Category: essay

Queen: Freddie Mercury and Brian May, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Budapest, July 27, 1986, via queenphotos.

I was just going to post this without additional commentary (no, I have not been taken over by a pod from outer space), but you know what? You really, really need to see this. Not even the Live Aid performance of this (WHICH I HATE THAT THEY LEFT OUT OF THE MOVIE) gives a hint at how gloriously chaotic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” could get on stage

So here ya go, from Wembley a couple of weeks earlier than the Budapest photo above, on July 11. Here you’ll see Brian switching between three guitars (you see his black Telecaster above, which he typically used for the first solo), and both him and Freddie actively engaging keyboard player Spike Edney, who’s absolutely wailing on the piano for this. (Spike is still playing with Queen today!)

There’s a camera parked behind Roger, who really doesn’t get enough credit for how hard he pounds drums (as if Bonham is the only one who hits hard or something?), and Deacy’s shorts are so short that he looks like he’s wearing a big t-shirt and nothing else while he POGOS HIS WAY THROUGH. (Check right around 3:30 for several shots of him bouncing clear off the ground.) This ain’t just a rhythm section. Both of these fellas are bringing the pain

This clip cuts in just after Freddie laughs, “Everybody knows I can’t play the fucking guitar,” and opens with his holy invocation, “This is for all you crazy f*****s out there.”

Turn this WAY THE FUCK UP, and soak in it. Amazing stuff.

David Bowie, “The Jean Genie”, first aired on Top of the Pops January 4, 1973, then lost for nearly 40 years!

The video itself is extraordinary – 100% live, no miming,

drenched in fuzz,

and Bowie capping off the glam jam with a quote from John Lennon’s harmonica solo from “Love Me Do (!!!) – but so’s the saga of the video’s rediscovery in 2011. 

The BBC had taped over the original recording (as they tended to do in those days), and thought it was gone for good. It featured a unique spherical lens (it starts at about 1:30 in) developed by one of the cameramen that day, John Henshall – who, it turns out, had taped Bowie’s performance for himself, as a demo for anyone who might be interested in hiring the lens (and his services) for their own projects. He had no idea that anybody had been looking for it, because it wasn’t lost to him. He’d never mislaid his copy of it!

This really is Bowie at his absolute glammiest, already moving well past Ziggy into something that didn’t really have a name. I know that the 1972 TOTP performance of “Starman” shook a lot of people up, but it struck me as musically quite conservative. Kind of dull, really, apart from some admittedly outré dress-up and posing. 

Not so this, my friend! Even though this version of “The Jean Genie” nods at its roots all the way back in 1963, which already seemed more like a century ago than merely a decade, it’s clearly already a million miles ahead.

And it really is a bit of an extra kick to have the rest of the story here:

Stevie Nicks in Hawaii with George Harrison and their mutual friend Bob Longhi, 1978, by Mary DeVitto.

I found this photo while looking for more information on an earlier photo of Stevie and George that I reblogged from @musicrunsthroughmysoul, along with this amazing story from Stevie, via Fleetwood Mac News:

“The photo was taken by my best friend, Mary (DeVitto),” Stevie explains. “She had given me a copy of it a long time ago, and I had it made into an 8 x 10 and put in a little frame. When I go on the road it goes right on my makeup mirror, so before I go on stage, whether it’s with Fleetwood Mac or me in my solo career, the three of us are looking back at me and that has been my inspiration every single night. 

There’s lots of nights where you kind of go, I wish I didn’t have to go on stage tonight, I’m tired, I don’t feel like doing it, and I look at George Harrison and look at Longhi and look at me and I go, well, you just have to, because it’s important, it’s important to make people happy, so get out of your chair, put on your boots and go out there and do your thing.”

The two musicians were having fun coming up with lyrics together in Hana. “We were writing a sort of parody of ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ but we were writing ‘Here Comes the Moon’,” she continues. “Longhi was saying, ‘you guys are writing about the moon instead of the sun,’ and I said, that’s because by then we were all such night birds.

