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**Sun 30 Oct 16**
The Woodland Trust writes....
Our Head Shiztress, Anita Dobson tells us about the importance of protecting the woodlands for future generations!
Want to get involved? Our cast have many talents including the creation of their garden gnomes that you can bid on in our The Woodland Trust #WickedDay eBay.co.uk auction HERE :
or link direct to Anita's adorable Gnome Doll HERE. Happy bidding.
**Sun 30 Oct 16**
BRIAN’S SPEECH – CMJ, NEW YORK
Transcribed © Jen Tunney
Presenter: ......... Imperial College, where he then hooked up with drummer, Roger Taylor, and art student, Freddie Mercury, and with the addition of John Deacon, Queen's line-up remained complete and remained unchanged for a twenty-year career.
The band's 1963 debut paved the road for a new artistic voice that has taken rock music into an entirely new unique art form. Brian's innovative guitar playing has become a hallmark of Queen songs and has influenced a generation of guitarists. The band's fourth LP, A Night At The Opera, contained a definitive Queen song, Bohemian Rhapsody, and turned Queen into a world-renowned act. Queen have also played to some of the world's largest audiences and are the only rock band besides from the Beatles to have all four members individually write number one hit songs.
On November 24th 1991, Freddie Mercury died one day after announcing that he had Aids. Brian and the remaining members of Queen held a tribute concert in his honour, with the proceeds going to help fight Aids. Besides Brian's role as Musical Director of a five-day concert series in 1991, which featured some of Rock's greatest guitarists, Brian has spend the last five years working on his first solo album, Back To The Light, which will be released in February on Hollywood Records.
Once again - thanks for coming - sit back and enjoy one of Rock's legendary figures - Brian May. Please welcome one of Rock's most gifted guitarists - Brian May.
Thank you. Thank you very much. Okay, thank you Robert John for that very glowing introduction, and I hope I live up to this stuff.
Thank you for inviting me here. Its a great privilege and I think it's gonna be a pleasure. I'll tell you later. [Laughs]
And Happy Halloween. This is fun.
Um....Yeah! I was a little in trepidation coming here because I thought maybe - its a long time since I was around doing this sort of stuff and I think I thought maybe rock 'n' roll has changed. What am I walking into, you know? But when I walked in that door over there a little while ago, there was a lady walking along with her favourite promotional tee-shirt on which said 'Total F**king D**kheads' - so I know I'm in the right place. Okay. Nothing has changed that much. [Laughs] Weird. Yeah.
First of all I didn't think I would be able to speak for very long to you either because I thought, well they obviously know what they're doing. You guys are really professionals already in the business. What can I tell 'em? And then I flicked through this large thing here and realised that really we live in very different worlds and, you know the world is still a big place in spite of all this wonderful communication, and London is still a long way from New York, and a little town where I was born, which is Feltham in Middlesex, is a million miles still from some small town in the States, you know, which I think is good, you know. There is still individuality and so I came to the conclusion that actually I have a very different viewpoint from you guys to the business and what I say may be crude in some ways, but at least you get a different point of view, so I'm gonna try and cut it down, cos then my mind started working and I thought I could speak for ages, you know.
But what I plan to do is to speak for a few minutes and then open up and I would like to have a discussion really because I'm here to learn as well as to give out and I would very much like to swap some ideas with you guys.
They even gave me a little place to draw pictures. I'm really glad about this. This is very good. By special request.
Right - um - where are we.
Yeah my theme, if a theme it is, is basically "What is it all about?" You know "Why Are We Here?"
We all know what we do. We're beginning to know what our jobs are, but you know, what is it for. Why are we doing this? Is it worthwhile? If it's so worthwhile, why are we selling it and not giving it away? You know - all these kinds of questions. I want to ask a lot of questions of you and not necessarily supply the answers.
So I'm gonna draw a picture first - okay?
Now these days there's colleges for Rock Stars, you see that wasn't the case when I was a kid. We had to sort feel it out, so I am dam sure there are colleges for learning the Record Business, so what I do is going to see very naive I'm sure, but forgive me okay? This is just the way that I see it. I thought I would base my discussion on my sort of crude model of the Record Business, so here goes, okay.
[Louder] I get another microphone - 'it's brilliant!!
Can you hear me? Can you hear me? Wait a minute. No? Is this on? Yeah s'wonderful - 'Technology'.
Right, so over here I reckon this is how it goes. You take my little piece of paper and get this right.
