NEWS FROM EDDIE HOWELL
– of a new “Man From Manhattan” Box set – and Auction…
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN for:
– and to put into context – a useful “Fan story”, giving some background to “The Man From Manhattan”.
More info about the auction will soon be published at themanfrommanhattan.com.
THE MAN FROM MANHATTAN BOX SET
-12” 180gr Vinyl
-Dolby Atmos Mix
-The Story behind MFM
“A Tale Of Two Auctions” starring Freddie Mercury and Eddie Howell
LONDON, UK, August 23, 2023
/EINPresswire.com/ — The painting of Eddie and Freddie is based on an actual photo taken of them both listening to a playback of Man from Manhattan at Sarm East studios in London, 1976. It features on the inner sleeve of the box-set. The painting, by Bolivian artist Andrea Terceros Barron was commissioned especially for the LP.
“Looking at that snapshot brings back fond memories of those sessions”, says Eddie. “From sitting at Freddie’s Yamaha grand piano in his Kensington flat working on the arrangement of Man from Manhattan, to being in the studio recording Brian May’s guitar solo, then recording Freddie’s piano and backing vocals followed by my lead vocal…
At the end of recording and mixing the track we sat there listening back to the final take. I think Andrea’s painting perfectly captures that moment, between a slightly bashful Eddie and an effervescent Freddie.”
Andrea’s painting perfectly captures that moment, between a slightly bashful Eddie and an effervescent Freddie.”
All proceeds from the painting will be donated to the Mercury Phoenix Trust through our auction which will be announced on the website themanfrommanhattan.com
Freddie’s Sotheby’s auction
“Great to see that the lyrics of Man from Manhattan are included as a lot in Freddie’s auction at Sotheby’s”, says Eddie, “It’s testament to how much he liked the song and I’m really touched that they were included.”
In a recent interview Mary Austin revealed that she found a lot of lyrics in the piano stool belonging to that same Yamaha Grand Piano which is also up for auction! Maybe Eddie Howell’s lyrics were among those that she found…
Meanwhile pre-orders of Eddie Howell’s Man From Manhattan Special Edition Vinyl Box-Set are now live!
MORE READING – to put in context…. [with thanks to Alison Sesi]
‘MAN FROM MANHATTAN’ by Eddie Howell – A Fan’s Story
It was March 1976 and I was just turning fourteen. In fact, I have every reason to remember my fourteenth birthday because it was the very day that the then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson chose to make the shock announcement of his resignation. I’d come home from school expecting to be able to play my Queen albums on the record player in the living room of my family’s NE London home. No chance: my closest male relatives had other ideas, remaining firmly fixed in front of the TV set, glued to the day’s bombshell news and related commentary.
It was around this time too that I, an avid Capital Radio listener (as was typical for a London teen back then), first heard ‘Man from Manhattan’ by Eddie Howell on its airwaves, a song that clearly wasn’t by Queen, but bore some of the unmistakable hallmarks of their sound. That was easily explained: Freddie had produced the single, and Brian had contributed guitar parts, the recording having taken place just as Bohemian Rhapsody’s nine-week reign at the top of the UK chart was over in January 1976.* Once released two months later, it received continual airplay on my commercial station of choice.
Most of these facts about the song I wouldn’t learn until many years later. There were others too: the story concerning Freddie’s involvement, for example, had started a mere week before his six-minute masterpiece of a single was officially released. On 23 October 1975, David Minns, Eddie’s manager, took Freddie along to see him perform at the Thursday Club in Kensington, a gig designed to launch Eddie’s new album. During the show, a new song was played that hadn’t been recorded yet: ‘Man from Manhattan’. Freddie took to it straight away and offered to produce it – quite a new task for him, which he would complete three months later – over three days at London’s Sarm East studios. (In the meantime, the definitive whirlwind of fame generated by ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ took hold, making Queen “huge at the time”, as Eddie put it in a 1995 interview in ‘Record Collector’ magazine).
