Released on 4 November 2016, as part of the 'On Air' deluxe 6 CD set only.
1-9. Freddie with Kenny Everett, 'A Day At The Races' album, Capital Radio
10-30. Queen Interview with Tom Browne, 'News Of The World' album, BBC Radio 1
31. Roger with Richard Skinner, 'Live Killers' album, BBC Radio 1
32-36. Roger with Tommy Vance, 'Flash Gordon' album and film, BBC Radio 1
37-40. Roy Thomas Baker 'The Record Producers', BBC Radio 1
Compiled by Greg Brooks and edited with Wilfredo Acosta
Mastering and audio restoration by Wilfredo Acosta at The Soundhouse Studios, London
This page includes a transcription of all of the interviews which were released on disc 4 of the 'On Air' 6 CD deluxe set, which cover the period from 1976-1980.
The set included two other discs of interviews, covering the periods 1981-1986 and 1986-1992, two discs containing all six BBC Sessions, and a disc containing highlights of three live shows.
All interviews contain excerpts of tracks, which are shown in square brackets below. In general, these fade out shortly after the start, and then fade back in towards the end, rather than being full versions.
Freddie with Kenny Everett, 'A Day At The Races' album, Capital Radio Tracks 1-9. Total length 15:53.
This interview was broadcast in November 1976, is divided into nine parts, and features excerpts of all ten tracks from 'A Day At The Races', plus 'Dear Friends'. It begins with a radio tuning sound effect. [Excerpt of 'Tie Your Mother Down']
Kenny: God you're noisy, Fred
Freddie: That's one of the softer tracks
Kenny: That's called 'Tie Your Mother Down' from the new Queen LP called 'A Day At The Races', which is actually terrifico and it's just out in time for Christmas
Freddie: Yes, that's right
Kenny: Why 'Tie Your Mother Down'?
Freddie: Well, this, this one is um, a track written by Brian actually, I dunno why. I think he was sort of, one of his vicious moods (Kenny: going through a stage) I think he's trying to out do me after 'Death On Two Legs' actually
Kenny: Let's play a nice gentle lilting one now. This is one where you sing by yourself times thirty five or something, isn't it?
Freddie: Yes, I've multi tracked myself on this one
Kenny: How many of you are there on this one?
Freddie: Actually I did this one by myself, I multi tracked myself. So the others weren't used on this for the voices. I played piano and basically, God I don't know how we sort of managed to stay this sort of simple you know, what with our overdubs and things. People think we're sort of over complex, and it's not true, it depends on, it depends on, on the individual track really, if it needs it, we do it. So this is pretty sparse actually by Queen standards
Kenny: It still sounds like the choirs of heaven, folks. So here comes Freddie, plus Freddie, plus Freddie, plus Freddie, plus Freddie
[Excerpt of 'You Take My Breath Away']
Kenny: Mmm, another classic that'll live forever from the lips of Freddie, 'Take My Breath Away' off the new LP, which there's space for in your Christmas stocking. Freddie
Freddie: Yes, dear
Kenny: We're going to play a break now. We're going to play a few of our bits (Freddie: OK), is that alright?
Kenny: Smashing, back with another track in a sec
[Excerpt of 'Long Away']
Kenny: (Laughter) hey guys, the mike's on. That was 'Long Away' by Brian May, and er, actually he does four tracks on your new LP doesn't he?
Freddie: Yes, yes he does
Kenny: I see, can you proliferate?
Freddie: Well, you want, which, which tracks you mean? Well that's, that's one of his and um, 'Tie Your Mother Down' was Brian's, he's written a lovely sort of Japanese song, which is at the end of the second side, it's got sort of Japanese verses, which took a lot (Kenny: what, actual?) yes, actual Japanese verses which we had to do, we did a lot of research actually and had um, our, our interpreter, Japanese interpreter, we flew her over from Japan
Kenny: Actually you should know Japanese off by heart by now, because you're always there, aren't you?
Freddie: Well I do, do you want me just to say some of them then? Teo torriatte konoma, konomama iko, aisuruhito yo, shizukana yoi ni, hikario tomoshi, itoshiki oshieo idaki
Kenny: Oh flan flastic, vlelly glood
Freddie: Actually that was... Kenny: Right, back to the spiffingest LP ever released, oh, what do you think of the new ELO?
Freddie: Oh it's great, it's great, (Kenny: good, isn't it), I've got a copy of that
Kenny: And also The Eagles, they're the three musts for your Christmas stocking, folks, and this is me talking to Freddie Mercury of Queen, who is, must be a millionaire by now, what Freddie?
Freddie: Oh, in what way do you mean?
Kenny: Financially and commercially, I mean you keep buying these expensive paintings and things
Freddie: Yes, because I, because I like them, it's what I've been interested for a long while, and now that I've got a little bit of money to throw around I thought I might as well go and buy it. So I went to Sotheby's the other day, and got a few paintings. The dealers weren't pleased at all
Kenny: Oh, giving them to a hairy (Freddie: yes). Actually, um you've brought champagne with you, which is very good of you
Freddie: But of course dear, it travels with me everywhere
Kenny: You make Gerald Harper look quite cheap. Thank you for that, right, 'The Millionaire Waltz' which is the next track on the LP, it's a bit gay and weird and strange, but it grows on you
Freddie: Yes, it's, it's sort of very out of, out of the sort of Queen format really, and we always like to do that every album, and I think I went a bit mad on this one I know, but it's, it's um, it's turned out alright I think, you know, it sort of makes people laugh sometimes
Kenny: It's very jolly, let's have a little listen
[Excerpt of 'The Millionaire Waltz']
Freddie: Ooh, that's really good. I'd like to say that actually Brian did do a very good job on, on the actual guitars, he's really taken his guitar orchestration to it's limits, I don't know how he's going to, I don't think he'll ever over do them, out do that one actually. And John played very good bass on that, and I think it's good, oh we're patting ourselves on the back again
Kenny: Oh who cares
Freddie: No, I really, I really feel that that's worked out really well especially from the orchestration point of view, because he's really used his guitars in a different sort of way, although he's done lots of sort of orchestrations before
Kenny: He's probably the world's greatest guitar technician really, isn't he?
Freddie: Oh I'd say that dear, easily
Kenny: Yes, pass more champagne
Freddie: Champagne everybody
Kenny: Right it's half past now, which is exactly half way through the Freddie Mercury show, and we'll take a slight break and be back with the last track on side one [Excerpt of 'You And I']
Freddie: Here. That's the um, that's the end of side one of 'A Day At The Races'. A track, that was a track by John Deacon, his contribution to this album. It's good, his songs are getting better every time actually
Kenny: He's the quiet one
Freddie: I'm getting a bit worried actually. He's sort of quiet, to lots of people he seems, don't underestimate him, he's um, he's got a bit of, he's got a fiery streak underneath all that, really. But I think um, because I talk so much anyway, he likes to let me do all the talking, but I mean, once um, people sort of crack that thin ice, then he's alright, you know, you can never stop him talking then
Kenny: Actually, you're a very shy bunch really, aren't you?
Freddie: We are really, actually
Kenny: He said, hiding behind his bottle
Freddie: Not, not, me shy, of course. Yes I am actually, people don't seem to realize that. Just because I go around tearing around on stage, they think I should go tearing around life, but I'm not really
Kenny: Good, well done, right, I've, I've said to you once, you must have had a classical upbringing, and you went 'ha', so I dropped that one, but I think you really must have
Freddie: I did, well I did have um, in my youth, that's a couple of years ago, I um, no, when, when I was about seven years old, I had piano lessons, and I did up to grade 4 classical, practical and theory, and then I gave it up, because um, I basically sort of play by ear really, and I couldn't, I can't sight read at all, so I gave that up anyway, and now all my sort of playing is done by ear. I can't read music that well, it takes me a long while
Kenny: Well, how do you work out these amazing harmonies you do?
Freddie: Well, that's quite easy, (Kenny: yeah), same as you do. I don't know, I just sort of, you just have to work at it, you know, and after a while you sort of fall into a pattern, and um, experience. I think I'm, I feel I'm getting better every year, don't you?
Kenny: Oh, I do yes
Freddie: I learn a lot from, from, from our past albums, actually, see how they're constructed and things, and then you sort of use what you've done in the past and work out different things
Kenny: Oh, you're polishing beautifully, it's really a polished product now, I mean that 'You Take My Breath Away', the harmonies on that are supreme
Freddie: Yeah, they're nice, yes, I'm really very pleased with them
Kenny: Isn't he modest
Freddie: I think they're wonderful
Kenny: Right, now, twenty two minutes to three, and from the polished to the um, (Freddie: side two), yes. A bit hairy this number, so if you're a little old lady, stand back
[Excerpt of 'White Man'] [Excerpt of 'White Man']
Kenny: Cor, how did you manage to get such a loud noise on one record?
Freddie: I don't know, that, that's Mike Stone our engineer. We're very bad in the studio for that actually, the poor engineer has to really suffer because we really want as much level as possible, and we keep pushing the phasers up and he keeps looking at the meters and (Kenny: despairing) and going 'oh it'll never cut, it'll never cut', and then we give him the added task of going over to New York or wherever and saying 'make sure that cuts as loud as possible'
Kenny: Yeah, I think I should explain for the folks, that um, if a noise is too loud on a record, the little wobbly groove grunges into the groove next door
Freddie: That's right
Kenny: And the record skips
Freddie: Yes, it can skip and do all kinds of things
Kenny: So the more noise you put on, the less, less likelihood of you
Freddie: So if Mary, Mary Potts, Mary Potts has got a little dancette, then it'll just go flying off
Kenny: So, I must admit, you do get a lot of sound on one little LP
Freddie: Yes, it's um, it's a very fine dividing line really, because we want to put in more music, but at the same time you've got to make sure you don't put too much otherwise it suffers, and then that's where all the, it's a very fine dividing line, as I said
Kenny: And you've got a genius technician who looks after all that
Freddie: Oh, Mike Stone's pretty good, yes, that little bugger
Kenny: Yes, right, um, sunny periods
Freddie: What a nice little chap here
Kenny: Minus four degrees, it's fifteen minutes to three and here's a break. Right here we are in studio one of Capital tower, with cuddly Ken and Freddie Mercury, nattering about the new LP, and, which also has this track on it
[Excerpt of 'Somebody To Love'] [Excerpt of 'Somebody To Love']
Kenny: So, if you're planning to buy this LP, you get that thrown in as an added goodie, the new number one single in Britain today 'Somebody To Love', well done Freddie
Freddie: They've probably all got their copies now anyway, so we might as well play something else
Kenny: Yeah, but the thing is, I mean look, we all had 'Sailing' by Rod Stewart, and then they re-released it and everybody bought it again (Freddie: yes), very strange
Freddie: By all means go out and buy that again, I'm, I'm, I'm not complaining
Kenny: Let's play a little trackette off 'Sheer Heart Attack' now, because I thought this was one of your tunes, because it's so lilting
Freddie: Yes, well this, this, I thought you had, you'd made a sort of slight mistake earlier on, but this is, this is a track called 'Dear Friends', off our 'Sheer Heart Attack' album, and it's, it's written by Brian, and I've done the vocals on it, but Brian wrote this lovely little tune
Kenny: Lovely tune
Freddie: And so we might as well get it right this time. People do associate me with um, the sort of simpering little ballads, but Brian has written some, some lovely ones in his time
Kenny: Alright, let's hear this one
[Excerpt of 'Dear Friends'] [Excerpt of 'Dear Friends']
Kenny: Very pretty. I didn't know Brian May wrote that, I thought he was the hairy department
Freddie: Yes, he does those, very versatile
Kenny: OK, this next one is one of yours isn't it?