I reckon everything starts off in my mind, with the Germ Of An Idea, and to my mind those are the most precious things. That's the starting point. You know, you can do all you stuff. You know, you can be very high technical, etc, but if you don't have that Germ Of The Idea, which may be a little piece of a melody or a little piece of a lyric or whatever, then you have no starting point.
So over here is the Author of a song, say. He's here - and this is the Germ Of An Idea here, right! Now the next step...
Can you hear me okay? Okay.
The next step is - he goes into the Studio and he interacts with some other people, some other Musicians, and that's when this thing becomes a song and also becomes - begins to become a Record. Okay.
So I put Studio here, and this is the interaction here.
Then what comes here is a selection process - somebody, either the Artist, or somebody outside - lovely phasing going on here - I love this. Somebody decides what's worthwhile and what isn't. It's a compilation and a selection process and this is where the first choices are made. So that's this point here. So this is where basically you have an Album Of Songs usually. That's usually the format that it comes out in.
The next stage is the Record Company. I'm drawing much too big here - you'll have to forgive me. I've messed this up. But here's the Record Company - right? [Laughs] Record Company - which I see as basically two parts. There's a half of it, which interacts this way with the Artists and in some cases they'll try and influence the Art, but not necessarily so, and there's the other half, which interacts with the other direction. So over here you have an interaction with Radio - here. [Scribbling noises]
And Radio interacts directly with the Listener - who's over here, with his earphones or whatever. This is er- Bart Simpson's Dad, okay! [Much laughing] Yeah. [Clears throat]
And then the record company also interacts. This is a vast over simplification but forgive me for the moment. It also interacts with the stores, the shops. Right here, so 'Stores' and the stores directly interact with the person who buys the record.
So he's here', I'm gonna put a little dollar sign on him because this is the guy that actually parts with money and he is essentially, I think we all assume, this guy is essentially the same guy as this guy. Right. The listener is the same as the buyer, so that's where we get it.
There's one person that I missed out and that's the Manager. He's down here, he's the fly in the ointment [Laughing] and he influences basically the whole thing, but mainly he influences the interaction between the Artist here and the Record Company and these parts here. He influences the way the other parts interact. Okay, so this I call The Mechanism.
I'll go back to this now. [clumping] - here we are.
This is a kind of mechanism which has grown up over the last, I suppose, 40 years and originally when people were making music, you know, there would be a Troubadour and he would walk around and he would play his stuff to whoever was listening, and that was it. So this mechanism is a means of carrying music to a wider audience, and I guess it starts off with Thomas Eddison, thereabouts. So you guys, I would think, know much more about how this system works than I do. But again I'm interested in why really. I'm interested in the choices that all these people make in these circles and the motivation that they have and also what is their ultimate aim. Where is it all leading. So I would like you to think about that really.
All the people in this chain stand to make something. They stand to gain something or else they wouldn't be in it. You know it may be money, it may be power, it maybe sex, it may be fun, or whatever, but I would basically believe that they're all in it because they get some special buzz out of music, which they don't get from anything else, 'cos there's easier ways to get all the other stuff you know. [Pauses]
And the most important guy, of course, is the guy on the end, because he determines how all the other guys operate, you know, particularly because all these other guys started off as the guy at the end. We're all in this business I would think because at some point in the distant past we were sitting there and something bit us. We heard a piece of music and thought "URHHH - that's where I wanna be." And a lot of us get bitten to the point that we never get out, you know, it becomes completely addictive, this business, which can be a good thing, I think.
So the key to all these people is understanding the guy who's on the receiving end. The guy who pays his money and hopefully gets what he wants.
This make sense so far? [Laughs] - okay.
[Clears throat] Where am I? Yeah.
And this includes me. I mean I got bitten at a very early age and I still find it exciting. I'm still in love with music as much as I ever was and that's why I'm still standing here. It's sometimes the only thing that can hold someone together, 'cos life gets weird later on, I tell ya. [laughing]
Which brings me to - Where do I fit in?
Well, I'll give you a little potted history. You probably know something about what i am but I first travelled this whole route - I became involved in this whole system 20 years ago or so, and [Pop] I'm now about to jump in again in a different capacity because I've made a solo album and I want again to kind of use the system, I want to be heard. So again, that's why I'm here, that's why I wanna interact with you people.
PART TWO TRANSCRIPT
My beginnings were, I mean, Queen is, you've just seen Queen on the video, you know it's very big and massive and successful and everything, but of course it starts off very, very small. There was just some very small people with no contacts, with a belief and a set of ideas, and it's a very long road.
