“It’s great to hear these songs again”


24 Oct 2013 09:59
The Queen Extravaganza head for Liverpool

Roger Taylor
Former Queen band member Roger Taylor

When Roger Taylor offered to audition potential members for the official Queen tribute band, he had no idea what an emotional experience it would be.

“We wanted a really good representation of Queen’s music,” says the drummer. “It’s not about how they look. We said that from the start. They aren’t a tribute band in that sense. It’s about celebrating the spirit of those songs. The strangest part was casting the singer. Marc Martel doesn’t just sound like Fred. You’d think he was Fred. It was lovely to hear, but emotional too. There was a time after Fred died when we were all in shock. I couldn’t bear to hear his voice on the radio. We were all the same. Brian (May) and I spoke and it felt like we’d never be able to hear those songs again.

“But now I hear his voice and it’s wonderful. It makes me smile to think of him. He was one of those people who you know from the start is somebody extraordinary. I still miss him every day, but I hear those songs and I remember the nice times.”

How was it for Roger casting himself in the show.

He laughs: “I didn’t think of it that way. I just wanted to get a really good drummer – and he’s certainly that.”

The man they chose was Tyler Warren – a music graduate from Tennessee who learned to play by drumming along with Queen records from the age of three.

“It’s funny, people talk to me about growing up listening to our music and I think ‘Am I really that old?’,” says Roger. “But then I think about it, and those songs are like my kids. When I hear them on the radio I turn them up. We wanted our music to be heard by as many people as possible, so I’m delighted that anyone still wants to listen. I don’t mind hearing them on telly adverts or wherever. It’s a privilege for us to have that longevity. When the musical We Will Rock You opened we thought it might last a few months at most. We had no idea how keen people would be. Now 11 years later it’s still going strong. I hope The Queen Extravaganza tour has even some of that success.”

The show calls in at the O2 Academy at the end of the month, and Roger says he’s hoping to come and see it here.

“I’ll always have an affection for Liverpool,” he says fondly. “I remember right back when we started Liverpool was one of the first places to really take Queen to its heart. We played the Empire and the Liverpool Stadium – where they used to hold the boxing – and while we would struggle with other crowds we quickly realised that Liverpool was different. We’d play and people would sing along. It was always the noisiest audience, and Freddie loved that. He loved a good crowd to bounce off.”

Roger was the beating heart of Queen, penning massive hits Radio Ga Ga, A Kind of Magic and Days of Our Lives. He has performed with everyone from The Foo Fighters to Elton John, Robert Plant to INXS, Jessie J to Roger Daltrey.

Does he have any favourite songs to play?

“They’re like my children,” he protests. “It’s so hard to choose. They are like my personal wallpaper, built up over the years. But I suppose I always like Somebody to Love and Under Pressure. But then I enjoy so many of the others too. I’ve always been lucky I suppose – it’s been a labour of love all these years.”

The Queen Extravaganza play the O2 Academy Liverpool on Wednesday, October 30.