**Tue 27 Apr 04**
Well, this is yer ol pal Bri showing off his T-shirt in Moscow ! Self explanatory really !!
Rollover image to see next picture!!
I can't resist any longer ... the official pics of the cast in Moscow will be out soon, but I had to give you a little look ... they are just so beautiful!! (ALL of them!)
I'll get the names together soon ...
[See LETTER from Naomi]
I think there was bound to be a certain scepticism at the beginning, thinking of Queen songs converted into a "musical" - no-one was more sceptical than us in the early days. Three years later having devoted a significant part of my life to the continuing development of this extravaganza, I feel so anchored in it that I can't imagine Queen now without this massive and vital arm reaching into the future. . . after you get used to the fact that WE WILL ROCK YOU really does have our spirit in it down to its roots, the pure gold is the performers.
Both of the young ladies, Kerry Ellis (who sang No-One But You) and Sharon D. Clarke (our original Killer Queen) created those roles, and I just sometimes imagine I could see Freddie's face beaming when he heard these wonderful voices singing our songs... I have never got over the joy of it and never will. Kerry and Sharon have now sadly gone off at least for a while to pursue their careers, but they both dedicated 2 years of their lives to the show, and triumphed massively every night. It doesn't get any better than that ! The show is already rocking out with our new leading ladies, both having stepped up from inside the production. They are MAZZ MURRAY (Killer Queen), and Jenna Lee-James (Meat). Our wonderful Hannah (Scaramouche) is even now entering her third year, still finding ways to develop her performance, and still slaying them every night ...!
Well, as usual I ramble ... I've been away in Moscow working on the new incarnations of our show, and I'll be running in there to the Dominion as soon as I can after the weekend to check out the show, with its new cast, and a couple of new twists that we've put in !!!!
Hammer to Fall is really about life and death, and being aware of death as being part of life. I was inspired, I think, by "Waiting for Godot" ...although there are a lot of other things mixed up with it in there ... The Hammer coming down is only a symbol of the Grim Reaper doing his job!!
... the last verse of "Hammer to Fall"? Well, it's always been a personal kind of part - the spectre of the mushroom cloud was absolutely a real part of my childhood ... we were constantly told it was going to happen, and we ought to hide somewhere if the four-minute warning was given (how was it going to be given ???!!) And we should not LOOK at the blast !!! As if there would be a choice ... In the musical, the song (at my instigation, inspired by what Ben did with the script at the 11th hour) became re-oriented as a struggle between two lovers. Constraints of sense and time made this last verse difficult to include. So I was happy to leave it out.
The last verse is really, as I look at it now, one of my protests against violent solutions, so it should not be too out of place in a Christian perspective, though I am probably not a very good Christian!! And an awful lot of people in the world STILL seem to be doing violence in the name of Christianity, which appalls me. How our Western leaders justify this in their minds baffles me completely. I am praying we soon get a change.
And Keep Yourself Alive ? [What kept Queen going when it failed to chart, and in the early days?]
Well, I don't think we thought success would be easy. When the record struggled to be heard, we just thought ... it'll take a bit more work until people understand what we have to offer. We were not offering normal "Pop" music of the time, so it was not going to be easy to turn the attention of Radio around. We believed!!! Also the whole hit record thing was not perceived by us as the only important thing , or indeed a thing of much importance at all. Our heroes were Led Zeppelin, after all, who NEVER had a hit single!! I think we wondered if having a hit would disqualify us from being taken seriously!
By some stroke of good fortune, we were able to have hits later, but still develop ourselves as an Album-Oriented touring band ..... we carved out our own destiny, by great persistence and much work, and some good tunes, I think! But I feel we were very fortunate too.
First Moscow Show peek!!!
Me and Roger with a bevy of 'Meats' and our two illustrious Producers, Sergey and Dmitri.
Bri - and our huge thanks to all who contributed to this great week's work.
More details, and more (and rather better) pics on the way !!!
OK - I've been a bit secretive !
