sorts of changes – transistorised and all that stuff. They are expensive now though which is the only trouble. Yes, I love the AC30 sound. Nobody really knows why they sound like that, not even the guy who designed it.

Are you still using the nine?

We’ve got twelve. I don’t use them all, all the time – just judiciously. I go into little low impedance splitter, which is behind the amps, ands then straight into one which is miked up. We’re always very careful about that, we always choose the best one, whichever speaker happens to sound best on that night. That’s really the basis of the sound.

Before the splitter thing there’s a Boss phaser, or chorus, pedal. One side is straight though and the other side goes through the pedal into another separate amp so that, even when you’ve got the thing cranked right up, they don’t interfere and you still get the phasing sound. We mike that amp up as well, and have the two in stereo on the PA and it gives a nice breath to the sound. I have that on most of the time actually, just very slightly phasing – just enough to give that stereo effect.

I’ve got a couple of delays, which used to be Echoplexes but now are MXR’s, and the outputs go into separate amps, so again they can all be flat out without interfering with one another. So that’s the basis. Oh, and I’ve got one amp that seems to work well with a Telecaster, but that’s just for one song, Crazy Little Thing. So, the others are slaved up to each other individually, so if one goes down, I can immediately switch to it’s partner. On the rare occasions when I can’t hear enough in the monitors, I’ll switch them all on, but I can’t remember the last time I needed that, because the monitors are so flexible. The man who works them is very good, So I work off the monitors really.

Dou you find the guitar sound is ‘true’ through the monitors?

Yeah it works fine; it’s a very clean system and doesn’t modify the sound at all. It’s handy for me because if it sounds right in the monitors it’s sounding the same out front. If you knocked out the microphone, the guy out front would realise immediately.

I have one old bin, that used to be part of the PA in the old days, which is hooked into my system and it just has a certain sound sound about it that the guitar likes. It makes it feed back really well and always having that behind me helps the sustain. If it doesn’t work you can always fiddle. I’ve got a little treble booster as well, which is similar to a lot of things they sell nowadays. It just pushes the amplifier a little further into saturation and takes a little bit of the bass off. I think that has a lot to do with it; I can’t function without it, I can’t drive the amp hard enough. Guild have made one and, in fact, are giving it away with the guitar. They have put knobs on theirs – Mine doesn’t have knobs on it, because I made it myself. It could actually go inside the guitar and I think we might do that.

You must also have been one of the first people to really get into multiple overlay, Echoplex idea?

Yeah. I always wanted to do it and I never had the money to get it together. On the first Mott The Hoople tour we were supporting them, I only had one, because that was all I could afford. It was a way of realising the harmony sound on stage without getting another player in. Many times we thought about getting another guitar player to do the harmony stuff that was on record, but somehow it didn’t work out – it wasn’t the right thing to do. So I did it with Echoplexes.

When you do the harmony passages, do you have it already worked out, or do you play something then harmonise it afterwards?

Nowadays, because I’ve been doing it for so long, there are certain things which I know will work and which I can just slip into. But if I’m doing a solo piece on my own, which I very often still do, I try different things out every night. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t You gradually build up more things which work and try to improvise. I’m not always pleased with how it goes, but I think that’s normal. There’s about one night in three when I think I actually did something interesting, that I liked. And if you do something great one night, and try to duplicate it the next, it never sounds the same – even if the notes were all there it doesn’t have the same spark.

What length of day have you got available to you?

I think it’s about 0.8 of a second, and double that, 1.6, which I use most of the time. I’ve varied it for some things, but that’s what I usually use.

How does that compare with the Echoplexes?

I used to have to modify them. I put them in a new box and extended the rail so I could get a little more out of it. They were a nice machine, but if you had to take them out on the road every night and get them working, they were a nightmare. They have their own particular sound, but they used to give a lot of trouble, I suppose, because they get through around a lot. Jobbie would be there every night, cleaning the heads and trying to make all the little wheels work and the tapes but there’d still be moments when it would go yyeeaagghh in the middle of a solo, which is embarrassing because it sounds like you are using a backing tape, which we’re always taking great pains to tell everyone we never did! And that’s still true; the only time there’s anything there that we’re not actually doing is the time we’re off stage.

How do you get round things like Bohemian Rhapsody, which is such a huge piece?

We go off stage for that bit and play the tapes, sometimes a video, sometimes something special with the lights, and then come on and play the last bit. It’s very definite that it’s not us doing that bit – it gives us breather and it’s become traditional that we do it that way. I don’t know how else we can do it. Every time a tour comes up we say "We can’t do that again" but then……

I’d hate to try to do Galileo and all that stuff live – it would be laughable! There are a million voices on there or , at least a hundred and fifty, so if the three of us start doing it, it’s never going to sound right.

Who works out the vocal harmonies?

Sometimes together, sometimes the author of the song. With Bohemian Rhapsody, Freddie had them worked out and wrote them down. We went in and did it, but it was all in Fred’s head from the start. He knew it pretty well.

You were probably also the fist group to put a video together which captured and promoted the song in the way it did for Bohemian Rhapsody, which was probably not the most likely single.

That’s right. There was a lot of opposition to putting it out at all, without an edit, in fact EMI produced an edit but we said ‘No. we’ll go for it as it is or not at all’ and we were lucky really – it could have come a cropper. They said no one would play it! The video, though, undoubtedly helped and I think Kenny Everett helped because he went berserk over it. He even stole the tape from the playback. We had the playback but the album wasn’t finished yet. I went back into the studio the night after, to work on the vocal piece in the middle of The Prophet’s Song. I worked till about five in the morning then collapsed and went back to my little basement flat - and I was woken in the morning by hearing the very same thing I’d been working on, coming out of my upstairs neighbour’s radio. It was like a nightmare. Everett had taken the tape away, and I hadn’t known! That was a weird experience. He seized on Bohemian Rhapsody and played it to death and I think that’s what started it in this country.

What are you doing at present?

Well, we’ve been working a lot, touring. We’ve done Europe and we did Sun City in South Africa, we did Rio and then a tour of Australia, New Zealand & Japan. We are doing the Wembley concert for Africa then, after that, there’s nothing really in the book. It gives Freddie a bit of time to get his solo album off the ground.

Are you doing anything on that score?

I’m not doing much – a lot of talking to people, but I’m not doing much playing. There are some people I’d very much like to work with – I won’t tell you who because it might spoil things – but I’d very much like to get in and do something, maybe a bit like the Starfleet thing but perhaps a little bit more formal.

There are a couple of other things which I’m very passionate about; I collect stereo photographs from the 1860’s. It’s a very specialised thing but I’ really fanatical about it! I know a few people who deal in them, at auction houses and junk shops and stuff. So, I come home and ring everyone up. I’m trying to put some research together on some of those early photographers. They were analogous to pop stars in a way, I see it that way. They were doing something which was, in the beginning, for it’s own sake – a sort of underground thing, which later became a big passion. Queen Victoria liked it, and it became a craze overnight. They sold millions of these things, literally millions. They were the equivalent of number one records, and it was obviously the thing to do, to get out and get the latest one. A lot of the stuff I collect was put together to tell a story as a comment on the times – a sort of story from history

Postby DELETED » Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:39 pm

Interview with Brian May
from Total Guitar Magazine, Christmas 1998

From the excessive majesty of Queen to his solo career successes, Brian May's irrepressible desire for pushing the boundaries of melodic rock is unrivalled. Joe Bennett gets the low-down from one of rock guitar's greatest innovators.

You'd think people like Brian May could take it easy, wouldn't you? With 18 Queen albums under his belt and two of his won, he could be forgiven for sitting back and feeling at least slightly pleased with himself. Not a bit of it. The words 'perfectionist' and 'workaholic' seem scarcely inadequate for a man who has taken six years to record his latest album, and doesn't plan to take any time off from touring for the rest of the year. And his enthusiasm for gigging is obvious:

"We're touring Japan, by way of Russia, and that takes us up to the middle of November and then I'm not sure how long I want to be out for. The temptation , once you've started, is to keep going 'cause you're all geared up, you've got all the right people and you're rehearsed."

Tragically, 'all the right people' lacks one individual. Drummer Cozy Powell died in a car accident earlier this year. "Cozy was such a great gut and a close friend - it'll be really strange to look behind me on stage and not see him there. For a time we even did a few gigs without a drummer but after a lot of thought and heart-searching we all thought we should use one. We found Eric Singer; he's blinding, but it's tough to fill Cozy's shoes. I'd built a lot of my style round him - he'd been a hero of mine for years. I judged my writing by how it sounded when Cozy played it. The idea is not to replace him though, just to move on. Eric comes from the right place, you know?

"Somebody once told me when we started out that a band is only as good as its drummer. I thought that was crap but over the years I've realised it's true. You can get away with a crap guitarist quite easily - and a lot of people do! - but you can't get away with sloppy drumming. It makes the whole thing sound really amateurish. The level of energy, the upper limit is set by the drummer."