“I had met George before that at a record party in Mexico in Acapulco for ‘Rumours.’ Longhi saw George all the time. He drove me and my friend Sara and Mary to George’s house in Hana. And we just hung out and wrote and sang and talked. I had been famous for not even quite three years and we were talking with George about being famous and what it meant and what you had to give up.”

And here’s “Here Comes The Moon”, a song you might have missed, but truly shouldn’t! From his 1979 album, George Harrison.

Peter Frampton with Humble Pie, “Shine On”, 1971

in which our 20-year-old hero helps the band find its hardest-rocking groove on their 4th album together, at exactly the time he decides he wants to head in a more eclectic, acoustic direction himself, and soon departs for a solo career. 

As a matter of fact, both Frampton and Humble Pie would quickly ascend to previously unimaginable heights once they went their separate ways that fall. Nevertheless, 1971 offered some sneak peeks at what those peaks would look like, however, including their July 3 performance in front of 100,000 fans in London’s Hyde Park,  opening for Grand Funk. (You can see a glimpse of that in the poster frame for the video above, and here below via loudersound.)

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Recorded in January 1971 and released in March, Rock On opened with Frampton’s composition “Shine On”, a mid-tempo funky groover featuring the Soul Sisters (P.P. Arnold, Claudia Lennear, and Doris Troy) on the chorus. This is the one song from Frampton’s years with Humble Pie that has been part of his concert repertoire ever since, as well it should be. 

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I’ll save for another day the story of Peter’s leaving Humble Pie (short version: drugs, which Peter wasn’t using), but the irony is, the live album he recorded with Humble Pie in 1971 was a smash, and the band was suddenly huge.

And on his first solo tour, who did Peter wind up opening for? OF COURSE, it was Humble Pie. “I thought I’d made the worst decision in my entire career,” he laughs. “They’d stand side of stage making farting noises during my set, but all’s fair in love and war. I had my Wind Of Change band and I made a point of playing ‘Shine On’. It was a very interesting tour.” [x]

As an A-side in 1971 for Humble Pie, “Shine On” failed to chart, but Peter continued to play it, eventually featuring it prominently as part of Frampton Comes Alive, and placing it as the B-side to the 1976 Top 10 single “Show Me The Way.”

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(these 2 photos via 45cat)

So yeah, you’ve surely heard THAT version of the song (my own play count is somewhere north of 10,000), but maybe not THIS one. 

This 1971 studio version really is an all-time gem. The arrangement is a bit dated, but it’s also a clarion call, the sound of Peter Frampton, age 20, finding his bedrock and stepping confidently into the light: somewhere between pop and rock, sprinkled with a bit of funk and considerable groove. From here, our boy Peter would continue to Shine On.

soundsof71:

misscherrylikesthediscourse:

pseudo-euphoria:

iwannabeadored:

soundsof71:

Dancing barefoot: Patti Smith, 1975, by Bill King

Ummmm yall? The source for this is a foot fetish wiki??? Hello??????

ok feet

Look, my process is 1) see a picture I like, 2) look for the biggest, clearest source I can, 3) find out everything I can about when and where it was taken, and by whom, plus maybe a germane quote from either photographer or subject, 4) edit it if I think I can improve it, and 5) post with credit for the photographer and source, and note if I’ve changed it substantially from how it was originally posted. Sometimes this takes hours, sometimes days or weeks.

I probably first found a tiny version of this on Pinterest, with no details or photographer credits (typical, and aggravating af, although thanks for setting me on the hunt), and kept looking until I found the best version I could, tracked down the photographer and date, and shared all that with you. 

Citing sources doesn’t imply approval of everything on the site the picture came from, but hey, my thanks to the freaks who are so carefully preserving the artifacts of our shared musical heritage. Preservation? Maybe call it pervs-ervation, but you’re welcome for the awesome picture with proper credits.

Although I tag “barefoot” because there are often unusual circumstances at play in photos with bare feet, nothing more to it than that… my main reaction to seeing all this is a) love to everyone who interacts with my posts, and b) wondering if we should all go upvote Patti’s feet. That score just doesn’t seem right to me.

soundsof71:

Queen live at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, 24th December 1975, because that’s EXACTLY how you’re supposed to dress for Christmas Eve.