Freddie: Yes, it's called 'Good Old Fashioned Loverboy', and it's in my sort of ragtime sort of mood that I sort of get a chance to, to do on every album and yes
Kenny: Right, a little frilly number from the pen of Fred
[Excerpt of 'Good Old Fashioner Loverboy'] [Excerpt of 'Good Old Fashioner Loverboy']
Kenny: Great, shut up, right, that was um, one of Freddie's tunes, I hear you're not too pleased with the musical press, Freddie, let's be, let's be outrageous
Freddie: Well it depends, it depends, um, well I mean, I don't take much notice to be honest of the musical trade actually, they can say what they like
Kenny: I find they slag everything available, they just don't say anything nice about anybody
Freddie: Not, not constructive at all actually. The American press I find much more, I feel that they do their homework and the kind of questions they ask you makes much better copy anyway
Kenny: I mean they pick the good points, and emblazen them all over the place
Freddie: Yes, more sort of
Kenny: Ours do the opposite
Freddie: Things that are more relevant, I feel anyway, and they're the, you can tell that they've done sort of their homework because they ask you very penetrating questions, which I don't mind, but you know they have some substance because then when they're, when they write about it, they sort of, it has much more bearing, but over here, it's all you know 'why have you stopped wearing black fingernails' or whatever, and that's the review, that's the review
Kenny: Have you stopped wearing?
Freddie: That's the review of the album, you know what I mean, and they haven't a clue anyway, so (blows a raspberry) to them
Kenny: Yes (blows a raspberry) to them. Right, it's five minutes to three, by my analogue rotary, and oh, looking at the studio clock I see I'm two minutes out, hmm, let's have a little commercial break, then back with a couple more tracks Freddie: I have a lot of ideas that are bursting to get out
Kenny: And you've got a film, a film?
Freddie: Yes, we've, sort of um, he's no fool this one
Kenny: I tell you what, let's just go to the film
Freddie: He's a tart, but he's no fool
Kenny: I'm not a tart, I'm a DJ. Let's discuss the film after the news and this little track off the new LP 'A Day At The Races', which is dying to dive into your Christmas stocking
[Excerpt of 'Drowse']
Kenny: That's a Roger Taylor track, and Roger's just had a requiem set for his hair, so we're all in mourning. And we'll be back with some more really great stuff, including their climactic climax to this LP right after the news. So I'll see you then, right Fred?
Freddie: Yes dear, see you then
Kenny: OK, bye bye ladies and gentlemen Kenny: Thank you my dear. And now here's Freddie with the weather
Freddie: Oh. He's just put it in my lap, I can't believe it. Weather for the Capital area. It's dry with long sunny periods, clean spells this evening, cold high
Kenny: Clear spells, dear
Freddie: Oh, clear, it's your, it's your writing. Clear spells, clean spells, yes I. Clear spells this evening, cold high three or four centigrade
Kenny: Oh forget it
Freddie: Winds light, force two or three, well this is the way you've written it, it's in code, my God, two or three mostly west to northwest, becoming south to south west later
Kenny: Are you done?
Freddie: I'm sure everybody got that
Kenny: Yes, right
Freddie: That does it, you wait 'till you come to the studio next time
Kenny: Get your calculators out and work out the weather. Right, here it is folks, the climax of this LP 'A Day At The Races', waiting for a place in your Christmas stocking
[Excerpt of 'Teo Torriatte']
Kenny: The last track off 'A Day At The Races', the new LP by Queen, and if you had your Grundig out, then you should be ashamed of yourself, you've just robbed this millionaire of another eighteen and six
Queen Interview with Tom Browne, 'News Of The World' album, BBC Radio 1 Tracks 10-30. Total length 40:32.
This interview was broadcast as two programmes, on 24 and 26 December 1977, and is divided into twenty one parts.
The interview was originally released in the '40 Years Of Queen' book, with initial pressings in 2011 incorrectly including the first part only (lasting 32:33; up to the middle of track 21), while subsequent issues included the full interview (lasting 61:44). The 'On Air' version is heavily edited, losing sections about favourite songs, Brian's background, record deals, stereo photography, legal issues, Roger's 'I Wanna Testify', and future plans.
'On Air' features three tracks from 'Queen' and 'Queen II', three tracks from 'Sheer Heart Attack', 'A Night At The Opera' and 'A Day At The Races' (with the book version adding one song from each) and two tracks from 'News Of The World' (with the book version adding a further two). The book version additionally features 'I Wanna Testify' by Roger, 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' by Marvin Gaye (John's favourite), 'You've Got A Friend' by Aretha Franklin (Freddie's favourite), 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere' by The Who (Roger's favourite), and 'House Burning Down' by The Jimi Hendrix Experience and 'And Your Bird Can Sing' by The Beatles (Brian's favourites).
In most cases, the tracks differ between the two versions in terms of how they are edited, as the book version features cross-fades, whereas 'On Air' features the tracks fading out and then back in again.
Excerpts from the interview were also used in the 2013 Radio 2 programme 'Queen At The BBC'. [Excerpt of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye...' from 'Queen']
Tom: Hello there, Radio 1 proudly presents in two programmes the members of Queen, talking about themselves and their music. Queen as they are now were formed in February 1971 and have become one of the most successful rock acts in the world, with over six major albums, and ten hit singles. Well, let me introduce you now to the members of Queen, first of all vocalist and piano player
Freddie: Freddie Mercury
Tom: On guitar, and arranging and writing
Brian: Brian May, I'm here
Tom: On drums
Roger: And occasional vocals, Roger Taylor here
Tom: Welcome Roger, and on bass and electric piano
John: Er, John Deacon
Tom: Right, together they've sold over forty million records worldwide, that's quite something. Now first of all, let me ask you, Freddie, how did it all begin
Freddie: Ahh, very sort of briefly, Brian and Roger they were in a sort of very up-tempo, raucous band called Smile, and I used to be in another band um, called Wreckage, or something
Roger: Even more up-tempo, with a name like Wreckage
Freddie: Even more up-tempo, and we used to be friends, I mean, you know, going to college together and sort of met up, and after sort of couple of years of knowing each other we just decided um, we'd form a band together really, as simple as that, we thought our musical ideas would um, blend, and then we met John, and decided to call the band Queen
Tom: Roger, can we go to the beginnings of the group, you and Freddie were working, or you had a stall right in the Kensington Market
Roger: Ah, yes, partners in crime (Tom: partners in crime), um, yes, it was really just a, it was more of a sort of social centre I think at the time, at the time that Queen were sort of in it's informative stages, we were going through all the traumas with trying to find somebody to manage us, and find a record company etc, we sort of slogged our way round, made some demo tapes, etc, through some friends, and then sort of hawked them round the business, as it was, and still is, eventually sort of securing ourself several companies who were interested, we then did a gig, I think it was at King's College, somewhere down in South London, and er, got a load of record companies along, and then we started to sort of er, try and wheel and deal a bit our way into sort of good recording situations
Tom: How long did it take you from the time that you'd made the demo to the time that you actually got a recording contract?
Roger: It felt like about eighty years I think
Brian: It was a long time, it was about two years
Roger: Yeah, it was about eighteen months, two years, yeah
Brian: There was a (Tom: Brian, this) a great, a great deal of, feeling of frustration at the time, the first album was really old songs by the time it came out, as far as we were concerned, and it put us in a strange position, because there were a lot of, we were sort of one of the groups who came along with a show and a sort of an idea of a complete production as a stage show and everything, which by the time the record came out and particularly by the time it got played by anyone and all this, and it took so long to get things going, it was all sounding like old news, you know, so people were inclined to tag us as the tail end of glitter rock or something
[Excerpt of 'Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll'] [Excerpt of 'Modern Times Rock 'n' Roll']
Roger: We've had a, a fairly um, fairly sour relationship with the music press as, as, as it's called in this country, um
Tom: You, you don't like the music press, I understand?
Roger: No, to be perfectly honest, no (laughter)
Freddie: But from the very sort of beginning, I think as far as the musical press are concerned, I mean they, they like, I mean even now they like to sort of, put sort of up and coming bands into a sort of particular bag for, for what they think, and I think we sort of just rebelled, I mean we wanted to sort of do what we thought was right and not sort of go along with what they were saying, and I think since the very early stages, we've, there's always been this sort of um, fracas between us and the press
Roger: Yes, it started from day one (Freddie: day one) with the release of our first album, plus the fact that before our, our first actual release, we were virtually totally unheard of, and then suddenly we were, not particularly famous, but heard of at least, and er, they always like to think they've got one up on you, and they always like to think that they've predicted something (Freddie: yes, true), you know, and there, all of a sudden there we were, and, and we were playing to quite a lot of people, and er, it took people rather by surprise I think Tom: Was the style though, that you had created, was that thought out from the outset, or did it just evolve as time went by?
Brian: There were certain kind of ideals which we had in our heads, definitely, certain patterns that we wanted to try and live up to, and I think, to put it crudely, we started off thinking that we wanted to be a, a kind of heavy group, but with good melodies, and with good harmonies, and the other things grew out of that, and the first album was really just putting down what we did on stage at the time, it was quick into the studios and quick out, even at that time, lots of big ideas about what we could do in the studio if we were let loose for a, a proper time in the studio, um, but we saved all that up, up to 'Queen II', the second album. But a lot of the 'Queen II' stuff was written at the time we made the first album
Tom: OK, well let's take some music now from 'Queen I', the first track we're gonna play is in fact your first single, taken off 'Queen I', 'Keep Yourself Alive'
[Excerpt of 'Keep Yourself Alive']
Tom: 'Keep Yourself Alive', your first single. Brian, were you disappointed that this didn't do better?
Brian: Oh yes, yes, it's, it takes me back very vividly to the time actually, because this is just the time when we started, we did a few gigs on our own, some small gigs, and then went on the support tour with Mott The Hoople, and um, went round the whole country getting really good reactions and thinking 'yeah, we're really getting somewhere', and yet all the time we're watching the single and the album and nothing appeared anywhere in the charts, you know, and it just seemed like an impossible wall, we thought how is it done, you know, we couldn't get the single played on the radio, at all, hardly, well there was a couple of people that played but it didn't get any sort of er, er, power play, er, but there's no doubt that the beginning is the worst, you know, you have no track record, you have no reputation Tom: John, can I come to you now, we haven't heard from you I'm sorry, you've got a degree in electronics, did this, er, mean that the group all came to you and asked you questions when they had complicated bits of machinery to look at?
John: Not particularly, um, I used to help a little out in the, in the, in the early days, you know, when we were, basically when we started out there was just the four of us and one guy, our roadie John Harris, who's been with us right from the beginning, and um, between me and him we used to do a lot in the early days, but now we have quite a, a larger crew of about twenty who look after it all for us
Tom: Well, being in a thirty two track studio, with all the marvellous space age electronics all around, do you find it difficult to sort of keep your hands off little buttons and saying 'what's this, what's that'?