Playing Live
Brian crafts his set lists very carefully, and he sees the gigging experience as much more than simply copying the original recording. "You're supposed to be finding new moments with the audience, so each gig should be unique. With the recognisable Queen stuff, I do tend to settle for something that sounds a lot like what I did in the first place - some audiences want that. You're always treading the line between keeping yourself fresh and giving people something they want to hear."

And Queen, of course, had an additional practical problem to deal with when playing live - how to recreate the band's heavily-produced sounds in a guitar/bass/drums format. "We tried out a lot of songs two or three times and they just weren't made for the stage - stuff from 'Flash Gordon' springs to mind. We also didn't do stuff that Roger or I sang on the albums because we wanted to use Freddie as the front man as much as possible. I mean, when you have the greatest front man in the world, you don't want to waste his time!

"Some of the rock songs stayed in the live set just 'cause they were cracking played live. Tie Your Mother Down, for example, never left the live set and it probably never will. Certain songs just have that chemistry... you want to play the 'til you die."

But despite the sadness that Brian associates with the end of the band, the last few years have given him the freedom to explore new areas. "After the Back to the Light tour I made the decision to head towards the second album, but on the way I would try to get out into the world and interact more. From the beginning of Queen there was such momentum that I never had any time to do anything else. My energy was 95% focused on the band., Then there was all that time when we knew Freddie was on the way out, we kept our heads down again. When he'd gone, my way of dealing with it was to get busy."

One of the projects was the posthumous work to be done on Freddie's final recorded tracks. "We had promised Freddie - and ourselves - that we would finish the album after he'd gone. He'd wanted us to give him as many vocal lines to record as we could, but even though we'd made that commitment, actually doing it was really hard. We only had scraps, sometimes vocals without anything else, to work on. It was an enormous task and it took literally two years out of my life. You can imagine the frustration because I had ideas in my head, but this was a labour of love because it was for Freddie. It was enormously exciting but enormously sad as well. And all this time my next album was gathering dust because I was pretty much focused on the Queen album."

The three remaining members of the band still get on well, but they haven't collaborated with Brian on his solo work; " consciously wanted to avoid my second album being connected with Queen - that's why Roger and John don't appear on it. We have out own separate paths, we always did have, and I think that was part of our strength. It was a very strong partnership but we were always having to give something up and compromise. Four songwriters in a four-piece band - what can I say?"

Roger, John and Brian did, however, record one last song as a band. "The original plan was that we'd finish the last Queen album and then I'd get back to my own work. Then the Queen Rocks compilation came up. The record company wanted to put out a compilation album and we thought it'd be a good idea to encourage people to remember the heavy stuff that Queen recorded - I've always had a fondness for the rockier side of things. Roger and John heard a track I'd done called No-one But You, which was originally going to be on my own album. Roger loved it and thought we should do it was Queen. I knew that the lyric was very much about Freddie, but Roger wanted to make it more general, change the tempo - so I lost a song, and Queen gained one!"

Brian and Beck
The songs which did eventually make it on to Brian's latest solo LP, Another World, are a mixed bunch indeed. As well as covers of Brian's own favourites - Hendrix's One Rainy Wish and Mott The Hoople's All the Young Dudes to name but two - he's included material based on outside projects he's been involved in. Cyborg was originally written as a soundtrack to a computer game and The Guv'nor was the theme to a TV series which never made it to the small screen.

" The Guv'nor was a television programme about a bare-knuckle boxer in the original script, but it worked as a metaphor, and I started thinking - in our world, the world of guitar players, we have people like that, who we think of as our Guv'nor. Jeff Beck is like that, he's great buy he's really unpredictable, spiky and frighteningly original. You feel small next to him, kind of wary. So I began to think the song was about him and I rang him up - which took a moment of courage from me! I asked him to play on it, and he turned up, and did a recording session here at the house. Being the caring, professional player that he is, he wasn't satisfied with his own guitar parts - although I loved them - so he took it away to work on it. I didn't get it back until a year later!"

But apart from this one guest slot, all the other guitar parts on the album are Brian's own, including the ubiquitous layered harmony parts that are his trademark. "I grew up with an obsession about harmony. Every record I heard I would wonder why certain harmonies and chords had certain effects on me. So it's a habit I had of letting something wash over me, and then figuring out afterwards why it had moved me. I learned that the lines and the crossing points are the key points, really. I never studied harmony formally - it was mainly done by listening. I picked up a book on harmony once, but it just gave me the names for things, which I wasn't really interested in. I believe in intuition more than anything. I mean I know something about the techniques of inversions and everything, but mainly it's like, 'What happens when I do this?' "

May Gear
Suitably enough, this brings the conversation round to the inevitable subject of guitars and amplifiers. The question 'Are you still using AC30s?' is rendered pointless as we turn a corner and walk into a room literally filled with Vox combos. And Brian's Red Special, affectionately known as the 'Old Lady' is still going strong, thanks to some fairly major repair work by guitar surgeon Greg Fryer. "The guitar was getting dangerously worn from 30 years of gigs, but I could never retire it. It's a link with my dad, we made it together in the late '60s, and I don't play anything else - apart from the excellent copies that Greg's made for me, of course."

Brian's passion for his instrument was never faltered, and he's happy to find that many TG readers still look to classic rock material for their inspiration; "I've always lived in that guitar world. I have noticed kids that I come across being more into the real essence of guitar music now. I walked into my friend's son's bedroom a couple of years ago and there were posters for Led Zeppelin and Hendrix all over the walls - I was expecting hip hop, rap and all that.

"With all of that early rock stuff - and I suppose I can include Queen - there's a certain directness and passion about it. It has that emotional intensity and unfettered quality. You're always trying to capture those moments, and not always successfully... there are times when I've been feeling something and played a solo that I've never been able to repeat."

Transcription Troubles
Perhaps surprisingly, Brian is unaware of the massive amount of Queen guitar tablature available, and he is far from up-to-date on recent developments in transcription quality. "I never took sheet music seriously. I remember getting some for The Shadows' stuff, then realising it was nothing like the record and that I could do better myself just by listening to other people and using my own intuition.

"For example, I remember the first time I tried tapping. I actually got the idea from someone else in the early '70s. We were on tour in Texas, and a few beverages had been consumed while we were watching a bar band. The guitarist kept adding this high note as a single tap to his blues licks , and it sounded like a flute or clarinet or something. I told him I was going to nick it and he said, 'fine!' He'd nicked it off someone else anyway. He said he'd heard Billy Gibbons do it on a ZZ Top album, but I've listened to all their stuff since and I still don't know which track he means.

"So that's how it happens - but it doesn't always have to be a guitar that you get new ideas from. As a kid I listened to an arranged trad jazz band called the Temperance Seven, and they used a technique that they called 'bells', where every note is played on a different instrument and it's all sustained , cascading with harmonic effects. Mantovani did it too - he was a great influence on me - and I did it on my first album. That's the inspiration for the second half of the Killer Queen solo..."

Guitar Heroes
So how does he feel about players learning his own solos from transcriptions? "I think that's really good. It's great if players learn their craft by listening to how other people do it. Pick up everything that's out there - there's no shame in that at all. Individual style will emerge anyway, like Chinese whispers. George Harrison once tried to play Apache by the Shadows and he couldn't remember it, so it came out as something completely different - and that's fair enough. I go to see Joe Satriani or Steve Vai - those guys are way ahead of me and I pick up something new every time. I'm lucky in that I can talk to them because I'm in a privileged position. They say they listen to my stuff too, which is great but I'm under no illusions!"

"Ultimately, I think if I've got anything to say as a guitar player it's because I'm open and I listen, and I find my own way - but in the full knowledge of what other people are doing. How can you learn a language if you don't listen to people speak? This magazine of yours would have helped me if it had been around when I was starting out, I can tell you!" Ah, thanks Brian...

Astronomy and then some
And so the time comes when we have to leave Brian to his schedule. This afternoon he's got a telephone interview with the local radio station. Then he's got a meeting with his publicity person about cover artwork.

This coming weekend he'll be on BBC Radio 4. Of course, Greg will be at the house tomorrow to continue working with Brian on the live rig. And there's the radio mix of the new single to mix. Oh, and still he's working on his book about 19th century stereo photography. Plus he's got his PhD to finish too. Makes you wonder how he finds the time to pick up his guitar...

Postby DELETED » Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:40 pm

"Guitar Player" magazine - January 1983
Interview by Jas Obrecht

Brian May's quiet, gentlemanly nature offstage gives little hint of the flash he delivers onstage when Queen emerges through billowing smoke and kaleidoscope lighting to the cheers of thousands. May cuts the figure of the quintessential British rocker - tall, lean, and in control. Using dazzling arrays of effects, tones, and techniques, he adds a prominent voice to Queen's skintight sound. Midway through the show, he launches a long solo showcase, battling spaceship-shaped lighting pods and using two echo machines to build three-part harmonies and counterpoints.