@classicrockwlw​ sent me a comment observing that these aren’t the outfits from Hammersmith, and of course they’re not! I can only blame it on taking Google’s word for this in my early days of posting Queen, and my hurry to make a joke in a caption. 

(And I do hope that this is how you’re dressing for Christmas Eve!)

I still haven’t been able to track down exact details, but I’ve at least found what appears to be the photo’s origin, an article in Circus Magazine with the title, “Queen Swings Both Ways”, a reference to the mix of lighter and heavier music on their latest album, A Night At The Opera.

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The quote is from Brian, who’s the only member of the band interviewed for this article. It’s a great read about the making of A Night At The Opera, how it felt to them in the days following its release in the context of their previous work, and what it might mean for their future. 

“Sometimes I feel that Freddie and I are going in different directions, but then he’ll come up ‘with something and I’ll think, ‘My God — we do think alike.’ When I’m working on one of his things I can tune in very easily to what guitar part he wants, and vice-versa. In terms of what we’re trying to do in songs, we are moving in different directions, but I think that could be a good thing.”

Head over to the invaluable Queen Archive to read the rest, here.

Do note though that the issue date listed there is impossible. They say April 1975, but Opera wasn’t released until November, and there are references to the American tour in January-March 1976, so it’s possible that this was in fact from the April 1976 issue. Circus’s online archive is notoriously spotty, though, so I’m still working on nailing that down.

Early 1976 makes sense, because Brian mentions that Queen changed their shows following the release of Opera.  He also describes meeting Jimmy Page after one of Led Zeppelin’s shows at Earls Court (May 1975), talks about Freddie having produced a single for singer Eddie Howells (August 1975) before the fall tour, and the author (Jon Tiven) makes specific reference to “Mercury donning short-shorts to add a bit of the hairy leg to Queen’s otherwise pristine presentation.” The earliest appearance of short-shorts onstage that I’ve found is February 5, 1976 at New York’s Beacon Theatre, here via queenlive.ca.

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For what it’s worth, we do have photos of Fred in shorts from 1975, but not on stage. I’m thinking of the fabulous red nuthuggers he wore while lounging at Ridge Farm that summer, where we also saw Deacy wearing the same shirt seen in the top photo. Indeed, both are prominently on display on the picture sleeve of the “You’re My Best Friend” single, which you can see accompanying my essay about it here.

As I tried to get more information about this photo (alas, nothing more yet), I did come across another wonderful photo from the same article! Many thanks to Aley Crooker Martin whose scan includes some text from the article, further helping secure the original photo’s provenance. 

It really is delicious, so when I get a chance, I’ll give it a proper edit for posting on its own:

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I’m still a very long way from sorting this all out, so if any others have you more details, get in touch! And thanks again to @classicrockwlw for getting me to take another look!

Tina Turner, Proud Mary, 1971. If you’re here for an Ike & Tina soul ballad, hit play and enjoy yourself for the next minute and 55 seconds, at which point Tina blows it to smithereens. 

If you’re here for Tina, skip ahead to about 1:40 to catch your breath for a couple of seconds before Tina takes it away.

Tina’s rendition reached its peak in March 1971, exactly two years after Creedence Clearwater Revival’s original version reached its peak, winning the Grammy for 1971′s Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. 

In fact, Solomon Burke recorded a cover before Ike & Tina did, very soulful of course, very worth your while to track down, but also very much in line with John Fogerty’s original performance. As Burke recalled later, though, “The greatest thing I ever did was tell Ike Turner, ‘Hey man, you should get on this record… I think you and Tina could tear this thing up.’”

The wisdom of Solomon is right again! Tina’s performance simply obliterates everything in its path.

Aretha Franklin and Dr. John, 1971, via Dr. John’s Facebook page.

The Doctor guested on a couple of Aretha’s 1971 singles, notably playing percussion on “Rock Steady” (released in February; I wrote about that here), and playing keyboards on Aretha’s cover of “Spanish Harlem”, a July 1971 single that became the opening track of Aretha’s Greatest Hits, released that September. It

spent three weeks at #1 on the US soul charts and two weeks at #2 on the Pop chart on the way to selling over 1 million copies.

