Does Queen Deserve Rock's Royal crown?

Source: Circus Magazine 1978

Submitted by: Richard Orchard

Freddie Mercury & Brian May hawk their 'News Of The World'

Freddie Mercury is no longer the leader of Queen. Has he been fired, you ask, or is he off to pursue a solo career? No. It's simply, with the advent of the News Of The World LP (Asylum) the personality of the music and of Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bassist John Deacon have come across more strongly than ever before. Those who have seen them on the recent US tour notice more than ever before that they're a group comprised of four separate identities, not just a lead singer and background band. Freddie Mercury is delighted to hear it.
"I've never considered myself the leader anyway," says irrepressible Freddie. "The most important person, perhaps." And guitarist May agrees. "Our separate entities do come to the fore on this album, on which every cut is completely different from the one before it and there's no concept at all. Apart from each having contributed two tracks to the album, Roger and John have been much more involved in the playing. Roger plays rhythm guitar on some of his cuts ("Sheer Heart Attack" and "Fight from the Inside") which makes sense, because he had a better idea of how he wanted it to go. John plays acoustic guitar on one of his as well ("Who Needs You"). I played maracas on it. While we may not do it that way on stage, in the studio that makes more sense."

Brian also does a lot more singing of his own songs on News, but he's content to let Freddie do the singing on stage.

"He's a natural performer," asserts Brian. "He acts on stage as if he was born doing it. That's great for us. We wouldn't want it any other way."

As May and Mercury emphasize, it's not just musically that shifts occur in the group.

"John keeps a very close eye on our business affairs," says Freddie. "He knows everything that's going on and shouldn't be going on. If God forsakes us now the rest of the group won't do anything unless John says it's all right.

"Roger is very important to us in a different way. He's always been an out-and-out rock & roll fan with no time to stop and think about music and that's very good for us. Instinct. He's also the one who is most aware of facets in music, and that's essential in the band. If you listen to `Sheer Heart Attack' on the new album you'll see what we mean. It sounds like a punk, or `new wave' song, but it was written at the same time of the Sheer Heart Attack LP. He played it to us then but it wasn't quite finished and he didn't have time to complete it before we started recording. That was three years ago and now. . . almost all these records you hear are like that period." And Roger now? "He was into punk for a long time, but he's tired of it." More about the album later.

But if you still don't believe no crown of leadership rests on the mercurial head of Freddie, it's worth repeating his comment about the composition of the group.

"If anyone left Queen, anyone of the four, that would be the end of Queen. We are four equal, interwoven parts. And the others just couldn't function the same without each quarter."

Queen have just finished a special tour of the states. Not the longest they've ever undertaken, by any means, but special nevertheless.

"It was the first tour we've ever done without the support band," Freddie explained. "There was so much going on on stage that I doubt there would have been room for another band anyway. We have so much material we want to play for people now that it would have been far too long a concert. It's hard enough anyway to know what to leave out: we'd like to play all the new material, but there are some things we just would not dare leave out or I think the fans would lynch us."

It was the sort of tour most rock bands dream of doing. Brian agrees: "We've managed to get some of the most sought after halls there are, even though the tour was short. Most of them are places we've played bef