On records Brian proves to be a player of imagination and stylistic versatility as well. With a homemade guitar and multi-track recording techniques, he has created one of the instantly identifiable voices in rock; the sweet, sustaining tones prominent in "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Killer Queen", the Flash Gordon soundtrack, and numerous other cuts. During his 12 years with Queen, Brian has composed several international hits, notably "We Will Rock You" "Keep Yourself Alive" "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Flash". And although you'd never know it by his unostentatious manner, he is probably one of the most successful men in rock: According to London's Sunday Express magazine, "Britain's highest paid executives in the year ending September 1979 were the four directors of Queen Productions Ltd. "Those four directors are singer Freddie Mercury, bassist John Deacon, drummer Roger Taylor, and guitarist Brian May.

Born to middle class parents 35 years ago. Brian was raised in Feltham, a small suburb west of London. In the interview below, he recalls his earliest musical experiences and influences, and recounts how he and his father built the guitar he uses today. The Mays stressed the importance of education, and it wasn't until Brian had graduated with physics degree from London University's Imperial College that he began playing semi-professionally. In 1971, May and Roger Taylor formed a band called Smile. When their singer quit, Freddie Mercury, formerly with another London-area band named Wreckage, replaced him. The trio enlisted bassist John Deacon to form Queen.

Escaping the endless pub circuit, the band chose to practice the musical and theatrical aspects of their show in private, performing occasionally for close friends and invited guests. "If we were going to drop the careers we'd trained hard for", May remembers. "We wanted to make a really good job of music. We all had quite a bit to lose, really, and it didn't come easy. To be honest, I don't think any of us realized it would take a full three years to get anywhere. It was certainly no fairy tale!"

Queen's strategy paid off when Elektra signed them and released Queen in September '73. The debut album contained a pair of singles - "Liar" and "Keep Yourself Alive". Queen was voted Band Of The Year in the Melody Maker reader's poll early the next year, and their follow-up Queen II LP yielded a hit. "The Seven Seas Of Rhye". This was the first project where May began to extensively explore multi-tracked guitar parts. In the summer of 1974 Queen toured the U.S. for the first time as the opening act for Mott The Hoople.

Sheer Heart Attack, released November '74, included "Killer Queen", which topped the British charts. The album made the Top 10 in America, and Queen headlined in Great Britain and the U.S. for the first time. Aided by Freddie Mercury's exotic dances and costumes, the band garnered a reputation for being theatrical as well as musically sophisticated. Their 1975 visit to Japan was greeted by riotous scenes of adulation that some reporters compared to the American arrival of the Beatles in 1964.

Queen holed up in various English studios for five months in 1975 to produce their critically acclaimed, meticulously produced A Night At The Opera. "Bohemian Rhapsody" contained layered guitar solos and an innovate operatic section with numerous multi-tracked voices. The single stayed in the #1 position on the British charts for nine weeks, and a year later the British Phonographic Industry voted it Best Record Of The Preceding 25 years. The album became the band's first million-seller. Queen ended 1976 with the release of A Day At The Races, scoring high in the charts with "Sombody To Love".

The group toured America and Europe in early 1977, and in the summer taped News Of The World. The LP topped the charts in the U.S., Holland, Belgium, France, Israel, Canada, Brazil, Ireland and Mexico. "We Are The Champions" backed by May's "We Will Rock You" became the biggest-selling single in Warner Brothers/Elektra Asylum history. Following a series of business fiascos soon afterwards, Queen's members decided to manage themselves. "We didn't particularly want the job", May recalls, "but we decided it was the best way to get precisely what we wanted and control our own destiny".

Jazz, recorded in Switzerland and France in mind '78 contained the hits "Fat Bottomed Girls" and "Bicycle Race". Seven tractor-trailers were required for setting up the band's visually elaborated American concerts that fall. Portions of their subsequent European shows were recorded for Live Killers, a double-disk package that contains a stellar example of May's extended onstage solo.

After a well-earned rest, Queen and their new engineer (known simply by the name of Mack) laid down a few tracks in '79. The first of these - the rockabilly influenced "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" - gave Queen another #1 single. The Game was completed by the summer '80, and when "Another One Bites The Dust" reached the top of the American charts, Queen became the first group of the '80s to score a pair of #1 singles. They celebrated with four-month U.S. tour.

Queen accepted movie producer Dino De Laurentiis' offer to score Flash Gordon, a musical project co-produced by May and Mack and completed in December '80. Afterwards Queen played in Argentina and Brazil, appearing on coast-to-coast TV in both countries. Their March 20th Sao Paulo concert drew 131000 fans - reportedly the largest paying audience for a single group anywhere in the world. They trekked south again in the fall for dates in Venezuela and Mexico. The band was back in the studio a month later, collaborating with David Bowie on "Under Pressure", this cut appears on Queen's 1981 Greatest Hits package, as well as their latest release, Hot Space.

Recorded in Munich, Hot Space signalled the ban's move to a more rhythmic, economical approach. As always, May's guitar parts are characterized by freshness and impeccable accuracy. The group toured Europe in the spring of '82 before coming to the U.S. and Japan. The following interview was conducted a day before Queen's appearance on Saturday Night Live. In a companion piece beginning on page 73, May discusses his studio techniques and specific recordings.

Over The years you've embraced many styles - Middle Eastern, big band, folk, country, jazz, rock, and urban blues. Which came first and most naturally?

That's a hard question, because I find it all comes naturally. I think everything has to be worked on. When we were growing up in England, we had all that music around us. The stuff that really propelled and excited us was the blues-based material. That was really what us want to play. When I was very young, the only thing that was on the radio which I actually liked was American pop music. There would be things like Buddy Holly & The Crickets, the Everly Brothers, Little Richard. Those were the sort of records we bought when we got old enough to buy records. The English pop music that was around was pretty much a carbon copy of that. I don't want to do him an injustice, but Cliff Richards in the early days was very much an Elvis Presley sort of figure. But his group, the Shadows, went on to make a lot of very interesting instrumental. When I started playing guitar, I played chords and skiffle for a while.

How old were you when you started?

I think about eight. My father played a thing called a ukulele banjo, which is like a little miniature banjo. It was made famous by people like George Formby and Billy "Uke" Scott, who played when my father was a kid. My father taught me about six or seven chords on that. When I asked for a guitar for my eight or ninth birthday, I converted the chords from four strings to six strings. I sort of made up chords, and I to strum and sing during the skiffle boom. Lonnie Donegan, who was a big shiffle figure in England, was influenced by American blues. He would do Leadbelly songs and some stuff he wrote himself. I liked him a lot.

Some of your songs - especially "39" on A Night At The Opera - are folksy. Did you ever play in coffee houses?

No, not really, but that was the skiffle sort of thing. That's quite close to what a lot of the skiffle stuff was like: strum away at great speed and sing and throw a little lick in there someplace. The lyrics of that tune, though, are a long way away from what skiffle was all about.

How did you advance your knowledge of guitar?

I had those chords to start off with, and then I began to notice on records by Ricky Nelson and Elvis Presley thar there were some people there playing some amazing stuff. [Ed. Note: Most of the electric guitar on early Presley records was played by Scotty Moore, Joe Maphis accompanied Ricky Nelson on his LP and was afterwards replaced by James Burton.] It's funny, but I couldn't even hear it well enough to be able to attempt to play it. People like the Shadows, who were playing quite simple instrumental music, I could lock onto and learn mote-for-note.

So I learned to play what I call "single-note style" - as opposed to just strumming - from the Shadows and the Ventures. Another band was the Sputniks: they were from Sweden. They did a lot of stuff which I was struggling to play, and then I discovered that they were speeding up the tapes to be able to play that fast [laughs]. Speed used to come into it a lot in those days. When I was at the school in fifth and sixth form - I would be about 16 or 17 - there was a kind of competition to see who could play the new stuff quickest. So when the new instrumental records came out, we would all feverishly study them at home until we were able to play them. The Sputniks used to do this incredibly fast stuff like "Orange Blossom Special", and we used to really kill ourselves - make our fingers bleed - trying to play it. That's where I learned technique, really.

Was this on acoustic guitar?

At that time I had an acoustic guitar which I made a pickup for and electrified. I used to play that through an old radio which we had at home. To make the pickup, I got some magnets and wound a coil around them and stuck it under the strings. It worked pretty well. At that time, we thought it would be interesting to make a guitar, seeing as I couldn't afford a Stratocaster. So my father and I started making a guitar when I was 15, and we finished it when I was 17.

Is that your main guitar now?

Yeah, same one. It's not exactly like any other guitar. We did a lot experiments, and I played some of my friend's guitars, like Stratocasters and Hofners. The body shape came out of my head. It's pretty small, but the sort of shape which the semi-acoustic guitars had those days, like the Gibson ES-335. But it's not symmetrical. I wanted it cutaway more on the underside so I could genuinely get up to those top frets. It has a 24" scale with 24 frets. We made everything totally from scratch with hands tools. The neck was a piece of an extremely old fireplace. We had lots of plans and drawings, and chiselled away. My dad is an electronics draftsman, which means he designs electronic gear. So he was able to give me a lot of help. He also has a good mechanical insight. We made the original pickups, which sounded pretty good except they had one bad fault: When you would squeeze the strings - bend them across the fingerboard - they would make this kind of rushing sound because the pole pieces went north-south, north-south, north-south instead of north, north, north, north, north, north. So I eventually bought some Burns pickups. Burns were making guitars in England at the time, and they made some of the stuff for the Shadows.