We made a collective decision to do our second period of work in Moscow completely low-key, so that we could just get on with the work.
But now I can reveal.... After 6 days of intensive auditions ....
WE HAVE A RUSSIAN WWRY COMPANY !!!! Hurrah!
The quality of talent has been SPECTACULAR, and this after rumours that it was going to be difficult to find musicians, singers, dancers in Moscow - all I can say is .... WOW !!!!
In the morning we will have some pictures taken with our new Cast and Band, so tomorrow I will be able to leak some pics!!! I'm not going to be unprofessional and jump the gun.... but watch out!! ........
The RUSSIANS ARE COMING !!!!!!
(I've been dying to say this - ha ha !!!!)
For tonight I'll just beguile you with a picture of a glorious sunset on Moscow this evening from my hotel room window...
.....and this strange photo of an unusual monument to Peter the Great with three vagabonds sitting underneath.... (Mike Dixon, Justine Ellis-Morris and yours truly).
Ed: Replying to a letter from Simon HERE
It means a LOT to me that "Save Me" meant a lot to you in your recovery time. These songs are drawn from life in a sense, so maybe that's why they ring true. But it's a great thought for me, that things I have created actually can be therapy. We all need some of that now and again !
Mr Bad Guy
I'm not really the right person to ask about Mr. Bad Guy. I wasn't there - and mostly not even in the vicinity .... But as I understand it, Freddie wanted to spread his wings, flex his muscles, if you like, and see what he could really do on his own, without us. It's curious that he actually sought substitutes for us, for some of it (and imagined that we would be flattered!!) - and this part I have never really got to grips with !!! But I think in his search for a purely personal goal he was almost uninterested in the production of the record as a whole. THAT part he knew he could achieve in his normal context, as part of Queen (it was a great team). As I read it, his search was something quite physical ... it was about how far he could push his voice, how much pure creation of melody he could achieve, and how much emotion he could evoke in what he perceived to be his new audience... I know for a fact that he would ask Mack and Stefan to throw a random backing Rhythm track at him every session as a trigger ... so that he could pour out his performances as almost spontaneous creations... writing as he went along, flying on the crest of the emotions he was going through at the time (which were intense, and often painful). So the result is an unusual set of vocals, which are ideal for resetting in the OTHER context which Freddie usually worked .... i.e. with us. We all had our part to play. A high percentage of my role was usually the "craftsmanship" (which is why I have sometimes hesitated to have confidence in myself as an "Artist"). Craftsmanship, the relentless pursuit of perfection in every detail, is what I am good at. It would normally be me sitting compiling and rearranging tiny bits of vocal, or any other instrument, late into the night, just because I found it stimulating, challenging, and a reward in itself (there is usually no other reward!!!) I can still do that. So I DID spend two years of my life doing this kind of stuff for "Made in Heaven". And I would probably, once the commitment were made, enjoy doing it again for some more of the material. But life is very full now. In Queen World nowadays we deal every day with the past (which is now vast), the present (as demanding as ever, with WWRY seeds sprouting all around the world to nurture, studio recording, plus the occasional gig) and the future, which is unexpectedly exciting and mind-blowingly full of possibilities, all achievable, thanks to the Great Spirit, if we are, as my Mum used to say, "spared"..... !
So we shall see. It is there, and we will continue to make our decisions the way we always have .... by argument!!!
[And on a question about who played on the Back To The Light recordings:]
On my solo track "Driven By You" the original single version was built around my own programmed drums, but for the album version I asked the wonderful, now sadly departed Cozy Powell to play drums. Most of the tracks on my two solo albums were recorded this way ... a development period with everything programmed by me, or played by me, as I wrote the songs, (I just used EVERYTHING that was available) then Cozy would come in and work on them live.... it was always so much fun! Fond memories.