It was the end result of this collaboration that I was enjoying that spring of ’76: a song about a sleek gangster who was leading a double life, with a lively, jazzy rhythm, and those Queen characteristics into the bargain. Then, one day, it suddenly disappeared from Capital’s playlist and was heard there no more. I’m sure I never thought that anything untoward had happened. I probably just guessed they’d given up on it, deciding it wasn’t going to make it after all… even though Freddie had apparently said to Eddie, “If this is not a hit, dear, sue Warner Bros!” (Here he was referring to the record company that had given them a blank cheque to record the song).
What had really happened to this record, though, wasn’t the innocuous story of a single that was no longer exposed to the public because it simply wasn’t catching on. There are, after all, plenty of those – so there was no reason to suspect anything else, except that it was strange that this should happen: it was such a pleasant, fetching tune with Freddie’s fingerprints on the arrangement, and it was getting a sufficient dose of enthusiastic attention from Capital’s DJ Kenny Everett (who had also attended Eddie’s album launch gig) to see it on its way. This, after all, was the man who’d famously guaranteed the success of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ from the outset by doing the same kind of thing in his own inimitable style.
As it turned out, the reason for the failure of ‘Man from Manhattan’ was rooted in the ordinances of the Musicians’ Union, which had got wind of the fact that one of the session musicians playing on the recording should have had a UK work permit to do so – but didn’t. Warner Bros. tried to stop the plug being pulled on the single, but, sadly, to no avail.
It was many years later when I was looking through my teen vinyl collection that I discovered something I’d long forgotten – I’d actually bought the ‘Man from Manhattan’ single at the time! I then recalled that I also used to listen to its B side, a melancholy number called ‘Waiting in the Wings’ – purely Eddie this time – which I’d appreciated as well. So I was one of those who’d been ensuring that ‘Man from Manhattan’ wasn’t going to be a failure at all – in fact, we’d already got it into the UK top 50 – and it did even better in some other countries. However, due to Warner Bros. policies, it couldn’t be released in the US as it wasn’t a hit in its ‘home country’ – due, of course, to the ban.
Now to the recent past, when the song was destined to make another appearance in my life: only last year I noticed some online talk of a ‘Man from Manhattan’ project. I managed to get in touch with Eddie through his Instagram account, and asked if I could interview him for the Queen Fan Club magazine about this. He agreed, and in early September 2022, we met up in central London. It was certainly an exciting experience to have a chat with the man who’d written and sung a song which had been an important, albeit brief, part of my teens. I was able to pick his brain for memories of Freddie, take in his praise of the ‘A Night at the Opera’ (among others) Sound Engineer Mike Stone (who’d also worked on ‘Man from Manhattan’) and find out that he’d now acquired the rights to the song and was releasing it along with other tracks of the era as a 12” vinyl special edition box set, ie, the ‘project’. It comes complete with brand new artwork by Bolivian artist Andrea Terceros Barron, whose original painting of Eddie and Freddie in the studio, based on a Mick Rock photo, will be auctioned in aid of the Mercury Phoenix Trust.
Of course, we also managed to discuss Brian’s involvement – how he came in for one day to record the guitar parts, which he’d clearly been “studiously working on”, and had thus impressed Eddie. I was also treated to an amusing anecdote about Eddie’s attempt to engage Brian in a conversation about astronomy, only to find himself out of his depth, at which point Freddie intervened so that they could all get down to work! I commented how enamoured I was with Brian’s guitar entry at the words, “my enemies flee at the sight of me” – and, after listening to Eddie talk about Freddie’s obvious love and admiration for Brian’s guitar, I couldn’t help but think of the way Queen had initially formed only a few years before…once Freddie encountered Brian and Roger, he knew that this was exactly what he’d been looking for all along.
© Alison Sesi 2023.
Read my interview with Eddie Howell in the Winter 2022 edition of the Official International Queen Fan Club magazine!
*(This is the correct date of the recording – not August 1975 as stated in that interview).
‘Man from Manhattan’ is now available to pre-order: https://themanfrommanhattan.com/product/special-edition-box-pre-order/ with plenty more information on the website’s other pages!