Did you design the guitar's vibrato tailpiece?

Yes, and it's better than anybody else's vibrato! The strings lock onto a milled steel plate which pivots on a case-hardened knife edge. The tension of the strings is balanced by two motorcycle springs. There is very little friction in the system. I also designed a special bridge which has rollers that move instead of the usual arrangement where the strings come over a fixed bridge. You can take the bottom string down about an octave and bring it up, and it's pretty close to in tune. It really performs quite well. I'm being very big-headed about it [laughs]. The only big problem comes in breaking a string. If you break a string, the whole thing goes out, a total war. It's hopeless; you just have to put it down. I had a copy of my guitar which was made by a guy in England called John Birch. It was pretty close, but I could never forget that it was a copy when I was playing it. Somehow it didn't quite feel or sound the same. The guitar I made has a warmth, but it also has an edge. It's somewhere between a typical Fender sound and a typical Gibson sound.

After you made your electrical guitar, what were you first professional playing experiences?

We had a little group when I was at school called 1984. The first gig we ever played was St. Mary's Hall in Twickenham, which is just opposite a little island in the Thames called Eel Pie Island. I remember it well. I was 17, and we played a mixture of adapted soul stuff like Sam & Dave and Otis Redding. It was just pre-psychedelia. We used to try and do a couple of songs of our own. Luckily, as time went on Pink Floyd, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix came along, and we started doing that.

Were you impressed by Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck in those days?

Absolutely. Clapton from the very beginning, because I used to go and see the Yardbirds. We did a couple of their songs. Clapton was unbelievable, just so sparking and fluid. He was what turned me away from the Shadows style and sent me back to listening to B.B. King , Bo Diddley, and all those people who I'd heard, but I thought it was all the same: 12-bar blues, and that was it. I didn't realize the depth or emotion there was in it until I saw Eric Clapton doing it. That somehow made it accessible for me. After I went back and listened to his influences, I listened to Clapton very closely and people like Mike Boomfield on the first album with the Paul Burtfield on the first album with all those classics. Jeff Beck was an influence, too - extremely. He succeeded Clapton in the Yardbirds. I couldn't believe what he could do. I remember seeing him put the guitar down, make it feedback, and play a whole tune without even touching the fingerboard. That was the first time I saw a Les Paul guitar. I saw a gig at the Marquee soon after Beck had joined, and Eric Clapton came on and jammed at the end. That was pretty amazing; I'll never forget that.

Did you see Hendrix?

Yes! I thought after seeing those two, I'd seen it all. I had been playing all that time, and I could play that style. I was beginning to make the guitar sort of talk. I always wanted the guitar to play for people, to talk the same way a vocal did and have feeling in it. I didn't want it to be an accompanying instrument. Then when I saw Hendrix, I thought, "Oh, my God. This guy is doing everything that I was trying to do". He just made me feel like I couldn't play. It's funny thing: It makes you feel very uncomfortable when you thought you knew everything that was going on, and then suddenly somebody comes along who seems to be doing all sorts of things which you hadn't even thought of, never mind find yourself able to play. I heard him play on a single of "Hey Joe", and on the flip side there's an amazing solo on "Stone Free", where he's talking to the guitar and it's talking back to him. I thought, "Well, he can't really be that good. He must have done that with studio technique". Then when I saw him for the first time supporting the Who at the Savoy Theatre in London, he just completely blew me away. I thought, "He's it ". The Who couldn't follow him in those days, and they were really hot, big news in England. Anybody in the world would find it hard to follow Hendrix.

Did you quit performing while attending college?

It was all going on at the same time. I was pretty serious about the education bit. That was from my upbringing: I was taught that you had to put your education first. I felt very bad about it, because most of my friends had gone off and been in semi-professional groups. I was very jealous of all those people who were doing it at school, because all the pressure on me were to keep on the studies and not go off and play. I was at the university before I was able to indulge in fairly serious, semi-professional playing. I finally got an honors degree in physics from Imperial College, London. I actually wanted to carry on because I thought music would be fun, but I'd never be able to do it professionally. I actually stayed on at Imperial College to do research in infrared astronomy and some part-time tutoring. I taught for a year at a comprehensive school, teaching kids from age 11 to 17. The group Queen was going on at that time, so I don't think I ever slept for that year.

Since the formation of Queen, have you had a free hand in constructing solos and fills?

Yes. We generally will talk about it, and very often the author of the song will have an idea of what he wants. But mostly I go in there and we try things out.

Do you have a philosophy of soloing?

It's different in every case, of course. Mostly the guideline that I've worked under is that the best solos are something which you can sing as well as the melody line. The kind of solos I enjoy are where there's a line which reflects the melody line but subtly changes it in some way which adds to the song. It opens up another little window in the song. It should also have some freedom; there should be some spontaneity there. It shouldn't be totally planned out.

How do you approach solo?

Generally in the studio, when we've played the backing track a lot of times - there's a guide vocal in there - I usually get something in my head. When it comes to solo time, I go in there and we do two or three takes straight off. Very often the first take has a lot of what goes on the record. There may be just a couple of notes we don't like, and we'll change them. That's one of the advantages of the multi-track system: You can do a couple more solos alongside and button little things in and out. So very often I like the feel of the first thing I do, which is spontaneous, but there will be a couple of notes in there which I think didn't work, and so I'll change them.

Have you ever come up with a solo before you've had a song to use it in?

Actually, that happen with the "Brighton Rock" thing, yeah. We used to do the song "Son and Daughter" onstage, and the solo section in the middle of that became what was in "Brighton Rock". After "Brighton Rock" was recorded [on Sheer Heart Attack], that solo evolved a lot more. One facet of it was the way it is on the live album, but it's dropped it because I felt I got stale. I don't like to do exactly the same thing two nights running. That should be a time when you can do something different. Now we don't do "Brighton Rock" anymore, so it's gone full circle. In the beginning, the solo was there and the song was around it. And now the song's gone and the solos' there.

When did you start doing your extended onstage solo?

The first time we went out with Mott The Hoople. We toured Britain first, and then America. It wasn't very long in those days. It would be about half minute. Now it's about ten, but sometimes it's not. If I'm not in the mood and I don't feel it's quite right, it'll get short again.

Do you change most of it around night-to-night?

Yeah, it's never the same. I get very disappointed if I don't get into new territory sometime during the tour. There are usually a couple of notes in there - [laughs] most nights - which will be different and I don't know quite what's going to happen. And one night in five I'll discover a new effect. I try not to get stuck in too many ruts. Sometimes it's terrible. If I know that I'm not getting it together, I do the best I can and drag out a few things which have worked in the past. On a good night, I feel that I can do something interesting. I don't think there's anything left of the actual "Brighton" solo in there now, but I'm using the same techniques, such as using repeats and playing along with them.

Is that now you get several parts going at once?

Yeah. It's just a delay machine set on one delay rather than a multiple, so it's not a sort of echo effect. It's one line coming back at you. I have two delay machines, so I can do three-part harmonies with that: I can play a lone - maybe two or three notes - and then it comes back and I can play along with it. And then it comes back again and there are three parts. The delays are mostly about one and a half seconds. A lot of things can happen: You can play in synch with what comes back and make the harmonies, or you can play chords and then single notes on top to get a playing-in-rhythm effect. You can also do various kind of counterpoints. Sometimes they work. It all depends on whether I can hear myself well. If it's a good night and I can really hear well, I can do things that I demand very close timing. On this tour I've been experimenting with steps which are not exactly on the beat: so when it comes back at you, they are in a different place each time. I found I could do all sorts of strange things with that, just making them mesh in a different way.

To keep the solo special, do you tend to cut down using the repeat effect at other times in the set?

I've used different delays for different songs in the past, but we've sort of simplified what we do for a lot of the songs. I used to use echo in lots of songs, like "Keep Yourself Alive" and "The Prophet's Song", but nowadays most of the set is just straight guitar, and it's only the solos where I use the repeats. Sometimes I get fed up with them even then, because I feel like maybe they're a crutch, and they shouldn't be. So I switch them off and do a little bit totally straight.

Do you ever have trouble staying in tune during the long solo?

Usually towards the end of the solo, when I'm bending things a long way, it can get out of tune. I don't really notice it until the next number. If it's something like "Under Pressure", where it's got to be right on, I die a million deaths. Breaking strings is the worst. Sometimes it's happened at the very beginning of the solo, and it just destroy the concentration. I'll have the guitar feedback and grab another one.

Do you foresee the day when a long onstage guitar solo will become obsolete?

I've thought it was obsolete many times. We've thrown it out. We haven't done it every night on this tour. But somehow it seems to creep back in there. It's weird. I did it for years, and nobody would talk about it. And then when I threw it out, people said, "Hey! How could you do that?". On this tour we did some special things with the lights. We had those pods which can fly about, and I used to do a little battle with those. That gave it a new lease on life. People would tend to notice that. As opposed to not saying anything, they would say, "I like the lights in the solo [laughs]". I've found that people seem to appreciate long solos more on this tour than they did before. I think a lot of people thought our material was veering too far away from the heavy side, and they thought the solo stuff redressed the balance to a certain extent.