This will be for a limited time only !!! We all felt the tickets might be a little expensive for the Queen fans, as opposed to the Theatre-going Public!! ..... and times are very hard in Madrid - so many shows are closing, after the bombings. I will be going over very soon to help launch the cast album and Eva Marie single ... The Madrid WWRY show is in good spirits and very strong!!!! We are looking forward to taking it forward to Barcelona and beyond!!!!
A sneak preview of what Saturday's 'apparition' in the Dominion might look like on Video!! Courtesy of Bri's spies!
[See MORE pictures from 17 April HERE on Queen News. Also check for a Gallery in a few days.]
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Pictures courtesy Simon Lupton
It was the original "Red Special" that I was playing, in both shows ... I had the new "Green Twin" standing by, made by Andrew Guyton... and I had planned to use it for one of the shows... once I felt secure. But it was so difficult hearing myself and getting accustomed to Things in the first show that I didn't feel secure for the second !!! So I kept changes to a minimum! I wonder how many times I would have to do this "Apparition" thing before I really felt I could pull it off with ease!! So far it has always felt like walking across a tight-rope ...... or actually ..... ...running !!! I find that I have to be well played in, AND in the middle of a tour AND hearing everything perfectly, before I can really PLAY confidently, in the sense of be able to think of something and do it by seat of pants, rather than sticking to safe areas. The compromise is either to be safe, which I'm usually too adrenalised to be anyway, or TRY to actually play from the heart, and know that there will be places where I fall off the wire!
The Green One is a beauty and I will be showing her off properly soon!
My Fryers are safe and well, and also ready to go at any point. Of course there will always be a huge pull to the original for so many reasons, not the least of them being my Dad, but I'm very lucky now as regards having great instruments to play.
Just a note to say - there's some new words from our esteemed pal Vicki up on site now ... check out her Tumi piece [HERE] - she's been holding on to it for a while now .... some things that are close to our hearts are hard to let go ... I get the same trouble sometimes .... as an artist you have to share things honestly - you have to bare your soul, but there has to be SOMETHING left which is only for you. Vicki is an artist.
FILMING We Will Rock You - and Falling in Love with the Theatre...! - and the Men in the Moon
Yes, the last 3 shows in the Dominion were filmed this weekend - Friday night just as a camera rehearsal, and for everyone to get over the "red light consciousness" that is bound to happen when a new element is introduced. And the last two on Saturday for real.
We now have various large bits of Video of the show. The recent filming was mainly to make sure we have the close-ups and audience cutaways covered, but of course there were some truly great performances on Saturday which we now have in the can for posterity. For the moment we only have rights to use the footage for EPK's etc. - i.e. non-commercial - but we hope to do a deal so the DVD can be made and put out there. I know there's a big anticipation of it. I would like to see it on the shelves and making some extra money for the cast and spreading the word for the show. We have plenty of other footage for the "special" boxes too - interviews, technical behind-the-scenes, etc - so I think when it happens it will happen good!
I can hardly put into words how I feel about the weekend. Of course this was not a "Last Night" of We Will Rock You in the West End - quite the opposite, for we have a wonderful new cast ready to Rock starting Monday - and I already know they will be fabulous. But to see the parting of the ways for many of our original cast was, and is, a real wrench. Of course nobody can expect and actor to perform a role indefinitely - it's incredibly gruelling, and relentless, 8 shows a week, week in, month in, month out. Being married to an actress I know what a huge commitment that is.... our life expectancy is only three score years and ten, and every one of those years is precious.... So we're massively fortunate that our leading men and women have enjoyed themselves enough to want to stay two whole years.... Sharon D. Clarke, Kerry Ellis, Nigel Planer, Cameron Jack, Luke Baxter ... a billion thanks.... you have given so much. I'm sad today, but wish you great fulfillment wherever you go.
