Who would have thought that nine long years and nine albums later Queen would still be riding a wave of unequalled success? The band's new Elektra album, The Game, is a logical extension of Queen's most recent direction: a blend of rockabilly with new wave overtones. That Freddie Mercury loved Elvis is evident in the fact that Crazy Little Thing Called Love is included on the LP and performed prominently during the current tour. In addition, Elvis's Jailhouse Rock has become a standard in Queen's set.
People in Los Angeles were surprised to see Freddie Mercury with a guitar in his hands at Queen's recent Forum concerts. For the first time ever, Freddie Mercury is playing guitar during a Queen concert. He uses an Ovation twelve-string acoustic on Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
'It took sheer guts and bravery,' Freddie told Circus, recalling the first time he walked out on stage with a guitar. 'The first couple of nights were nerve-wracking, but it was okay after that. You see, I wrote Crazy Little Thing on guitar and played rhythm on the record, and it works really well because Brian gets to play all those lead guitar fills as well as his usual solo. I'm somewhat limited by the number of chords I know. I'm really just learning, but I hope to play more guitar in the future.'
Freddie Mercury will have his chance to improve on guitar, since Queen is currently in the midst of another American tour. Unlike past Queen campaigns which usually took place during winter months, this tour has been warm-weather all the way. It began on the west coast at the end of June and will climax with three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York on September 28, 29 and 30. By then, a collection of Queen's greatest hits, should be in the stores, to be followed by their soundtrack to the Dino De Laurentils production of Flash Gordon for which they've written 40 minutes of brand new music.
Unlike many other rock groups that struggled for years to reach the top, Queen got there instantly by conventional standards. It began to fall into place in 1968 when then 22-year-old Freddie Mercury met Brian May and Roger Taylor, at the time members of the British rock band, Smile. After Smile's only U.S. single failed to go anywhere, Freddie got his chance to join later in 1971.
Queen's fiery guitarist, Brian May, insists Freddie has never changed. 'Even back then, Freddie knew he would be a star,' Brian recalled. 'He had no money in his pocket, no success to speak of yet, or even any hope of success, but it didn't stop him. He acts the way he does because that's the way he really is. He has never changed in all the years I've known him; he's still the same Freddie.
Born Frederick Bulsara (Untrue - Freddie was born Farokh Bulsara), in Zanzibar on September 5th 1946, Freddie attended boarding school in Bombay at age seven. His education continued and it was thought young Freddie might become an athlete, but by age 18 he was off to London Art School where he studied illustration. To this day, the artistic flair is still a prime ingredient in Queen's stage show.
In addition to playing the States during the warmer weather, the current Queen tour is also different in that each segment is strictly limited. In the past, the band would arrive and play straight through to the end of the tour. this time Queen is doing it in bits and pieces.
'It's funny,' Roger Taylor commented, 'because on this trip over the pressure isn't as great as in the past when we would have two, sometimes three months facing us without a break. We'd actually play until we dropped. Now, we're in a better frame of mind and our decision has proved correct.'
In addition to the U.S., Queen's current tour will take in Mexico and South America for the first