Does your mood exert an influence on what you play?

Oh, yeah, especially in the solo because that's my freedom time. Mood help a lot, and the audience helps a lot.

Do you have to be a certain state of consciousness to play your best?

No. It grows out of the concert: I don't think it matter how you go on. If the sound seems good to me, and I know that it sounds good out front and there's a lot of feedback from the audience, it grows out of that. Enjoying the sound is the main thing.

How do you discover tones? Do you imagine them first or does the equipment suggest them?

It's a tricky combination of guitar and amplifier. The guitar has very wide range of sound naturally. I know what to do make it scream or to make it mellow. The amplifier just responds in that way. I've never know any other way. There's really nothing else; there aren't any fancy effects or anything. I have a pedal board with on/off switches for the repeats, an old Foxx phase pedal which I don't use much anymore - it just gives a gentle phase. And these days I've been using a Boss phaser for a lot of things. It gives me a stereo output, which I like; it gives it a little bit more phase.

What is your philosophy of using effects?

The only effects I like are the ones you can play, that add some sort of voice. I don't really like icing-on-the-cake effects. The only other thing I have is a gadget made by Peter Cornish to work the Harmonizer; it's a device that controls the pitch change of the Harmonizer. It's worked by a pedal. I use that for making silly noises, basically [laughs], in "Get Down, Make Love". But even that became something I could play because I got a feel for the pedal, I can get different musical intervals that are all exact and not just random. I could get a minor third below, a semitone below, unison, a tone above, a minor and a major third above, and an octave above. So you can do all kinds of things. You can gently feel out what's happening in there at a particular time. There's a delay built into that as well.

Do you view the vibrato bar as an effect?

Mainly for making motorbike noises, although at times it's useful for a very mellow vibrato. For most people, the vibrato most often comes from the fingers of the left hand, but occasionally, if you want something to really smooth it right over or just to make a chord blend in better with what's going on around, the tremolo bar can be very nice for a gentle effect.

There have been some innovative things done with vibrato bars lately.

Oh, Eddie Van Halen is superb! He does all kinds of stuff which I can't begin to figure out [laughs]. I like him a lot. I find it exciting listening to him. He's so completely fluid, he makes everyone else look like they're standing still. I would not fancy following him. Allan Holdsworth is very good, too.

Are you a guitar collector?

No, I've got about half a dozen - that's it. Roger [Taylor] collects guitars. I have one Strat and one Telecaster, and a green sunburst 12-strings Burns. I also have a Flying V, which is a recent acquisition. I got it because I smashed up my Birch guitar. I got very frustrated with it one night and uncharacteristically threw it offstage. It happened to be a very high stage, and it smashed into lots of pieces. Now I don't have a spare. Luckily, the chief designer at Fender came to one of the shows and said he would build me a copy. I am really delighted, because he's going to build me an exact copy of what I have, even down to getting the same woods and building it the same way.

Has anyone ever manufactured a commercial copy of your homemade guitar?

A Japanese firm called Greco made a Brian May guitar, an exact copy. They called it a BHM 900 or something. They sent me an example. I said, "Thanks very much for sending it to me. It looks nice, but it doesn't actually sound that nice. Why don't we get together and make it sound good, too? Then you can put my name on it properly". They never replied. It would be nice if a real class company would do one for me. ( Note: if you don't know there's a copy of the Red Special, see the article of the Brian May Guild Signature Guitar)

Do you own any unusual acoustic?

Yeah, I have a very old, cheap Hairfred which makes that buzzy sound that's on "Jealousy" [Jazz] and "White Queen" [Queen II]. I've never seen another one like it. I made it sound like a sitar by taking off the original bridge and putting a hardwood bridge on. I chiselled away at it until it was flat and stuck little piece of fretwire material underneath. The strings just very gently lay on the fretwire, and it makes that sitar-like sound.

How do you string your electric guitar?

I use Rotosound round-wound strings, gauged .008, .009, .011, .016, 0.22, and .034, high to low.

Do you use a pick?

I play with an English sixpence. It's a coin made of soft metal with a serration on the edge. I hold it loosely between the thumb and the first finger, with the first finger bent down. (Note: actually Brian uses his own coin, because the sixpence it's out of circulation. More information in the article about the Brian May Guild Signature Guitar)

Do you follow any picking patterns, such as circle picking or extensive downstrokes?

Oh, I never even think about it. I just fairly gently go from one to the other. All the movement is felt: that's why I like the rigid pick. None of the feeling of the string is lost; it all gets to your fingers. So I hold it pretty loosely, and everything gets very controlled.

How do you provide left-hand vibrato?

I just rock the strings gently backwards and forwards, always in contact with the fingerboard.

How many fingers do you use to blend strings?

I usually put two or three behind the finger holding the note, but not always. It depends where you are bending and what you are bending to.

Do you use all four fingers of your left hand?

Yes, but the little finger is weak, which is one of my big weaknesses in playing. It restricts me. The new stuff that I play uses the little finger because I've consciously tried to bring it in. But when I'm playing from the head to the fingers, generally the little finger gets left out.

How do you create harmonics?

Just by playing and touching the string with the back of the hand, the heel. You should ask Eddie [Van Halen] about that! He's the expert.

Is there a difference between the music you create by yourself and what you play with Queen?

That's a delicate question. Yes, there is. I haven't found it that easy to accustom myself to the new stuff. A lot of the music which Freddie and John want to do is more R&B oriented, and it's hard for me to do that because my playing is a reaction to that style, in a sense. I used to listen to people plucking away on Motown records, and I really didn't like it. I always thought to my self, "That's the kind of thing I don't want to play. I want the guitar to be up there speaking". So in a way the return to that was difficult to me. It was a discipline which I gradually worked into, but I find myself wanting to burst out of it all the time and make a lot of noise.

Do you play in any style that aren't represented on any of the albums?

Most of it's there in some way.

Do you spend much time with the instrument outside of performing with Queen?

Not a lot these days. In the last couple of years I've spent very little time with it except at sound checks and playing. Which is a shame, but it's just the way it's worked out. Life's been very hectic.

Do you ever have periods where you can't seem to further your playing?

Yeah. It mainly occurs when I don't like the sound. For me the sound is virtually important. There is really no beauty in guitar playing unless the sound is beautiful to begin with. If the thing is sounding scratchy or distortred or just not right, I instantly feel that I can't play. My guitar is very personal. People have said, "Why don't you sit in with us and play something? You can use my guitar". Sometimes I've said yes, and then I haven't been able to play anything because I couldn't make it sing. If the guitar doesn't sustain, I can't play. On the other hand, if I'm in a situation where the acoustics are just right and the sound is great, i feel like I can play anything on those nights.

Can you play most of the music you imagine?

Yes, I think so. That is central to being an interesting player and felling good about your playing. You have to be able to get it straight from your head to the guitar. So within reason, I think I can. You never quite know if you're fooling yourself. You never know if your head is guiding your fingers, or your fingers are slightly guiding your head.

Will you sacrifice technique to achieve emotion?

Yes, I think the times when I'm playing best are when I'm slowing down and not trying to show off. The nights when I feel I'm playing something worthwhile are never fingers all over the place. It's just a few things which are exactly right, which squeeze up to the note in exactly the right way.

Do you prefer live playing over studio work?

I enjoy the live stuff a lot more. There are moments in the studio I enjoy, but most of the studio is sheer misery. The writing and the arranging of material is such a painstaking process these days for us. I can get in and play a solo anytime, but that's not the majority of the work that's done. The majority of it is real soul-searching and wondering whether a song is right. It's painful.

How do you compose?

I generally get ideas on the road or away from the studio. Then when it comes to making the album, I get the idea out - which may be on cassette or paper - and work on them. When the band rehearses them, we just gather round, strum guitar, play piano, and sing. It's kind of a discussion environment.

Are you happy with the way your career is going?

To be honest, no. I didn't feel that this tour was making me very happy. I've often felt that in the studio, but that's the first time I felt it on tour. I didn't feel happy until the last concert. The last night in L.A. I felt quite cheered up. I was prepared to think, "Well, I don't really want to do this anymore". Somehow when it got to the last one, Freddie was really on form and giving a million percent, and I felt that I was going well. So the end of the tour finished on a good note for me. I felt like I did want to be out there doing it again sometime. But we are going to have a long rest.

Do you get tired of rock and roll?

No, definitely not.

Do you have any advice you'd give young rock guitarist?

Yeah, I would say just believe in yourself. Belief is the main thing, because nobody believes in you in the beginning. If you know that you have something to say, just keep on believing it and push and push and push until everyone else believes, too.

Is there anything you'd like to accomplish in the future?

I'd just like to make better music. Sometime I would like Queen to go back to really hard rock album. I don't know if it's going to happen, but that's one of the things I would like to do.

How would you like to be remembered?