John: Er, well we do, we all, I mean we all of us um, try to learn what the studio does, I mean, because it helps to get the sounds and the ideas and to do what you want, and we've all taken interest in what it is possible to do in a studio technically, you know, because I mean, I think if a musician doesn't understand that, it limits, you know, the ideas that they can actually put down on tape
Tom: Now, you were playing bass, er, first of all with Roger?
John: No, no, I um, basically I came down to London to university, and I was here for about two years, I wasn't playing at all. I used to play like, before I came to university, in sort of groups at school and things like that, and then I gave it up when I came down, and after I was here for about two years, I bumped into, I think it was Roger and Brian, somewhere, wasn't it (Roger: yeah, yeah, yeah) and I heard just socially, because they happened to be at different colleges around the same area in London, and I heard they were looking for a bass player, so I said I was interested, and um, went along for an audition really, and it happened like that. I think you'd been together for about six months previously, hadn't you?
Roger: I think longer, actually
Roger: Oh, you mean Queen, yeah, Queen had (John: as Queen, actually with the name Queen, no, yes, yeah) yeah, going through about three bass players a week at the time (John: yeah), and er, we eventually found er, John
John: Yeah, and I seemed to fit in and, you know
Tom: Did you immediately agree on the kind of music you wanted to play?
John: Well, um, I don't know, I mean, they, they were already formed, them, I mean to me they had the, the, they had all the musical ideas then of what they were trying to do, and I just you know, I basically, you know just fitted in really, at that time
Brian: He's very modest
John: Yeah, well my development came later, it took me a few years to settle in Tom: Well John, now it's, it's your personal choice, what, what would you like to play now?
John: Yes, I've chosen a track um, by Marvin Gaye, 'Heard It Through The Grapevine', er, I like a lot of these American sort of Tamla things, for the bass players, some of the bass players are very nice, (Freddie: Tamla things, I love it), you know (Roger: Stanley Clarke), and it's a nice atmospheric song
Tom: OK, here it is, Marvin Gaye, 'Heard It Through The Grapevine'
[Excerpt of 'Heard It Through The Grapevine']
Tom: John, you are a family man, am I right in
John: Er, sort of correct yes, I, yes (laughter) I have one little boy, yes
Tom: Yes, right, do, do you find it difficult touring in the States and being away from family
John: Um, it can be strain, yeah, um, you know, it's, I try and, um, you know, make the two work together, you know, which is, you know, which, which can be difficult, but I, I try, I try and fit it in
Tom: How does he react to daddy being a big star?
John: Well, I don't know, he can't talk yet (laughter)
Tom: How do you think he will react?
John: Mmm, I don't know, I'll see then. He's just starting to talk now actually, so I'll find out what he's been thinking
Roger: John is also the business brain of the group
Tom: He's the business brain?
John: I, I look after, I tend to look into that a bit, yes, and I
Tom: So, you're examining the contracts and er, checking on the returns and
John: Well, yeah, it's nice, it is, it is, especially when you get to, to the level we got to, I mean it's nice to know what's going on
Tom: Brian, you did a degree in physics and then er, (Brian: yes) you went on to do a PhD in astronomy
Tom: What was the attraction of astronomy?
Brian: Something I'd always, always been interested in, I was as a kid I used to look at the stars and I, I built a telescope and things, and um, it was just something I thought, if I ever had the chance to be an astronomer, I would, I would give it a go, so I took a physics degree, and I, I mean when you're at school you don't really know what you're gonna do, I think, I think it's still true, you know, when you, when you come out of school you tend to do what you're, you're best at, and if, if you happen to be good at physics everyone tells you you should do physics, so I did that, and it happened to be a good thing to lead onto astronomy, um, so I did some research in astronomy after I got the degree, but at that time the group began to take off, and demand more and more time, so it just became impossible to er, to carry on with the studies really
Tom: But I believe your PhD thesis in fact was practically completely written wasn't it?
Brian: Yes I did, I spent a long time on it, I also taught for a while at a comprehensive school to, to make the money to keep going, and did most of the writing up, um, but it's just for the, the sake of that last bit, and I, I seriously wonder whether it's ever gonna get done now, it's a shame
Tom: And what was the thesis on?
Brian: Um, interplanetary dust, the motion of, of dust between us and the sun
Freddie: Very cosmic
Tom: Cosmic yes, is there a lot of it? Is there a lot of it?
Brian: Yes there's a surprising amount of it actually, yes, you can in fact see it, if you're in the right place at the right time, in a very clear sky and a very dark sky, you can see a, you can see the dust as (Freddie: tell him about your Zodiacal light) as a, it's called a Zodiacal light, yes (Freddie: this is it, is it, well there you are) which is a sort of milky glow, which looks something like the milky way, but it's a cone of light which stretches up with the sun as a centre
Tom: Um, where did you observe from, because I'd have thought London sky at night was a bit murky?
Brian: Oh yes, I went to Tenerife, well I went to Italy first, in the Italian Alps, we had an observatory there, but that was plagued with bad weather, and we went to Tenerife, we set up an observatory in Tenerife, I actually organised a hut being built, which had our, well not actually a telescope but a spectroscope, which is what I used
Tom: Well let's have some more music, and what we have coming up is the 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' [Excerpt of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye'] Tom: 'I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside', well that was the er, single that broke you, the 'Seven Seas Of Rhye', that began it all. Um, Roger why was there a little bit of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye' on 'Queen I' and then repeated on 'Queen II'?
Roger: Well I think Freddie had half-written the song, and er, it was, we thought it was a nice sort of tail-out to the first album, with the, I think we had the idea of, of starting the second album with the song
Freddie: With the finished song, yes
Roger: With the finished song, yeah, so it would sort of lead in nicely, in fact we ended the second album with, with this song, um, and it had changed a little by then, and we released it as a single, because we thought it was fairly strong
Tom: Freddie, if I could come to you as the man what wrote it, the lyrics, what does it mean?
Freddie: Oh, God, you should never ask me that. They're basically um, my sort of lyrics are sort of basically for people's interpretations really, I mean I think it's, I've forgotten what they were all about
Tom: What were the 'Seven Seas Of Rhye'?
Freddie: It's really fictitious, I know it's like sort of bowing out or some easy way out, but that's basically what it is. It's, it's just um, a figment of your imagination
Tom: You have, you have a rather surrealistic approach, is that the right word, could I say to your lyrics?
Freddie: An imaginative approach yes, I suppose you could
Tom: Imaginative, yes, no but I mean it's a
Freddie: It's an easy way out
Tom: But there's, there's a
Freddie: It covers such a lot of area, it really depends on what kind of song really, I think um, I think at that time, I was, I was, um, learning about a lot of things about actual song structure and er, and as far as lyrics are concerned, they're very difficult as far as I'm concerned, I find them quite a task, and er, my strongest point is sort of like say melody content, and um, I basically sort of um, concentrate on that first, the melody, and the song structure, and then the lyrics come afterwards actually
Tom: Are you influenced by Salvador Dali?
Freddie: Not really, I sort of um, I admire him yes, he's sort of, it's not as um, involved as that, I don't sort of take things like paintings too literally, the only time I did do that was in a song called 'Fairy Feller's Masterstroke', where I actually sort of, was, I was thoroughly inspired by um, a painting by Richard Dadd, which is in the Tate gallery, and I thought that sort of, er, did a lot of research on it, and it sort of inspired me to write um, a song about the painting, depicting what I thought I saw in it
Tom: What did you discover in your research about this painting?
Freddie: Um, it's just because I mean I've come through art college and things like that, and I just, I basically liked the sort of artist, and I sort of liked the painting, and I thought I'd like to sort of write a song about it
Tom: Well, we're, we're gonna play this track, so um
Roger: Is it on, it's on 'Queen II'
[Excerpt of 'The Fairy Feller's Masterstroke']
Roger: It's one of our first major experiments in stereo I think Tom: How do you sort out which songs are gonna go onto an album, because you all write, don't you?
Freddie: We row
Freddie: We do write individually, so I mean like we go our separate ways for, when the tour's over our whatever, and then we sort of have a teething period where we sort of get together and sort of play each other the new songs, and then what happens is a sort of, a very huge sifting process, where we sort of find out what songs
Roger: Like, 'no way am I gonna play that' or 'forget it'
Freddie: Things like that, and we sort of work in, also we, in indi-, as far as the individual song is concerned, and also what will go with, how the songs will sort of sound with each other, so it's basically sort of, looking in terms of an album, as opposed to just individual songs
Roger: Yeah, we, we try, we have tried in the past to provide a lot of variety on each album, and a lot of contrasts, and so we've had to sort of have a good cross section of material
Tom: Alright, well let's hear some of the heavy side of your music, 'The March Of The Black Queen' from 'Queen II'
[Excerpt of 'The March Of The Black Queen'] Tom: From 'Queen II', 'March Of The Black Queen'. Brian, you were going to say something about Queen
Brian: I, I thought it was a good idea to play that, because 'Queen II' is an album which in some ways is the root of all that happened thereafter I think, and if, if people haven't heard that before, I think you could hear that and think that that was something off the new album, really, it still sounds that fresh to me, and there are a lot of things that you can hear the, all the sort of texture work was there, and the intricate harmonies, the guitar harmonies and stuff, sort of the pre-cursor of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in many ways, so I think that was a very important album for us, it was also the first one which came into the charts
Tom: How long did 'March Of The Black Queen' take you to record?
Roger: The tape went transparent (Brian: yes) genuinely (Brian: yeah)
Freddie: Those were, those were the days of sixteen track studios and I think, wasn't it, that was done in (Roger: yes, it was sixteen track), we have, you have now twenty four and thirty two track, but I mean as we did so many overdubs, I mean on sixteen track, it was like, we just kept piling it on and on, and it was like that's what Roger means that the tape went transparent, because it just couldn't take anymore. I think it snapped in about two places
Roger: It had gone over the heads so many times overdubbing, the oxide had worn off (laughter)
Brian: It was a big step for us, at the time certainly, because no-one was really doing that kind of thing in those days
Roger: We, in fact when this came out we were doing our own first headlining tour, after the er, after supporting Mott The Hoople, and er, gaining an enormous amount of live experience, and a large following really, for a relatively new band
Tom: Well then Roger, you went on to support Mott The Hoople in the States, right?
