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.
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.
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:
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!