If I'm honest, I think I would like to be remembered for a few of the songs, none of which were really hits, but some of which had a lot of emotion in them: "White Queen" and "Let Us Cling Together" and "Long Away" off the A Day At The Races album [laughs]. And "We Will Rock You"

Postby DELETED » Mon Mar 14, 2005 4:42 pm

A big part of any successful interview is the preparation that's done before the actual interview takes place. It's during this stage that the interviewer gets a fix on the interviewee. But trying to size up Queen's Roger Taylor proved to be no easy task. As the drummer for one of England's biggest rock bands of the 70's - to date, Queen has sold well over 50 million records - it was Taylor's view of his profession that caused me the most problems. Taylor, I sensed, didn't like to view himself as a drummer, even though that's what he's been since his childhood days. In addition, he sort of hinted that didn't know much (or case to know much) about the technical aspects of drumming, even though he's always been a highly respected and wonderfully proficient drummer. But the clincher was that Taylor, at least what I'd heard from friends in the business, didn't even like to talk about the drums. Yet he consented to speak with "Modern Drummer", of all magazines. A difficult interview? It sure seemed that way. On the way to the Manhattan hotel where Taylor and the rest Queen were lodging, I conjured up a mental picture of Taylor dismissing my questions. If he didn't want to talk about drums or drumming, what then would he want to talk about? The assumption that most people who listen to rock either love Queen or hate it? Perhaps we'd discuss the problems Queen has had with the rock press over the years. There was always Freddie Mercury, the audacious and often brazen lead singer of the band. Maybe the interview would revolve around the joys of being a rock star? Who knew? Whatever the case, I braced myself for a long afternoon - or a short one, depending on how I looked at it. As it turned out, Roger Taylor proved to be a most interesting subject. The things I had previously heard or read about him were, for the most part, on target. However, Taylor answered all my questions - even the detailed drum questions - and did so in such a warm, affable manner that it was impossible not to feel comfortable with him. It's true, Taylor doesn't like to consider himself a drummer in the traditional sense of the term. And he doesn't especially like talking about the inner secrets of his instrument and the way he plays it. But he had his reasons, and those, I think, were what made the conversation so interesting.

RS: You're a drummer who not only plays drums, but sings, writes songs, and plays a very active role in the direction that Queen takes. Some drummers might think that's an awful lot of responsibility. Is it?
RT: No, I don't think so. I think drummers suffer from a misrepresentation of image too often. Traditionally, drummers have been regarded as the stupid ones in rock bands. It's a bit unfair, and because of it, being a drummer is a thankless task sometimes. There's responsibility involved in what I do, but it's nice to broaden ones horizon. These days it's funny, because I think of myself as more of a musician than a drummer.

RS: Why the change?
RT: Well, it's because I've been spending a lot of time in control rooms, I suppose. Also, half my job in Queen is drumming; the other half is singing. I started off as a drummer and then all these things like singing and writing sort of followed.

RS: How do you balance your singing and writing with drumming?
RT: Strangely enough, singing and drumming never bothered me, although I know of drummers who do have problems with the two. See, back when I was in school, the singing bit was forced on me one day when the lead singer in the band I was playing with suddenly picked up and left. We had to do the gig and I had to sing. That's basically how I became a vocalist.

RS: Sounds as if it was a very spontaneous thing.
RT: In a way, yes it was. But before that I used to do some backup singing. I found singing and drumming much easier than I expected. Mind you, that was a long time ago. I never had a time problem, so that was a big plus. But physically speaking, it was very exhausting. I mean just playing drums itself is very demanding.

RS: Do you do anything to keep in shape?
RT: I wish I did. I'm thinking of getting a bit of gym equipment to keep at home because I'm getting older. It's definitely time to start shaping up.

RS: How did you get involved with writing songs? Did you always write?
RT: No, I didn't. When we first started Queen and I first met Brian [May, Queen's guitarist], I wasn't really good enough on the guitar to write. You can't really write if you just play drums; you need something else, like the guitar. I enjoyed playing the instrument and eventually, I taught myself to write by watching and listening to other people. It wasn't easy at first, and in the beginning, the songs were far from great.

RS: How accomplished are you on guitar?
RT: Well, I really don't know how good I am on guitar. I know I have a good sense of rhythm. I wouldn't say I was accomplished on the instrument, but I'm not bad.

RS: How do you go about composing a song? Is there any personal methodology you use?
RT: These days, I find it much easier to write melodically on keyboards because piano is more geared, I think, for song writing. than any other instrument. The guitar is quite a difficult instrument, actually, when you're trying to compose melodically. You have to have all your chords together, and then you need something on top. With keyboards, you cam write the whole song right there. So what I've been doing is using a sequencer or something, and keyboards to write material.

RS: How many instruments do you play?
RT: Guitar, keyboards and drum. That's it really, although I do a bit of knob twiddling with electronics. I recently got a Simmons sequencer. Sequencers are quite good. I've been using a Simmons mixed in with my regular drum-kit for quite some time now. The trouble with doing that is that you've got to treat them; you've got to go through a lot of boxes to make the drums sound good.

RS: You wrote the single off Queen's latest LP, The Works, "Radio Ga Ga." It's quite an interesting song. Where did the idea to write it come from?
RT: I liked the title, and I wrote the lyric afterward. It happened in that order, which is a bit strange. The song is a bit mixed up as far as what I wanted to say. It deals with how important radio used to be, historically speaking, before television, and how important it was to me as a kid. It was the first place I heard rock 'n 'roll. I used to hear a lot of Doris Day, but a few times each day, I'd also hear a Bill Haley record or an Elvis Presley song. Today it seems that video, the visual side of rock 'n' roll, has become more important than the music itself - too much so, really. I mean, music is supposed to be an experience for the ears more than the eyes.

RS: It's no secret that songwriters and bands are writing songs with videos in mind, more so than actual musical ingredients.
RT: That's right. But it's wrong. Upside down, isn't it? It's really a bit silly, not to mention ironic, because now a days you have to make a big, expensive video to promote your single.

RS: Back to the album for a second. Besides "Radio Ga Ga," did you play a major role in the creation of any other songs?
RT: Well, the members of Queen contribute in one way or another in the arrangement of songs.

RS: In 1981 you released a solo album, "Fun In Space". From a drummer's point of view, what was the solo record experience like for you?
RT: That album was a bit of a rush job, actually. I thought I'd run out of nerve if I didn't move on it quickly. And I did it much too fast. I spent most of last year when we weren't making "The Works", making another solo album. It's in a much different class than the first one. It's a much, much better record.

RS: In what ways? Can you be specific?
RT: Well, for one thing, I took a year making it. I made sure the songs were stronger and simply better. I threw out a lot of songs in the process. I also did two cover versions of other people's songs that I'm quite happy with. I did a version of "Racing In The Street" by Bruce Springsteen. I've always loved that song. I did it kind of mid-tempo. hopefully the way he would have done it, if he would have decided to do it mid-tempo. His version, of course, is very slow. The other cover tune is a very old Dylan protest song which I did sort of electronically. The song is "Masters Of War." Strangely enough, a lot of the lyrics hold up quite well today. This one is done slower than "Racing In The Street," but it's very electronic. I use a Linn on it. It works quite nicely.

RS: What prompted you into solo recording in the first place?
RT: Well, I felt I was getting more creative, and I wanted a bigger outlet for it than Queen gave me. I wanted, I suppose, to be more than just a member of the band.

RS: When you write a song, how do you decide if the song should be a Queen song or one that belongs on a solo album of yours?
RT: It depends on what we're doing at the time. If I get a song on paper and the others like it, it'll go to Queen.

RS: Have you ever agonised over, say, giving a song to Queen which you knew would have been perfect for a solo record?
RT: That sort of thing hasn't really affected me yet because I've only had two solo albums thus far. My output has never been that big with Queen. I've never had more than a couple of songs appear on any one album. I try to keep the more personal songs for myself, I suppose. "Radio Ga Ga" would definitely have been on my own album if that's what I was doing at the time.

RS: You said you enjoy fooling with knobs and dials. Is this something new for you?
RT: We [Queen] got a studio in Switzerland, and I very much enjoy playing with all the new toys that are coming out. I'm certainly more up to date with all the new gadgets out on the market than I ever was a few years ago. I'm also a lot more open minded about them. For instance, when electronic drums first came out, I didn't really like them very much because I never liked the sound of the bass drum. But I've found that the Linn Drum is much better in this department, and I enjoy using it. One of the things I came to find out is that when people say you can't get a "human" sound out of the Linn, they're simply overstating the situation. Of course, there's some truth in it, but most drummers who still hold out against electronic drums are only doing so because they're fearful of losing their livelihood. It is a threat, because now the drums are really good. I mean you can even programme in the slight timing discrepancies that come with non-electric drums. You can even push the beat or lay it back. It's all there, and you can do it quite easily. You can make it sound human and all because this technology exists, you simply can't ignore it. One can't be retrogressive in this business. It's like the musician's union in England; the union took a ridiculous stand and tried to ban synthesisers. That's like standing in the way of an express train. You can't stop it.

RS: Is it conceivable for you to think that you'll be one day playing nothing but electronic drums?
RT: I think it's quite possible. I mean the solo album I've been working on has a hell of a lot of electronic drums on it. There's also a track on The Works in which we've illustrated that quite well, I think. It's called "Machines." Basically, it starts off where everything's electronic - electronic drums, everything. And what you have is the "human" rock band sort of crashing in. What you wind up with is a battle between the two.