Roger: Yeah, it seemed the logical step, because it, it had worked so well, and we got on with them very well personally as well, which is, doesn't always happen on tours, you know, um, it's always good if the bands sort of touring together do get on well, and so we really took the logical step and went to America with them as well, and er, we did learn quite a lot off them, they're a really good live band
Brian: Excellent live band, yeah
Roger: We had a very good American tour, up to the point when Brian got hepatitis and er, collapsed and we had to come home, at which point things looked very black
Tom: Well then you did an extraordinary thing, having supported once in England and having supported once in the States, you then went to headline straight away in England, and then you went to headline straight away in the States
Roger: It was quite rare then, yeah, because we did go to sort of, playing the Rainbow by ourselves in, in one sort of step
Freddie: We did take a lot of risks actually, I think most of them paid off I think
Roger: Yeah, most of them
Tom: In the States, you got yourselves an American manager
Roger: Well, we already had him in fact, he was, he was taken on by, but it helped us for when we went to America, he was taken on by Trident, which is the company that, which we were signed to at the time, a sort of production deal, and er, I think he helped in, in many ways with our introduction to America, being a yank, you know (laughter) he's from California
Freddie: Basically I think we'd signed all the deals, I mean as, the recording deals and the publishing deals, so in effect we were signed to Trident and at a later stage Jack came in, Jack Nelson, who's the person we're talking about, came in to sort of look after the management side of things, so he was brought in at a later stage
Brian: Yeah (Tom: sure, Brian) to make it a little clear, when we, when we sign, when we came to the point of signing con, record contracts, there was a couple of, there were a few record companies who were interested, but instead of doing that we signed to a production company, and the deal is that you, you record for them, and they then do a deal with the record company, so you have a kind of middle-man, and Trident were this middle-man
Roger: At the time it seems a good idea because an established company, a fairly high power established company seems more able to deal with the fairly high powered record companies than, the mere novice (Brian: humble musicians) humble musicians
Freddie: Twenty pound a week musicians
Brian: There is a huge basic drawback in the fact that you, your manager is then your record company, and you don't have anyone who can represent you to the record company, so you have an impossible situation where it's basically the band against everyone else, and it generated friction in every department
Tom: Alright, well now we come onto your third album, 'Sheer Heart Attack', and the biggest hit from that, which went to number two in November '74 was 'Killer Queen'
[Excerpt of 'Killer Queen']
Tom: Was this written about a, a lovely lady of your acquaintance then?
Freddie: No, another fictitious person
Tom: I mean, there's wonderful lyrics in this, 'dynamite with a laser beam, guaranteed to blow your mind', 'gunpowder, gelatine', I mean marvellous stuff. But, we, we, we're not gonna get any clues, to this, this, this (laughter) society
Freddie: I think if I was to sort of analyse, analyse every verse, it would be very boring for the listeners, and it might sort of shatter a few illusions (Tom: oh would it), I'd rather sort of kept it
Tom: It's one that sticks in the mind, so anyway, it's very obvious that you're a painstakingly thorough, very methodical group, I mean you're a perfectionist
Roger: God, that sounds really boring doesn't it?
Tom: No, but I mean I, I think it's much to be admired, the fact that you go into every facet of production, not only just the music, you know, you see it right down to the last dot, as we were talking about earlier
Brian: We always thought that was essential, not only in the production, but in, in every detail that we're, we're involved in
Roger: We learnt through hard experience really
Brian: Yeah, I mean right down to the last bit of print on the record cover and the way it's cut on the album which is crucial, right down to um, the way the tours are set up, everything, we try to keep control of, and it's not easy
Roger: Because when there's a lot of, there's so much money involved these days, I mean it's, it's, it's almost sordid to talk about the amounts of money but they are involved, and people are very clever and nothing corrupts like large sums of money, and um, so we do have to be very careful
Tom: Let's go on to another track from 'Sheer Heart Attack', it's 'Bring Back That Leroy Brown' [Excerpt of 'Bring Back That Leroy Brown']
Tom: 'Bring Back That Leroy Brown' with a ukulele novelty from Brian May there Tom: Er, Brian, what would you describe as this ukulele type music as, as barber shop ukulele, or George Formby, or?
Brian: The uku-, yeah, the ukulele in a way was incidental to that, because that was Freddie's song and um, it had this kind of Vaudeville atmosphere, and I just thought the ukulele would go nicely on it, and we sort of worked it so that it could be done, and I managed to fiddle a little ukulele solo (laughter)
Tom: You in fact learnt on a ukulele, right?
Brian: Yes, that was the first instrument I ever played, um, my father had a genuine George Formby ukulele, George Formby was the er, really the originator of that kind of style of playing, er, which is rhythmic and slightly melodic at the same time, because he plays across the top and bottom strings to make little melodies, and er, I'm really a pretty poor imitator of that style, but I got interested in it (All: ahhhh; Roger: makes you sick, doesn't it) oh sorry (Roger: modesty)
Tom: And, and I believe your father also, er, was instrumental in, in making your first guitar?
Brian: Yes, my father and I made the, the guitar together, which is still the one I use all the time
Tom: What was it made out of?
Brian: Um, lumps of wood, and bits of pieces, it cost about eight pounds to make in the beginning
Tom: I, I read in a press biog or something it was saying about an armchair or a fireplace
Brian: A hundred year old fireplace, the legendary fireplace (laughter) yes it did (Freddie: the things that are coming out of that fireplace, quite staggering) yes that's the thing, the neck was made out of a, an old fireplace yes
Tom: My goodness, he must have been quite a craftsman
Brian: Well, we just worked at it for a couple of years, because I, I was at school, and it was evenings and weekends and things
Tom: I see, and that's still the one you play now?
Tom: Oh, terrific, well it must be worth a fortune in years to come, so
Brian: I don't know really, it's, it's really not worth very much to anyone except me, because everyone finds it difficult to play Tom: Can we come now to your producer, Roy Thomas Baker?
Roger: Roy half-produced the first album, and er, and then he went on to come, become our full producer, and er, he, I think 'A Night At The Opera' was the last one, and we produced, co-produced it with him
Tom: Freddie, did you, did you select him, or did EMI provide him?
John: Well it was through Trident really (Brian: it was all through Trident, yeah) because in the early days, you know, the first album, um, and then we had, they stuck us with John Anthony didn't they, as well, who we didn't really get on with, so we gave him the elbow after one album, and then we did the second album with, you know, with Roy and Robin Cable
Roger: Yeah, Trident was quite a Mecca for, for producers at the time, because I remember sort of all the, Bowie's most successful stuff was done with Ken Scott there (Brian: yeah)
Tom: Let's have another track from 'Sheer Heart Attack', this is 'In The Lap Of The Gods'
[Excerpt of 'In The Lap Of The Gods'] [Excerpt of 'In The Lap Of The Gods']
Tom: 'In The Lap Of The Gods', The Beach Boys meet Wagner, or something like that anyway. Um, Freddie, er, was this a sort of pre-runner to, to 'Bohemian Rhapsody', it has that sort of operatic feel to it?
Freddie: I suppose it could be um, put across that way yes, I was sort of learning a lot in, on this, on 'Sheer Heart Attack' we were sort of doing a lot of things that um, was to come in future albums, or was to sort of be used on, on the future albums, and songs like that, yes I suppose um, working out the kind of harmonies and things and the song structure did help a lot in say, something like 'Bohemian Rhapsody', it's true. Somebody said this was like a Cecil B. DeMille um, meets Walt Disney, or something, which is the more to the point than say The Beach Boys
Tom: Wagner meets The Beach Boys, yes Tom: Well like, talking about Cecil B. DeMille, can we come to your colossal stage productions with (Freddie: oh yes and our nice clothes) crowns appearing everywhere, thunder flashes all over the stage, and you leaping about, 'bringing ballet to the masses' I believe the quote was (Freddie: oh no, yes; Brian: ohhhh)
Freddie: Oh, I mean, if you're referring to sort of a certain article about all that, that's meant to be taken tongue in cheek, but I mean it's just that, at this point in time, that's something that interests me, and I'm just trying to incorporate it in the stage act, nothing more really, and um, it's basically to enhance the music we play, I mean if it was, if it wasn't working then I wouldn't do it, and it's also a phase that I'm going through, and um, I like the Nijinsky costume
Roger: The people who come to the shows seem to really enjoy them, because you must aim for maximum effect, which we do, I mean both aurally and visually, however some sort of people don't seem to like this, the so-called purists or whatever, and they think it's a techno-flash rock or something I've heard it called, but basically we're just trying to put over the music and the visual aspect as effectively as we can to as many people as we can
Tom: Do you carry your own lighting crew all over the world?
Tom: So it's the same one, that was at Earl's Court, that was in the States?
Roger: Yes, yes, it has to be, because the co-ordination, er, required is, is quite unbelievable
Brian: Yeah, and the same for the sound set up. The way we started off, we always had these big ideas, and we always thought that it should be a visual and a, a sound experience, it should be a complete thing that you can wallow in, you know, I think it comes from when we were kids, if we went to see a rock band, we wanted to be knocked out, we wanted to be blown away (Roger: yeah) you know and er (Roger: stunned) yeah, it, it's for that kind of thing, we think it should be a real event every time we play
Roger: People are paying money to come and see you so, I mean
Freddie: Yes, as far as we're concerned, we're putting on a show, it's not just, just us, just not another rendition of, of an album, we might, if that was the case, we might as well just have sort of cardboard cut-outs and just play the album, through, through the sort of system
Brian: I mean, this
Tom: Yeah, yeah right. Let's have some more music, the next one from 'Sheer Heart Attack' we're gonna play is 'Now I'm Here'
Roger: Call that music
[Excerpt of 'Now I'm Here'] [Excerpt of 'Now I'm Here']
Tom: 'Now I'm Here', which went to number eleven in February '75. Um, do you find that er, the single helps you generate sale of an album?
Roger: Definitely. That's what gets you to the mass of people, even if they don't buy it, and even if they don't like it, they still know who you are from a single, whereas I think you could have a, a number one album for six months and people still wouldn't know who you were. But we never record any record as a single, it's always just a track off an album that we think might make a good single after we've recorded it
Tom: Oh, I see, so you don't go into the studio, 'this is gonna be the one'
Roger: No, never, we never have
Tom: Do you take advice from other people as to what could be a good single?
Roger: It, it never works
Brian: Nobody wanted 'Bohemian Rhapsody' as a single really, around us (Tom: really?) everyone said no-one would play it, because it was too long, and all that stuff
Roger: Nobody except us wanted it
Freddie: But this is not to say that we're always right, because we're not (Roger: well, we're not always right, we've been wrong) the choice of single is (John: yeah, once, yeah) (laughter), is a very difficult thing, I mean, there's no sure fire hit, you know, there's just, there's no such thing, and with say something like 'Bohemian Rhapsody', it was a big risk, and it worked, because I think with a song like that it was either gonna be a huge success or a, or a terrific flop, and you know it was
Brian: But it's been no bed of roses no pleasure cruise, no
Tom: Well we're talking about 'Bohemian Rhapsody', so let's play 'Bohemian Rhapsody' now
[Excerpt of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'] Tom: 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. This was, for me, so amazing, because it was such a departure from anything else that was in the charts in '75, in November it got to number one, and stayed there for nine weeks, I think, didn't it, amazing (Roger: yeah, something like that, yeah), terrific amount of time, anyway, yonks and yonks, and it was fabulous. Um, Freddie, can you tell us a bit about how you recorded 'Bohemian Rhapsody', the actual technical side of it?
Freddie: You want a few trade secrets? It was quite a mammoth task, because it was basically done in three, three definite sections and just pieced together, and each one required a lot of concentration, the opera section, the middle, was the most taxing I think, 'cos er, we just, we wanted to recreate a sort of huge operatic sort of um, harmony section, between just the three of us, and that involves a lot of multi-tracking and things, and I think between the three of us we sort of, we recreated a, a sort of hundred and sixty to two hundred piece (Roger: something like that, yeah) choir effect between just the three of us, that's Brian, Roger and myself just singing it
Roger: There's a tremendous range of harmonies, and it involves doing it again and again and again and again to make it sound bigger and bigger and bigger
Tom: Can you think how many times to get that number of people?
Roger: Well, divide two hundred by three (laughter), something like that
Tom: Yeah, sixty six
Brian: This is for each, each little part so if you multiply that by
Roger: Each little bit though has to be done that many times, and you have to learn all the very different parts, because I think some of them were, what, how many part harmonies?
