Thursday 15 March 2001 at 6 pm – Mick Brown interviews Brian May
From Leicester Square, this is 1538 AM Capital Gold, London, where great music LIVES.
Brian Interview – Capital Gold
Transcribed by Jen Tunney, Brianmay.com
Welcome to the hottest Showbiz show on the airwaves with the latest, greatest celebrity interviews, gossip and news, who’s who and what they’re up to. This is OK! on-air, with Mick Brown, on your great time station, Capital Gold.
MICK BROWN: This is Capital Gold – it’s OK! On Air, the greatest show biz show on the radio, 6 o’clock, welcome along, and to celebrate next Monday’s Hall of Fame entry for Queen, we welcome Brian May. Welcome, Brian.
BRIAN MAY: Thank you very much. Nice to be here.
MICK: Nice to see you. Thank’s for popping in. We spoke – ooh – a few months ago, when you were in the car, and you said you’d pop in to see us…
BRIAN: That’s right (laughs)
MICK: Great to see you. ’74 then, a big year for Queen. It was Seven Seas of Rhye and Killer Queen into the chart but do you remember these two songs that made it big in that same year. Playing now…
Barry White – You’re The First, The Last, My Everything
Wings – Jet
MICK: OK! now the greatest showbiz show on the radio – on Monday Queen will be inducted to the very very prestigious Hall of Fame. To celebrate Brian May is here and we’ll be hearing some Queen songs and having a chat in just a couple of ticks….
MICK: OK! On Air on Capital Gold. I’m Mick Brown. Brian May’s here. Here’s one of the first songs, big hit, for Queen – Seven Seas of Rhye.
Seven Seas of Rhye
MICK: It’s Capital Gold. It’s The 6 o’clock Show. The song that launched the thousand hits for Queen – Seven Seas of Rhye – and Brian, once again welcome. Thanks for coming in.
BRIAN: Thank you very much, Mick.
MICK: So tell us all about The Hall of Fame. I mean its a thing that we always read about in the papers, and its a very, very prestigious award isn’t it?
BRIAN: It’s certainly a big deal over there across the pond. Yeah – the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is based in Cleveland, Ohio, a place where we visited many times, yeah, when we were touring – (silly voice) in the old days – and the ceremony actually takes place in New York and what happens is a committee of God-knows-who nominates you and you get inducted (laughs) if you’re lucky. This year it’s us and Aerosmith, which is nice, cos they’re very much our sort of contemporary, band, you know, sort of parallel; also we have Michael Jackson being inducted. He’s already a member as a member of the Jackson Five, but now he’s being inducted as a solo artist. And Paul Simon. So it’s a good bunch. James Burton, one of my heroes also is being inducted as a sideman, cos he was Elvis’s sideman. The deal is you have it be – it has to be 25 years since you released your first record and then you’re eligible to be inducted, which is nice.
MICK: And so all the guys are gonna be out there. Do you get anything? Do they sort of….?
BRIAN: You probably get a tee-shirt, I think, yeah! (laughing)
MICK: (silly voice) Where’s my tee-shirt then? We’ll talk more about that very very soon, but as you mention the early days, when you started out with Queen – what were your kind of best memories of that – when you first got going?
BRIAN: Oh, God. There’s just a flood of things really. And it was mixed, you know. It wasn’t all glamour – as they say. (laughs) You know, it was pretty tough in the beginning because we didn’t know anybody. We didn’t have any contacts. The first time we ever played a gig and people knew who we were before we went on, it’s like… (laughing) was a blinding thing – you know. Suddenly people are shouting and sort of chanting “Queen” or whatever and it was completely unexpected and I think it was just after the first album was out.
BRIAN: And my – I was saying to someone last night – they said, you know “Did you know all this was gonna happen?” I’d no idea. I think my idea of being a pop star was to make a record. That was my ambition, you know, so I could give it to me Dad and say “Look, I’ve done something decent”, and to play someplace like maybe The Rainbow, would be the ultimate ambition. Well, I think that by 1974 we’d done that and then everything else really was like a bonus. I’d no idea there was Madison Square Gardens out there. There was Japan. There was Australia.. there was… you know – it was – an incredible trip.
MICK: We’ll talk about some of those trips in a second. Let’s – how about a personal fave? You know like before Queen. What were you buying? What did you go out and buy?
BRIAN: (sharp intake of breath) Um – Buddy Holly. Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ Maybe Baby.
MICK: Let’s play it now on OK! for our special guest, Brian May from Queen.
Buddy Holly and the Crickets – Maybe Baby
MICK: Okay there playing Buddy Holly – special fave of Brian May. What other bands were you into before you actually started playing yourself.
BRIAN: Um… well as kids we loved The Who. I mean, I suppose we were fairly big kids by then and we were playing and we went to see The Who and it was – ahh – it, it’s hard to describe because they were way, way before the word “punk” was, was coined. But basically they were more punk than anything that ever came after, and I think they were rude boys and the energy and the danger that you felt being at one of those concerts…
MICK: I’ll always remember going to see The Who once, at Cheltenham Football
BRIAN: Yeah yeah
MICK: First big… there was Little Feet was playing, Crosby Stills Nash and Young..