As for the future ...well, how wonderful that Hannah Jane Fox will still be there.... this surpasses all, really, that after 2 huge years she STILL wants to go on enthralling our audiences. The amazing thing is she still finds new places to go with her wickedly funny Scaramouche.... now bouncing off brilliant Mig Ayesa, a vibrant and gutsy (and very popular) new Galileo. The audience were visibly hanging on Hannah's every breath at the weekend. Thank you Dear Hannah. We're all thrilled that Clive Carter will stay on and continue his triumph as Khashoggi - he pretty much definitely counts as original cast - having stepped in very early on to take over. Hurrah! And thanks to our gallant Britney, Nigel C. - who has now become a significant comedy actor, and whose huge warm presence has become something indispensable to the regular punters of WWRY - he also has paid us the compliment of staying on for more punishment!!! And now we will have the joy of seeing Jenna Lee James and Mazz Murray rise to stardom, having worked their butts off for us for two years as understudies they now get their wings, and a great sight it will be. It doesn't stop here. Our fabulous and delightfully diminutive Giorgia has now become a global dance whizz, and is now, along with Johnny, our original Dance Captain, taking WWRY's physical side around the world. Becki Chana has been there for us since day one and is still there for us, an unsung hero who will more and more be a lynchpin of the company - likewise Dahl Haynes, a name to watch for, quietly honing her talent and maturity, ready for the big break.
The theatre is a huge pull - I understand now. For my own lady Anita, this is where she's lived all her adult life - in the curiously magnetic world of, with Capitals, "The Theatre". My own Rock world has a different kind of magnetism of course, perhaps less cosy but no less enduring in its bonding nature. But in the theatre there is a feeling of family, a love that is palpably real and reassuring - in a long-running theatre company there is such mutual support, such camaraderie, such shared feelings of endurance and achievement in the face of impossible odds... it's powerful medicine. Our company has the added bond of having massively defeated the forces of Prejudice, Fear and Jealousy, which sought to destroy our show in its first months. We overcame. We worked. We went out and laid it out for all to see. We continually updated and improved. We believed. We Won. And then of course there is the final ingredient in this heady cocktail. The Band - the reality of a real rock band is there every night in the Dominion - not just an assembly of muso's reading dots, but a cohesive and spirited BAND who also are STILL THERE after two gruelling years. This production more than any other perhaps, has the most devastating combination of powerful human magic - the Power of Theatre, and the Power of Rock. One could surely be forgiven for falling in love with it forever.
In case you're wondering, I'll be talking about the rest of the cast soon, our newer members, and the absolutely new guys starting on Monday - we have great hopes. But before I close, I would like, at this time of celebrating TWO BIG YEARS of WWRY, to thank ALL our Production Team who have been there for us for so long... the crew, the Technicians, the Fireman, the Spot Operators, the Cleaners, the Front of House Team, the Wig People, the Wardrobe People, the Fabulous Doormen (special thanks to Big Dave, for getting back on the horse, having been through rough times).... and forgive me if I missed anyone, but Mr. Curly, The Edge, Alex, Peter Gibbon, the heads of departments deserve MASSIVE special thanks too - for their work and belief that the Show Must Go On.
Well, off to Moscow tomorrow!!! Final auditions there. Very exciting. But I'm sure not seeing much of Home right now. One day soon it will be time to slow down and do more gardening! I need more family time. It's getting hard.
Hope things are good out there folks ... you guys in the Northern hemisphere are feeling Spring now. It's precious. And the Fall down there in the Antipodes must be looking nice - enjoy!!! And those of you in the Lunar Dome, well, you don't get seasons, but you sure get a nice view of old Planet Earth, even though it's a bright on the eyes! Watch us down here, and how small we look!!!
Here's another stereo photo from me.... from Elba this time.... where our manager's lovely daughter got married recently ... a close-up of a Virginia Creeper on a wall ...... they sure do attach those little feet!
Yes folks, I've been deliberately quiet in L.A. ! But it was lovely being in the City of the Angels for a few days in the sun. I love it here - for me it's a blessed haven.
Just to prove that I haven't been shirking my responsibilities, here's a pic of me signing a very nice guitar for a charity auction (yes, sharpie still in hand!) .... I wonder how many of these I've done in the last few years .....