Freddie: Because I mean like there was a section of 'no, no, no', and we had to sort of do that in sort of different escalating things and we just sat there going (sings) 'no, no, no, no, no, no, no' about, I don't know, a hundred and fifty times (Brian: going out of our minds)
Tom: Does one of you every now and again just say 'no more, that's it, I'm not'
Freddie: Oh yes (Roger: yeah, all the time, yeah) all the time
Tom: And then the others sort of egg him on and say 'well it's only one more' or something?
Freddie: It depends on who's
Roger: No, everybody agrees and we leave (laughter) Tom: Well we come now to Freddie's personal choice of music. Freddie, what's it gonna be?
Freddie: I've sort of chosen an Aretha Franklin track, I think it's called 'You've Got A Friend', it's from the er, 'Amazing Grace' album which she did a long time ago, it's a live sort of thing, double album set, it's a sort of gospel thing that she did live in a, in a church in California I think, it's called 'You've Got A Friend'
[Excerpt of 'You've Got A Friend']
Tom: Freddie Mercury's choice there from Aretha Franklin [Excerpt of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye...' from 'Queen']
Tom: Radio 1 presents the second part of Queen. In the first programme, we covered the musical development of Queen from their first album right up to their chart topping single 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and in this second programme, we'll be talking again to Queen about their music, we'll be playing tracks from 'A Night At The Opera', 'Day At The Races' and 'News Of The World'. First of all then, let's go to Queen's drummer, Roger Taylor. I've noted down here Roger that when you're not playing or recording with Queen, you're quite interested in motor racing and in cars?
Roger: Well more cars really, I'm not that up on motor racing, I have Auto Sport every week, but I mean, really, sort of this is a full time job, it keeps us so busy, I never get time to go to any races or anything, I just like cars, they're rather nice
Tom: But you have driven, haven't you, um, round a track
Roger: Oh, only, only once, yeah, it was a very minor thing really, but it gives you a taste you know
Tom: You're not thinking of taking on Noel Edmonds down at Brands Hatch or something?
Roger: Oh, good God, I'd thrash him (laughter)
Tom: Hear that Noel? Ha, ha. Right
Brian: That's before he got in the car
Roger: Yeah, that's even before he got in
Tom: Anyway, that's our natural cue to 'I'm In Love With My Car' by Roger Taylor
[Excerpt of 'I'm In Love With My Car'] [Excerpt of 'I'm In Love With My Car'] Tom: 'I'm In Love With My Car' from 'A Night At The Opera'. John, I believe you're very interested in stereo photography (John: stereo photography, yeah) tell us about stereo photography
John: I just like the um, the old weetabix things, you know where you used to get the two things with the viewers, used to get two pictures, you know both taken from a slightly different position, and you look through a special viewer and you get a, a true 3D perspective effect, and you can have attachments that you actually put on cameras on special stereo cameras to take three dimensional pictures
Tom: Three dimensional slides? (John: um) um, I mean you can't sort of project it can you, or?
John: There is a means, you've tried it haven't you Brian, projecting?
Brian: Yeah, I got quite a long way into it, yeah, you can do it with a silver screen instead of a white screen and cross polarize and things (Tom: mmm), takes a lot of setting up, it's very interesting
Roger: Perfect for the average layman (laughter)
Brian: It's very unfashionable at the moment, 'cos it did, it was quite a successful form of photography in the nineteen (Roger: thirties) twenties and thirties or so, but it sort of went out of fashion for some unknown reason, because I think it's amazing
Tom: Brian, I would have thought that you'd have been interested too in um, holograms and er
Brian: Yes, strangely enough, holography was invented by Dennis Gabor who was a professor at my college, at Imperial College where I went, so we, we had a holography course, yes I was interested, I don't really think it has as much application to the rock stage as, as people think
Tom: You don't think you could incorporate holograms into your act?
Brian: You can, but it, it's, the art is not at the state where it, it's gonna be that good at the moment. The Who really are, are the people who have got most into using lasers as part of the stage show, but holography is a very dicey business really, even with lasers, and to produce large scale impressive things is more difficult than people think
Tom: I believe they are far more advanced than we are in the States with holograms?
Brian: Um, yes, it's surprising though I mean, I keep vaguely up with the developments, but it hasn't advanced hugely on the large scale, um, the small scale making of holograms commercially has advanced considerably, but the problems are still the same, you need a large source of coherent light, and you need a, a screen to work the thing from, you can't suspend it in thin air yet, the image Tom: And back to John again, you're playing the electric piano on the next track, 'You're My Best Friend', how did you wrench the piano away from Freddie?
John: Well, Freddie didn't like the electric piano, so I took it home, and I started to, because I, I'd never played piano before, I really started to learn on the electric piano, and, and basically that's a song that came out, you know, when I was, I was learning to play piano
Freddie: I, I refused to play the damn thing
Tom: Was this a question of ethics, or what?
Freddie: They're tinny and horrible, I don't like them (laughter) why play those things when you've got a lovely super grand piano? No, I, I think it's, basically what he's trying to say is that there was a desired effect really, and
John: It was written on that instrument, and really it sounds best on that, you know, on the, often on the, on the instrument that you wrote a song on
Tom: Well, it got to number seven, in July '76, 'You're My Best Friend'
[Excerpt of 'You're My Best Friend']
Tom: 'You're My Best Friend' with John fingering away like fury on electric piano Tom: Now we come to the grand subject of marketing 'A Night At The Opera'. It's a fascinating subject, how did you conceive the album sleeve and everything else, and how did you go about marketing it?
Freddie: Well the sleeve had a sort of crest on it, didn't it, that's right, sort of
Tom: Now you designed that, right?
Freddie: Well, it was an adaptation of an earlier crest that I did, it was done by David Costa who sort of um, worked in conjunction with us, and made sure it was what we wanted, since then I mean as far as say marketing is concerned, it's a huge process, I mean it covers such a wide area, it's like we said before, we just sort of work on the album material and then we choose a single, in this case, 'A Night At The Opera' case, it happened to be 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and with that we made a film which helped us a lot, I mean we did it with Bruce Gowers
John: Yeah, we made a film (Freddie: a promotional film) in rather a short time actually, we were, just before we went out to tour in England, when 'Bohemian Rhapsody' was released, we were rehearsing, up at Elstree wasn't it, (Roger: yeah), yeah, and they just came in one night with a video truck (Freddie: we all came in) one or two little bits and we did it in about four hours didn't we?
Roger: The film opened up a new avenue for us, because the film was used all round the world, and worked very successfully, I mean it didn't only just get the record across, it got Queen across both visually and sort of aurally, and now it's really a part of the accepted pattern of marketing a single for any major, or in fact even a new band these days, or artist, to make the record, and then bring out the record, but they always have the film with the record, in fact you can sell that film round the whole world, and literally promote your records with it without actually being there, I think Abba have, have turned that into great advantage, yes
Tom: John, how deeply do you involve yourselves with the marketing?
John: We involve ourselves artistically with the product basically, I mean like the, I mean obviously the album and the cover, and the film, we're very much involved with that, but as far as the actual sort of marketing, I mean, I mean a lot is up to the record company, you know, as long as they don't do anything that is grossly in bad taste, you know, I mean we like to keep an eye on what they're doing Tom: Have you ever had a nasty shock, something you weren't expecting?
Brian: Oh yes (general agreement)
Freddie: Especially now, there are so many, I mean you get posters
Brian: Yeah, there's, there's been some really bad things, there's one particular example in America we were very upset about, where they, they put out 'Liar' as the second single, and when we heard it we discovered that they'd chopped it, they'd chopped a good ah, sixty percent of it out, just in a pretty random way, not even done the edits very well, and that was being put out as a single in America, and of course it was a flop, and we've always tried to fight for complete artistic control throughout the world, the normal thing is to, to send your copies of the mastertapes when you finish the album to various countries, and they cut it. Now, in cutting a record, which is actually physically putting it on the, the disc, there's a huge amount you can do with it, and you can completely ruin a record which has been, taken months to produce, and we've got some of the cuts back from countries that we've, that we didn't know about, and they've been horrific. It's funny, the first album, in America, was an interesting example, because they put it all through a very viscious limiter, which means that everything comes up to the same level, and everything pumps, they call it pumping, so if you have a continuous note and a drum beat on top, then the continous note goes up and down around the drum beat, and in fact that, that improved some tracks, or, or made them (laughter) it's very strange, it gave them a particular sound (Roger: yeah, we really knew a lot about the studio then), it gave them a particular sound on American FM radio, which we discovered when we went there, that it, it did get us across very well, and we sort of, we actually used that on subsequent albums, it's very strange how things can happen Tom: Let's have some more music, Brian let's take one of yours, one that we're gonna play of yours in a minute, from 'A Night At The Opera', which is called 'Good Company', which has a George Formby style ukulele on it, and Trad Jazz, um, were you interested a lot in Trad Jazz?
Brian: I can remember the Trad Jazz boom, and I, I was very, very keen on a group called the Temperance Seven, who did in fact a sort of revival of the twenties arrangements for jazz band, and that, that's the kind of thing I was going after on this track
[Excerpt of 'Good Company']
Tom: Well Brian, now we come to your personal record choice, and I believe instead of just having one, you're gonna have half of one and half of another
Brian: Yes, I'm very greedy
Tom: Well, tell us what they're gonna be
Brian: OK, um, this is going to bring us onto Jimi Hendrix, who I'm sure we can talk a lot about, I'd, I'd like to play the beginning of a track called 'A House Burning Down', the beginning of this to me is the most amazing attacking beginning to a song I've ever heard, and it's the complete production job on guitars, bass and drums, I've never heard anything like it
[Excerpt of 'House Burning Down']
Brian: And the other track is 'And Your Bird Can Sing', which is, I think it's just something that's very simple and very beautiful that The Beatles did, there's a lot of Beatles in us I think, a lot of influence there, whether it's conscious or unconcious, and that was one, one of the things which I liked, a very simple song, very well done, and also a little bit of double tracking from George Harrison, I assume it's George, playing the, the little figures that go round the vocals, and that was an inspiration aswell because one of my dreams was to be able to do multi-tracking guitar on records, at that time it was unheard of to do double tracking, I could name about three instances to do proper harmony work with a rock sounding guitar, and George Harrison was, was quite a pioneer, because he, he had a go at it on this track
[Excerpt of 'And Your Bird Can Sing']
Tom: Brian May's choice, from Jimi Hendrix 'A House Burning Down' and The Beatles 'And Your Bird Can Sing', and now Tom: Can we talk about Jimi Hendrix, because I know Jimi Hendrix has been a prime mover to the group, and a great influence to you all, Freddie
Freddie: He was just a beautiful man, I think he was just a master showman, what can I say, he was just a dedicated musician, I mean he was just everything as far as I was concerned and I went to numerous places to sort of try and catch his shows, just magic, just magic, and it was really, it's quite sort of a treat to watch somebody just come on the stage, I mean he didn't have the kind of props and things that we have today, it all emitted from him, you know, from, from the person, it was just him and the guitar, very colourful, and just um, it was quite a stage act, you, you learnt a lot from that kind of thing
Tom: Roger, I believe that, when he died, you were at the Kensington Market, right?
