And yet they loved Benny Hill…
BM: Yes, but Benny Hill's not a rock band. Plus
our record company got themselves into a heap of trouble.
We had spent a million dollars getting out of our deal with
Warner-Elektra to get onto the Capitol label. And Capitol
got themselves into trouble with a dispute that raged in
the early '80s over the alleged corruption of independent
record promoters in the US.
It was, basically, the ring of bribery that went on to get
records played on US radio. There was a government enquiry
into it, and everybody shut down very, very fast. Without
going into it too deeply, Capitol got rid of all their "independent"
guys - and the reprisals from the whole network were aimed
directly at all the artists who had records out at that
time. We had Radio Ga Ga, which I think was Top 20 and rising,
but the week after that it disappeared from the charts.
So that was an influence as well. We got caught up in all
that due to no fault of our own.
There were also other things. I think America very
much depends on the network of people who care about music,
and a lot of that is the radio stations. Radio stations
are the connection between the artist and the community,
and rightly so. Freddie had a personal manager at the time
who was very dismissive. And OK, Freddie needed a bit of
protection, it was hard for him at that time. But I think
this guy… well, I know for a fact this guy went around
saying, No, Freddie doesn't want to talk to you. Why should
he want to talk to you anyway? And an enormous amount of
damage was done to our relationship with the radio networks,
who up to that point had been very close to us, very helpful.
[Radio Ga Ga was the last Queen single to make the Billboard
Top 40 - until after Freddie Mercury's death. I Want To
Break Free (it's follow-up) reached 45.]
Queen never played live in the US after 1982. Were you not
tempted to go back and try again?
A lot of things happened. Because things didn't
sell so well in America there were always other places for
us to go, where we were selling well. We went to South America
instead of North America. Japan and Europe became a huge
thing for us. Eastern Europe opened up. And we never got
around to going back to the States. And, as far as I can
see, the United States is an island. They're only dimly
aware of what goes on outside. This is not me trying to
be nasty, I love Americans. But there is this feeling; if
you're not seen you're not really believed. We were not
seen for a long time in the States. Plus the fact that Freddie
didn't want to go back and play smaller venues than we'd
been before. He was like, Let's just wait, and then soon
we'll go out and do stadiums in America as well. But it
was one of those things that wasn't to be. If we go back
to America in the Autumn, that will be the first time Queen
have been there since… when is it? I can't even think
what date it is. Over 20 years… [since
Of course these sorts of rock package tours are enormously
popular in the US now.
Think so and there's a huge tide of young people
returning to rock music. It's incredible to find so many
letters that I get are from teenagers. I read some recently
from someone who knows all about our history and is totally
into what we're about, spiritually. Then at the bottom it
says: from so- and so-, 14 years old. It makes me think,
My God! This is really something. It's a dream come true
in a way. I always hoped that people would get over this
fashion or generation thing, and for me the first time in
history I think it's true. I think grandads, dads and kids
can enjoy it now.
The fans voted for their favourite Queen song and we're
publishing the results in this magazine. Would you care
to nominate your own?
Too hard a question! "Best" is not a word
I use lightly, especially with regard to music. I have a
few personal favourites, though. Of Freddie's songs…
The Miracle, which has an amazing lightness, and Don't Try
So Hard. Yes, we all contributed to the creation of these
songs, but in both cases Freddie was the driving force…
a vision reared up before us.
the worst Queen song?
Again, I feel the same about "worst" as
"best". These words make me think of pointless
TV polls designed purely for quick revenue. There are a
few Queen songs I don't choose to listen to very often,
but nothing I would want to apologise for.
Finally, what has happened to John Deacon?
asked John, but he preferred not to be actively involved
in the tour. However, he remains very much part of the running
of the Queen business operation behind the scenes. Hey,
it's a cottage industry!
HE WILL ROCK YOU
10 Brian May songs that go up to 11
1. Keep Yourself Alive from QUEEN
2. Brighton Rock SHEER HEART ATTACK
3. Now I'm Here SHEER HEART ATTACK
4. Tie Your Mother Down A DAY AT THE RACES
5. We Will Rock You NEWS OF THE WORLD
6. Fat Bottomed Girls JAZZ
7. Hammer To Fall THE WORKS
8. Tear It Up THE WORKS
9. Gimme the Prize (Kurgan's Theme) A KIND OF
10. Headlong INNUENDO