Forums > Queen - General Discussion > Why Freddie Mercury is a punk rock icon

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Soul Brother user not visiting Queenzone.com

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Posted: 21 Sep 08, 18:30 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Founder of Creation Records cites Freddie as a punk rock icon in his September 2008 blog for The Guardian.

Queen have always been considered the antithesis of punk. But if punk rock was about never being boring, then Mercury's camp, Bollywood theatrics were almost a political weapon.

I spent yesterday arguing with a friend that Freddie Mercury was punk rock. He hates Queen. I love Queen. That's the kind of band they are. And when I tell people that I consider Freddie Mercury a great songwriter and punk-rock idol, some get it and others don't.

John Lydon paid tribute to Queen in 1977 when he was recording Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Six Pistols in the same studios as them. Lydon crawled in stealth-like fashion to say hello to Freddie Mercury (before crawling out again). He wasn't the only icon who admired the Queen frontman. Kurt Cobain, in his suicide note, wrote of how he both admired and envied Freddie Mercury for basking in the love from his audience.

Born Farrokh Bulsara, Mercury spent his childhood in India before coming to the United Kingdom. I've always thought there was a Bollywood aspect to Queen. Mercury's stage persona is pure Bollywood - embodying its language and inherent melodrama. And it was all about the show. Mercury kept his private life private, as it should be; Freddie Mercury "the mortal man" was never going to be as entertaining as Freddie Mercury the "rock star".

For critics at the time, Queen were often considered the antithesis of punk rock and even rock'n'roll itself, but only if you believed the slating that Queen's Jazz was given by Dave Marsh: "Queen hasn't the imagination to play jazz - Queen hasn't the imagination, for that matter, to play rock'n'roll." He even went on to call them the "first truly fascist rock'n'roll band".

Could it be that the element of campness, during a time when machismo ruled the day, made so many rock critics panic? As glam-rock turned sour and Glitter lost its glitter, Mercury and co certainly filled the gap.

In fact, Queen were incredibly camp. This was rock as theatrics and larger than life. Mercury was so camp he made the 60s Batman show look like a gritty and realistic take on crime. His outrageous stage antics were punk rock. If punk rock was about the politics of boredom - and never being boring - Queen win. They crafted the act of entertainment as an almost political weapon.

When they produced their I Want to Break Free video they got slammed again. I Want to Break Free starred Queen in Coronation Street-drag. The in-your-face attitude found them banned from MTV - even Brian May states the I Want to Break Free video killed the band's career in the States. The downward turn never stopped Queen from playing - it was as if Mercury needed the recognition of the audience to sustain himself.

The band didn't last long in isolation. In 1985, Live Aid brought Queen back and they received a hero's welcome at Wembley as Mercury got 75,000 fans to clap along to Radio Ga Ga, stealing the show in the process. Their comeback performance was the watermark of Queen's career and, again, had all the high drama of a Bollywood flick: reigning kings returning triumphantly to their kingdom.

What a film and what a soundtrack! Queen's songwriting was world class; complex time signatures, the genre-hopping, the operatic range all wrapped up in stadium-anthem bluster.

No wonder, then, that in a 2006 BBC poll of the UK's bestsellers, Queen's Greatest Hits ranked No 1, over the Beatles Sgt Pepper's and Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory. And no wonder that, when Freddie died, the only thing to befit a star of that stature was a statue overlooking Lake Geneva and, of course, the stage musical We Will Rock You. Anything else would have paled for a stage presence that was larger than life, the stadium-sized king of punk rock.


Article at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2008/sep/02/whyfreddiemercuryisapunkr


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bobo the chimp user not visiting Queenzone.com
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Posted: 21 Sep 08, 23:27 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Terrible article.. someone must have been very bored when they wrote it!

And I don't see what's amazing about Greatest Hits coming above the Beatles' most overrated album and.... Oasis, one of the most overrated bands from the 90's.




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Posted: 21 Sep 08, 23:42 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

umm.. ok.

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Posted: 22 Sep 08, 15:22 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

I absolutely disagree that Queen was punk rock!

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Posted: 22 Sep 08, 15:25 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

It's worth pointing out that it is a blog rather than an article so probably needs to be read in that context.

I think what is interesting about this is the fact that it is written by Alan McGhee, founder of Creation Records (Oasis, Sugar, Primal Scream et al). It really depends on what your historical knowledge of music is like to understand why this is important. As a regular reader of NME and Melody Maker in the 1990's I read many quotes from Alan and to be frank I couldn't think of a bigger suprise to learn that he is a Queen fan.

Sorry you didn't find this interesting but I fecking well did!


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Posted: 22 Sep 08, 16:33 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Wow, that was a mess. Freddie loved Montserat Cabelle. Does that mean that she is a classic rock icon? Ridiculous....

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Posted: 23 Sep 08, 04:48 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

lol
ive said it for years that writers for NME and the like are closet 'Queenies'.
there were people like Tony Wilson that slagged them off in the 70's and 80's during the 'factory' years for being everything he hated in music and then HE ends up hosting the Freddie Tribute Concert on the BBC.
i think theres a clause in NME contracts that insist that the writer must slag off Queen at all times plus its always been 'cool' for these up and coming 'rebel' bands to diss Queen,it was the same in the 80's with bands like Pet Shop Boys and Simply Red doing it every week in Smash Hits! magazine.Only once these bands stars fade do they jump out the closet quicker than a Lib-Dem MP as being Queen fans after all.
i only hope now that Oasis DONT start ditching the Slade riffs theyve nicked for years and start stealing Queen ones instead and calling them their own


isnt innuendo an italian suppository?

im gonna ride the wild wind!

its_a_hard_life wrote:you nutcase you rule!

joxer replies: but in a nice way :-]

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Posted: 23 Sep 08, 14:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Hmmm Interesting, not entirely sure what the point is, however some nice wee memorable points brought up. A nice wee bitty to read in all. :)


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Posted: 23 Sep 08, 15:04 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

April wrote:

I absolutely disagree that Queen was punk rock!


Nobody is saying they were. Read the article.

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Posted: 23 Sep 08, 15:55 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Freddie's not a punk rocker.
SHEENA is a punk rocker.
And Judy is a punk, but Freddie no way

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Posted: 25 Sep 08, 01:00 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

There are ironies, like how Freddie's style is so heavy and clearly original from the norm. There is the fact that he is a taboo-time gay man who dressed more illegally than the punk fashion of the time. There is also how comercially proud and open they were, a high-brow social education of college grads highly successful in their careers, rocking out with a high-concept/highly produced style, going punkish in their rebellion for the "in" concept of rockers being real by not playing to such a posh Queen-like conformity. They also are punkish in that they tell both critics and media to f themselves if they feel the situation calls for it. They have no care for how they seem to anyone but their fans and themselves.



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Posted: 28 Sep 08, 01:49 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote

Thats a great article! Clearly some people here dont undertand it though, why am i not suprised...... hmmmmmmmmm.......


jeremiah
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Posted: 28 Sep 08, 19:20 Edit this post Reply to this post Reply with Quote


 Hi hasnt anyone ever heard the song Modern Times Rock n Roll?
Its basicallly the basis for every punk song EVER written.
I defy anyone to find a song with that type of timing and guitar distortion before it.
You can recite basically every Ramones song over it.
Queen was everything , Punk, Jazz, Blues, Classic Rock
Metal, opera, classical, country, rockabilly, disco. Critics are
just a-holes that happened to blow the write person to get a job.