Roger: That's true, actually yes, how did you that find out? (laughter) um (Brian: I was) yes, I, I remember we couldn't
Freddie: We shut shop in his honour
Roger: Yes, we shut up our stall and went home and had a good ball, 'cos it was (Freddie: played all his records), really, it was dreadful when he died, for me, yeah
Tom: I also believe that when you did your big Hyde Park concert last year, that that was on the anniversary of Jimi's death (Roger: it was) tell us about Hyde Park, how did that come about?
Roger: It was an idea we had while, when we were touring in Japan, we thought it would be nice to do something different in England, rather than do the same old you know, yeah, tour, etc, the same old places, and we thought we'd like to do a free concert, and the best possible venue that occured to us was Hyde Park, because it was more central than any other, it was an awful lot of trouble, to, to get permission to play in the park, to hold the event, it cost us a fortune, etc, but in the end it was worth it, we wanted to just make a good gesture, er, to do something for nothing, um, a lot of people still don't seem to realise that, I mean there was no percentage from any angle in it, really
Tom: Well, let's have some more music, this time from 'A Day At The Races', and 'Somebody To Love', which got to the top ten in December '76
[Excerpt of 'Somebody To Love'] [Excerpt of 'Somebody To Love']
Tom: 'Somebody To Love', with a very gospel sounding choir, Freddie, was that choir built up in the same way as you did on 'Bohemian Rhapsody'?
Freddie: In a way yes, I mean we had the, the same three people singing on the, the big choir sections, but I think it had a, a different kind of techincal approach, because I mean it was a sort of gospel way of singing, which I think was different to us, and this is me sort of going on about Aretha Franklin, and sort of made them go a bit mad, I just wanted to write something in that kind of thing, I was sort of incensed by the, the sort of gospel approach that she had on her albums, on the earlier albums, although it might sound the, sort of same kind of approach on say the, the harmonies, it is very different in the studio because it's like a different kind of, actually a different range Tom: Can we come now to the territories in which you're very enormous, I understand you're huge in Japan, can we hear about
Roger: Sounds as if you swell up as soon as you, as soon as you arrive there (laughter)
Tom: It's all that sake, yes, well, tell us about Japan, why Japan, I know Freddie sings in Japanese, right?
Freddie: Not all the songs
John: Only on
Roger: Only on one song yeah, I mean that was more of a tribute I think
Freddie: That was afterwards I think
Brian: That was a long time after, really
Roger: You know, Japan really caught onto us fairly early on didn't they
John: 'Queen II' I think was the big one they picked up on really, wasn't it?
Roger: Yeah, and we knew that there was a sort of demand for us there, and so we sort of tagged it onto the end of an American tour, we had a holiday in Hawaii, and then it was sort of logical, so we went there, and we arrived at the airport, and suddenly realised it was on a scale different to that which we'd imagined, because there were thousands of people there, just to welcome us, you know, and normally you just don't get that sort of thing anywhere. We've had two really amazing tours in Japan since then, they sort of seem to have taken us to their hearts, and I think we've, we've had some influences from them, especially Brian I think
Tom: Which brings me to the next one, I mean, how, how do you get on when you're not on stage, do you all mix together, or do you go off your separate ways?
Roger: I dunno, it's hard to answer, a bit of both really, bit of both, yeah
Freddie: We have, in America we have, we have a limousine each, and we just, the moment we finish, just get into that, and do our own bit
Brian: Go to the four corners of town
Tom: So it is that
Freddie: It really depends, I mean if there's a reception laid on or whatever
Roger: It depends actually, yeah (Freddie: we've got to have freedom) we've grown apart a bit more, you know, but I mean we don't hate each other yet, which I think quite a lot of other bands do
Tom: Well this is very apt, this next title, because it's 'Let Us Cling Together', or, now you Freddie, you pronounce it for me
Freddie: Teo Torriatte [Excerpt of 'Teo Torriatte']
Tom: 'Teo Torriatte'. Brian, this is a very reflective, quiet song, which contrasts rather with the next song, which is 'Tie Your Mother Down', um, how can we get two such opposite songs on the same album?
Brian: Um, I don't know, we, we do tend to be attracted by opposites, if that's the right way of putting it, we tend to, if we go a long way in a particular direction, we tend to like to go equally far in the opposite direction, I think we still feel that we're kind of doing our apprenticeship in that we can try out anything that comes into our heads, if a song comes along, and suggests a certain approach, and you've written down reflective approach here, OK, then, then we'll follow that to it's extreme, and at the same time if another song comes out which is um, the heavy kind of stuff, then we'll follow that to it's extreme, and I think that's one of our strong points internally
Freddie: Yes, we, we're not scared of trying out different ideas, you know, I think one of the things that we really steer clear of is trying to sort of repeat the same formula, write different ideas
Brian: The old thing of light and shade really (Freddie: it keeps the interest there), which all the best rock bands have had on stage, I mean, the rock band which have the most impact are the people who can do a, a slow song, and then flatten the whole place with a, with a (Freddie: completely devastating) a complete contrast, that's what gets me anyway, if I, if somebody comes on stage and blasts (Roger: it's dynamics) twelve bar blues all night, then there comes a point I think where it sags in the middle, although I love it, I mean I love hard rock well played, and I think it's the hardest thing to do, in some ways, but the way to do it is not to sort of rock and roll all night as far as I'm concerned, it's, it's to, to do everything um, in it's right place
Tom: Well let's have 'Tie Your Mother Down'
[Excerpt of 'Tie Your Mother Down'] Tom: 'Tie Your Mother Down' from 'A Day At The Races'. Can we talk about your manager John Reid at the moment, he also manages Elton John doesn't he?
John: Yes he does
Roger: He's very successful, good manager (Brian: will out) I think good management is, is, is pretty vital, yes
Freddie: It is, it certainly is, you need, you need (Roger: in fact it's totally vital) especially, say, for a band that's starting up, I mean they need the guidance and things, so a good manager is definitely vital
Roger: And you need somebody to take at least some of the worries away, that aren't to do with the music, away from you, you see
Freddie: But we're a very difficult group to manage, we demand a lot
Tom: Let us progress on this one, now there have been incorrect newspaper reports, I believe, that you are about to de-camp for the States because of tax reasons, Roger can we go on that one, how did that occur?
Roger: Well, basically, I, must have been something that I said, but it was (laughter), it was certainly um, it was taken completely wrongly whatever it was I said, I certainly didn't say we were going off to America, um, tomorrow, which was how the article came out, um, it's something that we might do in the future, but definitely in the future, certainly not tomorrow, or even next month, or the month after
Freddie: But we are going to America for a tour
Roger: Yes we're going for a tour (Brian: unknown dialogue) but we're not leaving England yet
Tom: I see, but they took it as though you were um
John: Becoming tax exiles really
Roger: Becoming tax exiles, that was how it was written up, yes, it really was
John: It said we were going to live abroad, yeah?
Roger: What I gathered from what it said, I mean you know, you know, you often, you do an interview, which is why we've learnt not to do many, and you sort of read it back and you think 'good God, was I there?', and er, people just sort of tend to turn things round to, to say what they really want to say, you know, whether it be the politics of one particular newspaper, the article will sound as they want to sound it, or the editor wants it to sound, as opposed to the interviewee
Tom: Now when you say something, somebody slaps a writ on you or sues you, can't you then sue them?
Roger: It depends, I'd rather go round and smack him in the teeth personally but (laughter), um, I haven't had any writs served on me so
Tom: Well that, that sounds the old fashioned way to do it, which brings us to (Freddie: oh) 'Good Old Fashioned Loverboy'
[Excerpt of 'Good Old Fashioned Loverboy']
Tom: There were four songs on the EP, but it was priced at the price of a single I believe, why was this?
Roger: Yes, er, we just wanted to give something that was sort of quite good value, and that was a good sort of sample of one track from the last four albums, I think
Tom: It went into the top 20 June '77, so was it for the Jubilee, was, was this a special
Roger: Not really, I don't think, um
Freddie: I think it was, it was, we wanted something released to coincide with the tour that we were doing at the time, and as we didn't have any new product, 'cos I mean we were, the way we did it this time was we did a tour and then we were going to go in the studio and do the new album, which is 'News Of The World'
Tom: Roger, we now come to you, and your personal choice, here
Roger: Yeah, it's very hard to choose one record, all I could think of was a record that really excited me at the time, and it's a record by one of the, the best bands ever I think, and still are, The, The Who, very exciting, it was their second hit single, and it, as far as production in those days is concerned, it's the most over the top record I've ever heard, it had the first use of feedback that I can remember, I think, on record, it's called 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere'
[Excerpt of 'Anyway Anyhow Anywhere']
Tom: 'Anyhow Anyway Anywhere' from The Who. Your fan club is one of the biggest fan clubs in the world, with about forty five thousand people, and I believe you do a very nice thing, that you send them little personal letters that are then photocopied, Brian
Brian: Yeah, we try and keep in contact, we think it's very important to keep that sort of two way thing going, er, it's not the easiest thing to run, there are a lot of pitfalls in running fan clubs, you know, you can become too detached, or you can become too involved and not get any of your actual work done, you know, so you have to, I think it's important that we are kept in touch, with all the reaction you know, and the girls that work for us in the fan club, and, and a guy now, who's, who's doing the organisational side, really make sure that there is this, this two way communication all the time. We try and keep the fan club as an information service, that was what it was started off as, rather than as a promotion vehicle, because I think many fan clubs become tainted with that, if you start using it purely as a, purely as a selling device, the whole thing becomes horrible
Tom: Roger, in the last week of August you put out your own personal single which was called 'I Wanna Testify' which you sang, and you played every instrument on the single, tell us about this
Roger: It's not a particularly big deal, um, it was just something, we came back from America, and there's a sort of slack period, and I was a bit sort of bored, I had nothing to do, and I just went into the studio with our engineer Mike Stone and um, did an old song by The Parliaments I've got a version, an a-capella version, I just sort of heavied it up a bit and did it all by myself, just really as an experiment, and, and a bit of fun, however I found the experiment was slightly more expensive than anticipated, and a lot of people seemed to quite like it, so it was sort of, eventually came out as a single
[Excerpt of 'I Wanna Testify']
Tom: There we go, 'I Wanna Testify', a song played and everything else by Roger Taylor, but ah, has it then sort of given you food for thought to the future?
Freddie: After five, six albums, I think a lot of areas have opened up, and they're sort of, there are lots of things that one can do, and I think already we're sort of branching out and doing other things, just, just for mere
Tom: With the financial reward that (Freddie: comes with it) being a success, you know, of being a successful pop group, obviously now Freddie, I mean you could open up a fine art business, couldn't you, or, but I mean has it
Freddie: Come and see my gallery (Tom: has it) now they call it a museum but
Tom: Has this crossed your mind that, you know, things you can now plan to do with the finance you've accumulated?