I was born in the 40's, which again, which is enough to make me different [Laughing]. I was born in '47 - and the sort of stuff I listened to when I grew up was epitomised by Johnnie Ray and the ends of the big band stuff, and all that stuff. It was very - um - erhhhh [Intake of breath] - in retrospect very safe, I would say, and my childhood was also smattered with a lot of classical music, bits of light classical junk and children’s records, all of which find their way into what we've done; you know, that Roger, Freddie and John and myself were all exposed to this sort of mishmash, and it's become a part, unconsciously, of what we do.
But what happened in the 50's was something so incredibly different, that it's hard to paint a picture of it at this point, 'cos suddenly you had people - and the first guy I heard was Buddy Holly, who instead of singing sort of 'Moons and Junes' and everything's very safe, was actually speaking of his pain, and suddenly there was a very different feeling. There was a reality to what I was hearing on the radio. It was the beginnings of Rock'n'Roll and I count myself very lucky to have been around at that time. And I was a kid, and I would listen to Radio Luxembourg on my headphones underneath he covers, you know, pretending to be asleep, and this stuff was like 'Magic', coming through the air. I couldn't believe the intensity of it and I had a dim idea that people were talking about the realities of themselves, you know - their own emotions. And I was swept away by the sound and by the fact that they actually 'screamed' what they thought. This was new. Nobody had ever done that before. You know all the music previous to that people had had well-formulated ideas. There were people called 'songwriters', who produced something very glossy, and it was in the films - the sort of Frank Sinatra thing, which I wouldn't put down, but what happened in the 50's was complete revolution, and it was the beginning of Rock'n'Roll, and that's what bit me, and that's what got me into it.
I listened to all these guitar players on Everly Brothers records and 'Elvis Records, etc, and then there was a group called The Shadows in England, and I just became completely immersed in it.
I was supposed to be - I was trained as a Scientist and it was really the intention of my family that I should get 'A Proper Job'. See being a Musician is not a proper job even now in England, and, which may seem strange 'cos I think its different here, but I pursued that for a long time and I became an Astronomer, etc, got a Degree in Physics, but there was always this thing pulling, nagging at me, and I always knew at some point that I would have to give into it.
So around this time when I first went to College, cutting a very long story short, met Roger first, through an advert on a College noticeboard, and we met Freddie through friends, and John through a friend of a friend, and we felt like we were something.
It's like its on two different levels. You know, on one level you think, 'God - I can do anything that those guys are doing' and on another level you're feeling very small and you think. 'Well, how do we start? How do we get in there? How do you get a record played? How do you "make" a record? How do you get out on tour?', you know, because at that time it was the chicken and the egg. I guess it still is. If you didn't have a record nobody would want to book you live, and if you weren't seen live, nobody wanted to make a record with you. So we were sitting there going, 'What do we do?' It was difficult. And our solution was to be ready when the opportunity came.
So, we were turned on, you know, we went and saw The Who. That's one of my seminal memories. The Who were so completely anarchic. It seems strange looking back - they don't seem so much that, in retrospect, but they were completely disrespectful of anything that had gone before. You know, they would turn up a couple of hours late and generally smash the place up, but they would be devastating with the intensity of what they did. It was incredible.
Jimi Hendrix - you know I was already playing when I saw Jimi Hendrix and I thought I was quite good. You know, I could play some of these Clapton licks, and then I saw this guy, and I either had to give up, or else do a lot of practising. So, I mean, Hendrix turned everybody upside down and by the time Led Zeppelin were out there, which we also liked, we were feeling frustrated because this is the kind of thing we wanted to do. We could hear in our heads what we wanted to be doing. We wanted to be expressing our own anger - emotions - but in a new way. We wanted to break some of the barriers down. We were already thinking that we wanted to bring in some of the melody and harmony, which wasn't normally associated with this new thing called 'Rock Music', and fuse it into something different.
In other words, we wanted to find new roads and new territories, which I think is still the key to what goes on in this business.
Around 1970 we entered this great seething pot, as it was then, and it was new for us, and for these people really. It was still in the process of being put together. We signed a Contract with Elektra Records, and a young man called David Geffin came in to run it just after we were signed, and his first words to us were, 'Well I have no idea what you guys are about. I'm into the Eagles and Joni Mitchell and whatever. I have no idea what you do, but I will work for ou the best I can', which was actually a pretty honest approach, and he did.
And throughout the '70s we worked this system. We interacted with it. We tried to bend the rules. We tried to always do it in our own way and I have a feeling that at that time it was perhaps a little easier, because things were less formal. You know, for instance people said that you couldn't put out a 6 minute single, you know, 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. They said 'You have to edit it, and we said 'No, no, no, no. We want it like that or none at all', and there were many decisions like that where we took a risk and on the whole we were very lucky. I don't know if we would be so lucky today. I'd like to move onto that thought later on, really.