I like this because the picture actually makes me look healthy - a rarity!!! Photo by Melanie Keady who has looked after our affairs in California for some years now... ...Til soon - love to all ...
(I'll have a few days home before the next trip. Which is to Moscow for auditions. )
Happy Easter Monday all !!!
I've been a bit quiet - because I've been having some Family time..... and a few rays of sunshine, even.... more of that later ...
But I hope Easter has been bringing you all NEW LIFE !!! Easter Bunny Rocks!!!
P.S. Thanks to yous who sent me Easter greetings ...especially Lioness '86 (are you tamed?!), Kala, Tessa, and of course my brilliant Web-Person - Jen and family!!!
P.P.S. And to all of you who have been SO considerate to me in Los Angeles this last few days ... my appreciation and respects!!!
I'm learning all the time, and wondering what other effects our music has had over the years. It's also odd to think what the INPUT was from us, the writers of those songs. Perhaps we are unusual as a group of writers (Ben is very fond of reminding everyone that we are the only group to have had all four writers give birth to number one hits!) because we all, though independently and frequently without collusion, wrote about relationships the way we saw them. And the human condition, and human dreams and aspirations and conflicting emotions. And Freedom. We very seldom just put a song together because it was "entertaining" - maybe the competition between us was so intense that we didn't afford ourselves that luxury - everything was torn out of our flesh. So the patterns we saw in ourselves, our loves, and our friends reflected the journeys we were making with some honesty. I think that is why so many people listening have found strength in them - have suddenly realized they were not alone.
Well.... it's a theory!
It makes me happy. And of course I for one found great strength in other people's music, and it had a huge influence on my life. Bryan Adams' "Run To You" was a huge force in my life, as was "Here I Am - Back On My Feet Again" by the Babys, and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go? (by Whitney Houston) - "I look in your eyes and I know that you still care...."
I think we look for the music that taps into the truth inside us that we may be hiding from. In some cases it may give us the strength to break away, or strike out on a new path; in other cases it may give us the strength to stay. Or to admit we were wrong.
and time again I come back to the "Serenity Prayer" - when a
tough decision has to be made... (this is the Native American version
- from those peoples we have called "Indians" in the cowboy
and Indian movies.... the peoples whose wisdom I have come to trust more
than perhaps any other....)
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference
Of course once we think we know the difference, we have to get on with it ..... and ROCK!!! Maybe that's where Queen came in...!
Photo courtesy of Ruslan Voskolei
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The album is entirely sung by the cast of WWRY Madrid. All the songs are in Spanish except WWRY, Champions and Bo Rhap (and part of AOBTD - suitable since our Killer Queen in Spain is actually English!) We did it in a style similar to the English one --- with little bits of dialogue linking the music so the story can be followed. This will be the first time "Crazy Little Thing" has been on a cast album.
I'm very pleased and excited about this album ... Simon Sayer and the Spanish team did a great job sorting out the mixes, and Justin and I looked in, and "executive twiddled" a bit!! My hands-on area is always the vocals.... there are some fine performances on this collection - I was determined to make the most of them. This whole thing is very significant in my mind, because this is the very first time that Queen songs have been recorded in another language by ourselves. We as a team spent a massive amount of time translating this set of songs, and I have every confidence that the "Queen Spirit" is strong in there. I am hoping that all around the Spanish-speaking world these songs will now be felt as worthy versions - a new incarnation of the Queen "Oeuvre" - as Ben likes to call it.
Ah, yes, looking at the track listing it probably IS a trifle confusing. No, the absence of a Spanish title in parentheses does not mean that the song in question isn't translated. In the case of "Under Pressure", for example, most of the words are in Spanish but just a few are in quotes in English - including in this case the title. Similarly there IS no translation for the actual title "Radio Gaga" - it's pretty much universal in itself. But the song is rendered in Spanish, because it tells the story of the Play.
Even if you don't speak Spanish, a lot of this will make sense to you !! I LOVE it !!! Enjoy !!!
