In advance of Queen’s arrival in Scotland this weekend, today’s Scotsman features a double page spread on Brian May’s “Queen In 3-D” book.
1 December 2017
These are the days of our lives
While travelling the world as Queen sought their big break, Brian May captured candid off-stage moments using a 3-D camera. Now his photographs, shot in pairs and viewed using a patented gadget, have been gathered together to offer an intimate portrait of the rock band at work and play.
This book is a journey in itself. When I first began looking at the possibility of creating a 3-D book on Queen, I had no idea it would end up like this. My idea was to gather together the 3-D photos I’d taken over the years while we, as the rock group Queen, were going about our business. I thought I’d maybe add a few words of explanation. I thought it would be quite a small picture book – just a series of 3-D snapshots.
But once my brilliant forensic team, Denis Pellerin, stereoscopic historian, and Greg Brooks, official Queen archivist, got to work, I realised there was a mountain of great material to channel into this work, and also that each picture unlocked a story, often in a long-forgotten situation that the 3-D pictures brought so vividly to life when re-presented to my eyes. I’ve always felt that 3-D pictures were a thousand times more powerful than flat snaps, but some of these 3-D moments are so extraordinarily evocative that I was actually shocked in myself what recollections they brought out of my head. So this book has become a kind of multidimensional potted history of Queen, seen from my intimate point of view.
Some people will tell you that ‘the touring life’ gives you hotels and gigs, and little else. And we sure have seen a lot of those. But for us interested and fairly well-educated human beings, touring was always an opportunity to see how the rest of the world lives, up close; and there have been other unique bonuses along the way. If we had simply travelled as tourists, we might have seen plenty of art galleries and cathedrals, and beaches too, if we fancied it. But as working, touring beings, we have had the fantastic luck to interact closely with thousands of people in many foreign countries, some of which we’d never heard of when we started. Through creating our spectacles in collaboration with local skilled people, we experienced things a tourist never could. We have worked and mixed with artists and musicians, and local heroes of sport and culture. We have met heads of state, councillors, and dignitaries, and been invited to sup in select rooms and edifices that even local people were not allowed to visit.
Queen’s music has crossed all barriers of age, race, colour and creed since the time we got together around 1970 and decided, precociously, that we would change the world. I feel proud of our efforts, and I hope this book will transmit some of the good feelings we felt in ourselves while it happened. You have all seen Queen from the outside. Now enjoy it from the inside, in 3-D.
Most of the pictures in this section are snaps taken in leisure time while we were enjoying a healthy growth period for Queen. All around the world we’d made friends and had a following but, as has been well documented, we were still in debt, and both inside the band and out there, you could almost sense an expectation – we needed ‘The Big One’ – the big hit that would consolidate everything and make our future secure. Nevertheless, in blissful ignorance of what was to come, we had a lot of fun.
This rapturous moment (see photo) is Freddie having his hair dried. I think it’s backstage in Paris. It’s very Wayne’s World isn’t it, really? When you look at it here, it seems like the machine is sucking instead of blowing. I think I was moved to take this shot partly because the hairdryer is such a stereoscopic object, and partly because of the incongruity of the emerging rock star sitting under something which we were more used to seeing in our mums’ hairdressers back home, getting their perm for the week. Anyway, you get the idea. But, from this distance of time, looking at Freddie off-guard, it’s a very different feeling.
Another picture was taken in Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris – Roger and Freddie. And there is somebody else we can’t quite see, but I think he was a big guy called Dave, who, while acting as our personal assistant made a grab for management of the band. He, like many others, didn’t last long with us.
They are looking down at something. I don’t know what it is, though. And Freddie for some reason has his microphone stand in his hands? Why? That’s very odd. It might not be a mike; it might be his whip. He was fond of carrying a whip that he occasionally cracked, for special effect. Don’t ask me why. I don’t think it’s a selfie stick. But why is he carrying it at the airport?
Answers on a postcard please ….
– Queen and Adam Lambert play the SSC Hydro on Sunday
– Queen in 3-D by Brian May, published by The London Stereoscopic Company at £50 is out now, www.queenin3-d.com