And we were very difficult to categorise, because we were trying to break down the barriers. There were already slots that people wanted to put you into, you know. They were saying 'Well is this Glam Rock? Is this Punk Rock? Is this Anthemic Rock? Is this Heavy Metal? What is it?' and nobody ever really decided, which I think at that time was good for us, because we remained broad.
So what happened was, we came into this system, and then the other huge thing that happened was that we toured and suddenly you have direct contact. You know suddenly this guy here is actually in contact with the guy with the headphones at the end, and that's when the miracle happens. Suddenly if all this system has worked right, you meet face-to-face, and we found it was mind-blowing. It was really magical. You know, suddenly we find that we do speak the same language as this guy in Aymes, Iowa, or whatever, it actually happens, and it was a fantastic thrill for us. I'll never forget those first days.
So this is where, I was going to say this is where we made contact with you, but we actually probably made contact with your mums and dads [Laughter], which makes me feel very strange, [More laughter] 'cos I don't feel like that really.
So at this point you have to add in video, right. There's another thing - I won't bother putting that on - but video goes alongside radio and stores and video becomes something which is part of this manipulative mechanism, and we were sort of first into that. We were in at the very beginnings of that we made a video for 'Bohemian Rhapsody' because we didn't want to go onto this horrendous British show called 'Top Of The Pops' and mime to the record. It was very cheap and we did it in a day; very quick, very easy, but it became a massive promotional tool all round Europe, in fact, all round the World, maybe least of all in this country, strangely enough, because this is pre-MTV and there were not very many outlets for video, but of course all that changed very soon.
So - I'm trying to cut down here. This is rambling on -
- we actually did it the whole way. You know, we did the whole system and we toured and we made direct contact throughout the '70s and we went all the way. We had 'We Will Rock You', 'We Are The Champions', 'Crazy Little Thing', 'Another One Bites The Dust', which crossed over to the 'Black' market as well, which is another story, but I guess we were getting to the point where we felt like we owned the system. There was a distinct moment when we thought, you know, 'We've made it. We're the biggest at this particular second of time', and there was mainly [Laughs], there was maybe a feeling that we couldn't go wrong. But what happened was, it did go all wrong, and I think that's a very interesting thing to look at. We made a record called 'The Works', and the first single from it was 'Radio Ga Ga'. And I've got a list - I think there was five things basically, which went wrong for us, and I think its worth mentioning them.
The first thing was that we came into contact with this thing called 'independent promotion', which had grown, and I think we all know what we are talking about - it is the means by which you basically give people money to perform a job for you, and I don't know where the thing, where the dividing line is between sort of 'bonhomie' and bribery happens, but anyway it had become very big at that time, to the point where the US Government was rumoured to be going to investigate it all. So Capitol Records, that we'd just signed to, decided to make a stand against the Independents, and they decided to make a stand using our record - which was great. So it had risen to about number thirty and the week that they sacked their principal guy who was dealing with this whole system, it zoomed down and was never seen again. It dropped like a stone. Because, I mean, I don't know, I can't say for definite - it may be a coincidence - but what was said was that the Ring of Independents were making am example of Capitol Records, because they were trying to break their system. Okay, so we suffered from that.
Second thing we did was we made a video - see this is ironical, because a video had helped to get us up there - we made a video for 'I Want To Break Free', in which we all dressed up in drag, which went over very big in Europe and it was, it was a kind of a pastiche of a soap, in fact the lady whose idea it was is here somewhere - Dominique. But it was perceived very well in most countries, but in this country not so well, and I think it was regarded as a kind of, a departure from the classic image of Rock Stars or whatever. You know, very macho, very male, very heterosexual or whatever, and there was some kind of doubt, you know. 'Are these guys alright?', you know. [Laughter]
I have a vivid memory of taking it into a Radio, sorry a TV Station, which shall remain nameless, and I walked in there and did the usual thing. You do a bit of chat and then they say 'Okay Brian, we'll play the video now', and they put the video on and after ten seconds the guy goes, 'Er well, er, I think that's probably enough of that. You know I think we'll move right along. You know that's probably not the kind of material that we wanna be showing at this time', you know, and there was a definite sort of reaction to that, and I suppose rumours that Freddie might be gay, you know 'Shock, Horror' [Laughter] fuelled this kind of feeling and there was an uncertainty.