BRIAN: Yeah yeah
MICK: …and The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. And they advertised it as having this amazing laser show, but what it was really, I suppose it was amazing in those days, they had like mirrors on the floodlight pylon and they just hit one and, of course, it just went all the way around. The place was – ahhh..
BRIAN: Very good. Well I remember, I remember The Who at that period but when we first started going to see them they were playing tiny little clubs and of course they’d only come on about 2 hours after they were supposed to be, and the place would be a riot. Pete Townsend’d come in and make aeroplane noises for about an hour before they started. It was just very anarchic and (laughs) but also brilliant musically, so I think they formed us. You know, we also loved Zeppelin later on when Zeppelin started off. We, we just thought “Arrgh, these guys are doin’ kinda what we wanna do.”, you know. “Let’s get out there quick.”
MICK: Just give us your favourite Who song
BRIAN: Um – My Generation
MICK: My Generation – hey let’s play it right now for Brian May – our very special guest. Here it comes…
The Who – My Generation
MICK: Okay there playing The Who for Brian May. On Monday, very special day for Queen. They’re gonna be inducted to the very prestigious Hall of Fame, so we’re celebrating on OK! On Air with a chat and lots of Queen songs and I suppose THE most famous, if not one of THE most famous songs of all time is Bohemian Rhapsody, and we’ll play that in just a couple of ticks.
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
MICK: Capital Gold playing Bohemian Rhapsody on the 6 O’clock Show. It has to be not only one of the greatest song of all time but also one of our most requested songs. You open the phone lines and guarantee, its play Bohemian Rhapsody.
BRIAN: Yeah hm.
MICK: But when you were making that song, did you feel, “Hang on. This is something a bit, something special here?”
BRIAN: It would pretty odd. I mean this is really Freddie’s brain child. You know he came in here with most of it formed in his head and he was just trying to get it across to us, which was difficult. And he was going “Da d-da da da”, then it stops, you know, and then we go “Why, why’s it stop?” (laughs) and he’s say, “No, this bit goes in here”, you know the acapella bit. “And then there’s…” and we’d go “Okay Fred, yeah”, you know, and it was all done in bits and it sounded very weird cos there was no vocals on it. It was just bits of backing track, urm, and he had all the vocal parts written out on these little pieces of paper, which came from his Dad’s work – all written in A’s and B’s and C’s – not dots, ‘cos we don’t do dots really (laughs) very well, but in, in the names of the notes. All the chords, every note that everyone was gonna sing. And some of these things were sort of 9-part harmonies, as you can tell, you know, plus we sing it 16 times each, over the 3 of us, so there’s a colossal number voices on there by the time you stop, by the time you’ve finished. Um – and we thought this is either something which is (laughs) gonna be completely incomprehensible or else it will be the biggest thing ever, I suppose.
MICK: What was it number one for? Was it 9 weeks?
BRIAN: I think it was, yeah, yeah.
MICK: 9 weeks, and then it was number one again for like 6 or 7 weeks when it was re-released.
BRIAN: Yeah. Capital in the old days was, of course, was a big, big part of, of getting us across, and I think Kenny Everett played it I think 3 times, the first he ever got hold of it. He stole the tape from us, before it was finished and played it and uh, he was very helpful to us. He really took a chance.
MICK: It’s interesting with a band like Queen, because it must be great when you go and play live or when you played live, to see the kind of the fans that were there say in Seven Seas Of Rhye, still coming out to see you.
BRIAN: Yeah. I still meet people who go “Yeah, I saw your first show at the Hammersmith Odeon with Mott the Hoople” and it’s great. Everyone seems to have very vivid memories of it. (laughs) Um – yeah and it’s good and I do think that kind of a whole generation kind of grew up with us and we grew up with them, and there’s a great bond there. Yeah.
MICK: Let’s play, let’s play a Queen song that you think, had he been here today Freddie would have picked, as one of his faves!
BRIAN: (Long intake of breath) Okay, I dunno – Fred would have picked his own stuff – um – well I’m gonna pick, you know ‘cos its one of Freddie’s finest hours – The Show Must Go On – because, ah, we were kind of chucking stuff at this point he knows he hasn’t got long to go and he’s pushing himself ever faster and ever harder, ever higher, and I wrote him some vocal lines to sing on this and I thought “Agh, he’s never gonna be able to manage. He went straight in – couple of vodkas and (laughs) you can hear it’s like stuff that no one can ever reach, vocal-wise, so um, and I think this song is very – it sums up an era, and it means a lot to me. So Show Must Go On.
MICK: Okay – and of course the music lives on – for Brian May and Queen.
Queen – The Show Must Go On
MICK: Capital Gold – The 6 O’clock Show. Brian May’s our special guest. A song for Freddie Mercury there. Now the Hall of Fame again.. Let’s get back to that. ‘Cos I say its a fantastic thing to be in. There is an actual museum, isn’t there?