PS The copy protection notice has been spotted already. It's a mistake, and Jim Beach has been speaking to them. I trust that it will be sorted out.
29/12/1947 - 05/04/1998
God bless him. Brian
CONGRATULATIONS R & R TROY !!!!!
YOU ARE OUR MAN !!!
You have CRACKED IT !!!!
Brian and the gang
Well, here's my "Unofficial" list of band members for Las Vegas ... I'm told the names have been published by our partner Michael Gill's office, and the 'runners up' notified with our thanks. The talent really was great ... it was very uncomfortable having not enough jobs for all the excellent players ..
Here's the WWRY BAND we chose....
MD/Keys 1 - Keith Thompson
Asst MD/Keys 2 - Phillip Fortenberry
Keys 3 - D. Gause-Snelson (she’s called “Dee” )
1 - Paul Crook
Guitar 2 - David Hornbeck
- John Micelli
Percussion - Jim Belk
Bass - Oliver Hofer
The titles "Guitar 1" and "Guitar 2" do not imply any preference or seniority - they just specify which "chair" they occupy. The two guitar parts are complimentary and they share the soloing, depending on which song ....
John Micelli is an old friend - I played with him when I guested with Meat Loaf a few years ago in London Wembley Arena. He's a truly magnificent drummer, quite reminiscent of Cozy to me in style, although he's very much an individual. Also a total gentleman, and inspiring to be around. I actually can't believe our luck in getting him! The rest of the band are all new discoveries for me, except for Paul Crook, whom I bumped into a few years ago when he was in ANTHRAX - we were on the same bill in Chicago. He's hugely fluid and juicy as a player (hope those are suitable epithets!) very tasteful and very modest as a person. The other axeman David Hornbeck just walked in and laid the parts down like he'd been doing it for months already - very incisive, rhythmic with a touch of danger! The two guys instantly complemented each other in the room, so I have very good feelings about this. Keith came highly recommended by more than one source, and he's very experienced at doing the MD job, as well as being a fine player himself. Philip quickly impressed us with his technique - a fine musician. And Dee (or is it "D" ??) just brought joy into the room - her playing matches her ebullience as a person - injecting much life into the score. Oliver comes originally from Germany, and, among a very fine collection of bass players who turned up to audition for us, he still managed to stand out - high precision, great style, and a natural blend with the drums. This leaves Jim Belk on percussion - we picked him for his range and sensitivity - and Roger was impressed by the tightness of his playing.
So there you have it - we have a band!
I'm very much hoping that some of the great musicians we weren't able to pick for the job will stay around and dep, and maybe eventually play in Toronto or elsewhere. .. it really was a great bunch of guys ..we're very privileged.
And for the WWRY VEGAS BAND - we are off and running. This show will be shorter than its English counterpart (due to Union restrictions) - but it sure will Rock just as hard!
Hi folks from Las Vegas
- yes, I'm still working under the fake Eiffel Tower - I'm sure you all worked that out if you were interested!!!
The Tower is exactly half size - that is, half the height ... so, of course 1/8th of the volume. How fascinating is that?? I'm quite punchy from 5 days of solid auditions, but we have done it!! We have decided on the members of our band (and I'm praying that our chaps in Vegas will deal with telling everyone properly if they got the gig or not) and we have ALMOST cast the actors in our Las Vegas show, but there are still some things to sort out. I think the decisions for this will trickle out as the offers fall into place ... WE ARE STILL LOOKING for some ensemble DANCERS WHO CAN SING GREAT !!!! If you know someone who can sing great and dance a bit, or the other way round .... and would like to spend a year in Las Vegas, Nevada, PLEASE GET IN TOUCH !!!
I'm tired but happy really ...
LOVE to ALL - more soon!!
I have added in Garik's clarifications to this new version of Garik's article. I think the best thing is to just replace the original, and t it might be worth checking back to the piece. [LINK HERE: **Thu 25 Mar 04** BROWN DWARFS, PLANETS, AND BEYOND....]
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