Added on 12-Mar-2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
By Ed Masley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Can't wait till the Pittsburgh show, so excited!
Twenty-odd years down the road from supplying the sporting events of the world with the boom-boom-thwack that kicks off "We Will Rock You," Roger Taylor is keenly aware that, for many, the thought of Queen on the road in the post-Freddie Mercury era
And this is what he'd like to tell those people.
"Get a life."
Taylor laughs, then adds, "And that's what Freddie would have said as well. I mean, the world moves on. We miss him. Always did. But we all own our songs. And the fact is that Brian and I are still able to go out and do it.
"In a way, it's a little insulting. Great as Freddie was, the band was a true democracy. The fact that he was the visual focus and certainly, in the first 10 years, the most prolific writer, is not denied. But it was a four-man band. We've got the memories. They were great. But this is the best we could have hoped to have done and it's happened as a serendipity."
Brian, of course, is lead guitar god Brian May, who, with Taylor, is back in America blowing the dust off "Bohemian Rhapsody," "We Are the Champions" and dozens of other Queen classics for the first time since Mercury's AIDS-related death in 1991. With Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame in the unenviable role of filling in for Mercury, the tour arrives in Pittsburgh on the 20th.
While Rodgers couldn't be more different as a vocalist, for May and Taylor's money, that just made the prospect more appealing.
"We never wanted anybody to try and be Freddie Mercury," he said. "We'd be our own tribute band. And the last thing we wanted was that. There's only one Freddie. He was irreplaceable. That's why we never really even attempted to tour after he died."
But this just fell together naturally after a performance together at the band's 2004 induction to the UK Music Hall of Fame.
"We weren't looking for anybody," says Taylor. "We were just doing a British TV show, which is the British version of the Rock Hall of Fame. And I think we were voted, I don't know, band of the '70s or something, whatever, and Paul was there as well and we decided, wouldn't it be great if we did a couple songs together? And it was so great, the voice, it was like magic the first time we heard it. We just sort of all said, 'Hey, this is great, we've got to do this. Let's take it on the road.'
"So it came out of nowhere really. ... We weren't looking for a singer, weren't doing an INXS."
Taylor laughs, then adds, "We didn't really expect to have a career going at this stage after losing our singer so many years ago. So really, this is all a wonderful bonus. And the strange thing is, we found that we play better than we used to play. Brian and myself, I think, are pretty much on fire as of late."
As for the whereabouts of original bassist John Deacon, Taylor reports, "John was very badly affected by Freddie's death, and he's really a bit of a sociopath these days. Sociophobe, I should say. Sociopath is the wrong word. But he opted out. He sent us a letter that said 'I approve of everything you're doing.' ... And then, he said, 'P.S., keep sending the checks.' "
Billed as Queen + Paul Rodgers, the band toured Europe and Japan last year with three additional musicians fleshing out the sound and backing vocals, doing not just Queen songs but some Rodgers hits as well, as captured on both DVD and CD as "Return of the Champions." There's even been some new material.
"I can imagine the next step for this would really be to record over quite a long period an album and just make sure it's all good and has something to say in this day," says Taylor.
A much-loved British band whose career in the States petered out after "Radio Ga-Ga" in the early '80s, Queen has taken the airwaves by storm here 10 years earlier on the strength of such classics as "Killer Queen," "You're My Best Friend," "Somebody to Love" and "Bohemian Rhapsody," a single so bizarre it still soun