RS: When you're composing songs, how do you set about constructing the drum tracks?
RT: Very often I start out electronically and then overlay the acoustic drums. Of course, each track is different, but usually I'll begin with a Linn or with a Simmons sequencer on it. It doesn't always work, though. Sometimes it's a disaster.

RS: Can you give me an example of a failure using this approach?
RT: Well, if you have on e of those snappy tempos which is done with a box and then you put real drums on top of it, it could wind up sounding dreadful. Actually, it all comes down to miking. Today, it's not uncommon to overmike drums. I mean, putting 15 mic's around the kit is absurd. All the best drum sounds I've ever got came from using four mic's or five.

RS: You mentioned before your interest in the activities in the recording studio control room. What brought on this interest? Was it just a matter of staying on top of your profession?
RT: Not necessarily. I just found out that I was really getting good results on the board. And obviously, I've spent half my life in the last 12 years in control rooms, so I just got to know more about their potential. I couldn't help but take an interest in what goes on inside the control room. But I think recording studios are in the process of changing. Whether people like it or not, the control rooms ultimately wind up three or four times bigger than what they are now, and the actual studio part will be three or four times smaller.

RS: Then surely you must advocate that young drummers coming up in the business learn as much about the recording process as possible, rather than just sitting back and letting someone else in the band soak up all the knowledge.
RT: They're going to have to. Of course, it depends on how broad you want your knowledge to be. If you want to be a drummer and only play drums, fair enough. But I find that very narrow-minded. I could never just sit back and the drummer, if you know what I mean. Young drummers should really learn the technical side of their profession. If you don't, you're going to miss out. And one owes it oneself and one's talent to make the most of things.

RS: Why do you think England has been in the forefront when it comes to electronics?
RT: I don't know. It's certainly true, but I don't know why. Perhaps the answer can be found in the attitude of some musicians there, or in the way kids are brought up there. Generations coming up are sort of force-fed popular music from the age of zero. But then again, I guess that's true of America as well. The English see the music business as a form of release because the standard of living is low - vastly lower than what it is in the United States. For instance, no-one has air-conditioning in England. In America you can't go anywhere in the summer without feeling it. Americans take air conditioning for granted. In England, it's almost unheard of

RS: Queen began in 1971 - some 13 years ago. What were you doing just prior to the formation of the band?
RT: Freddie [Mercury] and I were trying to scrape a living. I was at college, but I wasn't attending very often. However, I was getting a grant and financing a shop where Freddie and I sold artwork. We sold his work and things friends of his did at the art college. That's how we kept the band going in the first place.

RS: Were you an artist as well?
RT: Not really. I studied dentistry and then did a degree in biology. I never did get a degree in dentistry.

RS: Were you in any bands with Freddie Mercury before Queen?
RT: No. I was in a band with Brian, though, and Freddie would sort of run around with us in those days. He had a couple of band he was in, but he's always had such a forceful personality that he forced himself to develop, because he wasn't such a good singer back then. He's a great singer now - immensely confident. I couldn't believe it. We had a jam session with Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck, and Freddie was about four times louder. He has marvellous projection. Anyway, Brian and I played together, like I said. It was a three-piece band called Smile. When it split up, Freddie, Brian and I decided to form a band in 1970. That's how Queen started.

RS: At the time, what drummers inspired you? Who were you listening to?
RT: I always liked John Bonham, although in England he wasn't that fashionable. But to me, he was the best rock drummer who ever lived. I'm sure lots of people tell you that when you interview them.

RS: More people say Bonham that any other drummer.
RT: Well, it's true. There's no-one able to touch him in the rock world. He was the innovator of a particular drum style. He had the best drum sound, and he was the fastest player. Simply stated, he was the best. Although he wasn't the easiest person to get on with, his influence was great. He'd do things with one bass pedal that other drummers couldn't do with three. He was also the most powerful drummer I'd ever seen. Led Zeppelin was actually more popular in America than they were in England, you know. You had to be a drummer to realise how good John Bonham actually was. The average person on the street couldn't really know the difference between John Bonham and the next flashy heavy metal merchant or whatever.

RS: Why is that?
RT: The average person can't understand the subtleties of drumming or just how difficult some of the things he used to do were.

RS: At the time, how much of an influence did he have on you and your drum style?
RT: A lot. I think there are a bunch of drummers in bands today who are nothing but poor Bonham copies. There are so many, and have nothing of their own style. It's just John Bonham's style, but unfortunately they can't come close to his sound.

RS: How do drummers make sure that, when they're heavily influenced by other drummers, they don't wind up as merely imitators?
RT: Well, that's up to individual, really. You have to develop your own style. If you're any good, you'll realise which bits work best for you. And I suppose the thing to do is develop them.

RS: What did you do to prevent becoming a John Bonham copy?
RT: Well, I didn't want to sound like him because I knew there was no point in sounding like someone else even back then in those days. This is true no matter how much you admire what they do. So I just tried to incorporate certain aspects of his style into my own.

RS: Anything in particular?
RT: Well, obviously the bass drum. I mean, he invented the whole school of playing the bass drum in a heavy manner. I learned so much just by listening to the first couple of Led Zeppelin albums.

RS: What are your feelings on Keith Moon?
RT: Keith Moon was great. In the early days, he was absolutely brilliant. He had a total unique style; he didn't owe anyone anything. The first time I saw him perform was with the Who on '64 or '65. It was just great. The Who was an outrageous band - real energy, real art. I loved them. I mean, to actually destroy your instruments - it was the most unheard of thing in music.

RS: When did you start playing the drums?
RT: [Pauses] I can't remember exactly. Can you believe it? I'll guess and say nine or ten. I remember banging on my mother's saucepans with her knitting needles. Then, my father found an ancient snare drum in a storage bin where he worked. It was an old wood and brass thing. I started with that. Then I got a real snare drum, and then a cymbal. You didn't just get a drum kit in those days. I wouldn't have known what to do with a whole kit even if I had one. The big moment for me was when my father redid up a cheap set of old Ajax drums. It consisted of one tom-tom, one bass drum, one snare, and one minute Zildjian cymbal. It was about two years or so later that I got a high-hat. Drums were something I naturally felt kind of good at. I found the guitar a lot more difficult to pick up at. With drums, you either have time or you don't. If you don't have it, there's no chance you'll ever be any good, really. You can't teach a person time. I found it very easy to pick up and play things like "Wipe Out". That was the thing to do at the time. But I've never been into the very technical sides of drumming.

RS: I assume you never took lesson?
RT: No, I never did. But I actually used to give them believe it or not! [laughs] I couldn't even read.

RS: And you still can't read today?
RT: Very slowly, but not to play. I've always found it totally irrelevant. I just always felt that what came from within was what I ought to play. Every time I see Carmen Appice he's going on about all sorts of amazing things. He might as well be talking about cupcakes. No, I'm not really into the technical aspects of drumming at all.

RS: Where did you go after getting your first kit?
RT: My friends and I started a band at school. We were terrible - really terrible. We didn't have any worthwhile equipment. It just sort of built up from school until, finally, the bad bands become good bands. I was always the leader of those bands, for some reason. I must have been a pushy one. We won a few band contests in the mid-60's, which was kind of a breakthrough for me. Then, eventually, I started singing as well. My career just sort of went on from there.

RS: Why the drums?
RT: Well, I used to walk around my bedroom with a tennis racket pretending it was a guitar. But the drums were noisy and I found out that I better at them. Plus, I enjoyed them more.

RS: Did the Beatles have a significant impact on you as a kid?
RT: No, not at all. When they first broke, you just couldn't get around them. Everything was Beatles. But I was never crazy about their music until the release of "Revolver". Then they got me. That album was just brilliant and it really affected me rather strongly. But before that I preferred the Who and the Yardbirds - real seminal British bands.

RS: With such early influences as the Who and Yardbirds, do you find it odd that you play in what many people consider a "commercialised art-rock band"?
RT: No, not really. It's difficult to step back and view the band as other people view it. What's the public's mental image of the band? Do they see a string of album covers? I really don't know. I know I don't see Queen as an art-rock band. When I think of art rock, I think of Roxy Music.

RS: Queen has really had it tough with the press, especially American press.
RT: Yeah, that's true.

RS: What do you think brought the friction between the two? I recall some pretty abrasive articles in such magazines as "Rolling Stone" a few years back.
RT: I can't stand that magazine. They're so arrogant - and so are we! That, I suppose, is the problem. I mean, we are a fairly arrogant band. We have had our moments when we were overtly tasteless. But we were also accused of being a manufactured band, which is so untrue. We were just self-generated really. Nobody ever manufactured us. At one point, we were also accused of being fascists. That was during the time of "We Will Rock You." Some people said it was a cry of manipulation. It was no more fascist than Ray Charles' "What'd I Say." One time Rolling Stone tried to write a political piece on us. I think the guy was deaf or his battery had run out. But it was very creepy. They have this very superior pseudo-intellectual approach to everything. They don't approach anything with their senses. They were very nasty, and I wrote them a very nasty letter back, which they did print.