Number Three - the next thing that we did was that we did not tour. At this time the band was becoming bigger in every country in the world except here, so it made sense to tour every place except here, and we figured we'd wait until the circle changed and went up again until we came back, and so the direct contact was gone.
There's another ingredient - Radio Ga Ga itself was perceived as an anti-radio song, which is interesting really, and it's probably stronger than people realise, 'cos you probably think it's called 'Radio Ga Ga', but if you listen, what it actually says is 'All we hear is Radio Ca Ca, Radio Go Go, Radio Ga Ga' and if you don't believe me, go and listen to it. [Laughing] But if you write the lyrics out a particular way, people'll believe anything, and Capitol Radio insisted that we put 'Ga Ga' and not 'Ca Ca'. Okay. Do you know what 'Ca Ca' is? Is that a French word? Okay. [Laughing]
But it was perceived, it was written really because we did have some dissatisfaction with radio, but I think we felt that in a way we'd been misjudged, because what we were concerned about was that radio was becoming very formularised, which is a word I'll use again. I don't know it's the right word - 'formulised'? It was becoming very stiff, and in the beginning we'd been able to come in, if we went to a particular town, it would all happen. We would go to the Radio Stations. We did the work, believe me. We would go in and talk to the guys, but the Radio Stations would open up and we would, like, be on their for an hour and playing some records and having some fun and we'd talk about the gig, and you really felt like the direct contact was fantastically increased, and that's one of the things which I think radio does brilliantly well. It brings the artist very close to the guy who's the listener. And it had become more difficult to do that stuff. You know, formats were tighter. We would go into see these DJs and the would say, 'Well we'd like to do it, but the Programmer says we can't do this and we have to play this record at this particular time, then we have to do an ad, so basically we can give you five minutes here.' Things were getting very different.
So the song does actually say 'Radio - You've yet to have your finest hour', so you can see what we were driving at, but basically we bit the hand that fed us, and a lot of people dropped us because of that.
Number Five - the next error. We made this album called 'Hot Space'. Now we'd always made albums which changed - you know, we didn't feel constrained by the barriers, which is crucial to us, and Hot Space really moved a long way and it was perceived by a lot of people as sort of 'selling out to Disco' or something, but in fact to us was an experiment, which I would still stand by. But the problem was that we had changed a long way and whereas 'Another One Bites The Dust' or 'Dragon Attack' was playable on the FM Stations, by the time we got to some of the stuff on 'Hot Space', there was no one who would consider that the stuff was in their slot. So basically nobody wanted to play it. You know, that things were tightening up and that's the way it was. And it seems to me that, you know that there is one of these pictures now for every different kind of music, you know, and its become more and more compartmentalised. You have Rock, you have Country, you have an Adult picture, you have a Rap picture, you have House picture, I don't know what, you know, it's become very much you have to fit into format or else you're in trouble.
So - the end result of these five things, which i think, and there may be more, there's five principal mistakes we made, this whole system for us in the US crumbled and for years we basically didn't exist in this country. We were lucky because we went from strength to strength in the rest of the world, with a few hiccups, but basically it worked very well and around 1986 we did a tour of Europe, which was definitely the biggest of the time, ending up in Knebworth, which was the last concert that Queen ever did ... [inaudible] in '86.
**Fri 28 Oct 16**
There's just 2 days left to get in your entries for the competition to win a copy of "Diableries - Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell", signed by Brian May.
The competition closes on 31 October at 12pm.
Details of how to enter posted HERE.
**Tue 25 Oct 16**
Brian's fans are invied to share the fun and take part in this LSC competition.
"Brian May is still raising hell with Diableries, a book of demonic 3-D images from the 19th century." Telegraph
This Halloween WIN a copy of the devilish DIABLERIES signed by Brian May. To enter, take a Halloween inspired stereoscopic (3-D) photograph* and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
*WATCH Brian's tutorial for how to take stereo photos with smartphones.
The winning image will be selected at 12pm on 31st October and shared across LSC social media as image of the day.
**Mon 24 Oct 16**
Some of the news coverage regarding cancellation of Brian May and Kerry Ellis December Candlelit Tour, due to Brian's ill-health:
MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS
LANCASHIRE EVENING POST
WEST END WILMA
ULTIMATE CLASSIC ROCK
**Sun 23 Oct 16**
Brian is taking some time out to recover his health. And we wish him well
His most recent engagement was the "Charles Wheatstone" talk at King's College, London, WEW19 October, but was unfortunately unable to attend Apps World Expo the following day (20 Oct) at ExCel Centre, London. Denis Pellerin delivered the keynote talk on this occasion.
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