Freddie: Yes I think one must definitely invest, that's what my accountant says, I for one have sort of started up a little production company of my own, and have signed to it a person called Peter Straker, so that's a little venture that I've sort of got myself into, you know, alongside Queen, which is obviously the major thing
Tom: Now we come to your new album
Freddie: Yes it's called 'News Of The World'
Tom: 'News Of The World', alright, and I see down in front of me, the first track is 'Sheer Heart Attack', now Roger you wrote this one, um, tell us about 'Sheer Heart Attack'
Roger: Yeah, it might sound vaguely familiar (laughter). It was written in essence, not completely, wasn't finished (Brian: essence was brilliant) at the time of recording 'Sheer Heart Attack', but really we didn't have room, and it wasn't quite finished etc, and for a number of reasons it didn't get on, and now it's been sort of, it, it lives again, and actually I'm quite pleased with it, it's, it's really pure energy, and it's one of my contributions to the new album
[Excerpt of 'Sheer Heart Attack']
Tom: 'Sheer Heart Attack' Tom: Now we come to John Deacon song, 'Spread Your Wings'. John, we haven't heard from you for a long time, tell us about 'Spread Your Wings'
John: Um, just basically just one of the two tracks I happen to have come up with, you know, this year and managed to squeeze on the album
Freddie: Squeeze is right
Tom: John, does songwriting come easily to you?
John: No, it's, it's quite difficult actually, but it's getting a little bit better as time goes on, you know I only started really, the 'Sheer Heart Attack' album I had a little track called 'Misfire', but 'Best Friend' was the real sort of first proper length song I wrote really, so I'm sort of um, still new to it, but it's improving anyway
Tom: Do you compose on your electric piano?
John: Er, piano, guitar, I, I don't actually tend to compose on the bass, usually on either on a just sort of accoustic guitar, or perhaps piano
Tom: 'Spread Your Wings' from John Deacon
[Excerpt of 'Spread Your Wings'] Tom: Before we have our finale, which is gonna be 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions', can Brian, as you wrote, er, 'We Will Rock You', can we ask you about 'We Will Rock You', and then we'll go to Freddie for 'We Are The Champions' who wrote that one, so, Brian 'We Will Rock You'
Brian: Right, we have two kind of chanty songs in a way, 'We Will Rock You' was just an experiment, the thing it's, it's designed to simulate is the effect of an audience just stomping and clapping, and the singing and nothing else, so there's not supposed to be any bass or drums or guitar or anything, the guitar comes in the end and plays along with it, er, just an experimental thing really, and we're, we're waiting to see what's gonna happen on stage
Tom: Can I just ask you, has 'News Of The World' cost you more than 'A Night At The Opera' or 'A Day At The Races'?
John: It might in fact be less
Brian: It could be less, we spent less actual time, which was deliberate, we, we came back from a tour of Europe, which we hadn't done for a long time, we didn't mention Europe, but in fact we neglected Europe up until last year and we did a proper tour and came back and we had very little time left to make the album
Roger: It's really a new departure, you know, because it's, it's a, a more spontaneous album
Tom: Alright, OK Tom: Freddie, 'We Are The Champions', I know you are but tell us about 'We Are The Champions'
Freddie: It's the most egotistical and arrogant song I've ever written (laughter, then a raspberry), you know
Tom: Was it, was it at all influenced by Elton John and Watford, or?
Freddie: Oh, no
Brian: An interesting thing happened, may be worth mentioning, when we, one of the best gigs we did on the last British tour was Bingley, which is new for us (Freddie: Bingley Hall) and um, we, we did an encore and went off, and instead of just keep on clapping they sang 'You'll Never Walk Alone' (Roger: 'You'll Never Walk Alone') to us, and we were completely knocked out and taken aback, and it was quite an emotional experience really, and I think these chant things are in some way connected with that kind of feeling really
Tom: Well gents, it only remains for me to wish you a very successful 1978, and to thank you so much for coming in
Roger: Thank you
Freddie: Thank you very much
Brian: Thanks a lot
Freddie: Thank you
Brian: Thanks, thanks Tom
[Excerpts of 'We Will Rock You' and 'We Are The Champions']
Roger with Richard Skinner, 'Live Killers' album, BBC Radio 1 Track 31. Length 4:29.
This interview was broadcast in June 1979, and features a live excerpt of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. [Excerpt of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' from 'Live Killers']
Narrator: The latest album from Queen, it's a live double, including stage performances of songs like 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and it's their first live album, and drummer Roger Taylor has been telling Richard Skinner about it
Roger: We recorded the live album actually in Europe. We did a very long tour of Europe earlier this year and we just recorded every night, took along a mobile truck and at the end we listened to cassettes of every night and went to Switzerland and mixed it. One of the things we tried to do with the live album, we did try to make it a genuine live album, with a concert atmosphere, and I don't, I don't think there's really any other way of doing it
Richard: There's plenty of audience involved there, isn't there
Roger: Yeah, there's tons of audience on it, because it's real
Richard: I must admit, listening to it, it does sound like a live LP, it has the drawbacks of a live LP (Roger: yeah), but it does have the excitement there
Roger: Yeah, I mean no live album is going to be as high fidelity as a studio album, I mean there's just no way, so why try and get halfway there, you might as well try and keep in that excitement
Richard: When it comes to putting the stage act together, how do you decide which tracks you're going to use on the stage, because so many of your tracks like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' are so sophisticated and in a sense stuck in a studio, it must be very difficult to reproduce them on stage
Roger: Yeah, well we have no trouble with the major part of the song, but the middle section, that sort of, you know it, you know (Richard: I know how it goes), the one everybody takes off, um, it's er, we actually leave the stage there, and just play a tape, just really to give some continuity, and then we all just come on again for the big bang section at the end
Richard: Beyond that one particular section, do you find it difficult reproducing tracks live?
Roger: Sometimes, yeah, I remember 'Somebody To Love', that was a really, really hard one, we had a lot of problems doing that at first, but now it seems to, they seem to take on a different sort of life, and you have to cut certain corners, because you can't do seven part harmony with like three or four people, so we usually cut down to sort of three or four part harmonies and try and make them as effective as we can
Richard: I admit that you can't say an awful lot now, but if you look in general terms at the music you're making today, is it getting simpler or what?
Roger: Yes, it's getting um, simpler in format I think, because we used to go for really complex structures, but more subtle in other ways I think. We're, we're much more spontaneous these days, and I think we're just letting things come out, and really mastering the ability to let things come out more naturally seems to work better
Richard: In the future, do you intend to continue creating in the studio and then going live, or would you like to maybe do it the more conventional way, and go out and get music together on stage and then record it?
Roger: Interesting, but in our position it's very difficult, because people come to our shows I think um, wanting to hear things they know, or partially know, or etcetera, and so what we try and do is we basically play the songs we're best known for, and extrapolate around them and try and give them some extra dimension on stage, um, I think that would be a very hard way to work, at the moment we're in Munich and we're working on just some new songs, just to see what we can come out with as a new approach
Richard: Is this the beginning of a new LP?
Roger: No, it's not actually, it's, it's, it probably will turn out to be part of an album, um, as the songs do seem to be coming, but we're sort, we're literally sort of creating them there, which is very different for us, because we've always been very, we've gone into the studio with the basic material there, all sorts of surprising things coming out actually
Richard: Is it actually changing the sound of Queen?
Roger: Oh, some of them are, a couple of them are totally, totally different, but I don't think any of this will be released for what, for a while, because of this, the live album, but I'm very enthused about it
Richard: Thinking of the future then for Queen, you've got such success behind you, it must be difficult to think of new goals to conquer, what, what would you like to say your ambitions are now?
Roger: Just, just to keep on being interested and to keep on being excited by it is the main thing, because the money isn't really such a goal, so it's great to see an album go in, go in the charts every time, it's a great thrill every time, you never lose that thrill, I don't think anybody could lose that, you know, to know that people are, do actually want it, so you're not sort of spending all that time in a sort of, you're not wasting it in your own, just to your own ends really
Roger with Tommy Vance, 'Flash Gordon' album and film, BBC Radio 1 Tracks 32-36. Total length 5:50.
This interview was broadcast in December 1980, is divided into five parts, and features excerpts of 'Flash's Theme', 'In The Death Cell (Love Theme Reprise)', 'The Wedding March', 'Airheads' and 'The Hero'. [Excerpt of 'Flash's Theme']
Tommy: That's 'Flash's Theme', it's from the film 'Flash Gordon' which had it's premiere here in London three days ago, and of course all the music in the film is put together by Queen. We've got Roger Taylor, drums, vocals and synthesisers this time, in our studio. Roger let me talk to you first about this album. I rather think a few people are going to think that it's the new Queen album, it isn't is it
Roger: Well, not strictly no, although it is an album by Queen, it's not our new studio album, it's something that we did for a film, you know, which is a first for us, it was interesting, very strange to do, working in the dark at first then working to film, and we're quite pleased with it. With this we really sort of could do almost anything we wanted, as long as it fitted in with the film. We've been offered quite a few films, but 'Flash Gordon' was something which I think Brian and I were quite attracted to, because of it's sort of sci-fi, thirties connotations, you know, it's like a sort of Superman for people on drugs, you know
Tommy: Or off drugs as the case may be
Roger: Well, yeah Tommy: When you put together the music for, say your own studio album (Roger: yeah), do you adopt, or did you adopt rather the same sort of attitude in the studio when you were working to film?
Roger: No, actually we did this really totally off the top of our heads, we'd go in there and have a look at a few video clips of the film, which bits we wanted to, and drink a bottle of vodka each, and er, see what came out, you know, it was very strange yeah, we didn't really realise how much we were getting done, we thought we were getting nothing done, all of a sudden we found we had quite a lot of music
Tommy: What was the most difficult part of putting together the, the soundtrack for 'Flash Gordon'?
Roger: Getting out the bar really, no, let me think, it was, it was difficult, really just getting all the right bits to the right film Tommy: Did you have any say at all with regard to the extracts of dialogue that are contained on the album?
Roger: Yeah, yes the album was totally under our control, and we used, it was our idea to actually put dialogue on the album, that wasn't the original idea, we thought we'd make it a little bit different from a normal soundtrack album, say 'The Empire Strikes Back' or something, it's just orchestra really, we thought we'd just get little snippets to give some idea of what was happening in the film, and some atmosphere of the story
[Excerpt of 'In The Death Cell (Love Theme Reprise)'] [Excerpt of 'The Wedding March']
Tommy: Do you think Queen as a band will end up feeling proud about this soundtrack album, say in five years time?
Roger: That's a difficult question. Well, I hope so, yeah I hope so. I mean I think it's pretty good, I think the film's pretty good actually, it's had a great reaction in America because they've had all sorts of previews there. I mean it's, it's not a, a serious film, you know, it's a sort of fun epic fantasy, so I mean it's not a Kubrick film, but it's a very, it's a good film, I think it's a very good film, of it's kind, but it is a sort of space adventure Tommy: You've probably achieved as a band this year one of the most, I would suggest exciting crossovers that's ever been achieved, by
Roger: Oh, yeah, I know what you're talking about here
Tommy: Right, by a, what, if you like a heavy rock band. You just blew America and their systemization totally apart, you appeared in the disco charts, I think you even appeared in some soul charts, and in the...
Roger: Yeah, in fact we were number one in the, all the soul, black oriented charts, disco charts, it's totally unexpected, I mean, um, amazed, you know, quite amazed, we never even thought of that record as being a single, I remember we pulled up beside some, er, a black guy in New York City, and he had a 'Another One Bites The Dust' at full blast on his radio, you know, so we wound down the window and said, 'hey, you know, you like this record?' and he said 'this record is bad' which means it's good, you know, and it just took off, in a, it started off in the discos and then the black stations picked up on in it in New York and Chicago and the whole thing went crazy
Tommy: You do quite a number of concerts, quite a lot of work on the road
Roger: Yeah, awful lot this year, seems like we haven't stopped, we did a huge American tour, and then we had a, a few weeks off, in which I've just almost completed a solo album, and we're also doing 'Flash Gordon' in between coming back from America and then we've just done the first half of a European tour, now we're in England, and then we've got to go back to Europe for Christmas, so get back in time for Christmas dinner and then, then I think we're off to Japan and South America
[Excerpt of 'Airheads' in the background]
Tommy: Would it be feasible to suggest that there will be synthesisers on the next studio album?