RS: In terms of non-musical decisions made within Queen - the business decisions, the organisational decisions, things like that - how much of a role do you play?
RT: Queen is very democratic. It all comes down to a vote. If it's three to one, the three win, unless the one says, "I object to this" or "I won't do this." Then we don't do it.

RS: The band has survived quite a long time under that system. That's unusual.
RT: Queen wouldn't be Queen if one of us left the band, or if we did things differently. The sense of unity has kept us strong. It's the same band today that it was when we started. I think that's good. I think that's important. There's an old saying: "The whole is more than the sum of its parts." That applies to Queen.

RS: When Queen goes into the recording studio to record an album, what's your role?
RT: I'm totally elastic. The whole thing is down to the song. "What does the song need?" is the main question. Whatever it needs, I'll do it. If it needs a heavy sound, we'll put the mic's in the right places, but won't use too many of them. The size of my kit is important, too. Sometimes I just use a snare, bass drum and hi-hat. But other times I'll use a big kit with a lot of tom-toms. I try to remain flexible.

RS: So you don't have one particular or favourite set of drums that you usually use in the studio?
RT: No. I have kits I tend to use more than others. I have an amazing Gretch kit in our studio over in Switzerland. It's got three toms, a snare and bass drum. It's a great sounding kit. Some kits sound great; others don't.

RS: What kit do you use on stage?
RT: It changes all the time, but I use Ludwig because they've been sending them to me for quite some time. I have a single bass drum and a selection of toms from small to big. I've always tended to use big drums, which is something I'm getting away from.

RS: Why's that?
RT: They're so difficult to mike. They tend to be somewhat unclear and less defined than smaller drums, I think. Stewart Copeland sort of provided the value of small drums. He gets a nice, snappy sound out of those small drums. It's something I've always argued with Ludwig about. They made their drums wide, but they never made them very deep. Today, virtually all drums are as deep as they are wide. The depth of drums is important. I also usually use a Simmons kit sprinkled around my kit. I use a couple of "RotoToms" as well. Instead of using them as toms, I use them as timbales because they seem to cut through real nice. As for cymbals, I use Zildjian and a few Paistes. I always change my cymbals around on each tour to sort of suit the mood.

RS: What's your philosophy when it comes to cymbals?
RT: It seems to be very fashionable these days to say, "Oh, I didn't use any cymbals on this record." I love cymbals. I think they're great. They provide wonderful dynamics. Quite often, I'll overdub very specific cymbals. Freddie Mercury has a cymbal fetish as well. Cymbals are very important; you have to know which ones to use in which places.

RS: On stage, it seems as if you play your drums extremely loud.
RT: I do in studio as well, unless a song calls for something else, of course. I'm not, however, one of those telegraph merchants. I don't believe you need those massive sticks, because if you've got decent wrists, which I think any decent drummer should have, the snap comes from there. That's what makes it loud. Also, you've got to be able to do perfect rim shots. That's what makes the drums loud, not eight-foot long telegraph poles.

RS: On the song "We Will Rock You", your beat is very loud and hard. What kind of sticks did you use on that song?
RT: Everybody thinks that's drums, but it's not. It's feet. We sat on a piano and used out feet on an old drum podium. It's rather hard to explain in words what we did, but what you hear isn't drums. We must have recorded it, I don't know, 15 times or so. We put all sorts of different repeats on it to make it sound big. There's a catch though. When we do "Rock You" live, I have to do with drums, so everything is slightly delayed. Everything is to suit the song. To have just one way of working would result in the inability to change or adapt. A good drummer must be flexible. It's imperative.

RS: As in the case of successful studio drummers?
RT: Yeah, but at the same time those people are flexible, but only in terms of the material. What they tend to do is use exactly the same equipment all the time. Their kits have probably got tape on them which hasn't been removed for years. I'm not knocking them, but in an important way, they're not flexible. They're good at one particular thing because that's what they do all the time. They might be with Kenny Rogers one week and Motorhead the next, but it's still the same for them.

RS: Have you ever done, or considered doing, session work?
RT: I used to do the odd session when the band was starting out just to bring in the extra cash. When I could get it, the session was usually a percussion thing, you know, standing there and shaking something. But session work in England consists of a select group of musicians . It's very difficult to get into that inner circle. You have to be as good as Simon Phillips to crack it these days.

RS: Why is it like that? Are there so few gigs to go around?
RT: No. It's like a mafia, I suppose. There are a few key people who handle most of the work. Hopefully, that side of the business - the Tin Pan Alley mentality - is dying. The new bands with synthesisers and all, don't really need session musicians to appear on their albums.

RS: Is there anything you can do to get the bright tones out of your drums when you need them, and the subtle, soft tones when you need them?
RT: Well, I don't like using thick drumheads. That I can tell you. As far as I'm concerned, you might as well be hitting a barrel of lard. Heads should be bright and responsive, and for that, you need a thin head. Some drummers use thick heads and just batter them. What's the point? That's not my approach at all, although I do play hard. I like to hear the sound of the drums. That's why I use thin heads. But you've got to pay constant attention to tuning them. I have to retune constantly throughout a concert. After every song, I retune my snare drum. It's absolutely mind-blowing. When it's just right, it's just right. Amazingly, a lot of drummers don't tune their drums - or can't.

RS: How did you learn to tune your drums?
RT: I simply taught myself. I always remember what Keith Moon said years ago, because he was very good at this. The early Who records have great drum sounds on them. He used to say, "Just make the bottom skin a little tighter than the top skin." That's how you get that ringing sound. I hate hitting loose skins. Live, it all depends on what hall you're playing. Like at the Forum in L.A., it's easier to get a great drum sound. But on the other hand, it's hard to get a great drum sound in Madison Square Garden n New York.

RS: How much do you play your drums when you're not on tour or in the studio?
RT: Well, years ago I used to play them a lot. But ever since we've become successful, I almost never play them. I don't really practice, but I know I should. However, last year I did a little bit of work with Robert Plant. I had to practice for that because I had to learn the material. But that was the fist time I actually sat down and practiced for a long, long time.

RS: Do you find it difficult to get back in the swing of things once you have to go back in the studio or on the road?
RT: Oh yeah. It's a horrible shock. I usually wind up saying, "Oh God, I've forgotten how to do this!" But then it all comes back. You never lose the ability to play, but you forget arrangements and things like that.

RS: What about the quality of your drum playing?
RT: Oh that's affected too. I always need a few days of rehearsal before we get into playing seriously. It always come back, though. As for touring, the hardest thing is building up stamina. In the future, I plan to prepare myself physically for touring to make it a bit easier. But there are no exercises a drummer can do to get tuned up to perform except play. You develop certain muscles when you play the drums, and no exercise seems to work them fully that I know of. This is especially true of the legs. Skiing and tennis are very bad for drummers; unfortunately, these are two activities I enjoy doing. But they work against the development of one's drumming muscles for one reason or another.

RS: What are your feelings towards touring?
RT: Sometimes I love it; sometimes I hate it because it's incredibly tedious. We usually have a good time on the road. That always helps.

RS: For a drummer like yourself who has achieved success, is it difficult for you to carry on that special sort of relationship, for lack of a better term, with your drum kit? In other words, is your drum kit your instrument or your business tool?
RT: I know Carmine Appice is just in love with drums to a greater degree than I am or ever will be. As a kid, I just used to love my drums. Now it's just more and more, a tool, to use your term. That's probably bad. But I must say, I also find it quite difficult to talk about drums, because what I know about them I probably learned quite a long time ago. I never did get kicks out of talking about, say, the latest foot pedals. I find it incredibly boring. I just know what I like, so I don't really think about it.

RS: But how you perceive your drums is what I'd really like to get from you.
RT: Well, sometimes I hate the sight of the damn things! [laughs] Other days I look at them sort of lovingly. I mean, I'm not Charlie Watts, who's still in love with his Gretch kit after all these years. One of my problems is that I change kits so often. This makes me figure my latest kit is just another kit - that's all. See, it all goes back to what I said earlier on. I don't really see myself as a drummer in the pure sense. My love of drums has been taken over by my love of music. In fact - talk about ironies - I collect guitars. When I was a kid, I always wanted a lovely drum kit. But I could never afford one. Now I have tons of money and they keep giving them to me. It's crazy. So I collect guitars. I have a reasonable collection of very old Fenders. I love Fender guitars. I could actually get more pleasure looking at guitars than I do at the drums. I do, however, have a room full of drums at home. This is all probably sinful to say since this is a "Modern Drummer" interview, but it's true.

RS: Do you ever exert pressure on yourself to sound better than the night before, or set out to outdo your efforts in the studio or are you beyond that sort of thing?
RT: I used to do that. But I think I've matured in that I concentrate on the overall sound of the band now. I know when I play well. On tour, I constantly have to play well. If I have a bad night, I feel terrible about it. But I can usually kick myself to get it together even when I'm not having a great night. But my main thing is to look at the effect the whole band is having on the audience. I'm really more concerned about that than anything else. That's the most important thing when you really get down to it.



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