BRIAN: There is a museum in Cleveland and…
MICK: So what goes in there? What, what?
BRIAN: Er – a lot of guitars and stuff and stage clothes. We’ve lent them some stuff, yeah. I’ve never been, I have to say. I wouldn’t mind going some time. But Cleveland is very much the sort of rock and roll capital of the States as you know. It was definitely the sort of – I dunno – the kind of industrial centre and it was always a very energetic place. Great place to play. We used to play this place called Cleveland Richfield Coliseum, which held about 25,000 people I think, indoors. I think it’s closed now, but yeah we we still feel a certain amount of a link with those people I think.
MICK: What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played at? Would it be like the thing in Rio. Did you do Rock in Rio?
BRIAN: Yeah, I think som yeah, that’s right. We did the first Rock In Rio, which was about a couple of hundred thousand. It was a lot, yeah. It was (laughs)….
MICK: When it gets to that size though, does it kind of – cos sometimes like, you mention The Rainbow. Now I can always remember going to The Rainbow. Funnily enough we were talking about Michael Jackson…
MICK: Cos The Jackson Five were supporting Gladys Knight and the Pips, and it was always that kind of thing – you’re going to The Rainbow…
BRIAN: It was a great night out wasn’t it. I mean, I saw David Bowie there and I thought “God, if we ever get to play here – boy!”
MICK: But what I’m saying is, would you sooner have played The Rainbow of the Chez Stadium or Rock In Rio when there’s, you know, – it’s not that personal is it?
BRIAN: Er – I think there’s merits to both. I like em both really. There’s a certain intimacy in playing a theatre, but there’s an amazing sense of energy and occasion in playing these stadium gigs.
MICK: I’ll always remember watching – I’ve still got the video at home -I don’t think, you know it’s still there – Live Aid, and the hand-clapping big….
MICK: We Will Rock You. It was just…
MICK: A hundred thousand fans clapping.
BRIAN: I know – we couldn’t believe it really cos that wasn’t a Queen audience. I think that was the shocking thing to us because all those tickets had been sold for Live Aid before we were announced, so there wasn’t anyone who was thinking that we were gonna be on. So we realised that there was a kind of universality to what – to the sort of anthem stuff. Great stuff.
MICK: Well we had – well you picked a song that Freddie would have chosen. What’s your favourite Queen song.
BRIAN: Well I’ll play you the one we’re gonna play for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, which will be We Will Rock You.
BRIAN: Um – It – its gonna sound a bit different to this – this is the original record – but post our escapades with 5ive and whatever (laughs) we have various new versions of this song. And actually we don’t have a singer, as you probably know, so actually Roger and I are gonna split the vocals on this and it’ll be something different. It’ll be like “author’s version”, so this is We Will Rock You.
MICK: We Will Rock You on OK! on Air for Brian May.
Queen – We Will Rock You
MICK: Capital Gold, it’s the 6 O’clock Show, OK! On Air and We Will Rock You and we’ll another chat – play some more songs very soon. First let’s find out what’s happening in the world of hot gossip…
Led Zeppelin – Rock ‘n’ Roll
MB: Capital Gold. The 6 O’clock Show. I’m Mick Brown. He’s Brian May and what a song that is. Any chance of, there’s always this great rumour around that Queen are gonna play live and it’s gonna be Robbie Williams singing, or its gonna be whoever. Any, anything in that, any little…
BRIAN: We like the rumours. (laughing)
MICK: Well give us a good rumour now then.
BM: Well the rumour is that we’re doing a musical (laughing), which is true, and Ben Elton has written us a fantastic script. We’ve actually been working on this damn musical for about 4 years and been through various ideas, some of which was biographical, which in the end we didn’t wanna do. But now – Ben came up with this great idea so we’ve been workshopping it very privately and possibly by the end of this year or the beginning of next, it, we hope it will be on in the West End.
MICK: What – will you be in it?
BRIAN: No. (laughing) No, no thank you. I won’t…
BRIAN: No no young people will be in it.
MICK: But is it gonna be you know playing Queen songs?
BRIAN: But a lot of Queen songs yeah, and with some, with some variations, with some new ideas in there.
MICK: Call it A Night At The Opera or something.
BRIAN: Nah… I – I’ll consider that. (laughing.)
MICK: Now listen Brian – thanks a lot for coming in.
BRIAN: Thank you very much, Mick – well done.
MICK: Congratulations on the Hall of Fame…
BRIAN: Thank you.
MICK: And can we play one of our favourite Queen song to…
BRIAN: Yeah, absolutely. What’s your favourite?
MICK: Killer Queen.
MICK: OK. Brian May from Queen. Thanks a lot…
BRIAN: Cheers Mick.
MICK: To be inducted in the Hall Of Fame on Monday. Congratulations. Thanks a lot.
BRIAN: Thank you.
Queen – Killer Queen`
MICK: This is OK! On Air playing Killer Queen for our very special guest, Brian May from Queen. Many thanks for dropping by and good luck with that prestigious induction into the Hall Of Fame on Monday.
Source: Capital Gold Radio/transcribed by Jen Tunney