Roger: Oh yeah almost certainly because there's so much synth on this, it all started when I bought this synthesiser last year, because I was going to use it on my album, which I have done, and we ended up using a bit on The Game, but with, there's a lot of 'Flash' was done using the synthesiser, with the help of it
Tommy: So it won't be a question of the sleeve notes saying 'no synths'
Roger: No, can't do that anymore
Tommy: You've blown that one up. Maybe you just don't only want to be a rock 'n' roll band, maybe you would care to be actors at some time, or
Roger: I don't know about that, you know, we've had our offers, but basically we want to be a rock 'n' roll band still
Roger: Yeah, we're really happy doing it, and that's what we want to keep on doing
Tommy: You don't see any, other than the solo projects, any, any expansion
Roger: Not really a lot, I mean this film thing was very interesting and you know, if somebody comes up with a really fascinating offer on another film, perhaps we might think about that, but um, no we're a rock 'n' roll band and I think we always will be you know
[Excerpt of 'The Hero']
Tommy: And that's Queen, from the album 'Flash Gordon', the soundtrack from the film of the same name
Jingle: Tommy Vance
Roy Thomas Baker 'The Record Producers', BBC Radio 1 Tracks 37-40. Total length 10:33.
This interview was with Andy Peebles and was broadcast in the early 1980's. It is divided into four parts, and features excerpts of 'Keep Yourself Alive', 'Seven Seas Of Rhye', 'Killer Queen', 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and an unknown track by the band Jet. Narrator: Welcome, once again, to The Record Producers
[Excerpt of 'Keep Yourself Alive']
Narrator: Queen, their first single from their first album. It was produced for them in 1973 by Roy Thomas Baker, and marked the beginning of their joint rise to international success. By that time, Baker had been in recording as an engineer for some ten years, working first on the staff of Decca Records, and then as an engineer with Trident Studios. He maintains that he always wanted to be a producer, and that engineering was the means to that end. Whatever the case, he managed to get his first real production credit in 1972, of a Nazereth album, 'Exercises'. Queen followed very quickly
Roy: It was whilst I was producing their second album that a brand new studio in, in London had opened up, called De Lane Lea in Wembley and, and there was a, a band there which consisted of two members of an old band produced by a partner of mine, the partner was called John Anthony, two of the members of this band called Smile, so he said 'oh, why don't you go along and just look at the band while you're at it and just see what you think of them' and I said 'well, you know, I don't mind looking at the band, but I'm more concerned about looking at the studio, because it's a brand new studio', and that was, so anyway I went along with Robin Cable, and this band had done a deal with De Lane Lea, to, you know, they, they went in there, and they played around and everything, and meant the engineers could play with the equipment to see if the equipment worked [unknown dialogue], and at the end of it they'd get the tape. This band at that time were toying with the idea of calling themselves Queen, um, I walked in, they were doing a song called 'Keep Yourself Alive', as a demo, and I, I said 'oh, this is fabulous, wonderful, what a great song', I totally forgot about what the studio was like altogether, and was suddenly turned onto the band called, this band called Queen, no deal, nothing going for them at all, really just sitting there, just doing these little demos, but the demos were great, they were doing twenty four track demos and it was fun, and they were all jovial, you know, they were, they were, you know, having good time making it, and I was very, very impressed. Obviously one thing led to another and I managed to start negotiations going with them through the guys of Trident, so they said 'OK fine, we'll do an album with them', so we did the album, the first Queen album, in total downtime from, literally from 10 o'clock in the morning through 1 o'clock in the afternoon, coming back at 4 o'clock in the morning, oh it was horrible, but that's how the first Queen album came together, and that was, that was the start of my relationship with Queen Andy: Whilst the first single 'Keep Yourself Alive' was a success in the United States, Queen had to wait for their second album before coming up with a hit single for Britain, and that was 'Seven Seas Of Rhye'
[Excerpt of 'Seven Seas Of Rhye']
Andy: Queen's first big hit from March of 1974, 'Seven Seas Of Rhye'. What was it in particular that had attracted Baker to them less than eighteen months before?
Roy: It was a question of, of depth of melodies, use of guitars and vocals, using vocals as an instrument, because I've always, I've always liked big vocals, I always have done, you know, that was one of the striking points that I liked about it, plus the fact that they were, they were very bolshy, they were very over the top, they were very aggressive, they also had pent up frustrations the same as I did, because obviously I'd lots of production ideas, they had lots of musical ideas, they wanted to put all their musical ideas onto a record, I wanted to put all my production ideas onto a record, and the pure fact that we teamed together, obviously we did the first album, I told you in downtime, so we never, still never quite got it out of our systems, but when it came to 'Queen II', which I don't know whether you're aware of, or know about, or heard of, we did things like, you know, 'Dance Of The Black Queen', and things like that, I mean it's got every concievable musical and, and production technique on that song alone, and everything got, everything we just went over the top with that album, and that's a very good album, even today's contemporary
Andy: Despite criticism of their glam rock posturing, Queen went from strength to strength, and with Baker's assistance, came up with album number three, and achieved gold sales in the United States with 'Sheer Heart Attack'
Roy: If you imagine what was actually going through our minds, during the 'Queen' period, obviously with their frustrations musically, and my frustrations production wise, the first Queen album as I mentioned was down in downtime, so there was no real chance to express ourselves on any particular big level, apart from just getting the songs onto tape, the second album, which people didn't like at the time, because they thought of it being over the top, which of course it was, but that was, we designed it to be over the top, it had every concievable production idea that was ever available for us at that time, machinery has now been invented to be able to make the job of us doing that second album easier but if we hadn't done that second album, a lot of this song machinery, like some of the phlanges and phasers, and things to do back, things back, would not have been invented. The, the idea of 'Queen III' was, right lets just get together, let's get some songs out there for once, you know, real little short songs, 'Killer Queen', and it was very successful on that level, very few of the production techniques we used, they were used, but they weren't used to such great extents, you know I mean, the track of say 'Killer Queen', if 'Killer Queen' would have been done a year earlier and was on 'Queen II', it would have been probably phased from beginning to end, but it was just used on, on one word, 'laserbeam', that was the only thing it was used on, um, the whole idea obviously of 'Sheer Heart Attack' was just purely for the guys to see whether they can get together and write nice, short, wonderful, down to earth, hit songs, and they did
[Excerpt of 'Killer Queen']
Andy: 'Killer Queen', a magnificent track, and one which allowed Queen to show their paces without the benefit of kitchen sink production. In 1973 and 4, Baker was at his busiest, producing albums also for Man, Richard Myhill, Lindesfarne, Hustler, a Danish band Gasoline, and a band called Jet
[Excerpt of an unknown track, probably by Jet]
Andy: Jet proved to be a passing interest, not only to the public, but to Roy Thomas Baker Andy: Queen, on the other hand, were here to stay, and album number four, 'A Night At The Opera', proved to be one of their finest efforts
Roy: 'Night At The Opera', now that was fun, we'd all gone through tunnels of frustration, we'd got the songs, the album previous, and all our over production things, so we decided to do something which was have a lot of the aspects of 'Queen II', a lot of the aspects of the third Queen album, put them together to do 'A Night At The Opera', and what happened was that I'd go to Freddie's house on occasions and he would say 'oh I've written this new song' and he would sit at the piano and he'd say, and he'd sing bits of 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and he'd say 'and this is where the opera section comes in', and of course I just laughed, you know, because it was the funniest thing, it's the funniest line I've ever heard in my life, and of course everybody laughs when you hear that, he said 'but it's only gonna be a few, you know like, just a, you know, half a minute opera section or so', anyway that half a minute of opera section ended up being, you know, hours of opera section, it was great having, you know, 'Bohemian Rhapsody', and that was seven minutes long, and not just, it had, it's a great song, we had all the aspects of 'Queen II' in it, in respect of all the over production techniques that we all got, got to love, lots of vocals everywhere and guitars everywhere, plus the fact it was a good song, plus the fact that it had that amazing opera section in the middle, which is really, really funny. During actually making the album, we, we came to a sort of lull in the proceedings, sitting down, a few arguments amongst some of us, so I just said listen let's, let's call the thing to a halt, let's go back, I, I'd rented this house in Wales, just, just up the road from Rockfield, and I had a video machine up there, and one of the, one of the things that we, I had on tape was 'A Night At The Opera', Marx Brothers 'A Night At The Opera', so we all went up there, and of course everybody was feeling miserable, and nobody wanted to come up at all anyway, so I said 'oh just come up, I've got a video machine, we'll put the video on and get drunk or do something stupid', and I put on the, the, the film 'Night At The Opera', and it cheered everyone up, and they all laughed about it, and I think it was, it was either Freddie or Roger Taylor, I can't remember which one, said 'we should call the album 'A Night At The Opera'', just as a joke, just as a joke, and then, and then, I turned round and said, 'yeah, that sounds pretty funny, yeah, I like that idea', and everyone else said 'oh it sounds funny aswell', and that's why the album got it's name, it was a combination of the fact that there was, there was an opera section in the middle of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and plus the fact that we'd been watching 'A Night At The Opera' on one of those dull moments
[Excerpt of 'Bohemian Rhapsody'] Andy: 'Bohemian Rhapsody' spent nine weeks at number one in Britain, something that had not happened for over twenty years. The track of epic proportions, it was seven minutes long, finally gave Queen the stature in Britain that they'd already enjoyed elsewhere
Roy: The whole of the, the first section was recorded as the first section, the rock section at the end was recorded as the rock section, and the middle section was just sort of bits of drums now and again and basically edits, and we just lengthened that middle section depending on what vocals were put in, because Freddie would come up with amazing ideas, he'd walk in and sort of say 'oh I've got some new vocal ideas, we'll stick a few gallileos in here' and things like that, and so gallileos became, became our definable, um, that, that sort of, that middle section got longer and longer and longer, we kept adding bits of blank tape on it to make it longer, but it was done actually in three sections, and it was done, the actual basic recording was done over a two day period of the, the basic backing track, the opera section obviously was done over more like a seven day period of, you know, we're talking about ten to twelve hours a day continual singing, and also continual laughing, because it was really quite funny to do those, it was funny, I mean we were all in hysterics when it was being recorded, I mean it was, it was, it was funny, it really is a very, very funny section. It took getting on for two days to mix the thing aswell, and that's not even counting all the overdubs with the guitars, you can imagine the overdubs on the guitars aswell, I would say that track on it's own took getting on for three weeks, because there's guitar overdubs, the basic vocal overdubs, the centre section, because it is three songs, it's three songs merged together to make this, this track, and it was, I would say, definitely counted in the mixing time and everything else, definitely I would say over three weeks
Narrator: Despite the success and acclaim of both album and single, Baker and Queen parted company, although he returned to them three years later to produce another album 'Jazz'
[Excerpt of an unknown track, probably by Jet]
Narrator: The Record Producers is introduced by Andy Peebles, researched by John Tobler and produced by Stuart Grundy