(btw, the b-side referenced here, “Lean On Me”, isn’t a cover of the song that Bill Withers hadn’t written yet, of course, but rather the 1970 Vivian Reed original, a fantastic track, one of Aretha’s most powerful performances – but no Dr. John means that I’ll save it for another day.)

Freddie Mercury and Jane Seymour at Fashion Aid, 1985

So a while back, I posted some pics of Freddie Mercury, Jane Seymour, and Boy George at Fashion Aid, November 5, 1985 at The Royal Albert Hall. Organized by Bob Geldof following Live Aid, the guest list was just as impressive in its own way – Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Kate Bush, Michael Caine, Ringo, George Michael, Zandra Rhodes, and many more.

Which made me wonder, were there more pics of Freddie and Jane in particular out there that I hadn’t found yet? OH YES THERE WERE!

(With lipstick on Fred’s cheek?)

AND THEN I FOUND THE VIDEO!!!

It turns out that the climax of the event was a faux wedding between Fred and Jane! In it, you can see that Freddie is not only shirtless but BAREFOOT as he sweeps Jane off her feet, into his arms!

You’ll see other celebs, as well as the full orchestra and choir who are dressed no less spectactularly.

This really is some pretty wild stuff. Sources for all this here, here, here, and here, all of which I did some additional editing on. Almost none had credits, but I’m thinking that most of if not all photos are by Dave Hogan.

Note that some of the sources I linked to just above had a LOT more photos in case you want to build a Freddie Mercury-Jane Seymour wedding album of your own!

Queen, “You’re My Best Friend” BY JOHN DEACON. 

(The picture sleeve released in Yugoslavia in case you were wondering.)

John Deacon. That fluffy fella third from the left, seen at Ridge Farm in 1975, where the band was working on A Night At The Opera

Here’s another of him, via discodeaky (whose outstounding blog, these days known as @doktordyper, you should definitely get to know if you don’t). 

Fluffy.

He didn’t just play bass, though. When he happened upon a Wurlitzer electric piano (the Wurlitzer EP-200, NOT a Fender Rhodes as if often misidentified; they actually sound nothing alike), he asked Fred about it, who scoffed. “I refuse to play the damn thing. It’s tinny and horrible and I don’t like them. Why play those things when you’ve got a lovely superb grand piano?”

John’s response? “I took it home and I started to learn on the electric piano and basically that’s the song that came out, you know, when I was learning to play piano.“

(Quotes via songfacts, Wurlitzer detail via queensongs.info.)

The song we’re talking about is “You’re My Best Friend.” The first song he wrote when he was teaching himself to play the electric piano. 

And since Freddie refused to play the Wurlitzer, JOHN played the piano on the record that we know and love. 

He also layed down a righteous bassline (not at the same time, mind you), and the fact is, as often as we talk about John writing this really terrific song (the second single from the album), I almost never hear anyone talking about how well he PLAYED on it, too.

Not bad for a first try!

So, from the 40th anniversary re-release of A Night At The Opera, here’s the backing track for “You’re My Best Friend”. It includes some lovely vocals and some of Brian May’s sweetest guitar work (5 layers of rhythm, plus the lead, running through the legendary Deacy Amp, designed and built by John in 1972 and finally released commercially in 2010 – you can buy it online, at deacyamp.com!), but this stripped down version allows you to really hear what John was doing on piano and bass. 

TURN IT UP.

Freddie conceded that John was able to get a distinctive sound out of the Wurlitzer, but he was still having none of it. Not only did he ONLY play it on a grand piano in concert, in the official video release, we do indeed see Deacy at the piano, but it’s a GRAND PIANO, and NOT a Wurlitzer!!! Seriously, Fred was having NONE of it.

Whatever, man. It’s a heckuva track. Maximum Deacy, and don’t you forget it.

And in fairness to Fred’s dislike for the Wurlitzer, he slays this song vocally. The 1975 black nail polish look is also killer. 

By the way, John played keyboards on other tracks (notably “Another One Bites The Dust”), as well as guitar now and again (especially on his own songs for Hot Space), and really, that’s his story in Queen. Doing what he has to, and doin’ just fine, thanks for asking.

And fluffy.

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